It’s getting colder and there is no greater way to spend your leisure time than reading an Americana novel next to a fire.
After a lot of debate, rewriting lists, asking friends and family, and completely giving up a couple of times, I have come up with what I believe are the top 3 Americana novels to read.
It doesn’t have to be cold to enjoy these books. I won’t deny that a roaring fire adds to the desired ambience, but that’s neither here nor there.
Without further adieu, here are my top 3 Americana novels, delivered in no particular order
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath is one of the greatest novels of all time. I first read it in high school, like many other high school students, and I learned so much from it.
The book is about a family as they move from Oklahoma to California in the midst of the dust bowl.
The family goes on a literal manifest destiny. They attempt to end their struggles, but the road isn’t easy. The ending of the novel, which is a bit odd, is perfect and optimistic.
Not only is the theme of manifest destiny Americana, but also the fact that it was challenged so heavily by schools, even banned, but is now celebrated is Americana.
Steinbeck draws on a lot of Christian imagery and presents ideas that will surely challenge the way you think.
It’s touted for the sense of family it encourages. It’s an amazing novel to read when the whole family is gathering by a fire for warmth.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Anytime American literature is mentioned, The Great Gatsby is brought up.
It’s commonly referred to as the pinnacle of American novels. Every author and aspiring author is writing with the goal to publish a book as important and impactful as what Fitzgerald brought to life on the page.
The Great Gatsby is an interesting novel from the perspective of Nick Carraway as he befriends the enigmatic Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is known for his lavish parties and mysterious persona. Nick observes from an outsider’s perspective Gatsby as he builds an obsessions with Nick’s cousin, Daisy Buchanan.
The novel is a large warning of the negative side of the typical American Dream. It perfectly encapsulates the Roaring 20s, and deals in themes of idealism, refusal to change, decadence, and social excess.
It’s an amazing novel, a favorite by millions all over America. It’s the perfect novel to crack open next to a roaring fireplace.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
The last on my list is required reading by almost all junior high school or high school students across America.
The reason it’s so important to the American youth is because it was written by Mrs. Hinton when she was 15 and 16 years old.
The novel is incredibly mature for the author that wrote it. She claims to have simply been writing down the division she saw in her own world.
The Outsiders follows Ponyboy Curtis, a greaser, as he deals with the recent death of his parents and being on the poor end of the spectrum. The greasers are constantly at war with the socs, which results in the death of a few teens and a giant all out brawl.
Hinton keeps things whimsical with the naming of the characters, but is not whimsical in dealing with very mature themes.
She makes sure to show that social class doesn’t really translate to character or moral integrity. She also proves, by having Ponyboy being smart, that social class doesn’t equal intelligence.
The Outsiders is one of my all time favorite novels, and is amazing for a quick read, or a deep one if you want that.
I have my degree in English, so I love words and books. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, narrowing my list down to only 3 Americana novels.
Just to give some other books some love, and increase some recommendations for this cold time right now, here is a list of some other novels that were up for contention for the top 3 spots.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Moby Dick, or, The Whale by Herman Melville
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
If you disagree, or think that I missed any books that belong on this list, then let me know in the comments below.