During My Year in 1918, I’ll be reading books that were available to a reader of a hundred years ago. This includes “recent” books as well as earlier books that a reader of 1918 might have read. So Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice are okay, but not Moby Dick, which was forgotten at the time. I’d appreciate any reading suggestions!
Here are the books I’ve read so far:
2. January 21: The Thirty-Nine Steps, by John Buchan (1915). A man goes on the run in the English countryside after uncovering a fiendish plot. Unlike in the Hitchcock film, he doesn’t get handcuffed to a beautiful woman.
3. January 31: A Preface to Politics, by Walter Lippmann (audiobook) (1912). 23-year-old Lippmann expounds sensibly about what’s wrong with politics: basically, that our system is organized around a notion of how people should be, rather than how they really are. I wrote about it here.
4. February 2: Sanctuary, by Edith Wharton (1903). A novella about a woman who places truthfulness above everything, and the impact this has over two generations.
7. March 9: Bab: A Sub-Deb, by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1917). The hilarious misadventures of a seventeen-year-old girl from a wealthy family.
8. March 10: Fighting France, by Edith Wharton (audiobook) (1915). Wharton, who lived in France, toured the front lines in 1915 and reported on the ruined towns, gallant soldiers, and resilient villagers she encountered. A vivid account of France in wartime.
9. March 26: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (1913). The beautiful, gripping story of the triumphs and tragedies of a Swedish family in Nebraska. One of the best novels I’ve read in a long time.
10. April 9: Married Love by Marie Carmichael Stopes (1918). A British sex manual written for the tragically ignorant newlyweds (especially women) of the time.
11. April 13: Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman (audiobook) (1910). America’s most famous anarchist writes sensibly about women’s emancipation, prison reform, and social justice and kind of scarily about political violence.
12. April 16: Mrs. Spring Fragrance by Sui Sin Far (1912). A fascinating collection of stories, written by a writer (real name Edith Maude Eaton) of mixed Chinese-English ancestry, about how Chinese immigrants in Seattle and San Francisco adapt–or, just as often, fail to adapt–to their new country.
13. April 26: Songs for a Little House by Christopher Morley (1917). Light verse about Morley’s house, his wife, who by his account never thinks about anything except her baby and when he’s coming home from work, and his neighborhood in bucolic Queens, New York (there are milkmaids).
[Note: Finding reasonably high-quality editions of 1918 books, especially the more obscure ones, can be tricky. If the edition I read is reasonably readable, I’ve included a hyperlink. Hyperlinks for audiobooks are also included.]