We Americans pride ourselves in making great advances. But let’s compare a best selling book today with one from the 1800s. Sometimes older is better!
So what kind of book was on the Best-Seller list in 100 years ago? Wholesome encouraging books like In His Steps, Heidi, Black Beauty
and Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. The most popular book between 1895 and 1918 was “Quo Vadis” by Henryk Sienkiewicz.
What Did People Read 100+ Years Ago?
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- Henry George, Progress & Poverty
- Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus
- Margaret Sidney, Five Little Peppers And How They Grew
- Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
- Johanna Spyri, Heidi
- Frances Hodgson Burnett, Little Lord Fauntleroy
- H. Rider Haggard, King Solomon’s Mines
- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
- Marie Corelli, Thelma
- Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four
- Rudyard Kipling,Plain Tales from the Hills
- Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
- J. M. Barrie, The Little Minister
- Rudyard Kipling, The Light That Failed
- Rudyard Kipling, Life’s Handicap: Being Stories of Mine Own People >$1 on Kindle
- Anthony Hope, The Prisoner of Zenda
- Ian Maclaren, Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush
- Margaret Marshall Saunders, Beautiful Joe
- Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
- Henryk Sienkiewicz, Quo Vadis
- Charles M. Sheldon, In His Steps
List Source: Frank Luther Mott, Golden multitudes;: The story of best sellers in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1947) ( I removed books I would not allow my children to read.)
Reading and Writing Has Improved
In 1880 only 6% of Americans over the age of 10 could read. In 1920 that increased to 20%. The number of published books quadrupled in these years. In 1900 American bought 4 billion postage stamps. In 1920 they bought 14.3 billion.
I was really surprised “In His Steps” (now titled ‘”What Would Jesus Do?”) was written over 100 years ago.
What is your favorite classic?