Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Robert Frost: his 10 favorite books of all time

In addition to being a master writer, celebrated American poet Robert Frost was also a master reader.

By / April 10, 2013

'The Odyssey' by Homer was Robert Frost's pick for his favorite book of all tme

Enlarge

This year includes the 50th anniversary of Robert Frost’s death, and April’s observance of National Poetry Month is a good time to remember the 20th century’s most celebrated American poet.

Skip to next paragraph

Recent posts

Frost (1874-1963) is perhaps best known for poems such as “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “The Death of the Hired Man,” 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.

“‘The Odyssey’ chooses itself, the first in time and rank of all romances,” Frost told readers in introducing his first pick. “‘Robinson Crusoe’ is never quite out of my mind,” he added in offering his second choice. “I never tire of being shown how the limited can make snug in the limitless.”

“Walden,” Henry David Thoreau’s classic, came in at No. 3. “Crusoe was cast away; Thoreau was self-cast away,” Frost observed. “Both found themselves sufficient. No prose writer has ever been more fortunate in subject than these two.”

The tales of Edgar Allan Poe ranked fourth on Frost’s lists. “Here is every kind of entertainment the short story can afford,” Frost wrote.

For his fifth and sixth choices, Frost picked “The Oxford Book of Verse” and editor Louis Untermeyer’s “Modern American and British Poetry.” James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans” earned a No. 7 spot because, wrote Frost, the novel “supplies us once and for all with our way of thinking of the American Indian.”

Frost recommended his eighth choice, Anthony Hope’s “The Prisoner of Zenda,” as “surely one of the very best of our modern best-sellers.”

“The Jungle Book,” Rudyard Kipling’s famous adventure story, was No. 9. “I shall read it again as often as I can find a new child to listen to me,” Frost explained.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Essays and Poems” rounded out the list at No. 10. Frost found in Emerson “the rapture of idealism either way you have it, in prose or in verse and in brief.”

Frost’s Top 10 list appears in “Frost: Collected Poems, Prose & Plays,” a 1995 Library of America edition that’s a handy introduction to his work.

Meanwhile, as spring deepens its hold on the calendar, it’s not too early to start thinking of a summer reading list. Half a century after his passing, Frost’s recommendations seem a good place to start.

Permissions

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

What are you reading?

Let me know about a good book you've read recently, or about the book that's currently on your bedside table. Why did you pick it up? Are you enjoying it?

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Endeavor Global, cofounded by Linda Rottenberg (here at the nonprofit’s headquarters in New York), helps entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Linda Rottenberg helps people pursue dreams – and create thousands of jobs

She's chief executive of Endeavor Global, a nonprofit group that gives a leg up to budding entrepreneurs.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!