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by Jessica Gallo
“Best Sellers from Past Decades” – Explore what Americans were reading from the 1930s through the 1980s! For February, we’ll take a look at the 1930s.
The 1930s were dominated by economic depression, drought, and growing concern over the Nazi threat in Europe. Some readers faced the problems head-on, reading social commentary and economic primers, while others chose to escape into romance or adventure novels. Notable authors of the decade whose works have stood the test of time include Pearl S. Buck, Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis, Thornton Wilder, Margaret Mitchell, Virginia Woolf, John Steinbeck, and Daphne du Maurier.
Some notable works from the time period are: The Good Earth by Buck; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Gone with the Wind by Mitchell; The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck; The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West; Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts; Rebecca by du Maurier; The Citadel by A.J. Cronin.
Sinclair Lewis published It Can’t Happen Here, a fictional, cautionary tale about the rise of fascism in America. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie has coached generations of readers in their efforts to find personal and professional success. Novels published in the 30s that had a lasting impact in the form of sequels, movies, and television productions include Captain Horatio Hornblower, which is a series of novels by C.S. Forester, The Citadel by A.J. Cronin, and Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen.
Some titles that found success at the time, but aren’t as well-remembered, include Miss Bishop by popular author Bess Streeter Aldrich, All This, and Heaven Too, a mystery by Rachel Field, Years of Grace, a Pulitzer winner by Margaret Ayer Barnes, and an inspirational novel by Lloyd C. Douglas called Green Light.
Some of the above titles can be found on the shelf at Peoria Public Library locations. Others, especially the more obscure titles, are often available in various central Illinois libraries.
See a staff member if you need help in placing a hold to get these works from other libraries.
Check back in April, when we’ll take a look at best-sellers from the 1940s!
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