April 3, 1960: The Times’ Sunday supplement, This Week magazine, features its annual reading program with a list of “200 Great Books for Young Americans,” ages 14 to 18. I’m always fascinated by what people of another era considered influential books – especially whether they have been forgotten (which reminds me of the “Zombie Summer Reading Program” by my friends Mary McCoy and Brady Potts).
In fact, many of the titles on this list have endured: Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” Others will be familiar to people who are of a certain age, haunt thrift stores or were desperate to read something at the summer cabin: James Gould Cozzens’ “S.S. San Pedro,” John Gunther’s “Inside Russia Today” and Peter Freuchen’s “Book of the Seven Seas.” And some are just obscure.
An interesting wrinkle: Books that especially appealed to girls were indicated with an asterisk, but writer Clifton Fadiman says it’s OK -- really it is -- if boys want to read “The Nun’s Story,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “A New England Girlhood.”
I was a bit surprised that J.D. Salinger and Rachel Carson made the list. And even more surprised that William Faulkner didn’t.