Bestselling Books 1916

Old BooksWhat were people reading one hundred years ago? Here are the Publishers Weekly bestselling novels of 1916:

Seventeen by Booth Tarkington (two time Pulitzer Prize winner: 1919 for The Magnificent Ambersons and 1922 for Alice Adams)

When A Man’s A Man by Howard Bell Wright

Just David by Eleanor H. Porter

Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H.G. Wells (prolific British writer in many genres but best remembered for science fiction novels)

Life and Gabriella by Elen Glasgow (won the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for In This Our Life but died before the selection was announced)

The Real Adventure by Henry Kitchell Webster

Bars of Iron by Ethel M. Dell (British author)

Nan of Music Mountain by Frank H. Spearman

Dear Enemy by Jean Webster

The Heart of Rachael by Kathleen Norris (a prolific author who sold over 10 million copies of her 80 books and became the highest paid female author of her day)

One interesting note in the article accompanying the list reports: “…just because a book is purchased doesn’t mean it will be read. The rising length of bestsellers may mean that more of them are simply becoming bookshelf decor. In 1985 members of the staff of The New Republic laced coupons redeemable for $5 cash inside 70 books that were selling well, and none of them were sent in.”

The term “best seller” was first used in print in 1889 by The Kansas Times & Star newspaper in Kansas City. For more information about determination of a best seller, there is an interesting Wikipedia article online titled “Bestseller.”