New England Seminar Past Readings

2021–2022

  • Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
  • Heather Cox Richardson, How the South Won the Civil War 
  • Madeline Miller, Circe: A Novel
  • George V. Higgins, The Friends of Eddie Coyle
  • Henry James, The Aspern Papers 
  • Susan Cheever, American  Bloomsbury 
  • Tobey Pearl, Terror to the Wicked
  • Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea 
  • John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle
  • Andrea Barrett, The Air We Breathe 
  • Donna Tartt, The Secret History
  • Ernest Hebert, The Dogs of March
  • Mark Frost, The Greatest Game Ever Played
  • Jennifer Haigh, Mercy Street

2020–2021

  • Eve LaPlante, American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans
  • Carolyn Chute, The Beans of Egypt
  • Amor Towles, Rules of Civility
  • Stephen Puleo, Voyage of Mercy
  • T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets (optional reading J. C. Woods, The Voices of Silence: Meditations on T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets)
  • Tracey Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer
  • Jeanna Ellsworth and Kent Garrett, The Last Negroes at Harvard
  • Dorothy West, The Wedding
  • Nicholas Weber, Patron Saints: Five Rebels Who Opened America to New Art
  • Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance
  • Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
  • Kerri Greenidge, Black Radical

2019–2020

  • Patrick Keefe, Say Nothing
  • William Heat-Moon, Blue Highways
  • Julie Schumacher, Dear Committee Members
  • Jonathan Kozol, Death at an Early Age
  • Jenna Blum, The Lost Family 
  • Katharine Smyth, All the Lives We Ever Lived
  • Kevin Birmingham, The Most Dangerous Book
  • Christopher Castellani, Leading Men
  • Richard Russo, Empire Falls

2018–2019

  • Donald Hall, String Too Short to be Saved
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
  • Donna Lucey, Sargent’s Women
  • Anita Diamant, The Boston Girl
  • Jennifer Haigh, Heat and Light
  • Charles Mann, 1491
  • Matthew Pearl, The Dante Club
  • William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings
  • Jane Goodrich, The House at Lobster Cove
  • George Santayana, The Last Puritan

2017

  • Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow
  • Joseph Ellis, Founding Brothers
  • Howard Frank Mosher, Stranger in the Kingdom
  • John Kaag, American Philosophy
  • Elyssa East, Dogtown​
  • John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
  • David Grann, The Lost City of Z
  • George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
  • Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  • Donald Hall, String Too Short to be Saved

2016

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time​
  • John E. Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson
  • Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
  • Jane Brox, Clearing Land
  • Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin
  • Patricia O’Toole, Five of Hearts
  • Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book
  • Colin Woodward, Lobster Coast
  • Edith Wharton, Fighting France: From Dunkirk to Belfort​

2015

  • David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest
  • Elizabeth Hope Cushing, Community by Design
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Autocrat of Breakfast Table
  • John Stuart Mill, Autobiography
  • Stephen Vincent Benet, “The Devil and Daniel Webster”
  • Henry James, The Bostonians
  • Edith Wharton, Age of Innocence
  • Megan Marshall, Margaret Fuller
  • Jill Lepore, Book of Ages
  • Colm Tóibín, The Master

2014

  • John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
  • Herman Melville, Typee
  • Louisa May Alcott, Transcendental Wild Oats
  • Eugene O’Neill, Mourning Becomes Electra
  • W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folks
  • Danzy Senna, Caucasia
  • Henry David Thoreau, Slavery in Massachusetts
  • John Cheever, The Wapshot Scandal

2013

  • Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us
  • Robert Edsal, The Monuments Men
  • R.H. Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
  • John Updike, Couples
  • Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns
  • Brian Moore, Black Robe
  • Henry Beston, Northern Farm
  • Jill Lepore, The Name of War
  • Witold Rybcynski, Clearing in the Distance
  • Rudyard Kipling, Captains Courageous

