Skip to main content

Lifestyles over 50

Remember When?

According to Publisher’s Weekly, over 540 million printed books were sold in the United States in 2022. How do you find a book of interest to you? Reviewing book popularity throughout the years can offer a unique insight into what topics interested authors and readers over the decades.

Following is a short list of the more popular books from the 1920s through the 1990s.

1925: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This great American novel serves as the quintessential view of the Jazz Age and the Roaring 20s. 

1929: All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
A story of a German soldier who joins the army during World War I, the book describes the horrifying trenches and mental anguish of warfare.

1931: The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck
Some have suggested that the book stirred up enough pro-Chinese sentiment in Americans to contribute to the 1943 repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. 

1936: Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Set in Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction, the book is an elaborate fantasy, a historical drama, romance, and a novel of moral growth.

1944: Strange Fruit, by Lillian Smith
The book takes place in Georgia in the 1920s and centers around a young white man who falls in love with a Black woman.

1948: Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton 
Considered by many to be the most famous and important novel in South Africa’s history. It became an immediate worldwide bestseller.

1951: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
This coming-of-age novel about teenage angst and alienation includes vulgar language, the undermining of family values, and the encouragement of rebellion.

1956: Don’t Go Near the Water, by William Brinkley
A comedic war novel set in 1945 after the invasion of Iwo Jima, t details the adventures of Relations Officers for the United States Navy during World War II. 

1960: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
In a 1991 survey conducted by the Library of Congress, this book was mentioned second, after the Bible, as a book that made a difference in people's lives.

1969: Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
Despite mixing science fiction, historical fiction, autobiography, and satire, the repeated phrase in the book, “so it goes” has forever become part of our lexicon.

1971: Wheels, by Arthur Hailey
The novel details the automobile industry and its operations. Based on Ford Motor Company, the story looks at the corporate world and all of the people in it.

1974: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig
The narrator hungered for a rational explanation for everything, but in the end, found that both science and philosophy are just maps of the truth.

1984: The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub
A fantasy novel about Jack Sawyer, a young boy chosen to make a journey into another realm. Cconsidered one of the most influential fantasy works of all time.

1985: The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Set in future New England, a patriarchal state known as the Republic of Gilead has overthrown the government. Leaders have selected handmaids to bear the children of its commanders.

1996: A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
A fantasy novel and the first in a series of books that have it all: politics, romance, adventure, drama, and dragons.