Have you Read the Most Popular Book from the Year You Were Born?

By January 29, 2017Literature

Books are timeless, it doesn’t matter if they were written over a hundred years ago or just yesterday, if they are written well then the story is just as vibrant and beautiful as the day it was first penned. Books don’t rely on special effects or owning a compatible device all you need to be able to do to enjoy a book from any era is read and I don’t know about you but I think I am pretty good at reading. 

I’ve read classics written 300 years ago and books that will stay with me forever that still have wet ink and loved them all but have I read the most popular book from the year I was born? I had no idea but thanks to Good Housekeeping I can find out and (as long as you were born after 1930) now so can you.

The years 1930 -1975 are in this list, a link to the books from  1976 to the present year can be found on the link at the bottom of this page.

1930 – Cimarron

Written by Edna Ferber Cimarron is a book about a woman who creates an empire for her family.

 Cimarron US
 Cimarron UK

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1931 – The Good Earth

Pearl S. Buck’s book about farm and family life in a small Chinese village won her a Pulitzer.

The Good Earth US
The Good Earth UK

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1932 – The Fountain

Charles Morgan’s tale of a British Officer’s affair with a German Officer’s wife was apparently inspired by his own station in Holland during WWI.

The Fountain US
The Fountain UK

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1933 – Anthony Adverse

Following the life and loves of an orphan Hervey Allen’s novel takes us across the landscapes of France, Italy and Cuba.

Anthony Adverse US
Anthony Adverse UK

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1934 – Goodbye Mr Chips

A hugely popular book about a strict teacher and the pupils who grew to love him written by James Hilton.

Goodbye Mr Chips US
Goodbye Mr Chips UK

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1935 – Green Light

Written by Lutheran minister Lloyd C Douglas this is a novel about a doctor who accidentally kills his patient.

Green Light US
Green Light UK

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1936 – Gone with the Wind

Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel about a southern debutante’s trials during the Civil War.

Gone with the Wind US
Gone with the Wind UK

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1937 – Of Mice and Men

A tale of hard work, prosperity and two men’s friendship from John Steinbeck.

Of Mice and Men US
Of Mice and Men UK

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1938 – The Yearling

A coming of age story about a boy and his pet from author Marjorie Kinnan.

The Yearling US
The Yearling UK

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1939 – The Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck again and this year he topped the boo charts with this reflection of the effects of the great depression on a simple farming family.

The Grapes of Wrath US
The Grapes of Wrath UK

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1940 – How Green was My Valley

A tragic tale of a mining family’s life penned by Richard Llwellyn.

How Green was My Valley US
How Green was My Valley UK

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1941 – For Whom the Bell Tolls

Perhaps surprisingly, right in the midst of WWII it was Ernest Hemingway’s depiction of the Spanish Civil War that was entertaining us all.

For Whom the Bell Tolls US
For Whom the Bell Tolls UK

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1942 – The Song of Bernadette

Franz Werfel wrote this true story of a girl’s visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes; his satirical writings about the Nazis would lead the Jewish author to flee to the US.

The Song of Bernadette US
The Song of Bernadette UK

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1943 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith’s tale of an immigrant teen in turn of the century New York City encouraged people to stay strong and look for beauty everywhere.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn US
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn UK

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1944 – Strange Fruit

Lillian Smith’s portrayal of the forbidden love affair between a white boy and a black girl was so controversial it was banned for a while.

Strange Fruit US
Strange Fruit UK

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1945 – Forever Amber

A proper bodice ripper of a romance from Kathleen Winson as a pregnant teen plots her way into the role of mistress for the hedonistic King Charles II.

Forever Amber US
Forever Amber UK

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1946 – The King’s General

Daphne du Maurier’s gothic romance about two lovers separated by the civil war was the follow up to her smash hit Rebecca.

The King’s General US
The King’s General UK

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1947 – The Miracle Bells

Russell Janney’s uplifting book of an actress who dies during the filming of a Joan of Arc film reached the number one spot due to a hugely popular film adaptation.

The Miracle Bells US
The Miracle Bells UK

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1948 – The Diary of a Young Girl

Published just two years after her death the tragic diaries of Anne Frank were an instant and sobering hit for the post war reader.

The Diary of a Young Girl US
The Diary of a Young Girl UK

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1949 – The Naked and the Dead

Norman Mailer’s war classic topped the best seller list for every single week of 1949.

The Naked and the Dead US
The Naked and the Dead UK

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1950 – The Cardinal

Fairly self explanatory, Morton Robinson’s book follows a young priest as he rises through the ranks to become a surprise surprise, Cardinal.

