I am sure many of my readers know about the Library of America, a publisher “dedicated to publishing, and keeping in print, authoritative editions of America’s best and most significant writing.”
I must confess that I do not own a single volume in this series. I guess I am pretty lowbrow.
Today Reader’s Almanac, the official blog of the Library of America, announced its ten all-time best-selling titles.
Here are the top three:
Thomas Jefferson: Writings (1984)–217, 518 sold.
Mark Twain: Mississippi Writings (1982)–150,973 sold.
Abraham Lincoln: Speeches, 1859-1865 (1989)–120,589 sold.
It should be noted that Jefferson has a seven-year publication lead on Lincoln.
The only woman in the top ten is Flannery O’Connor. The rest are white men.
Read the list here.
I own two of the O'Connor volumes, and one of Richard Wright. Full disclosure: I bought them both at a library used book sale and haven't read any portion of either. (In fact, I re-bought much of the O'Connor volume in individual trade paperbacks because I thought the art was better.)
Clearly, I am pretty lowbrow too. 🙂
John Fea says
Ditto on the O'Connor.
Tim Lacy says
Correction: In the taxonomy of Dwight Macdonald, Lawrence Levine, and their descendants, not owning one of these volumes could make you either lowbrow (uninformed, ignorant, disinterested, illiterate) or highbrow (know the work, own separate writings, avoiding mass market publications). But owning volumes from the Library of America most certainly qualifies you for middlebrow. – TL