Book to the Future: 1930s

Pick up your South West Reading Passport 2016: Book to the Future from your local library, read through the decades and win prizes from now until March 2017. Find out more on our  Book to the Future blog post.

There are more suggestions in your passport, as well as on the South West Reading Passport website, but we’ve gathered a selection of books to get you started, either set in, or published in, the 1930s. You can also download a reading list here: 1930s

brothersThomas Brothers   Louis Armstrong, master of modernism. (Biography) Jazz soloist Louis Armstrong became world famous during the 1930’s when he began recording regularly with a big band. Read his biography, borrow the sound recordings, or tune up your instruments and borrow sheet music, it’s up to you.

Agatha Christie    Murder at the Vicarage. Introducing Agatha Christie’s much beloved female detective, Miss Jane Marple. With her gift for sniffing out the malevolent side of human nature, Miss Marple is investigates her first case. Colonel Protheroe, much hated local magistrate is discovered shot dead at the vicarage.  No one heard the shot, there are no leads and everyone in the village seems to have a reason to want the Colonel dead.

William Faulkner Light in August. Nobel prize winning author who epitomised the Deep South in his writing, often with controversy as he tackled issues of race and culture. He published numerous novels during the 1930’s including ‘The Sound and the Fury’ and went on to become a screenwriter for many well-known films.

follettKen Follett Winter of the World.Winter of the World is the second novel in Ken Follett’s uniquely ambitious and deeply satisfying trilogy ‘The Century’. On its own or read in sequence with Fall of Giants and Edge of Eternity, this is a magnificent, spellbinding epic of global conflict and personal drama.

Stella Gibbons Cold Comfort Farm. The wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930s. Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, and becomes enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming, until Flora manages to set things right.

Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls. Hemingway’s classic portrayal of the Spanish Civil War, seen through the eyes of an American fighting on the Republican side, captures the excitement and danger of war in a way few other works of fiction have been unable to do.

Kazuo Ishiguro Remains of the Day. In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the English countryside and into his past.  A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House, of lost causes and lost love.

Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird. ‘Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’  A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s

Patrick Leigh Fermor Between the woods and the water.(Travel Writing)    Regarded as Britain’s greatest living travel writer during his lifetime, Leigh Fermor decided to walk the length of Europe, from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1933, less than a year after Hitler had come to power in Germany. A BBC journalist once described him as “a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene.”

montefioreSanta Montefiore The Beekeeper’s Daughter. Atmospheric family saga which moves  from 1930s Dorset to 1970s America, with themes of lost love, forbidden love and love that threatens to change everything, this is the story of a mother and daughter whose pasts are intrinsically linked in ways neither of them could have known.

Kate Morton The Lake House. June 1933, and the Edevane family’s country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edevane, sixteen years old and a budding writer, is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she’s also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn’t. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.

George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London. Orwell’s first published work, this novel — based, in part, on true experiences — is an evocative tale of life among the underclass in 1930’s Paris and London.

JRR Tolkien The Hobbit. Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent.

Winifred Watson Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day    Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.

Lindy Woodhead War Paint: Madame Helena Rubinstein and Miss Elizabeth Arden: Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry (Biography)
woodheadThey were both born in the nineteenth century in humble circumstances Helena Rubinstein in an orthodox Jewish household in Krakow, Poland, Elizabeth Arden on a farm outside Toronto. But by the 1930s, they were bitter rivals in New York, the rulers of duelling international beauty empires that would forever change the way women thought about cosmetics, salons, and wrinkles.