Sunday 1 January 2012

A Century of Books

I have set myself the 2012 challenge of reading a book published in every year of the twentieth century... here are the links to all the books I've read and reviewed so far!

1900 - Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome
1901 - The Spinster Book by Myrtle Reed
1902 - The Westminster Alice by Saki
1903 - Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw
1904 - Canon in Residence by V.L. Whitechurch
1905 - Lovers in London by A.A. Milne
1906 - The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
1907 - The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
1908 - The World I Live In by Helen Keller
1909 - The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
1910 - Reginald in Russia by Saki
1911 - In A German Pension by Katherine Mansfield
1912 - Daddy Long-legs by Jean Webster
1913 - When William Came by Saki
1914 - What It Means To Marry by Mary Scharlieb
1915 - Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
1916 - Love At Second Sight by Ada Leverson
1917 - Zella Sees Herself by E.M. Delafield
1918 - Married Love by Marie Stopes
1919 - Not That It Matters by A.A. Milne
1920 - The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
1921 - The Witch-Cult in Western Europe by Margaret Murray
1922 - Spinster of this Parish by W.B. Maxwell
1923 - Uncanny Stories by May Sinclair
1924 - The Rector's Daughter by F.M. Mayor
1925 - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
1926 - Blindness by Henry Green
1927 - Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann
1928 - Time Importuned by Sylvia Townsend Warner
1929 - A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
1930 - His Monkey Wife by John Collier
1931 - Opus 7 by Sylvia Townsend Warner
1932 - Green Thoughts by John Collier
1933 - More Women Then Men by Ivy Compton-Burnett
1934 - Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
1935 - The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen
1936 - Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner
1937 - The Outward Room by Millen Brand
1938 - Dear Octopus by Dodie Smith
1939 - Three Marriages by E.M. Delafield
1940 - One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie
1941 - Country Moods and Tenses by Edith Olivier
1942 - The Outsider by Albert Camus
1943 - Talking of Jane Austen by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G.B. Stern
1944 - Elders and Betters by Ivy Compton-Burnett
1945 - At Mrs. Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor
1946 - Mr. Allenby Loses The Way by Frank Baker
1947 - One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes
1948 - The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner
1949 - Ashcombe: The Story of a Fifteen-Year Lease by Cecil Beaton
1950 - Jane Austen by Margaret Kennedy
1951 - I. Compton-Burnett by Pamela Hansford Johnson
1952 - Miss Hargreaves: the play by Frank Baker
1953 - Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton
1954 - M for Mother by Marjorie Riddell
1955 - The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens
1956 - All The Books of My Life by Sheila Kaye-Smith
1957 - Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson
1958 - Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris by Paul Gallico
1959 - Miss Plum and Miss Penny by Dorothy Evelyn Smith
1960 - The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark
1961 - A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
1962 - Coronation by Paul Gallico
1963 - A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford
1964 - The Garrick Year by Margaret Drabble
1965 - Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson
1966 - In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
1967 - The Joke by Milan Kundera
1968 - A Cab at the Door by V.S. Pritchett
1969 - Sunlight on Cold Water by Francoise Sagan
1970 - Frederick the Great by Nancy Mitford
1971 - Ivy & Stevie by Kay Dick
1972 - Ivy Compton-Burnett: a memoir by Cecily Greig
1973 - V. Sackville-West by Michael Stevens
1974 - Look Back With Love by Dodie Smith
1975 - Sweet William by Beryl Bainbridge
1976 - The Takeover by Muriel Spark
1977 - Injury Time by Beryl Bainbridge
1978 - Art in Nature by Tove Jansson
1979 - On The Other Side by Mathilde Wolff-Mönckeberg
1980 - The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate
1981 - Gossip From Thrush Green by Miss Read
1982 - At Freddie's by Penelope Fitzgerald
1983 - Blue Remembered Hills by Rosemary Sutcliff
1984 - The Only Problem by Muriel Spark
1985 - For Sylvia: An Honest Account by Valentine Ackland
1986 - On Acting by Laurence Olivier
1987 - The Other Garden by Francis Wyndham
1988 - Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
1989 - Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy
1990 - The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
1991 - Wise Children by Angela Carter
1992 - Curriculum Vitae by Muriel Spark
1993 - Something Happened Yesterday by Beryl Bainbridge
1994 - Deadline Poet by Calvin Trillin
1995 - The Simmons Papers by Philipp Blom
1996 - Reality and Dreams by Muriel Spark
1997 - The Island of the Colourblind by Oliver Sacks
1998 - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
1999 - La Grande Thérèse by Hilary Spurling


  1. I love the idea of this challenge. But I wonder if I'm up to it? I'm such an intuitive reader -- by which I mean I follow my feelings rather than working to a prescribed pattern. think I'll put a link on my blog and mull it over a bit.

  2. Don't think I'll be accepting that challenge but I do wish you a very Happy New Year, and thank you for your rich and entertaining blog.

