In 2013, we are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.
Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books in 2013.
We’ve asked a number of noted writers to pick the classics that they often return to, and we will be running these lists as a weekly feature on our website through 2013.
This week’s post in the series is by Scott Russell Sanders.
Writers on the Classics:
[ #1 – Shane Claiborne ] [ #2 – Karen Swallow Prior ]
Scott Russell Sanders is the author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including A Private History of Awe and A Conservationist Manifesto. The best of his essays from the past thirty years, plus nine new essays, are collected in Earth Works, published in 2012 by Indiana University Press (One of our Best Books of 2012!). Among his honors are the Lannan Literary Award, the John Burroughs Essay Award, the Mark Twain Award, the Cecil Woods Award for Nonfiction, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Indiana University, where he taught from 1971 to 2009. He and his wife, Ruth, a biochemist, have reared two children in their hometown of Bloomington, in the hardwood hill country of Indiana’s White River Valley. [ Listen to an excellent talk that Scott gave on the importance of public libraries… ]
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
FREE Kindle ebook
Unfinished at Franklin’s death in 1790, and published in various partial editions throughout the following decades, this memoir recounts his rise from printer’s apprentice to statesman and scientist, and it articulates the early American values of thrift, discipline, study, and concern for the common good.
Ralph Waldo Emerson – ESSAYS
Emerson can be tough going, but the effort is well worth it, especially if you focus on his most influential essays, such as “Self-Reliance,” “The American Scholar,” “The Over-Soul,” and “Nature.” Almost any selection, of the dozens that have been published over the past century and a half, will contain the key essays.
Woman in the Nineteenth Century
By Margaret Fuller
FREE Kindle ebook
One of the leading intellectuals of her day, and one of the most influential feminists in American history, Fuller links the subordination of women by men to the mistreatment of native people and the enslavement of Africans.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself
An escaped slave who taught himself to read and write, Douglass became a powerful voice in the abolitionist movement, and refuted, by his intellect and accomplishments, the dehumanizing views of black people widely held by whites.