1914 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, February 9, 1914:  Finished reading two books today. Retired later than my usual hour.

Peter-Cottontail

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Which books was Grandma reading?

Goodreads lists two hundred books published in 1913 that are still in widely read. They probably were not the most popular books at the time, but rather they are the books that have endured –and whose message apparently continues to resonate a hundred years later.

Ten books on the list that I recognized the title or author are listed below:

1.         The Dubliners by James Joyce

2.         Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories by Bram Stoker

3.         The Beasts of Tarzan (Tarzan #3) by Edgar Rice Burroughs (magazine serial)

4.         Through the Brazilian Wilderness by Theodore Roosevelt

5.         The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by Thornton W. Burgess

6.         Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook by Marie Montessori

7.         Tom Swift and his Photo Telephone or the Picture that Saved a Fortune (Tom Swift #17) by Victor Appleton

8.         Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde

9.         The Mystery of the Kingdom of God by Albert Schweitzer

10.       The Social History of Smoking by George Latimer Apperson

You may also enjoy similar posts that I did for books published in 1911 – 1913:

1911 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

1912 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

1913 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

35 Responses

  1. She may have been reading The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright. He was one of the best selling authors of that time. Today he is know primarily for writing The Shepherd of the Hills, but his other novels are also very good. I have copies of most of his works, and The Eyes of the World is one of my favorites.

  2. Would Helena have had access to a lending library? Perhaps you have already discussed this on another post.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. It’s a good, idea for a future post. I haven’t done a post on it, but saw an ad for rental books in the Milton Evening Standard newspaper. I also have a vague memory that I saw something once about rural schools in Pennsylvania getting a box full of loaner books from the state every month or so. They would return those books, and then get another box.

      • Rental books; that’s intriguing. Also the box of loaner books reminds me of a scheme that used to exist in the country of my birth. It was organised by the British Council.

  3. Some stories stay stuck in your mind from childhood on up!!

  4. We can all relate to not being able to put a good book down.

  5. Jack London, Zane Grey, multiple times, and so many enduring stories.

  6. Now I have to go see if I have any books published in 1914

  7. Just took a quick tour of those books on Goodreads. There are some interesting titles. Thanks for the link. A may take a page from Grandma’s book and retire later than usual tonight! ;)

  8. The social history of smoking? I would love to see that book!

    • I’ve been thinking about looking for that book, too. I wonder if they had any inkling that smoking was bad for them back then.

      • Probably back then cigarettes did not have all the other additives and chemicals they have today. It would have been just tobacco and I have read that tobacco has some medicinal aspects and in itself is not addictive. I have an uncle who has one brandy and one cigarette after supper each day. Natives smoked a peace pipe and Mediterranian cultures have that water pipe that is associated with socialness. We also had way less polution back then! It would be interesting to see their take on the whole thing in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

  9. This is so interesting Sheryl. And I plan to share it with my book club. :) Thanks.

  10. Grandma and I have that in common. If I am reading a good book, I can’t bring myself to get to bed until it is finished. In my upstairs bookcase I do have so e volumes handed down from my maternal grandmother which are well over a hundred years old, including a well worn copy of a Pilgrims Progress given as a Sunday a School prize. I simply admire the research you do to tell us more about those days. Which don’t seem to hsve been very different to those this side if the pond.

    • It’s awesome that you have some of your maternal grandmother’s books. I really enjoy reading some of the old stories.

      It is interesting how similar daily life was in different geographic locales even a hundred years ago.

  11. Thanks for the links! Interesting.

  12. I know my Dad was reading all the Edgar Rice Burroughs books at about that time, and his mother (my Grandma) had the Harold Bell Wright books. I don’t know if Daddy read those, too, but he did talk about the Tarzan books he had read.

    • I going to have to look for a Harold Bell Wright Book to read. I probably should also read a Tarzan book, though it’s not a genre that I typically read. :)

  13. It’s neat to know Helena was reading so much–a big world outside McEwensville!

  14. She finished two books that day–must have held her attention to be up later than normal.

  15. What an interesting combination of books she was reading! Blessings, Natalie :)

  16. I think it is great that she had books to read! Whatever they were. In my experience some households had books and some did not. Even in the 1950s when I grew up there were few books in my household, The Bible and a old Veterinary manual that was in the garage.

  17. I love it! I have often found myself retiring later than my usual hour because of a book I didn’t want to put down.

  18. I love the depth of your research. I am surprised that Albert Schweitzer’s works were out there in 1913. I thought it would have been around the middle of the century. Shows how old I’m getting.

  19. ‘The History of Smoking’ ? That may be an old wives-tail soon. You can’t smoke anywhere publicly here now, or smoke in your vehicle if you have anyone under 18 in the car. They also can not be displayed in stores or gas stations (they’re stored behind roller blinds). Pharmacies and drugstores aren’t allowed to sell them at all because they participate in Gov’t Healthcare benefits via filling prescription’s. They’re also not displayed at Grocery stores, you have to line up at a customer service desk and ask for them there. I still see the odd kid smoking but I can’t imagine how they get them.

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