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10 Books Turning 100 This Year

Some of the Best Books from 1924

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 04, 2024

The popular culture of an era often says something about the character of the time it inhabits. Today, we're revisiting ten of the most notable books turning one hundred this year. Some of these titles tapped into the cultural zeitgeist of that moment in history. Others offer something universal that speaks to us all. Whatever the reason, they still have a place on our shelves.

A Passage to India by E. M. Forster

This masterful portrait of a society in the grip of imperialism compellingly depicts the fate of individuals caught between the great political and cultural conflicts of the modern world. Set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement of the 1920s, the novel is based on Forster's own experiences in India. It was adapted into an Oscar-winning 1984 film.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Originally published as The Box-Car Children and reissued in a shorter form in 1942, this is the story of four orphaned siblings. They create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar in the forest. They eventually meet their grandfather, a kind and wealthy man who takes them in. It is the first in a popular middle-grade series in which the children become amateur sleuths.

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

This publication launched into the international spotlight a young and unknown poet whose writings would ignite a generation. The most popular work by Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet, this book stands as an essential collection that continues to inspire lovers and poets around the world. It is also the subject of Pablo Larraín's acclaimed feature film, Neruda, starring Gael García Bernal.

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

Considered to be one of the most influential works of twentieth-century German literature, this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps as a microcosm for Europe. A monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intellectual ferment, the story pulses with life in the midst of death. It can be read both as a classic Bildungsroman and as a sly parody of the genre.

The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany

Recognized as a pioneering work of fantasy and science fiction, this novel, in the words of H. P. Lovecraft, remains "unexcelled in the sorcery of crystalline singing prose, and supreme in the creation of a gorgeous and languorous world of incandescently exotic vision." It is the story of a fairy bride who marries the mortal Lord of Erl, but becomes weary of the ways of men.

Billy Budd by Herman Melville

"Billy Budd" is Melville's final work. It was discovered amongst his papers three decades after his death and first published by Raymond Weaver in his 1924 edition of The Collected Works of Melville. Billy Budd is a navy sailor accused of mutiny by a fellow officer. After striking his accuser dead, he faces a trial, resulting in conviction and execution.

The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

Inspired by the fashionable hunting safaris enjoyed by wealthy Americans in the 1920s, this story features a big-game hunter from New York who falls off a yacht and swims to what seems to be a deserted island in the Caribbean, where he is hunted by a Russian aristocrat. Considered one of the most popular short stories of all time, it has been adapted numerous times, most notably as a 1932 film.

When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne

"They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace—Christopher Robin went down with Alice." Published two years before Winnie-the-Pooh, this is the first of Milne's delightful verse collections. A celebration of childhood, these poems have been touching the hearts of children and their families for a century. The verses are perfectly matched by Ernest Shepard's whimsical illustrations.

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

A true innovator, Emily Dickinson experimented freely with conventional rhythm and meter, and often used dashes, off rhymes, and unusual metaphors—techniques that strongly influenced modern poetry. Her idiosyncratic style, along with her deep resonance of thought and pithy observations have firmly established her as one of America's true poetic geniuses.

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

The first in the Colonel Race Series, one of The Queen of Crime's lesser-known set of mysteries. This story centers on a spirited young woman who, after witnessing an accidental death in a London tube station, is spurred into playing amateur sleuth aboard a luxury cruise ship to South Africa. Also released in 1924 was Poirot Investigates, the third novel in Christie's popular Hercule Poirot series.

Whether these books are new to you or favorites from your past, please join us in celebrating their continued relevance and resonance after a hundred years! How many have you read?

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