1911 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

15-year-old Helena wrote a hundred years ago today:

Wednesday, January 18, 1911: Got a book out of the library at school today, which I’ll have to manage to read pretty soon, as soon as I get time.

Her middle-aged grand-daughter’s comments 100 years later:

Tuesday, January 18, 2010:  Goodreads lists 180 books published in 1911 that are still in print. These 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.

Fourteen books on the list that I recognized the title or author of are listed below.

1. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (Barrie published the children’s story in 1911–he’d written the play a few years earlier.)

All children, except one, grow up.

First line of Peter Pan

2. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

3.  Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

4. My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir

5. The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells

6. The Scarlet Plague by Jack London

7. Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad          

8. Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser

9. The Quest of the Golden Fleece by W.E.B. DuBois

10. The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum

11.The Montessori Method by Marie Montessori

12. Roget International Thesaurus by Peter Mark Roget

13. The Principles of Scientific Management by Frederick Taylor

14. The Official Handbook for Boys by The Boys Scouts of America

The books cover the gamut, but they give an indication of some of the key issues of 1911–social norms (Wharton), civil rights (Dubois), good management (Taylor’s famous–or perhaps infamous–time-motion studies measured how long it took factory workers to complete various tasks with the goal of increasing efficiency), early childhood education (Montessori), revolutionary movements (Conrad), and the environment (Muir).  It’s amazing how some of the issues haven’t really changed much in 100 years–while in other cases the whole paradigm has shifted.

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