July 1, 2012 12:00 AM

Library of Congress’ American books exhibit casts a wide net

WASHINGTON — Most great book lists concentrate on works of the highest literary or scholarly merit. Think of the Harvard Classics, Harold Bloom’s “Western Canon,” the Modern Library’s selection of “the 100 best novels of the 20th century.” Here, the compilers imply, are our cultural masterpieces, the Mount Everests and K2s all literate people should scale in their lifetime. You haven’t read already Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” or James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake”? Get cracking and break out the ropes, climbing shoes and pitons.

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