Top Novels of the Great Depression Years


As I work on a story that takes place during the Great Depression, I’m collecting details of the decade that I’ll use to help the story ring true.

One of my characters loves to read, so I need to know which books would be found on bedroom nightstands in the 1930’s.

An online bookstore has a great list and cover shots of the top-selling books during that tough time in America’s history, 1929-1939. I’ll be taking a trip to my local library in hopes that I’ll find a few of these books to read.

  1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
  2. Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis
  3. Dark Hester by Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  4. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  5. Cimarron by Edna Ferber
  6. The Woman of Andros by Thornton Wilder
  7. Angel Pavement by J.B. Priestley
  8. Rogue Herries by Hugh Walpole
  9. Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum
  10. Maid in Waiting by John Galsworthy
  11. The Fountain by Charles Morgan
  12. Mary’s Neck by Booth Tarkington
  13. Miss Bishop by Bess Streeter Aldrich
  14. As the Earth Turns by Gladys Hasty Carroll
  15. Anthony Adverse by Hervey Allen
  16. So Red the Rose by Stark Young
  17. Good-bye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton
  18. Of Time and the River by Thomas Wolfe
  19. Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds
  20. Northwest Passage by Kenneth Roberts
  21. We Are Not Alone by James Hilton
  22. Action at Aquila by Hervey Allen
  23. The Tree of Liberty by Elizabeth Page
  24. And Tell of Time by Laura Krey
  25. All This, and Heaven Too by Rachel Field
  26. Old Wine and New by Warwick Deeping

Have you read any of these novels?

Darla McDavid

I'm Darla, a writer of stories about family, friends, goodness, and God. I love cats, coffee, gardening, and tall stacks of books. Click here to subscribe to my blog. You can also find me on Facebook and Instagram. In my other life, I'm an administrative professional and a Sunday School teacher for preschoolers.

2 Comments Write a comment

  1. Oh, Darla, is only I’d known you six years ago! I was cleaning out my parents’ home to put it on the market after my dad died and we knew my mom would be staying at their assisted living apartment. I took a box of writing books, devotionals and anthologies over to put in the bookcase of her apartment, and then I gave the rest to the local library. I can remember at least 14 of the books on your list as being part of my library contribution!
    I–and on behalf of my mother, too–would have been glad to ship them to you in California. Timing is everything, and I’m sorry we missed this opportunity.


    • It’s amazing that your parents had held on to so many of these. Hopefully someone in our town did the same thing as you, and I’ll be able to find first editions in our library.


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