Library of Congress’s Books That Shaped America List 

There are a lot of lists online and it can be hard to trust many of them. But one list that has credibility and has been around for a long time is the Library of Congress. It is the “the world’s largest repository of knowledge and information” and they released a list of books that shaped the United States of America. Keep reading to see what made their list! 

The list initially included 88 books and the Library of Congress added 12 more books to reach a total of 100. In 2013, The Library of Congress teamed up with Amazon to make this collection of books easy to access.  

Library of Congress’s Books That Shaped America List

“We are pleased that Amazon has made this collection readily available to the public,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “When we created this list as a way to stimulate conversation about books and literature, we got what we were looking for.” 

Library of Congress’s Books That Shaped America List 

  • The Bay Psalm Book by Stephen Daye (1640) 
  • Experiments and Observations on Electricity Benjamin Franklin (1751) 
  • Poor Richard Improved by Benjamin Franklin (1758) and 
  •  The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin (1758) 
  • Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776) 
  • A Grammatical Institute of the English Language by Noah Webster (1783) 
  • The Federalist (1787) 
  • A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible (1788) 
  • A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America by Christopher Colles (1789) 
  • The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin (1793) 
  • American Cookery. by Amelia Simmons (1796) 
  • New England Primer (1803) 
  • History of the Expedition Under the Command of the Captains Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis (1814) 
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820) 
  • The Book of Mormon (1830) 
  • McGuffey’s Newly Revised Eclectic Primer by William Holmes McGuffey (1836) 
  • Peter Parley’s Universal History by Samuel Goodrich (1837) 
  • The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (1845) 
  • Tales by Edgar Allan Poe (1845) 
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850) 
  • Moby-Dick, or, The Whale by Herman Melville (1851) 
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stow (1852) 
  • Walden, or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau (1854) 
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1855) 
  • Little Women, or, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy by Louisa May Alcott (1868) 
  • Mark, the Match Boy by Horatio Alger Jr. (1869) 
  • The American Woman’s Home by Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe (1869) 
  • The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1881) 
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884) 
  • Poems by Emily Dickinson (1890) 
  • How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis (1890) 
  • The Frontier in American History by Frederick Jackson Turner (1893) 
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1895) 
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900) 
  • Harriet, the Moses of Her People Sarah H. Bradford (1901) 
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903) 
  • The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903) 
  • The History of Standard Oil by Ida Tarbell (1904) 
  • The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1906) 
  • The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams (1907) 
  • Pragmatism by William James (1907) 
  • Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey (1912) 
  • Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1914) 
  • Family Limitation by Margaret Sanger (1914) 
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather (1918) 
  • Spring and All by William Carlos Williams (1923) 
  • New Hampshire by Robert Frost (1923) 
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) 
  • The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes (1925) 
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929) 
  • Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett (1929) 
  • Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer (1931) 
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936) 
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936) 
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937) 
  • Idaho: A Guide in Word and Pictures by Federal Writers’ Project (1937) 
  • Our Town: A Play by Thornton Wilder (1938) 
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (1939) 
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939) 
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940) 
  • Native Son by Richard Wright (1940) 
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943) 
  • A Treasury of American Folklore by Benjamin A. Botkin (1944) 
  • A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendolyn Brooks (1945) 
  • The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Benjamin Spock (1946) 
  • The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O’Neill (1946) 
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (1947) 
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (1947) 
  • Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred C. Kinsey (1948) 
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951) 
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952)  
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (1952) 
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953) 
  • Howl by Allen Ginsberg (1956) 
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957) 
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss (1957) 
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957) 
  • Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth (1959) 
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) 
  •  Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961) 
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (1961)  
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962) 
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963) 
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (1963) 
  • The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963) 
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley (1965) 
  • Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader (1965) 
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962) 
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966) 
  • The Double Helix by James D. Watson (1968) 
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969) 
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (1970) 
  • Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (1971) 
  • Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (1972) 
  • The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston (1975)  
  • Roots by Alex Haley (1976) 
  • Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton and Rose Friedman (1980) 
  • Cosmos by Carl Sagan (1980) 
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987) 
  • And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts (1987) 
  • The Words of César Chávez by César Chávez, (2002) 

Spanning Centuries 

As you can see, the first book on the list was written in 1640. The next book on the list wasn’t published until 1751. Novels don’t make the list for a while but become the norm in the 1800’s and going forward.  

People started to read for enjoyment and that trend continued. The list does contain works deemed important even though they aren’t books or novels.  

This list celebrates works of literature deemed important in American history. With that said, not every work of literature on this list is something many people would enjoy. And that is fine.  


That is all for the Library of Congress’s Books that shaped America list. What books stood out to you the most? How many of these have you read or plan to read? Let us know in the comments below! 

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook 

Leave a Reply