Book reviews for 2018 start Jan. 6

Happy New Year!

After a bit of a break to catch my breath after reviewing all the bestselling novels from 1900 to 1969, I’ve decided to push on with reading all the bestselling novels of the 20th century.

I’m going to try to get back on my twice-weekly schedule, with reviews published on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Looking at the lengths of the novels for the early 1970s, I almost gave up before I began. There are several 800 and 900-page novels among them. We’ll see how things go. If I can’t keep up the twice-a-week pace, I may have to cut back to once a week.

I’m going to work through the years’ lists in chronological order, and on each list work down from #1 down to #10.

I won’t be posting the each years’ bestseller lists and review dates in advance. That takes time better spent reading and reviewing.

To see what’s ahead, click the tab for the Bestsellers Lists; the 1970-1999 lists are in the bottom drop down menu.

Saturday I’ll publish my review of the #1 bestseller of 1970: Love Story.

I look forward to having you join me in reading and chatting about older fiction.

Linda Gorton Aragoni



1927’s bestselling novels slated for review

My journey leapfrogging through the bestselling novels of 1900 to 1969, reviewing sets of novels on the decade anniversary of their publication has reached 1927.

Here is the list of the bestseller list of 90 years ago which I’ll be reviewing in April. Dates my reviews are scheduled to  appear here are in square brackets.
#1 Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis [April 4 2017]
#2 The Plutocrat by Booth Tarkington  [April 8, 2017]
#3 Doomsday by Warwick Deeping [April 11, 2017]
#4 Sorrell and Son by Warwick Deeping [reviewed June 14, 2016]
#5 Jalna by Mazo de la Roche [reviewed Oct. 15, 2008]
#6 Lost Ecstasy by Mary Roberts Rinehart [April  15, 2017]
#7 Twilight Sleep by Edith Wharton [April 18, 2017]
#8 Tomorrow Morning by Anne Parrish [April 22, 2017]
#9 The Old Countess by Anne Douglas Sedgwick [April 25.2017]
#10 A Good Woman by Louis Bromfield [April 29 2017 ]

These novels are too recent to be out of copyright in the U.S. If you want to buy a second hand copy or reprint, I suggest you try, a collaborative database of independent booksellers.

The reader poll will be posted May 2 and my best of the 1927 bestsellers post on May 6.

Preview of bestselling novel reviews coming in 2017

Happy 2017, novel readers.

If all goes as planned, in 2017 I’ll reach my goal of reading and reviewing each of the bestselling novels published between 1900 and 1969. Most of the novels I’ll review this year are bestsellers celebrating their publication on a year ending in a “7” between those dates.

2 girls giggle on a bed while woman seated beside them aims a pillow at a man
Illustration from The Younger Set

This year I’ll post reviews in chronological order, beginning with the bestsellers of 1907, 1917, and 1927.

Then I’ll skip ahead to 1967. (I previously reviewed the bestsellers of ’37, ’47 and ’57.)

I end my project by reviewing the bestselling novels of 1968 and 1969.

Review dates for 1907 bestselling novels

Man embraces woman in wedding dress
Satan Sanderson illustration

 Here is my list of the 1907 bestsellers. Dates in square brackets tell you when you can expect the review to be posted. Links take you the Project Gutenberg page where you can download the novel for free, or, if I previously reviewed the novel, to that review.

  1.  The Lady of the Decoration by Frances Little [Jan. 7, 2017]
  2. The Weavers by Gilbert Parker [Jan. 10, 2017]
  3. The Port of Missing Men by Meredith Nicholson. [Jan. 14, 2017]
  4. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett [also a 1908 bestseller]
  5. The Brass Bowl by Louis J. Vance [Jan. 17, 2017]
  6. Satan Sanderson by Hallie Erminie Rives (Mrs. Post Wheeler) [Jan. 21, 2017]
  7. The Daughter of Anderson Crow by George Barr McCutcheon [Jan. 24, 2017]
  8. The Younger Set by Robert W. Chambers [Jan. 28, 2017]
  9. The Doctor: A Tale of the Rockies by Ralph Connor [Jan. 31, 2017]
  10. Half a Rogue by Harold MacGrath [Feb. 4, 2017]

Poll: your favorites of the 1907 bestsellers [Feb. 7, 2017]
My favorites of the 1907 bestsellers [Feb. 11, 2017]

I look forward to having you join me in my travels through time via vintage bestselling novels.

