1913 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

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

Wednesday, September 10, 1913:  Didn’t feel the best the morning. Commenced reading a book.


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

What book 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.

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

1. O Pioneers by Willa Cather

2. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

3. The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

4. Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt

5. The Tale of Pigling Bland by Beatrix Potter

6. The Bobbsey Twins’ Mystery at School (Bobbsey Twins #4) by Laure Lee Hope

7. Chance by Joseph Conrad

8. Desert Gold by Zane Grey

9.  The Adventure of the Dying Detective by Arthur Conan Doyle

10. The Inland Voyage and Travels with a Donkey by Robert Louis Stevenson

11. The Story of My Boyhood and Youth by John Muir

12. Little Wars by H. G. Wells

13. The Night Born by Jack London

14. The War Correspondence of Leon Trotsky: The Balkan Wars 1912-1913 by Leon Trotsky

15. La Follette’s Autobiography: A Personal Narrative of Political Experiences by Robert M. La Follette

You may also enjoy similar posts that I did for books published in 1911 and 1912:

1912 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

1911 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

43 thoughts on “1913 Books That Have Stood the Test of Time

    1. I’m also always surprised at the year that some of these books were published. If I’d just guessed, I would have missed the publication date by a couple decades for a couple of these books.

  1. Anything book…I love it! I had to smile of the image of a sour faced grandma who felt under the weather and took that as a reason for reading…”commenced reading a book” to me sounds like ‘could it get any duller…’ ;0)

    1. I think that you are absolutely right that Grandma decided to read a book because she was bored and couldn’t think of anything more exciting to do.

  2. Thanks for sharing…I will continue to visit your site and read up on all that’s here. I am so nostalgic and love the past, especially the turn of the century (1900’s). I just attended the Old Car Festival at The Henry Ford in Dearborn where I saw lots of clothes like the ones your grandmother wore. Wish we could go back in time to really experience it but… The book list is great, too.

    1. The Old Car Festival sounds like fun. Several years ago I visited the Ford Museum and did the Ford Rudge Factory tour–but it was in the very early spring and the Greenfield Village had not yet opened for the season. Hopefully I’ll get back there in the future when it is open.

      1. Let me know…I would love to meet you. And while you are here, you could go into the Research Library that’s right at the entrance to the village. Anyone who writes would find it invaluable!

        1. Thanks for the invitation. The Research Library sounds awesome. I don’t currently have any plans to visit Michigan again–but maybe I’ll get back there sometime in the future.

          1. I love that place. I held a recipe book in my hand from the 1800’s. It was so small (about 3″x4″) and was quite unique. I had many of my mother’s old cookbooks and sent them a list (included one of my own) that I desired to donate. They did accept one of mine for their collection. I was so proud!!! I’ll keep in touch.

    1. I wonder if the books that were really popular in 1913 ended up being the books that people still read.

      Another thought-
      Will people a hundred years from now read today’s best sellers?

  3. Good book list, I will have to check out some of those titles. I wish she would have told us what she was reading. 😉

    1. She didn’t mention what she was reading this time–but on November 19, 1911 (I posted it in 2011) she did mention what she was reading:

      ” . . . I’ve just finished reading a book tonight, I can call it that for it is about half past eleven. Hester Molly’s Promise was the name; most too sad to be really interesting.”


      It’s available online and you can find it at:


  4. What a revelation that the only books on this list I have read are Conan Doyle and The Bobbsey Twins! Not that I haven’t read other things by many of the writers, but whatever they were writing in 1913 seems to have slipped under my radar. I am going to have to read O Pioneers. Guess I haven’t because everyone has told me I “should.”

    1. I think that you’ll like O Pioneers When I was putting the list together, I noticed that a lot of famous authors published books in 1913, but that in many cases the 1913 book was not one of the more popular books by the author.

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