Happy Independence Day, darlings! While many of us will be celebrating our nation’s birthday with fireworks, drinks, and picnics, all while clad head-to-toe in red, white, and blue (bonus points if you happen to have a bald eagle perched on your shoulder), a few of us will also celebrate the Fourth by reading. This is a list for the bookworms who are also hardcore ‘Murica lovers. You can still celebrate by donning your red, white, and blue outfit, while snuggling up to a bald eagle, but your patriotic feelings can be aided by reading one of these:
“It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.” – Thomas Paine
Published January 10, 1776 in plain, everyday common-tongue English, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was the first work to blatantly demand independence from Great Britain. It was basically the reason why the colonies decided to ban together and revolt against their sovereign, and George Washington even read it to his troops. So start reading, as it’s only fitting to read the pamphlet which inspired the Colonists to fight, on Independence Day itself.
To Kill A Mockingbird
“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” – Harper Lee
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is American in so many ways: it takes place in the South, it teaches empathy, tolerance, and acceptance, it uses vernacular dialects. It even has the quintessential mystery neighbor in the form of Boo Radley. Told from little Scout’s point of view in Alabama, it follows the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of rape. It simply rings with an American feeling, and is considered one of the best American books ever.
America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines
“The term “tomboy,” one nineteenth-century author recalled, looking back at the pre–Civil War era, “was applied to all little girls who showed the least tendency toward thinking and acting for themselves.”” – Gail Collins
America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins, is a comprehensive, witty, and historical telling of the women of America, starting at Roanoke Island, and going all the way to the 1970s. It focuses on individual lives, weaves them together, and leaves you with an understanding of how gender norms, education, sex, fashion, and a whole host of other social aspects shaped the American women in the past, and today. This book is a must for every American women, and reading it on the Fourth of July would make it extra special.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
“Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships.” – Zora Neale Hurston
One of the greatest books of the twentieth century, and an acclaimed African-American novel, this book is poetic and musical, the language common and vernacular, and the story compelling. It may not make you feel particularly patriotic, but it is a book that offers a glimpse into one of many American cultures, and lives.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
“Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.” – Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an American classic. Twain wrote the whole thing in vernacular English, and captured the American spirit throughout the novel. Take a tour down America’s favorite river with Huck, and feel your American pride starting to flow.
“There are no people on earth in whom a spirit of enthusiastic zeal is so readily kindled, and burns so remarkably, as Americans.” – David McCullough
You probably won’t finish the book 1776, written by historian David McCullough, in just one day. Still, reading this on the Fourth of July will elicit: 1) Patriotic emotions, 2) Tears of red, white, and blue, and 3) A deeper appreciation of historical narrations. George Washington, George the III, and Henry Knox all appear in this telling of the early events of the American Revolution.
The Gettysburg Address
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln
The writers (and one lady in particular) of Literally, Darling love Abraham Lincoln. Greatest President? Check. Charismatic speaker? Check. Amazing writer? Of course. The Gettysburg Address is one of the greatest things, ever. It’s short and sweet, powerful and evocative, simple and moving. It also bleeds American spirit. If you read nothing else today on the day that marks American Independence Day, then read The Gettysburg Address.
Happy reading, and happy Fourth of July!