Project Gutenberg

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Your Turn to Tell Which Novels You Like Best

The 1964 bestselling novels were a diverse bunch. Which did you like best?

Perhaps, like me, you find you prefer a not-so-great novel to a better one for reasons that have nothing to do with the novel.

You can pick your three favorites on the poll below. If you want to talk about your choices, I’d love to hear your opinions. Use the comment section. Talk all the space you want.

I’ll share my choices here next Saturday.

I won’t tell you what I have planned for Tuesday, but it has something to do with this week’s best-known saint.

Vintage novel reviews slated for 2012

During 2012, I’ll be reviewing novels celebrating their ascent to the bestseller list 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90, 100 and 110 years ago.

I’ve found 69 of those 70 novels either in print or in digital format at Project Gutenberg, the first producer of free ebooks. Among them are some famous titles, such as The Good Earth that was the number one top selling novel two years in a row, and famous authors, such as Hemingway and Faulkner.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find some great reading by authors you’ve never heard of as well as some novels that are, in my view, better than those for which the novelist is justly famous.

I haven’t found Three Loves by A. J. Cronin from the 1932 list. The Great Depression was hard on books: people wore rags instead of turning them into paper. Thus many books published between 1930 and World War II have crumbled into dust; some ’30s novels are more rare than novels of the 1800’s.

1962 Bestseller List

  1. Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter [Jan. 4, 2012]
  2.  Dearly Beloved by Anne Morrow Lindberg [Jan. 8, 2012]
  3.  A Shade of Difference by Allen Drury [Jan. 11, 2012]
  4. Youngblood Hawk by Herman Wouk [Jan. 15, 2012]
  5.  Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger  (second year on bestseller list)
  6.  Fail Safe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler [Jan. 22, 2012]
  7. Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II [Jan. 25, 2012]
  8. The Prize by Irving Wallace [Jan. 29, 2012]
  9. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone (second year on the bestseller list)
  10. The Reivers by William Faulkner [Feb. 5, 2012]

1952 Bestseller List

  1. The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain [Feb. 19,2012]
  2. The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk (second year on the bestseller list)
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck [Feb. 26, 2012]
  4. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier [Feb. 29, 2012]
  5. Steamboat Gothic by Frances Parkinson Keyes [Mar. 4, 2012]
  6. Giant by Edna Ferber [Mar. 7, 2012]
  7. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway [Mar. 11, 2012]
  8. The Gown of Glory by Agnes Sligh Turnbull [Mar. 14, 2012]
  9. The Saracen Blade by Frank Yerby [Mar. 18, 2012]
  10. The Houses in Between by Howard Spring [Mar. 21, 2012]

1942 Bestseller List

  1.  The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel
  2. The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck
  3. Dragon Seed by Pearl S. Buck
  4. And Now Tomorrow by Rachel Field
  5. Drivin’ Woman by Elizabeth Pickett
  6. Windswept by Mary Ellen Chase (second year on the bestseller list)
  7. The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
  8. The Sun Is My Undoing by Marguerite Steen (second year on the bestseller list)
  9. King’s Row by Henry Bellamann
  10. The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin (second year on the bestseller list)

1932 Bestseller List

  1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (second year in first place)
  2. The Fountain by Charles Morgan
  3. Sons by Pearl S. Buck
  4. Magnolia Street by Louis Golding
  5. The Sheltered Life by Ellen Glasgow
  6. Old Wine and New by Warwick Deeping
  7. Mary’s Neck by Booth Tarkington
  8. Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas
  9. Inheritance by Phyllis Bentley
  10. Three Loves by A. J. Cronin

1922 Bestseller List

  1. If Winter Comes A.S. M. Hutchinson
  2. The Sheik by Edith M. Hull (second year on the bestseller list)
  3. Gentle Julia by Booth Tarkington
  4. The Head of the House of Coombe by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  5. The Breaking Point by Mary Roberts Rinehart
  6.  Simon Called Peter by Robert Keable
  7. This Freedom by A.S. M. Hutchinson
  8. Maria Chapdelain by Louis Hemon
  9. To the Last Man by Zane Grey
  10. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis (shared 10th place)
  11. Helen of the Old House by Harold Bell Wright (shared 10th place)

