Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Books Published When I Was Born

So, of course, I wasn't reading immediately after birth (though I began, my mother told me, when I was only two), but my mom was a reader, a big reader, and these were the books that were published around the time I was born, in the mid-1950's. 

Back then, my mom would only have had access to books through the once-a-month bookmobile from the public library or books that would have arrived from her membership in Book-of-the-Month Club or books she could have bought at the drugstore in the tiny town in Texas, population about 1000, where she lived.

How likely would it be that my mom read these books? What would she have thought of the books? Let me take a look.

Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk, published 1955. Bestseller about a woman who wants to become an actress, and falls in love with a man who is embarking on an artistic career but has no interest in marrying and living a conventional 1950's life. 

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Very likely. 

What would she have thought of the book? Enjoyed it.

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious, published 1956. Bestseller about "how three women are forced to come to terms with their identity, both as women and as sexual beings, in a small, conservative, gossipy New England town, with recurring themes of hypocrisy, social inequities and class privilege in a tale that includes incest, abortion, adultery, lust and murder." 

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? I'm almost positive my mom read this book.

What did she think of the book? She thought it was racy.

Seize the Day by Saul Bellow, published 1956. 'The story centers on a day in the life of Wilhelm Adler (a.k.a. Tommy Wilhelm), a failed actor in his forties. Wilhelm is unemployed, impecunious, separated from his wife (who refuses to agree to a divorce), and estranged from his children and his father. He is also stuck with the same immaturity and lack of insight which has brought him to failure. In Seize the Day Wilhelm experiences a day of reckoning as he is forced to examine his life and to finally accept the "burden of self."'

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Possible.

What did she think of the book? Might have enjoyed it.

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, published in 1956. "The book focuses on the events in the life of an American man living in Paris and his feelings and frustrations with his relationships with other men in his life, particularly an Italian bartender named Giovanni whom he meets at a Parisian gay bar." 

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Very unlikely that my mom had access to this book.

Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie, published in 1956. Detective novel. 

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Very likely. 

What did she think of the book? Enjoyed it. She liked mysteries all her life.

Howl and Other Poems by Allan Ginsberg, published in 1956. 'In "Howl" Ginsberg denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States. San Francisco police and US Customs seized "Howl" in 1956, and it attracted widespread publicity in 1957 when it became the subject of an obscenity trial, as it described heterosexual and homosexual sex at a time when sodomy laws made homosexual acts a crime in every state. The poem reflected Ginsberg's own sexuality and his relationships with a number of men, including Peter Orlovsky, his lifelong partner.'

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Very unlikely my mom would have had access to this book.

Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming, published in 1956. Spy novel.

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Possible.

What might she have thought of the book? Enjoyed it. 

Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck, published in 1956. Imperial Woman is "the story of the last Empress in China, born into one of the lowly ranks of the Imperial dynasty. According to custom, she moved to the Forbidden City at the age of seventeen to become one of hundreds of concubines. But her singular beauty and powers of manipulation quickly moved her into the position of Second Consort."

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? I think my mom read all of the Pearl S. Buck books about China. She later recommended them to me.

What did she think of the book? Loved it.

The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault, published in 1956. Historical fiction "set in ancient Greece, the second of her works to feature male homosexuality as a major theme."

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Likely.

What did she think of the book? She loved historical fiction.

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, published in 1956. Science fiction.

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Very unlikely. I don't think she ever read any science fiction.

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, published in 1956. "Autobiographical work by British naturalist Gerald Durrell. It tells in an exaggerated and sometimes fictionalized way of the years that he lived as a child with his siblings and widowed mother on the Greek island of Corfu between 1935 and 1939."

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Very unlikely.

What might she have thought of the book? She would have enjoyed the story.

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, published in 1957. It's historical fiction, the story of "a physician and poet, and takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II."

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Likely.

What did she think of the book? She loved historical fiction.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute, published in 1957. Post-apocalyptic novel. "The novel details the experiences of a mixed group of people in Melbourne as they await the arrival of deadly radiation spreading towards them from the Northern Hemisphere, following a nuclear war a year previously. As the radiation approaches, each person deals with impending death differently."

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Possible.

What might she have thought of the book? I think she would have enjoyed it.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, published in 1957. Children's book.

How likely would it be that my mom read this book? Certain.

