Now when I was in grad school, my focus was on Early Modern and Modern European cultural/intellectual/religious history, so I only had passing encounters with American history beyond the survey level (one of those, on colonial Atlantic colonies, taught me more than any other course on how to write and dissect histories). Therefore, Parkman's histories made me look at the other Library of America volumes I had on hand. Being typically unambitious, I selected nearly a dozen volumes to read. However, I am not reading them sequentially, but rather in a patchwork chronological order, going from the 1760s to the 1820s. For the curious, here's the list of books:
- Benjamin Franklin, Silence Dogood, The Busy-Body, and Early Writings (1722-1775; already finished); Autobiography, Poor Richard, and Later Writings
- Gordon Wood (ed.), The American Revolution: Writings from the Pamphlet Debate 1764-1772 (almost finished); Writings from the Pamphlet Debate 1773-1776
- George Washington, Writings (finished the pre-1775 section)
- Thomas Jefferson, Writings (finished his Autobiography and a pre-1776 section)
- Abigail Adams, Letters (read pre-1770 letters so far)
- John Rhodehamel (ed.), The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence (will start after finishing the Wood books)
- James Madison, Writings (will read after finishing the Rhodehamel)
- Alexander Hamilton, Writings (to be read concurrently with the Madison and later Jefferson)
As for fiction reading, that too seems to have reverted to what I would read in 1996-1997 when I needed a break from reading monographs. Almost done re-reading Theodore Dreiser's outstanding An American Tragedy and a Library of America edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's pre-1923 works (This Side of Paradise is relatively underrated these days) and I might review those as well.
Yes, I know there are some readers (if any still frequent this blog, that is) who would rather see reviews of recent speculative fictions, but sometimes a reader just has to go back to the well in order to rediscover just what s/he loved about literature in the first place. Besides, I have 175 Library of America editions that I'd like to review before I turn 50, so might as well whittle down that mountain while my interest is high, n'est ce pas?