2012

  • Michael Rawson, Eden on the Charles
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun
  • John Matteson, Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
  • Thomas O’Connor, Civil War Boston
  • Stephen Sondheim, Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics
  • Annette Gordon-Reed,The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
  • Brenda Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • Alex Ross, Listen to This
  • Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War
  • Paul Schneider, The Enduring Shore:  A History of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket

2011

  • Daniel McCall, Citizens of Somewhere Else: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James
  • James Boswell, London Journal, 1762-1763
  • Colm Toibin, The Master
  • Rachel Wheeler, To Live Upon Hope: Mohicans and Missionaries in the 18th Century Northeast
  • Henry James, The Sacred Fount
  • Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Michael J. Rawson, Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston

2010

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin, A Team of Rivals
  • Trevor Corson, The Secret Life of Lobsters
  • Samuel Pepys, A Pepys Anthology
  • Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

2009

  • David Remnick (ed.), Just Enough Liebling
  • Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives   
  • Luc Sante, Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York
  • John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer
  • David McCullough, The Great Bridge
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
  • Lukas, Common Ground
  • Hentoff, Boston Boy
  • Strout, Olive Kitteridge

2008

  • Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
  • G. Edward White, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • Shaun O’Connell, Imagining Boston
  • Richard Russo, Empire Falls
  • Atul Gawande, Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes
  • Robert Caro, The Power Broker
  • Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
  • Alfred Kazin, A Walker in the City
  • Wilfred Sheed, The House That George Built

2007

  • Henry Adams, Esther
  • R. H. Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
  • C. F. Woolson, “Miss Grief” & “St. Clair Flats”
  • Henry James, The Aspern Papers
  • Edith Wharton, Summer & Ethan Frome
  • Stephen and Paul Kendrick, Sarah’s Long Walk
  • David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed
  • Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower
  • Susan Cheever, American Bloomsbury
  • John Mack Faragher, A Great and Noble Scheme
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,  “Evangeline”

2006

  • John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tulmutuous Election of 1800
  • Andrew Delbanco, Writing New England: An Anthology from the Puritans to the Present
  • Megan Marshall, The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism
  • Gary Wills, Henry Adams and the Making of America
  • Henry Adams, The History of the United States of America During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson
  • Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs
  • Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod
  • Ida Hay, Science in the Pleasure Ground: A History of the Arnold Arboretum
  • Zadie Smith, On Beauty
  • Nicholas F. Webber, Patron Saints: Five Rebels Who Opened America to New Art
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (with essay by D. H. Lawrence)

2005

  • Larry McMurtry, Duane Depressed
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walking
  • Emily Dickinson (selected poems)
  • Andrew Delbanco, Writing New England, Dissident Dreamers
  • Simon Schama, Dead Certainties
  • Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
  • Peter Davison, The Fading Smile: Poets in Boston, 1955-60
  • Henry W. Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha

2004

  • Robert Lowell (selected poems)
  • John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive
  • Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography
  • Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Short Essay on Civil Obedience
  • William James, Varieties of Religious Experience
  • Robert Frost (selected poems)
  • William Dean Howells, A Hazard of New Fortunes
  • Henry Adams, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres
  • John Cheever, The Wapshot Chronicle

2003

  • Henry James, The Europeans
  • Arthur Miller, The Crucible
  • Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America
  • Mona Domosh, Invented Cities
  • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,  A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard
  • Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma
  • Edmund S. Morgan, Benjamin Franklin
  • Jean Stafford, Boston Adventure

2000–2002

  • George Santayana, The Last Puritan
  • Henry James, The Bostonians
  • Witold Rybczynski, A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick L. Olmstead & America in the 19 th C.
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
  • Herman Melville, Billy Budd
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Blithedale Romance
  • Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club
  • Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
  • Robert Linscott, ed., State of Mind
  • Edwin O’Connor, The Last Hurrah
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne (selected short stories)
  • Alice Stone Blackwell, Growing Up in Boston’s Gilded Age 1872-74
  • Robert B. Parker, Looking for Rachel Wallace
  • Dorothy West, The Living is Easy
  • Henry Mayer, All On Fire: William Lloyd Garrison
  • J.P.Marquand, The Late George Apley
  • William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham