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Amor Towles’ list of books read while writing The Lincoln Highway

Amor Towles’ list of books read while writing The Lincoln Highway
Shared during a One Book — One Lincoln author discussion online, November 20, 2022
Amor Towles — Author (The Lincoln Highway; A Gentleman in Moscow; and more…)

The Lincoln Highway
by Amor Towles (2021) (Towles)

The bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction-to the City of New York. Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’s third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.


View the video interview on YouTube (through December 31st, 2022)




On Sunday, November 20, 2022, a One Book — One Lincoln event took place online via Zoom meeting software — a discussion with Amor Towles, the author of The Lincoln Highway, the winning title selected by popular public vote for the 2022 One Book — One Lincoln community reading project. During the hour-long discussion, Towles discussed some of the books he read while he was writing The Lincoln Highway, which included the following four titles.


Go Tell It On the Mountain
by James Baldwin (1953) (Baldwin)

In one of the greatest American classics, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin tells the story of the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Originally published in 1953, Baldwin said of his first novel, “Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.”


The Long Goodbye
by Raymond Chandler (1953) (Chandler)

The renowned novel from crime fiction master Raymond Chandler, with the “quintessential urban private eye” (Los Angeles Times), Philip Marlowe.

In noir master Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, Philip Marlowe befriends a down on his luck war veteran with the scars to prove it. Then he finds out that Terry Lennox has a very wealthy nymphomaniac wife, whom he divorced and remarried and who ends up dead. And now Lennox is on the lam and the cops and a crazy gangster are after Marlowe.


A Good Man is Hard to Find; and Other Stories
by Flannery O’Connor (1953 short story) (O’Connor)

An essential collection of classic stories that established Flannery O’Connor’s reputation as an American master of fiction. In 1955, with the title story and others in this critical edition, Flannery O’Connor firmly laid claim to her place as one of the most original and provocative writers of her generation. Steeped in a Southern Gothic tradition that would become synonymous with her name, these stories show O’Connor’s unique view of life ― infused with religious symbolism, haunted by apocalyptic possibility, sustained by the tragic comedy of human behavior, confronted by the necessity of salvation. These classic stories ― including “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” “Good Country People,” and “The Displaced Person,” among others, are sure to inspire future generations of fans and remind existing readers why she remains a master of the short story.

The title story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, is a short story first published in 1953. The author, in her own words, described it as “the story of a family of six which, on its way driving to Florida from Georgia, gets wiped out by an escaped convict who calls himself the Misfit”. The story remains the most anthologized and most well-known of all of O’Connor’s works.


The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
by Sloan Wilson (1955) (Wilson)

Universally acclaimed when first published in 1955, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit captured the mood of a generation. Its title ― like Catch-22 and Fahrenheit 451 ― has become a part of America’s cultural vocabulary. Tom Rath doesn’t want anything extraordinary out of life: just a decent home, enough money to support his family, and a career that won’t crush his spirit. After returning from World War II, he takes a PR job at a television network. It is inane, dehumanizing work. But when a series of personal crises force him to reexamine his priorities ― and take responsibility for his past ― he is finally moved to carve out an identity for himself. This is Sloan Wilson’s searing indictment of a society that had just begun to lose touch with its citizens. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is a classic of American literature and the basis of the award-winning film starring Gregory Peck.


Added to BookGuide in November 2022 | CL/Amor Towles