I’ve come to the end of the novels I’ve reviewed here this year from the bestsellers of 1959, 1949, 1939, 1929, 1919, and 1909. It’s time to reflect on what’s the best reading today from the bestseller lists of those years.
From 1959, I choose Robert Ruark’s Poor No More as the best of list of some very good books. Ruark’s tale of a financial shyster (think: Bernie Madoff, only handsome) is not only riveting reading, but personally revealing about the reader.
From 1939, I’ll pick Escape by Ethel Vance. Since I’m not a fan of thrillers, one that can keep me up past my bedtime has to be good. I could almost as easily have picked as my top choice John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling or Christopher Morley’s Kitty Foyle. All are strong stories with continuing appeal.
For 1929, my choice is All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. It isn’t a pleasant story, but it is a powerful one. And as long as countries send young people from classrooms to front lines, it will continue to be timely.
I haven’t located enough novels from 1919 or 1909 to be able to pick a top novel for those years.
You’ll see I’ve not mentioned 1949. None of the bestselling list of ’49 fits my definition of great reading for today.
While I was looking through my lists for 1948 and 1949, I discovered I had never published my review of Dinner at Antoine’s by Frances Parkinson Keyes. I dug it out and posted it earlier today.
For the rest of November and December 2009, I’ll give you novel-related reading that doesn’t fit any any of my established categories.
~ Linda Aragoni