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The 19th century had come to a close, and it was the first decade of the twentieth century.  Slavery was outlawed, but racism was far from over. The Wright Brothers took flight for the first time, the Model T was created by Ford, construction of the Panama Canal began, and San Francisco was decimated by an earthquake. And these are the books they were reading that readers still love today.

BOOKS FROM 1900 TO 1909

I have a confession. I used to be a classics snob. In other words, I used to only ever read books that would fall under the category of classic literature, and I would rarely read a book by an author who was still alive.

Several years ago I started to see the error of my ways and realize all of the great contemporary books I was missing out on.

That being said, now when I do read a book that would be considered a classic, I’m often reminded why. Many of the books that are published today will not be read even 10 years from another let alone 50 or a 100 years from now.

But some books do manage to stand the test of time and leave a lasting impression.

While I now love modern contemporary literature, I also want to make sure that I don’t forget to read the great books of the past, which is why I created the Reading Through the Decades Reading Challenge.

In this challenge, each month (or however often you want) you choose a book from one decade to read.

To help with choosing a good book to read, I am putting together a list of books from each decade that are still popular today.

I chose the books on this list based on a variety of factors including the following:

  • It’s a book or author that is still sold in bookstores today.
  • It’s a book that is still loved.
  • It’s a book that is still talked about (even if it’s controversial).

For this first list, we are diving into some of the best books that were published from 1900 to 1909.

If you haven’t already joined the challenge, simply fill out the form below and the challenge will be sent directly to your email inbox!

Reading Through the Decades Challenge

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Books From 1900 to 1909 That Have Stood the Test of Time

One of my observations after putting together this list of books from the early 1900s is that it includes a lot of children’s classics. If you never read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Anne of Green Gables or another children’s classsic you see on the list, this might be the year to give one of these books a try. I promise you will not be disappointed.

the wonderful world of oz book

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)

L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is about a young girl named Dorothy who, along with her dog Toto and newfound friends, embarks on an adventurous journey to meet the Wizard in Oz and find her way back home. Even if you think you know this book because you’ve seen the classic movie, you will still love this book. (There are some interesting differences.) If you have children, my oldest read this book and several others in the series when he was about nine years old.

  • Length: 216 pages
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Year: 1900

up from slavery by booker t washington

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (1900)

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington details his life’s story, highlighting his rise from slavery to becoming a leading African American educator and advocate for racial equality, emphasizing the importance of hard work, education, and economic self-reliance for African Americans.

  • Length: 168 pages
  • Genre: Autobiography
  • Publication Year: 1900

The Hound of Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (1901)

Consider one of Doyle’s most popular novels, The Hound of the Baskervilles follows Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as they investigate the case of a mythical hound believed to be haunting the Baskerville family, uncovering a plot grounded in greed and deception.

  • Length: 225 pages
  • Genre: Mystery, Crime, Detective
  • Publication Year: 1901

the bears of the blue river by charles major

The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major (1901)

The Bears of Blue River is a tale of bravery and adventure set in the Indiana frontier, where a young boy named Balser Brent gets lost in the forest and is forced to confront and overcome challenges, including encounters with the bears who live there.

  • Length: 288 pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure
  • Publication Year: 1901

The Story of My Life by helen keller

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (1902)

In The Story of My Life, Helen Keller narrates her journey from isolation due to deafness and blindness to becoming an accomplished writer and speaker, emphasizing the transformative power of education and perseverance. The book was written with the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan.

  • Length: 80 pages
  • Genre: Memoir, Autobiography
  • Publication Year: 1902

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (1902)

How did the camel get it’s hump? How was the alphabet made? How did the leopard get its spots? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered by these whimsical tales by Rudyard Kipling. Appropriate for all ages.

  • Length: 160 pages
  • Genre: Folk Tale, Myth
  • Publication Year: 1902

the call of the wild by jack london

The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)

A domesticated dog named Buck is thrust into the harsh wilderness of the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush, where he learns to lean on his wild instincts for survival and leadership.

  • Length: 108 pages
  • Genre: Historial Fiction
  • Publication Year: 1903

The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle

The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle (1903)

In The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, Howard Pyle brings to life the classic Arthurian legends, focusing on the heroic deeds, moral dilemmas, and timeless adventures of King Arthur and his loyal knights.

