New England Seminar Past Readings

2024

    • Tracy Kidder, Rough Sleepers
    • Celeste Ng, Our Missing Hearts
    • Elizabeth D. Leonard, Benjamin Franklin Butler

2023

    • Martha Ackmann, These Fevered Days

    • Deborah Cohen, Last Call at the Hotel Imperial

    • Ann Petry, The Narrows

    • Patrick Radden Keefe, Empire of Pain

    • Scott Borchert, Republic of Detours

    • John Taylor Williams, Shores of Bohemia

    •  Andrew Greer, Less

    • Louise Erdrich, The Night Watchman

    • Nathaniel Hawthorne, Twice Told Tales

    • Malcolm Gaskill, The Ruin of All Witches

    • Christopher C. Gorham, The Confidante

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