Our Favourite Books by American Authors

Gone With the Wind, Moby-Dick, Of Mice and Men... so many incredible classics and spellbinding stories were written by authors from the USA. See below for just some of our favourite books by American authors.

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1. Moby-Dick

Herman Melville

This expansive feat of the imagination follows Captain Ahab and his reckless quest to kill Moby Dick, a giant white whale which had, on a previous voyage, bitten off Captain Ahab's leg at the knee. Ahab has sworn vengeance - at any cost. This epic story of fatal monomania, dark obsessions and the deepest dreams of mankind is simply a must-read for booklovers.

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2. Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck

This stunning tear-jerker tells the story of two American drifters, the small, sharp George and his big, childlike friend, Lennie. Both are searching for work in the fields and valleys of California, dreaming that they'll find a place of their own one day and realise the American dream. But gentle giant Lennie doesn't know his own strength and lands himself in a lot of trouble, especially with the boss's daughter-in-law, 'Curley's wife'. It is up to George to protect his friend, but even he will struggle to save him. 1920s America is vividly brought to life in this gripping novel, which centrally features the unique friendship between two unforgettable characters.

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3. The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is set in the glittering world of 1920s New York. It follows Nick, who moves in next-door to the mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is the man who seems to have everything and he holds extravagant parties in his magnificent mansion to prove it, full of bright young things drinking and dancing - but Gatsby himself only ever seems to watch and wait. One thing will always be out of his reach, and soon, his secret longing will cause his whole world to unravel... This riveting read is riddled with romance, drama and tragedy, and features themes of materialistic excess, social upheaval, love and jealousy.

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4. The Color Purple

Alice Walker

Set in the American South between the wars, this haunting novel stars Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and persecution. Abused by the man she calls 'father', she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie, and is trapped in an ugly marriage. But then, Celie meets the glamorous Shug Avery, a singer and magic-maker, a woman who commands her own destiny. Celie will gradually uncover the power and joy of her own spirit, and will have the chance to free herself from the past and reunite with those she loves.

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5. The Catcher in the Rye

J. D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield, the cynical young protagonist of this engrossing novel, is driven by ambiguous angst and general misery. He ends up in a succession of challenging encounters with a prostitute, her pimp, an ex-girlfriend and a former teacher. This shocking and stirring story is a literary classic.

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6. The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead

Follow Cora and Caesar, slaves working on a cotton plantation in Georgia, as they embark on a daring escape through the Underground Railroad across America. Whitehead's imagining of its physical form sees it as a dilapidated box car pulled along by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. Cora and Caesar must travel state by state, encountering a new world at every stop, trying to evade the slave-catcher on their heels. This book won the National Book Award 2016 for Fiction.

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7. To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

This inspiring and gripping story is told from the perspective of six-year-old Scout, who lives in the American Deep South. Her father, the lawyer Atticus Finch, is determined to defend a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman. Animosity and prejudice against Scout's family inevitably follow, and Scout soon comes to truly comprehend the magnitude of the injustice and racism present in her own hometown. Powerful and moving, this classic is a must-read.

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8. A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L'Engle

This much-loved science fiction novel follows the misfit siblings Meg and Charles. Worried about her missing father and performing poorly at school, Meg struggles with everything that seems wrong with her life, but then events start to take a mysterious turn. Together with Charles and her friend Calvin, she comes across a gap in time through which she embarks on a thrilling and perilous adventure.

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9. Revolutionary Road

Richard Yates

An instant classic upon publication in 1961, this is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright and beautiful couple who dream of more than their hollow suburban lifestyle. Bored and frustrated, they decide to move to Paris, but this plan quickly starts to crumble apart - especially when April conceives the couple's third child. This gripping page-turner will have readers hooked.

