What are the best must-read early American novels?

asked by Anonymous
345 contributors
13 solutions
  1. 44

    #1The Awakening

    The Awakening

    The Awakening by Kate Chopin was first published in 1899, and at the time shocked the readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. The novel is also still widely admired today for its literary qualities.


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    Wei Zhang
    Written on April 23, 2018
    "The Awakening is an early novel that shows not only what was controversial then, but what isn't as widely debated now. It shows how much things change in a century."
  2. 40

    #2The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic American novel by Mark Twain. Published in 1884, it tells the story of a naughty boy settled in the Mississippi Valley. Full of humor it's also considered a deep and complex work.

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    Kelly Wilson
    Written on April 23, 2018
    "The best middle school reading growing up. Teaches life lessons from the 1880's. Will read again to see the difference from 30 years ago"
  3. 38

    #3The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    One of Mark Twain's most beloved and respected novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer presents a tale of two young boys, their antics and adventures in the fictional town of St. Petersburg, Missouri.


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    Aaron Diaz
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "This is an interesting novel, If you love to read an adventurous story, this is the best novel, I strongly recommend it. "
  1. 35

    #4The Red Badge of Courage

    The Red Badge of Courage
    Praised by both Union and Confederate veterans as a very accurate representation of the Civil War, this 1895 book is written under a soldier's perspective. In it, he narrates the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the consequences this traumatic event had in his posterior life. 


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    Amalia Franco
    Written on April 24, 2018
    "I love to read early American novels. My favorite one right now is The Red Badge of Courage. It's a must-read! It's an 1895 book that is written from the perspective of a soldier during the Civil War. He narrates battles and talks about his life. It's really interesting and really dives deep into the life of a soldier. Strongly recommended!"
  2. 32

    #5Their Eyes Were Watching God

    Their Eyes Were Watching God

    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is one of the most important and enduring books of the 20th century. It brings to life a Southern love story with incredible wit and pathos.


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    Patricia Nguyen
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "This beloved 1937 classic was reissued in 1978 and has become a highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature. At only 219 pages, this is an easy and enjoyable read."
  3. 30

    #6The Turn of the Screw

    The Turn of the Screw
    The narrator is a young governess, sent off to a country house to take charge of two orphaned children. She finds a pleasant house and a comfortable housekeeper, while the children are beautiful and charming. But she soon begins to feel the presence of intense evil.

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    Andrea Carr
    Written on May 8, 2018
    "I have always loved Henry James. He was one of my first introductions into literature and I am a big fan. This book is clearly one of those must-reads. It's gripping, well written and poignant. Be aware that it takes some work to get into this novel. It is written in the style of its era. But it's so intriguing and even Gothic. It's been on my self for decades, and I reread every few years because it is that good. "
  4. 29

    #7The Old Man and the Sea

    The Old Man and the Sea

    The Old Man and the Sea tells the story of an old Cuban fisherman named Santiago and his supreme ordeal with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream. It was the last major work of fiction to be produced by Hemingway. 


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    Sharon Russell
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "Even if you are not a fan of Hemingway (can't say that I am), this is a book we all should know. Read it for yourself - it won't take long. Decide if the Nobel committee know their stuff. Maybe you will even take up fishing!"
  5. 26

    #8The Last of the Mohicans (Leatherstocking Tales)

    The Last of the Mohicans (Leatherstocking Tales)
    The Last of the Mohicans is a historical fiction novel by James Fenimore Cooper, first published in 1826. It is set in 1757, during the Seven Years' War. It is the second book in the Leatherstocking Tales series.

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    Aaron Grant
    Written on April 22, 2018
    "Man I love the Leatherstocking Tales and especially The Deerslayer. But Mohicans is my second favorite though. It’s early nineteenth century writing so don’t expect modern realism, but for it’s day, it was avant garde. And it still makes for a very good atmospheric read. You can imagine yourself walking in the early American frontier."
  6. 24

    #9The Scarlet Letter

    The Scarlet Letter
    First published in 1850, The Scarlet Letter is a classic work by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Set in a Puritan society, it tells the story of Hester Prynne as she is punished and publicly shamed for having a child outside of wedlock.

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    James Ryan
    Written on April 29, 2018
    "Yes I like this is one of the best must-read early American novels. It s packed with so much drama. I love it. I read it at a book club I used to go to and enjoyed it a lot, This brings back nostalgia and I would like to start a book club now"
  7. 20

    #10As I Lay Dying

    As I Lay Dying

    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner tells the story of Addie Bundren and her family and her wish to be buried in Mississippi, her hometown. This novel is narrated in the perspectives of many characters including when Addie is still alive. 


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    Alice Morgan
    Written on April 15, 2018
    "This book uses of multiple points of view and the inner psychological voices of the characters. It is at times confusing and convoluted not a book I would recommend "
  8. 13

    #11Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street

    Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street

    Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street is a novella written by the famous author of Moby-Dick, Herman Melville. First published in 1853, it tells the story of Bartleby, a scribe in 19th century Wall Street.


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    Gary Reyes
    Written on May 5, 2018
  9. 1

    #12The Portrait of a Lady

    The Portrait of a Lady
    The Portrait of a Lady is a historical mystery drama written by Henry James. It was first released in 2003. It is about an American lady who was brought to Europe and tried to fight the destiny set for her.

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    Joseph Barnett
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "There are a lot of very boring books among the top early American novels. If you're going to read one, it might as well be this one though. Portrait of a Lady is very well-written."
  10. 0

    #13Love Among the Rabble

    Love Among the Rabble

    Love Among the Rabble is a standalone historical fiction novel written by Lauren Laviolette which follows the love story between Charles Town belle Liliana Dunmore and Lieutenant Bennett Davenport.


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Best What are the best must-read early American novels
1The AwakeningBooks 44 Paid
2The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnBooks 40 Free
3The Adventures of Tom SawyerBooks 38 Paid
4The Red Badge of CourageBooks 35 Paid
5Their Eyes Were Watching GodBooks 32 Paid
6The Turn of the Screw Books 30 Paid
7The Old Man and the SeaBooks 29 Paid
8The Last of the Mohicans (Leatherstocking Tales)Books 26 Paid
9The Scarlet LetterBooks 24 Paid
10As I Lay DyingBooks 20 Paid

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