  3. This challenge has spurred me to keep track of the publishing years of the books I read in 2012. I don't think I read many "modern" books, but we shall see what the year holds. :)

    1. Just coming back to say that "duplicates within a year are killing me!" I've only got 29 that count so far, but I've read 44 from the 20th century. And for someone who doesn't think she reads many "modern" books, I've read 33 from the 21st century (the 1990s filled up shockingly fast as well - and it's only July). What an odd reading year this is turning out to be! ;)

  4. Well, this sounds like a challenge that is right up my alley! As an English teacher in an American public high school who teaches specifically American Literature, I will take this challenge (fully aware that it will most likely take me AT LEAST 2 years to accomplish:). However, I will up my own personal ante and keep it...gasp! solely American Literature...YIKES!!! Oh, well, all in the pursuit of knowledge and improvement of duty! Happy New Year!

  5. Good luck with the challenge, Simon, and a very happy new year to you and your family.

  6. Happy New Year to you and your readers Simon.

    I made my lists for this challenge the moment I read about your idea, so yes I shall be joining you. Silently though, as I don't blog, so can't put links to my progress. I say lists, because I plan to do it twice over (second list will be just mystery books though). I'll be reading in chronological order, but will be allowing myself to read other books in between, and I finish when I finish. Probably in six years time, but who cares?

  7. Good grief what a challenge! I once had a customer who was reading his way through all the major and major-minor novels of the twentieth century in date order. He bought them in order too, one at a time from 1900 onwards. He stopped ringing to order more after getting to 1911. Whether he ran out of engery or is no longer with us (he was an elderly gentleman) I don't know.

    Good luck with it and happy new year.

  8. While I won't formally take up the challenge, the list-maker in me wants to keep a list anyway to see if it can improve the breadth of my reading. Good luck with yours Simon.

  9. Harriet - I think you could easily spend most of the year/two years reading intuitively, and then have a bit of a scramble at the end! Or just keep a track of the years, and see how the century fills up.

    Carole - thank you, Carole!

    Susan - lovely!

  10. Tina - wonderful, I am very pleased to have you along - and very impressed by your twist on it! I look forward to following your progress...

    Karen - thank you and thank you! Hopefully see you at some point in 2012.

    Marina - what a wonderful idea! Since you don't blog, do keep me posted with how it's going. If you fancy writing a guest post for me sometime...

  11. Catherine - what a lovely story! Reminds me of the story Virginia Woolf wrote about the girl who had to read everything in the British Library in order to gain her inheritance...

    Annabel - oo, do make a list!

  12. Hi! I just stumbled onto your blog after googling Frank Baker's 'Before I Go Hence', then I saw this very lofty endeavor of yours. Good luck and hope you succeed within a year. I sure as hell can't do it. My eyes would fall out before I get to 1925.

    May I just ask which Virginia Woolf story you're referring to about the girl and the British Library? What's the title of that?

    Thank you!


  13. Jake - Hello! Firstly, I'd love to know how you found Before I Go Hence, what you thought of it, etc... (are you a Miss Hargreaves fan?) Secondly - I think the Virginia Woolf story was called 'A Society'... yes, a bit of difficult Googling (since I don't want to join a VW Society!) brought this up:

  14. Hello again! Thanks for the link to the Virginia Woolf story. :)

    I haven't read any of Frank Baker's books. But I saw this video called "Interview with a Book Collector" ( and the guy, Mark Valentine, mentions Baker, as well as a whole bunch of others. Then I decided to google every single one of them, and that's how I got here. I plan to read them all eventually.

    Thanks again for the link!


  15. Hi Jake! You're welcome, it's a fun story - hope you enjoy it.

    I had seen that video a while ago - I am a huge fan of Miss Hargreaves, it's one of my favourite books, but although I've read it many times I've not read much else by Frank Baker. I must do so, but I'm scared of ruining Miss H for myself if his other books aren't good!

  16. You and Claire have made it sound so interesting a challenge, that I want in!!! Does it matter if it takes 2.5 years to finish???

    1. Haha, no, it can take as long as you like, Patty! Great to have you on board.

  17. Great challenge! I am on but can't promise to do it in a year. Hopefully the 19 books I have read this year might fit in to some years.

  18. Pretty sure that between then Georgette Heyer and PG Wodehouse published a book almost every year of the 20th century... So on that basis, challenge accepted!

  19. Well done on getting to 50/100. :)

    I'm not taking part in this challenge but only because I have a handful of challenges already on the go. I do track the publication dates of what I review on a reading stats page though. I must admit that seeing the gaps - nothing from the 1960s except a lone Bainbridge, nothing from the 1910s yet despite having read a lot from that decade - is a great tool for rounding out my book selections when I'm debating what to read next.

  20. I track the year of publication for all my reviewed books. By the looks of it ( I need to hunt out a few titles for 1900-1920 and re-read/review all the Saki books. Oh, what a shame... ;)

    Off to have a look at your list for some suggested reads too.

  21. If you want some books to fill up the 1910s, I suggest you try some E.M.Forster books, especially Maurice (it was written in 1914, but only published post-humously in 1975).

    1. Ah, I'm going by publication date, rather than writing date... I've read three EMFs, so I'll investigate what is left...

  22. I did a bit of research earlier this year to see if I had read a book for each year of the century and found I had so my list will be going up soon - found it more difficult in recent years. No surprise really

  23. I did my list a few months ago and will be putting it up in the New Year. We have many in common!

  24. I'm going to be doing in starting now - but with no end point in sight, just seeing if it happens naturally then filling in any gaps. See how long that lasts! I'll have some questions about it, though, so would be grateful if you could find the time to pop over and see if you can answer any of them!


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