Popular American Experience Books
Freedom Riders (2010)
20 Best Books About The American Dream
In the Classroom. Museum Studies. National Air and Space Museum Titles. National Museum of American History Titles. National Museum of Natural History Titles. National Museum of the American Indian Titles.
We call it "getting lost" in a novel, but what we find there is often more impactful than any nonfiction work can offer. Literature makes us more empathic and intelligent. Storytelling is how we bond, as tribes and a planet. A powerful narrative, like a good mythology, carries us far away from ourselves only to deliver us right back where we started, transformed. Since the European invasion that brought a host of newcomers to these shores, the American experiment has produced a lot of suffering and plenty of beauty.
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Whether city-dwellers or rural populations, coastal or heartland; no matter the race, gender identity, creed or sexual orientation; the experiences of each American matter. Staying in touch with disparate parts of such a large nation can be daunting, and in recent months many of us have been considering how to puncture our bubbles. For news organizations, that means committing to covering regional and local news stories around the country. For politicians, it might mean listening tours. Studies have suggested that reading literary fiction can increase empathy. Literary nonfiction may carry similar effects, by offering carefully observed portraits of human frailties and societal change, and it can certainly build a broader base of knowledge about the realities faced by Americans.
Despite the fact that American society and culture have experienced radical, dramatic changes over the centuries, the whole concept of a unique "dream" associated with it typically remains constant. Perpetuating good and ill alike depending on the individual, it often involves idealistic portrayals of opportunity, family, freedom, and economic prosperity, particularly home ownership. Whether or not these factors work for everyone is another story entirely. Recent graduates now faced with forging a life of their own will inevitably encounter many, if not all, of its tenets at some point, regardless of whether they ultimately end up fulfilled. As most of these books illustrate, The American Dream may not always prove to be the apple pie ideal everyone thinks it is.
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