August 2012 | Jeremy Howell

America in Shape



Ayn Rand, Dr. Seuss, and Noah Webster have little in common except for the possibility of having shaped American thought.  Their books and others are on display as part of "Books that Shaped America," the Library of Congress's kick-off exhibition to the twelfth annual National Book Festival, September 22-23, 2012.  This exhibition features some of America's most influential works dating from Benjamin Franklin's 1751  Experiments and Observations on Electricity to the 2002 book, The Words of Cesar Chavez.

Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) half-length portrait, s...

Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) half-length portrait, seated at desk covered with his books / World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



LOC staff members carefully selected the books highlighted in this exhibit.  Librarian of Congress James H. Billington explained recently, "It is not a register of the 'best' American books--although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not."


To encourage this discussion, the library has developed a questionnaire on its website, asking individuals to vote for the books from the library's selection of titles.  Also, individuals have an opportunity to nominate books they think the library missed.



"Books that Shaped America" will be on exhibit until the 29th of September, perfect timing to enjoy both this exhibit and the National Book Festival.