I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
First, happy 4th of July to all my fellow American bibliophiles. Wear sunscreen!
Second, whoo boy, this one is a tough one. I have no idea what to pick - I'm not sure I have a favorite American novel.
So, I'm going with Clear and Present Danger. It's not even my favorite Clancy novel, but my reasons are twofold and closely related. I'll try to be brief, but there is a story behind this.
This book was first published in 1989, right after my parents took me on a trip to Ecuador and Columbia. This was my first international trip and my first taste of the perceptions others have of Americans. A good chuck of our time in Columbia was spent hiking in the mountains of Medellín where a lot of Clear and Present Danger takes place (no, mom, that isn't coffee bagged up on the side of the road...) The book looks at what happens when powerful men get too full of their own power and try an "ends justify the means" approach to winning the drug war.
After leaving Medellín, we went through Bogota on our way to Ecuador and were promptly robbed of, well, everything. Including passports. This gave me yet another glimpse of not only attitudes towards Americans, but what it actually meant to be an American. Never has that been made so clear to me than when I was stranded in a country that didn't enjoy the same faithfulness to civil liberties, and never have I appreciated the consulate system as much. Also, and I hope I never forget this, a total stranger (American), overheard my dad talking to the police, walked up and handed him $100 dollars and then just walked away. I'm sure there are people all over the world who would be so kind to a total stranger, but it did leave a lasting impression on a teenager about civic pride.
So this book represents my "coming of age" in the sense that I learned a lot more about my place in the world that summer of '88, and Jack Ryan and John Clark represent what good Americans will do to help get those stranded and left behind back home.