Originally Posted by HarryT
Certainly it is. My point was simply that authors who are regarded as "essential reading" in one culture are not necessarily so in another. Eg, I suspect that rather few British people have read Steinbeck, despite his (justifiable) fame in the US. I would (at the risk of modesty) consider myself to be extremely well-read, especially when it comes to the classics, but I must confess that I've never read any of his work.
I'd completely agree. Essential does vary from country to country. That's a lot of what is great about MobileRead. We get recommendations from readers in many different countries and backgrounds. I constantly ask my friends from other countries what they would suggest I read.
I think you need to read Steinbeck. I was amazed by Cannery Row last year. As a Canadian I need to read Mordecai Richler, Margaret Atwood and Robertson Davies, all of whom I haven't read anything by. But then they weren't on our reading lists when I went to school.