The 10 Best American Literature Books

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This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in February of 2018. If you love to read and are not afraid of a little challenge, then you'll appreciate the American Literature books on our list. This wide-spanning selection represents the finest that any US-born author has put forth, and while it was tremendously difficult to whittle this down to just 10 titles, we're confident there's something here for readers of all stripes to enjoy. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. On The Road: The Original Scroll

2. Fahrenheit 451

3. Invisible Man

Editor's Notes

May 28, 2020:

Choosing ten works for a list like this feels like a Herculean task when a list of 100 seems more appropriate, but we curated a diverse and wide-spanning collection with an aim to appeal to a broad readership nonetheless. That was our main priority when updating this list, so to make room for a few titles we felt would punch things up, we said goodbye to Leaves Of Grass, The Sound And The Fury, and Blood Meridian. All three of these works are incontrovertible in their quality, however, each has its own inherent problems that we felt made them subject to exclusion during this latest round of updates.

In an effort to bring on a better range of perspectives we added To Kill a Mockingbird and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. While these novels offer different styles and have only a few overlapping themes, each is an excellent choice if you're looking to understand the world and human behavior through the eyes of women. They take on ideas of human value, self-worth, evolving identity, racism, and toxic social norms via electric storytelling, rich description, and excellent pacing. Mockingbird manages to hit on a variety of themes while still championing innocence and giving readers a coming-of-age tale to boot.

You'll also find Fahrenheit 451 joining the ranks, as they were lacking a classic dystopian novel. While it's a quick read at under 300 pages and accessible to those in their early teens, it's loaded with symbolism and boasts deep treatments of heavy themes. Published in the early 50s and set in a vague future time that seems a lot like the world today, it explores what life is like when technology begins to erase what it is to be human and the powers that be keep people ignorant of art and expression.

Special Honors

Project Gutenberg Whether you're looking for sci-fi, fantasy, or romance novels, Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free ebooks that can be downloaded or read online. Much of the world's great literature is there, with a focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread each work for enjoyment and education.

Audible If listening to literature makes it easier for you to follow plotlines and imagine spectacular settings, then consider downloading a few audiobooks. is one of the most popular online portals for purchasing, downloading, and listening to audiobooks and allows users to listen to novels on their website or the device of their choice. The company offers subscription plans devised to help customers save when they buy multiple books, with some free titles also included.

First Edition of The Great Gatsby One of the most arresting novels of our time, The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and published in 1925. This edition is in near fine condition with the original green cloth and a custom clamshell box. It's a first printing with "sick in tired" on page 205 and all other first-issue points and a faded owner ink inscription dated 1925. It features expert reinforcement to the inner paper hinges, a clean interior, fresh cloth, and bright gilt.

4. Their Eyes Were Watching God

5. Nine Stories

6. The Norton Anthology of American Literature

7. Moby Dick

8. To Kill a Mockingbird

9. The Bell Jar

10. For Whom The Bell Tolls

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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