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I love that the list includes Louisa May Alcott but did Little Women really help shape America?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

15 Comments

  1. SAO
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 06:55:18

    I suspect Little Women did a lot to convince American women that they didn’t have to be sweet Megs, saintly Beths or silly Amys. Did girls who grew up thinking it was okay to be Jo become suffragettes?

    In medicine, fake medicine has been conflated with poor medicine and the drug companies have urged the gov’t to act against poor quality medicine by chasing the fakers. However, in Africa, a decent part of the problem with low quality medicine is poor quality coming from local factories making generics, not Chinese fakes. By conflating the two, it looks like expensive, patented medicine is the solution, when decent quality generics would be cheaper. I hope Europe was wise to resist this kind of thing.

    Also, the third world generally can’t afford a high quality text book per student, so they scan and lend or resell them at an affordable price. Again, an effective attack on piracy would seriously harm education. This has gone on as long as Xerox machines have existed. Raids are cheap, but actual prosecutions are expensive, so developing world countries pressured on piracy tend to raid, when pressured but not actually follow through with prosecution, meaning the pirates are back in business within a month.

    To really deal with piracy, thought has to go into thinking about the needs of countries who can’t afford to pay developed country prices for copyrighted goods. I don’t see that happening. Maybe declining to sign on to ACTA is a first step.

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  2. Author on Vacation
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 07:11:46

    @SAO:

    I think the value of “Little Women” is its semibiographical style. I also think it’s odd you’d consider Amy “silly.” I’ve always considered her the best developed character in the novel excepting Jo. She also experiences more growth and change than the other characters, probably because she’s the youngest and the “baby sister.” I liked how honest she was to herself (and to others.)

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  3. Jane
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 07:28:42

    @SAO I agree. I’ve always felt Amy was the definition of a flibbertigibbet and the sequel only confirmed that. However, you may be right that Jo was an empowering figure for a lot of girls.

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  4. Lynnd
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 08:53:43

    Thanks for the article on the the VAT and books. Here in Ontario the printed books and audio books are charged a reduced HST of 5% while digital books are charged at the full rate of 13%. I’ll be interested to see how this is resolved (if at all) in the EU.

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  5. Dabney
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 08:59:38

    I was surprised that neither “The Crucible”not “Death of a Salesman” made the list,

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  6. Tamara
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 09:49:17

    Anne Shirley had a far greater impact on me than Jo March. As much as I enjoyed Alcott’s work, the preachiness was overbearing and lessened the enjoyment of the story. Anne Shirley was real and believable. But I guess this list is just for American authors?

    I’m surprised all the various organized-religion texts were left off the list. Or maybe I’m not.

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  7. Maya S.
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 09:49:55

    What surprised me was “The Double Helix.” I had to read it for my college chemistry classes, but I would never have thought to put it on the list. Maybe it really was quite influential when it was first published, but I think Richard Fenyman’s books would be more representative of influential books in the genre of scientific writing.

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  8. Tamara
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 09:59:29

    I’d venture to make the case that This Side of Paradise, with its immensely popular and eye-opening view of the “new” American young adulthood, had greater impact, at least at the time, than The Great Gatsby did some years later.

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  9. Tamara
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 10:14:48

    I’d also include Davis and Downing’s 1842 work “Cottage Residences” which shaped America in a very literal sense and had an enormous impact on architects thereafter.

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  10. Anne V
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 11:27:17

    There’s a lot of overlap between the books that shaped america list and the required reading lists for my ap american lit & history classes in high school.

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  11. leslie
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 12:17:36

    What a great list!
    Anne Shirley is wonderful, but L.M. Montgomery was a Canadian author.
    The Band Played On was an extraordinary book, I’m glad it made the list.

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  12. Lynnd
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 12:28:18

    @Tamara: Well, they do have Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” on the list which is set in Canada’s Yukon Territory and is about the Klondike Gold Rush. London was an American author so I guess that’s why it qualifie and our Anne doesn’t. That’s probably why the religious texts aren’t on the list either.

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  13. Ridley
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 12:53:56

    I’d call that list “Books That Describe America,” rather than “shaped.” But that’s just me.

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  14. DS
    Jul 06, 2012 @ 18:04:12

    If you want to enjoy some irony, the Label is arguing in Redigi that the downloads are a license, but in a separate class action dispute brought by Rob Zombie, David Coverdale, Dave Mason, and the estate of Rick James against Universal Music Group, the Label is arguing that it is a sale. License and sale were treated differently in these contracts with different royalties. A sale is much more lucrative for the Label than a license under these contracts.

    Eminem’s win in the 9th circuit (cert denied by the S. Ct.) has paved the way for this current, interesting battle.

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  15. willaful
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 14:36:54

    A quote from Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster: “I have four going at once. Just now, they’re Tennyson’s poems and Vanity Fair and Kipling’s Plain Tales and—don’t laugh—Little Women. I find that I am the only girl in college who wasn’t brought up on Little Women. I haven’t told anybody though (that WOULD stamp me as queer). I just quietly went and bought it with $1.12 of my last month’s allowance; and the next time somebody mentions pickled limes, I’ll know what she is talking about!”

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