July 8, 2014
Patriotic books to wrap up the July 4 weekend
by Nick Davies
The July 4 weekend has come to a close, but if the fireworks and ubiquitous red, white, and blue paraphernalia have left you in a particularly patriotic mood, we have your America fix right here. Check out the slideshow below for six books to read while feeling patriotic, and singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the top of your lungs.
I Am America (And So Can You!)
Recent champion for indie bookstores Colbert wrote this book in character as his TV persona. Along with the sequel, America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t, it’s tongue-in-cheek jingoism at its delightful best.
Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope
Something of a companion to the Colbert books, Pawnee offers an overview of the fictional town featured on NBC sitcom Parks
and Recreation, compiled by fictional character Leslie Knope. A must-read for any fan of the show, it’s also a smart satire
on every small town that believes it’s “more exciting than New York, more glamorous than Hollywood, roughly the same size as
Bismarck, North Dakota.”
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Mark Twain novel is a classic, and frequently cited in discussions of the elusive Great American Novel. Perfect if you want to escape into an adventure along the Mississippi — punctuated by criticism of slavery and racism.
The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro
The most recent volume in Caro’s massive biography of President Johnson, The Passage of Power, came out in 2012, and there’s plenty more where that came from. The full series clocks in at some 3,000 pages, and Caro has a fifth and final installment in the works. See also: any of the other hundreds of presidential biographies.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
If you’re looking to relive the days of 19th-century pioneers, Ingalls Wilder’s story of family life in a Kansas prairie town is a solid pick. Fans of the Little House TV show, NB: don’t expect the book to conclude with the residents blowing up the town.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
There’s a lot of grimness as the Joad family makes its way to California, but in the end it’s all about quintessentially American relentless optimism, and the promise of the American dream.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Sure, there’s murder, organized crime, and horse decapatation, but Puzo’s novel captures the American dream on a fundamental level. An immigrant family struggles to gain a foothold in America, eventually achieving success and even a dynasty; it’s a tale of the capitalist success made possible by the Land of Opporutnity (and, it must be noted, a fair bit of murder as an everyday tactic).
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.