Robert Frost: his 10 favorite books of all time(Read article summary)
In addition to being a master writer, celebrated American poet Robert Frost was also a master reader.
This year includes the 50th anniversary of Robert Frost‚Äôs death, and April‚Äôs observance of National Poetry Month is a good time to remember the 20th century‚Äôs most celebrated American poet.
Frost (1874-1963) is perhaps best known for poems such as ‚ÄúStopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúThe Death of the Hired Man,‚ÄĚ compositions inspired by the New England countryside that nevertheless attained universal appeal.
Not surprisingly, this master writer was also a master reader, and when the Massachusetts Library Association asked Frost to name his favorite books, he wrote an interesting top 10 list in 1934.
‚Äú‚ÄėThe Odyssey‚Äô chooses itself, the first in time and rank of all romances,‚ÄĚ Frost told readers in introducing his first pick. ‚Äú‚ÄėRobinson Crusoe‚Äô is never quite out of my mind,‚ÄĚ he added in offering his second choice. ‚ÄúI never tire of being shown how the limited can make snug in the limitless.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWalden,‚ÄĚ Henry David Thoreau‚Äôs classic, came in at No. 3. ‚ÄúCrusoe was cast away; Thoreau was self-cast away,‚ÄĚ Frost observed. ‚ÄúBoth found themselves sufficient. No prose writer has ever been more fortunate in subject than these two.‚ÄĚ
The tales of Edgar Allan Poe ranked fourth on Frost‚Äôs lists. ‚ÄúHere is every kind of entertainment the short story can afford,‚ÄĚ Frost wrote.
For his fifth and sixth choices, Frost picked ‚ÄúThe Oxford Book of Verse‚ÄĚ and editor Louis Untermeyer‚Äôs ‚ÄúModern American and British Poetry.‚ÄĚ James Fenimore Cooper‚Äôs ‚ÄúThe Last of the Mohicans‚ÄĚ earned a No. 7 spot because, wrote Frost, the novel ‚Äúsupplies us once and for all with our way of thinking of the American Indian.‚ÄĚ
Frost recommended his eighth choice, Anthony Hope‚Äôs ‚ÄúThe Prisoner of Zenda,‚ÄĚ as ‚Äúsurely one of the very best of our modern best-sellers.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe Jungle Book,‚ÄĚ Rudyard Kipling‚Äôs famous adventure story, was No. 9. ‚ÄúI shall read it again as often as I can find a new child to listen to me,‚ÄĚ Frost explained.
Ralph Waldo Emerson‚Äôs ‚ÄúEssays and Poems‚ÄĚ rounded out the list at No. 10. Frost found in Emerson ‚Äúthe rapture of idealism either way you have it, in prose or in verse and in brief.‚ÄĚ
Frost‚Äôs Top 10 list appears in ‚ÄúFrost: Collected Poems, Prose & Plays,‚ÄĚ a 1995 Library of America edition that‚Äôs a handy introduction to his work.
Meanwhile, as spring deepens its hold on the calendar, it‚Äôs not too early to start thinking of a summer reading list. Half a century after his passing, Frost‚Äôs recommendations seem a good place to start.