The Cardinal US
The Cardinal UK

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1951 – From Here to Eternity

The WWII story from James Jones that spawned the film with that kiss among the waves.

From Here to Eternity US
From Here to Eternity UK

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1952 – The Catcher in the Rye

Is Salinger’s story of Holden Caulfield YA? Both adults and teenagers loved it when it was first released.

The Catcher in the Rye US
The Catcher in the Rye UK

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1953 – The Robe

The story of Christ’s crucifixion from the perspective of a Roman soldier who holds on to Jesus’ robe and looks for the truth that lies behind it.

The Robe US
The Robe UK

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1954 – Not as a Stranger

Written by Morton Thompson Not a Stranger follows an overconfident doctor who falls from grace after failing to save his mentor.

Not as a Stranger US
Not as a Stranger UK

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1955 – The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

A perfectly normal man, with a normal job and a normal family tries to find out who he really is.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit US
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit UK

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1956 – Eloise

The capers of a little pixie as she causes chaos in The Plaza hotel of NYC entertained children everywhere in the year of 1956.

Eloise US
Eloise UK

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1957 – Peyton Place

What happens when the deepest secret thoughts of a otherwise polite town? A best selling book, a film and a television series, that’s what.

Peyton Place US
Peyton Place UK

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1958 – Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial love story shocked and fascinated the readers of 1956.

Lolita US
Lolita UK

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1959 – Doctor Zhivago

The Russian Revolution and a love triangle, what is not to love about Boris Pasternak’s epic novel.

Doctor Zhivago US
Doctor Zhivago UK

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1960 – To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee would have had no idea what awaited her when she published this book that has become a staple on everyone’s bookshelf.

To Kill A Mockingbird US
To Kill A Mockingbird UK

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1961 – Tropic of Cancer

Twice banned and the subject of a Supreme Court case when it was finally sold, Henry Miller’s titillating novel was a smash hit.

Tropic of Cancer US
Tropic of Cancer UK

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1962 – Franny and Zooey

Two separate yet interconnected stories about two members of the Glass family were Salinger’s offering for 1962.

Franny and Zooey US
Franny and Zooey UK

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1963 – The Shoes of the Fisherman

Morris West’s book about the choice of a replacement upon the Pope’s death was published on the day that Pope John XXIII died.

The Shoes of the Fisherman US
The Shoes of the Fisherman UK

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1964 – You Only Live Twice

The name’s Bond, James Bond. Fleming’s spy novels received a boost after the film franchise kicked off in 1962.

You Only Live Twice US
You Only Live Twice UK

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1965 – Herzog

Saul Bellow’s novel of a man’s mid-life crisis won him book of the year for 1965.

Herzog US
Herzog UK

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1966 – Valley of the Dolls

Jacqueline Susann’s story of three friends addicted to tranquillisers was the top novel for this year..

Valley of the Dolls US
Valley of the Dolls UK

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1967 – Rosemary’s Baby

Ira Levin’s unnerving novel about a woman who gives birth to the Devil’s baby and the people sworn to protect it.

Rosemary’s Baby US
Rosemary’s Baby UK

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1968 – Couples

John Updike saw success with his novel that followed ten couples and their sexual exploitations.

Couples US
Couples UK

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1969 – Portnoy’s Complaint

Philip Roth exploded onto the literary scene in 1969 with a novel about a sex crazed man and his appointment with a therapist.

Portnoy’s Complaint US
Portnoy’s Complaint UK

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1970 – Love Story

Rich boy falls in love with spunky girl, spunky girl becomes ill, book becomes an instant best seller.

Love Story US
Love Story UK

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1971 – The Exorcist

William Peter Blatty’s truly terrifying novel of the battle for a young girl’s soul after she is possessed.

The Exorcist US
The Exorcist UK

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1972 – Jonathon Livingstone Seagull

A graphic novella by Richard Bach about a seagull that leaves society behind to find a higher plane of existence.

Jonathon Livingstone Seagull US
Jonathon Livingstone Seagull UK

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1973 – Breakfast of Champions

An unapologetic examination of American’s consumerist lives from Kurt Vonnegut.

Breakfast of Champions US
Breakfast of Champions UK

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1974 – Jaws

Peter Benchley’s brilliant book really does show the film up for the pale imitation it was.

Jaws US
Jaws UK

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1975 – Ragtime

E.L Doctorow’s fantastical take on NYC where his imagined characters interact with real life historical figures.

Ragtime US
Ragtime UK

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That is it for the first half of our epic-ally enormous list. If you are a mere baby, don’t worry the most popular books from 1976 through to the present can be found here.

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