  • Length: 456 pages
  • Genre: Folktales
  • Publication Year: 1903

the souls of black folk by WEB Du Bois

The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois (1903)

The Souls of Black Folk is a seminal work that delves into the African American experience, exploring racial identity, the struggle for equality, and the enduring impact of slavery. Du Bois’s combines history, sociology, and personal narrative to examine the profound challenges and injustices faced by Black Americans post-Civil War.

  • Length: 288 pages
  • Genre: Social Commentary
  • Publication Year: 1903

freckles by gene stratton porter

Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter (1904)

Gene Stratton Porter writes the kind stories that leave you with a smile on your face. They are like comfort food in the form of a book. Freckles tells the story of an orphaned young man who, in guarding the precious timber of the Limberlost Swamp, finds adventure, courage, and true love, revealing the beauty and hardships of nature and life. It’s set against the backdrop of the Indiana wilderness.

  • Length: 166 pages
  • Genre: YA Classic Literature
  • Publication Year: 1904

Peter Pan by JM Barrie

Peter Pan by J.M Barrie (1904)

Peter Pan tells the story of a boy who can fly and his fantastical adventures in Neverland with the Darling children, highlighting themes of youth, freedom, and the bittersweet nature of growing up.

  • Length: 256 pages
  • Genre: Magical Realism, Coming of Age
  • Publication Year: 1904

the house of mirth by edith wharton

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905)

The House of Mirth is a poignant exploration of the pressures faced by a woman seeking marriage and status in the rigid social hierarchy of turn-of-the-century New York.

  • Length: 368 pages
  • Genre: Classic American Literature, Literary Fiction
  • Publication Year: 1905

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1905)

A Little Princess is the story of Sara Crewe, who experiences a dramatic fall from riches to rags at a strict boarding school, but her unyielding spirit and imagination lead her to a surprising and joyful reversal of fortune. (The Secret Garden by the same author was published in 1911.)

  • Length: 320 pages
  • Genre: Children’s Classic
  • Publication Year: 1905

Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (1905)

The Scarlet Pimpernel is an adventurous tale set during the French Revolution, where a daring English aristocrat secretly rescues French nobles from the guillotine.

  • Length: 238 pages
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Publication Year: 1905

the jungle by upton sinclair

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1906)

The Jungle vividly portrays the struggles of a Lithuanian immigrant family, revealing the grim conditions and exploitation in the American meatpacking industry in early 20th-century Chicago. (This book led to the passing of the federal Meat Inspection Act.)

  • Length: 315 pages (also includes Upton Sinclair biography)
  • Genre: Classic American Literature; Political Commentary
  • Publication Year: 1906

The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton (1908)

A metaphysical thriller that follows an undercover detective, as he infiltrates a group of anarchists, leading to a surreal and philosophical exploration of chaos and order. The Man Who Was Thursday combines elements of espionage and philosophical debate, where a poet-turned-detective navigates a clandestine world, questioning the nature of good and evil.

  • Length: 192 pages
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Publication Year: 1908

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1908)

Anne of Green Gables is the sweet story of Anne Shirley, an imaginative and spirited orphan girl who brings joy and chaos to the lives of her adoptive parents and community in the town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. (If you love Anne of Green Gables, and you decide you want more Anne Shirley in your life, check out this guide I put together so you know what to read next.)

  • Length: 464 pages
  • Genre: YA Historical Fiction
  • Publication Year: 1908

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)

The Wind in the Willows is the charming tale of anthropomorphic animals, including the reckless Mr. Toad and the wise Badger, experiencing whimsical adventures along the riverbank in the English countryside.

  • Length: 272 pages
  • Genre: Children’s Classic
  • Publication Year: 1908

A Room with a View by E M Forster

A Room with a View by E M Forster (1908)

A Room with a View is a novel about a young English woman’s journey of self-discovery and the clash between societal expectations and personal desires, set against the backdrop of Italy and England.

  • Length: 240 pages
  • Genre: Literary Fiction
  • Publication Year: 1908

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (1909)

Before it was an broadway play, it was a book. The Phantom of the Opera is a haunting tale of a disfigured musical genius, living in the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, who becomes obsessively in love with a young, talented singer.

  • Length: 242 pages
  • Genre: Gothic Romance
  • Publication Year: 1909

Here are some honorable mentions from this decade:

Which one of these books do you plan to read for this decade for the Reading Through the Decades Reading Challenge?? Is it something on this list or something else? I would love to hear all about it! Please share in the comments below.

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