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10. Gone With the Wind

Margaret Mitchell

Set against the tumultuous background of the American Civil War, this glorious historical epic is an unforgettable story of love, loss, a nation divided and a people forever changed. But above all, it is the story of the ruthless and beautiful Scarlett O'Hara, and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler. This timeless tale will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

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  • AEECN
    Herman Melville
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    'The frail gunwales bent in, collapsed, and snapped, as both jaws, like an enormous shears, sliding further aft, bit the craft completely in twain...' "Moby-Dick" is one of the most expansive feats of imagination in the whole of literature: the mad, raging, Shakespearean tale of Captain Ahab's insane quest to kill a giant white whale that has taken his leg, and upon which he has sworn vengeance, at any cost. A creation unlike any other, this is an epic story of fatal monomania and the deepest dreams and obsessions of mankind. The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
  • AADJP
    John Steinbeck
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    Of Mice and Men tells the story of streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie. A pair of drifters searching for work in the fields and valleys of California, they have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they'll find a place of their own and be able to live the American dream. George owning the land, and Lennie tending to the rabbits. But dreams come at a price. Gentle giant Lennie doesn't know his own strength, and when they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss's daughter-in-law. Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him. John Steinbeck brilliantly brings 1920s America to life in this life-affirming tale of a special friendship.

  • AKASE
    Alice Walker
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    Set in the deep American South between the wars, THE COLOR PURPLE is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls 'father', she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker - a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves. 'One of the most haunting books you could ever wish to read ...it is stunning - moving, exciting, and wonderful' Lenny Henry
  • AADSU
    F.Scott Fitzgerald
    (2)
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    Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach...Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby - young, handsome, fabulously rich - always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
  • RYE2 13 years +
    JD Salinger
    13 years +
    (1)
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    The Catcher in the Rye has an enduring attraction that puts it at the top of a must-read list for young adults. The cynical observations of J. D. Salinger's central character, Holden Caulfield, condemn the phony posturing and hypocrisy of those around him.

    Holden is driven by vague, unspecified angst and unhappiness and manages to get caught up in a series of uncomfortable encounters with a prostitute, her pimp, an old girlfriend and a former teacher.

    The Catcher in the Rye is as thought-provoking and compulsive as the conflicts of its central character. Recommended for readers 14+.

    This children's book has been hand-picked for you by Red House.
  • AIXZG
    Margaret Mitchell
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    Tomorrow is another day ...Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell's magnificent historical epic is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and a people forever changed. Above all, it is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett O'Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler. Since its first publication in 1936, Gone With The Wind has endured as a story for all our times.
  • AACUN
    Richard Yates
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    Hailed as a masterpiece from the moment of its first publication, "Revolutionary Road" is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple whose empty suburban life is held together by the dream that greatness is only just round the corner. With heartbreaking compassion and clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their hopes and ideals, betraying in the end not only each other, but their own best selves.
  • AWI2 11 years +
    Madeleine L'Engle
    11 years +
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    With her book A Wrinkle in Time, gifted children's author Madeleine L'Engle has created an absorbing science fiction novel that revolves around the likeable, misfit characters of Meg and her brother, Charles.

    Criticised by her teachers for doing badly at school and worried about her missing father, Meg is struggling with how wrong her life is when events take a mysterious turn. Together with Charles and her friend Calvin, she stumbles upon a gap in time through which the children embark on an amazing and dangerous adventure.

    A gripping read for any young adult fiction fan aged 11+ who have ever felt like the odd one out!
  • KMK2 14 years +
    Harper Lee
    14 years +
    (4)
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    Harper Lee's acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird won a Pulitzer Prize after its publication in 1960 and is hugely influential in its exposure of racial prejudice.

    Set in the American Deep South, the story is seen through the eyes of six-year-old Scout, whose lawyer father Atticus Finch defends a young black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

    As Scout's family deals with the hostility and prejudice as a result of the case, there's a dawning realisation for Scout of all the inequality and injustice in her world.

    Powerful and moving, this 'Great American Novel' is a must-have addition to every reader's bookshelf and with the publication of follow-up Go Set a Watchman already one of the biggest sellers of the year, now is the perfect time to rediscover the hugely important book.
  • AVHVB
    Colson Whitehead
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    Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017 and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017, Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad is an exciting, impeccable and moving read about a slave's desperate bid for freedom.

    Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia and also an outcast even among her fellow Africans. She is approaching womanhood and it's clear that even greater pain lies ahead. When Caesar, a slave who has only recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to escape to the north...

    The Underground Railroad is a dilapidated box car being pulled along tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives along the way and Cora and Caesar first stop off in South Carolina. it seems like a haven but then they discover a slave catcher is close on their heels.

    Every stop of the journey finds a different world in this novel that expertly recreates the unique terrors for black people during the pre-Civil War era.