Reading 100 years of Bestsellers

by Rachel Baker on April 7, 2014

Have you ever contemplated reading the last 100 years of number 1 bestsellers? Well, this student did, and here’s the Salon interview about his experience so far.

When Matthew Kahn, a creative writing student at California State University at Northridge, learned from one of his professors that the bestselling book of 1926 was “The Private Life of Helen of Troy” by John Erskine, he was struck. The class wasn’t reading it, but the book they were reading, “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway, was published the same year. “I thought that was interesting, Kahn told me. “When we think of the books of 1926, we think modernists. We don’t think about the books that most people were actually reading at that time.”

So Kahn decided to read them, 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers, from 1913 to 2013, and post reviews on his blog, Kahn’s Corner. As of the time of this writing, he’s up to 1966 and Jacqueline Susann’s “The Valley of the Dolls” — decidedly not a hit with this reader. But Kahn has come across a few surprises and can offer an unusual perspective on what Americans have liked in a book since the First World War. I called him up to get his impressions.

Here’s the article:
http://www.salon.com/2014/04/02/lessons_from_stephen_king_and_valley_of_the_dolls_reading_100_years_of_bestsellers/

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