The most popular book the year you were born
There is nothing quite like settling into a book you love. But finding a real page-turner can be hard, and has only gotten more difficult as of late as the amount of choices has grown exponentially. In 2016, more than 300,000 new books were published in America, with an additional 400,000 self-published. Walking through a bookstore as you seek out your next read can indeed be frustrating if you don't know what you're looking for.
Still, nothing helps judge a book like the test of time; in honor of national book month, Stacker used data from Publisher's Weekly to compile a list of the most popular novel in America each year since 1920. Ranging from Steinbeck classics to modern hits, browse this list for a look into what was popular the year you were born—you might even find your next favorite.
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1920: 'The Man of the Forest' by Zane Grey
Set in the American West, Zane Grey solidified the symbols associated with the West in the minds of American readers. These images provided the imagery that inspired many plots and American folklore stories. "The Man of the Forest" is an exciting story about a protagonist who saves a rancher's niece after he overhears a plot to kidnap her. During the time of its publication, Grey was traveling and going on outdoor excursions frequently. He often contributed to Outdoor Life magazine, which may explain why his connection with the wild manifested itself vividly in his work.
1921: 'The Brimming Cup' by Dorothy Canfield
Dorothy Canfield was one of the early best-selling novelists in American literature. "The Brimming Cup" explores one woman's identity as she adjusts to motherhood and her new marriage. As she finds herself attracted to another man, she reassess the values on which her marriage is based.
1922: 'If Winter Comes' by A.S.M. Hutchinson
A.S.M. Hutchinson's best-seller centers around an unhappy marriage and deals with issues of divorce and suicide. A movie based on 'If Winter Comes' was released by MGM in 1947.
1923: 'Black Oxen' by Gertrude Atherton
This book was a controversial best-seller in the 1920s that was eventually adopted into a silent film. The novel centers around a woman who becomes revitalized by using hormone treatments.
1924: 'So Big' by Edna Ferber
'So Big' was inspired by the life of Antje Paarlberg, a widow in a South Holland, Ill., farming community. The book follows the life of a young woman who becomes a teacher and encourages a young man to pursue his artistic interests. Over the years, there have been multiple popular adaptations of this novel.
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1925: 'Soundings' by A. Hamilton Gibbs
A. Hamilton Gibbs was a London-born citizen who moved to the U.S. in 1920. 'Soundings' follows a young girl from England as she grows and travels abroad, where she falls in love with her American roommate's brother. The novel raised new ideas about women's freedom and sexuality at the time it was published.
1926: 'The Private Life of Helen of Troy' by John Erskine
Adapted into a silent film in 1927, "The Private Life of Helen of Troy" is a story that is set after the events of "The Iliad" in which Helen goes back to Sparta and deals with her daughter's engagement to Orestes.
1927: 'Elmer Gantry' by Sinclair Lewis
Sinclair Lewis, a staple of American literature, masters the study of hypocrisy through the protagonist's journey as an evangelist who lives a double life filled with self-indulgence. The novel was later adopted into a film featuring Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons.
1928: 'The Bridge of San Luis Rey' by Thornton Wilder
"The Bridge of San Luis Rey" is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that begins when a bridge in Peru breaks and five travelers fall into the gulf to their deaths. The protagonist aims to determine out the underlying cause of the tragedy, uncovering deep mysteries along the way.
1929: 'All Quiet on the Western Front' by Erich Maria Remarque
Erich Maria Remarque is a German novelist whose works centered around war. This novel is a story of a German soldier who joins the army during World War I and describes the horrifying trenches and mental anguish of warfare that marked a generation of soldiers.
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