1912 Bestseller List

  1. The Harvester by Gene Stratton Porter (second year on the bestseller list)
  2. The Street Called Straight by Basil King
  3. Their Yesterdays by Harold Bell Wright
  4. The Melting of Molly by Maria Thompson Daviess
  5. A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson
  6. The Winning of Barbara Worth by Harold Bell Wright (second year on the bestseller list)
  7. The Just and the Unjust by Vaughan Kester
  8. The Net by Rex Beach
  9. Tante by Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  10. Fran by J. Breckenridge Ellis

1902 Bestseller List

  1. The Virginian by Owen Wister
  2. Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch by Alice Hegan Rice
  3. Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall by Charles Major
  4. The Mississippi Bubble by Emerson Hough
  5. Audrey by Mary Johnson
  6. The Right of Way by Gilbert Packer
  7. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  8. The Two Vanrevels by Booth Tarkington
  9. The Blue Flower by Henry van Dyke
  10. Sir Richard Calmady by Lucas Malet

Dust off your library card, load up that book reader you got for Christmas, and prepare to spent winter evenings insides with a good book.

Project Gutenberg

© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni

1941 bestselling novels list

Of the novels that topped the 1941 bestseller list, the two that are probably best remembered today are James Hilton’s Random Harvest and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. At the risk of ruining the suspense, I’ll state now that For Whom the Bell Tolls was, and remains, superior to Random Harvest.

The top 10 list contains a couple of gems beside the Hemingway novel.  Get out your library card and see if you can’t uncover them.  Dates you can expect to see my reviews are in parens.

The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin (30-Apr-2011)
Random Harvest by James Hilton (7-May-2011)
This Above All by Eric Knight (14-May-2011)
The Sun Is My Undoing by Marguerite Steen (21-May-2011)
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (28-May-2011)
Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts (4-Jun-2011)
H. M. Pulham, Esquire by John P. Marquand (11-Jun-2011)
Mr. and Mrs. Cugat: The Record of a Happy Marriage by Isabel Scott Rorick (18-Jun-2011)
Saratoga Trunk by Edna Ferber (25-Jun-2011)
Windswept by Mary Ellen Chase (2-Jul-2011)

1951 top novels on tap

The top novels of 1951 contain few titles that will strike a bell with readers, but they are products of some of the most active writers of their day. Here’s the list with the review dates.

  1. From Here to Eternity by James Jones, review on 5 March
  2. The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk, which was #2 in 1951 and again in 1952, review on 12 March
  3. Moses by Sholem Asch, review on 16 March
  4. The Cardinal by  Henry Morton Robinson, a 1950 bestseller as well
  5. A Woman Called Fancy by Frank Yerby, review on 19 March
  6. The Cruel Sea by  Nicholas Monsarrat, review on 26 March
  7. Melville Godwin, U.S.A. by John P. Marquand, review on 2 April
  8. Return to Paradise by  James A Michener, review on 9 April
  9. The Foundling by Cardinal Spellman, review on 16 April
  10. The Wanderer by Mika Waltari, review on 23 April

© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni

My top picks of 1930

Of the nine 1930 bestselling novels I’ve found, none is a great novel, but several are definitely worth reading. (I’m still looking for Years of Grace by Margaret Ayers Barnes, which won a Pulitzer in 1931.)

My top picks are Twenty-Four Hours by Louis Bromfield and Angel Pavement by J. B. Priestley.

Bromfield, who has a knack for turning ho-hum plots into gee-whiz ones, turns his hand to a murder mystery compressed into one day. Nothing about the plot or the characters of Twenty-Four Hours standard-issue.

J. B. Priestley’s novel is also about a crime, but in this case it’s a white-collar crime with a half-dozen victims.  Readers know from the start who-done-it and why (it’s the money). The interest is in seeing how the staff of victimized business respond.

Not far behind these two are Cimarron by Edna Ferber, Exile by Warwick Deeping and The Door by Mary Roberts Rinehart. These novels are more predictable in their plotting, but with just enough individuality to keep them from being dull.

© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Think you know your bestsellers?

Test  your knowledge of twentieth century bestselling novels with this quiz. The answer to each question is the title of a novel from an annual top 10 list. Hint: the answers are title from the first quarter of the century.

  1. He’s so indecisive.
  2. French bread.
  3. Adam put the blame on her.
  4. The prodigal’s destination
  5. Usually 18 or 21.
  6. The second king of Israel.
  7. Mars.
  8. A phrase describing humankind.
  9. The opposite of Wall Street.
  10. Always sees the glass half full

Answers next Wednesday.

© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni