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What are the 100 Best Books Published or Written in Massachusetts since the 17th Century?

What are the 100 Best Books Written or Published in Massachusetts since the Seventeenth Century: a panel discussion, will run from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at Rare Books Boston. The panel will be moderated by publisher and letterpress printer David Godine, with panelists John Buchtel, Ph.D., Curator of Rare Books and Head of Special Collections at the Boston Athenaeum, Carol Bundy, a historian and biographer, Ken Gloss, owner of Boston’s Brattle Bookshop; of Boston, Matt Tannenbaum, owner of The Bookstore, of Lenox, MA, and Henry Wessells, of James Cummins, Bookseller, of New York, NY. The panel discussion will be filmed and available for viewing through this website.

“Why start our discussion in the 1600s? That century was a banner year in the history of book publishing as The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre, commonly called The Bay Psalm Book, a metrical psalter, translated into English, was printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, becoming the first book published in British North America,” says Mark Brumberg, Director of Rare Books Boston.

Among the books, magazines and newspapers, published in the nineteenth century, under consideration for the 100 Best are: Tamerlane and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (1827), The Liberator by William Lloyd Garrison (1931 – 1865 ), Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1836) , Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave (1845), Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas DeQuincy (1850) , The Scarlet Letter, a Romance (1850) , Moby Dick , or, the Whale (1851) , Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) , Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854) , The Atlantic (1857) , Leaves of Grass, Third Edition by Walt Whitman (1860) , Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs (1861) , Little Women or, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy by Louisa May Alcott (1868).

Which of these classic books from the twentieth century will be included on the 100 Greatest? : Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth (1905), Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (1908), Sigmund Freud’s Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis (1910), Dr. Seuss’ (Theodore Seuss Geisel ) And to Think That I saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939), Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940), James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings (1941) , H.A. Rey’s Curious George (1941), Richard Wilbur’s’ The Beautiful Changes, and Other Poems (1947), J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951), Leonard Baskin’s On a Pyre of Withered Roses (1952), James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son (1955) , Philip Roth’s Goodbye Columbus and Five Short Stories (1959), Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring (1962)), and Sylvia Plath’s Ariel (1965).

“Our 100 Greatest list is not set in stone. It is growing, under debate, a work in progress. We hope to be able to compile a definitive list in 2023, with further input from panelists, special collections librarians, authors, publishers, book historians, literary scholars, academics, avid readers, book collectors and antiquarian booksellers. An annotated list with a full bibliography and illustrations is planned,” Brumberg said.

The 100 Greatest panel discussion is supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Center for the Book.

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