Library Resources, Library Staff

Reading, Then & Now

The time has come for our final blog post of the decade. The next time you see us, it will be 2020! That got us thinking: what are some popular books from the last time the roaring ’20s came around? Interestingly, the bestselling books of the 1920’s are not necessarily the books that have remained popular from that era. For instance, is The Great Gatsby the first book that comes to mind when you think of the 1920’s? Well, it was not a bestseller when it was published in 1925. According to Publisher’s Weekly, these were the top-selling books from 1920-1929:

  1. The Man of the Forest by Zane Grey (1920)*
  2. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis in (1921)*
  3. If Winter Comes by A. S. M. Hutchison (1922)*
  4. Black Oxen by Gertrude Atherton (1923)*
  5. So Big by Edna Ferber (1924)
  6. Soundings by A. Hamilton Gibbs (1925)
  7. The Private Life of Helen of Troy by John Erskine (1926)
  8. Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis (1927)
  9. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder (1928)
  10. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1929)
    Source: The Books of the Century: 1920-1929. Compiled by Dr. Daniel Immerwahr
    *Because these books were published before 1924, they are in the public domain and available to read for free from Project Gutenberg.

Just in case none of those books catches your interest, we asked some of our librarians to recommend what they are currently reading, or recently finished reading, to give you an idea of which books to pick up this holiday break. Most of the books listed below are available at the Fordham Libraries, but for those that are not, always remember to check the New York Public Library or your local library.

Book cover of Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (2011)
Robert K. Massie
Walsh Library: DK170 .M34 2011
Quinn Library: DK170 .M34 2011
“Robert Massie’s biography of Catherine the Great is not simply a story of a notable woman and ruler, but a compelling window into the westernization of Russia. It has been said that the Empress Catherine II brought Europe to Russia, and Russia to Europe, during her reign (1762—1796) and Massie weaves a trove of facts into a rich tapestry.” – Linda LoSchiavo, Director of University Libraries

Cover of Murder in Retrospect by Agatha Christie

Murder in Retrospect (1942)
Agatha Christie
Quinn Library: PR6005.H6 M873 1942
“It’s a Hercule Poirot mystery published in 1942, what could be better for a Holiday Break read?” – Robert Allen, Assistant Director of University Libraries

Book cover of Nothing by Jeremy Webb

Nothing: Surprising Insights Everywhere from Zero to Oblivion (2014)
Edited by Jeremy Webb
“Essays from The New Scientist edited by Jeremy Webb. They cover a variety of concepts of “zero”, from before the Big Bang to the placebo effect to absolute zero to vacuum energy.” – Michael Wares, Director of Technical Services

Book cover of Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym

Crampton Hodnet (1985)
Barbara Pym
Walsh Library: PR6066.Y58 C7 1985
“A posthumously-published novel by the English author Barbara Pym. It’s a gently comic story set in pre-World War II Oxford, concerning the complications of two relationships.” – Michael Wares, Director of Technical Services

Book cover of The Lost Gutenberg by Margaret Leslie Davis

The Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book’s Five-Hundred Year Odyssey (2019)
Margaret Leslie Davis
Walsh Library: Z241.B58 D39 2019
Quinn Library: Z241.B58 D39 2019
“The story exposes the fascinating world of book collecting while it traces one of the rarest and most valuable bibles throughout Europe to America. Full of historical details with a view of the wealthy and their pursuits.” – Lynn Parliman, Head of Serials and Electronic Resources

Book cover of The Android's Dream by John Scalzi

The Android’s Dream (2006)
“I am a big John Scalzi fan (checkout Redshirts) and this work lived up to all the hype. It was weird, funny, somewhat juvenile at times, but totally worth the (quick) read.” – Nicholas Alongi, Head of Access, Information and Collection Services, and Operations

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (1991)
Jung Chang
Quinn Library: DS774 .C37 1992
“In this memoir the author describes her grandmother, mother, and herself as they lived in 20th century China mostly under Mao’s rule. The family was part of the Communist elite and struggled through the atrocities of the Cultural Revolution.” – Diane Batemarco, Reference Librarian

Tell the Wolves I’m Home (2012)
Carol Rifka Brunt
“I inadvertently checked this book out from NYPL before embarking on a beach holiday. While it was not a relaxing beach reach, the story of June and her struggle with the loss of her uncle was so compelling and well written that I couldn’t put the book down. The stigma of AIDS in the 1980s was also a very important and heartbreaking part of the book.” – Mariah Lewis, Metadata Management Librarian

Excellent Women (1952)
Barbara Pym
Walsh Library: PR6066.Y58 E9 1978
Quinn Library: PR6066.Y58 E9 1978
“Excellent Women is a comedy of manners–think Jane Austen but set in post-World War II London. Mildred Lathbury, a 30-something spinster who lives alone and likes it, confronts a world determined to marry her off to the most deserving (and boring) man.” – Jeannie Hoag, Reference and Assessment Librarian

Thanks for reading and sticking with us during 2019, the inaugural year of this blog. Have a safe and fun holiday recess and a happy new year, from all of us at the libraries!

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