What did she think of the book? She read it over and over to me. It was my first book. We both loved it.

Thank you to Davida Chazan @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for today's prompt.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


  1. Ooh nice picks! Haven't read any of these myself.

    Here's my Tuesday Post

    Have a GREAT day!

    Old Follower :)

  2. What an interesting post Deb, my mom read magazines but, I don't recall her ever reading a book. I didn't realize the Cat in the Hat was that old, but it's creator was born and lived in the next town over from me as a child.

  3. The Cat in the Hat is the only book on this list I've read.

    Wow, your mom had to wait a long time in between getting books! I liked reading your thoughts about whether she might have read all of those specific books.

    My post.

  4. Doctor Zhivago made my list this week as a book older than me that I really want to read. :)

  5. What a great idea. I am born in 1955, and will find some books published this year. Will make a post about it. Hopefully, I have already read some books from that time.

  6. It's hard to believe there was a time when accumulating books was not an easy thing to do! My mom was a huge reader, too, and only had access to a small public library and whatever books she might have purchased when she occasionally ventured out to the big city an hour away from where we lived. It's hard to imagine since it's so easy now to find books. Crazy!

    Happy TTT!

  7. I've not read any of these!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/02/02/top-ten-tuesday-301/

  8. What a fun take on this post! I've read about half of these (LOVED Imperial Woman) and recently purchased Marjorie Morningstar as a kindle daily deal.

  9. Nice to see Agatha also on your list, and Doctor Zhivago! I really need to read Giovanni's Room!

  10. Aaah your post is lovely Debs. Your mom would have appreciated it. I've read a few of these!! Doctor Zhivago, Dead Man's Folley and good grief - on the beach. I love Nevil Shute and that one was really good, but a bit freakish. I might just read it again now...

    I didn't get to do TTT this week, it's a bit hectic on my side. But my Wondrous Words Wednesday is ready and I will publish early tomorrow morning (SA time).

  11. The only one that I recognize is The Cat in the Hat. My mom was a big reader too but when I was little there were books stores that she would go to.

  12. What a wonderful take on the day's theme of books before we were born. I think if I did the same thing with my mom all the answers would be "She didn't or wouldn't have read it because I don't remember her reading anything during our growing up years." She is now a reader but I don't think she had much time to read when I was young and she rarely if ever took us to the library.

  13. Are those covers great? I loved that you gave us details sharing what your mom might have thought of the books. My mom was a big reader too but unfortunately she doesn't read as much now. Great TTT post!

  14. I adore your take on this prompt! My mother is (or I should say "was," as she can no longer read because of macular degeneration) a prolific reader. Now I'm wondering if she's read any of your list -- or mine! I've read and loved a few on your list. We read My Family and Other Animals for book club a few years ago, and then one of our members actually went to Corfu because of the book!
    Great list!
    Sarah at smallworldreads.blogspot.com

  15. Great books, I loved watching Dr Zhivago when I was younger, my mum had it on VHS. I think it’s why I like a snowy setting!

  16. I adore how you connected your list with your mom, beautiful!

  17. Oooh! I love the Cat in the Hat! Great list!

    Here’s my TTT!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

  18. These are great picks and I love how you shared them with us. Including your mom was a sweet touch!

  19. That's an interesting list of books and I have actually read a few of them, including, of course, The Cat in the Hat which was a favorite for my kids and me.

  20. Always love the twist or uniqueness of your top ten posts.. Of these, I have read a couple, have had a couple on my tbr forever

  21. What a great twist on the subject. And I see we were born at around the same time. I recently read Peyton Place because it was the top book in the year I was born. I thought it was brilliant.

    The other books from your list that I read are "Doctor Zhivago", "Imperial Woman" and, of course, "The Cat in the Hat". But I read that to my boys when they were little. In my youth, I have never heard of Dr. Seuss.

    Anyway, what a great list. And thanks for visiting my TTT earlier.

  22. You're two years younger than my sister ! I remember Peyton Place as a TV show I watched when I was a kid, with Ryan O'Neill and... (just checked) Dorothy Malone, I'd forgotten her !

    1. I had never heard of the book or film until I saw that article with the books from the year you were born. I'm German and it might not have been shown on our TVs at the time.

      I also didn't know the name Dorothy Malone. I checked her on IMDb, haven't seen her in a single movie.

      Anyway, regards to your sister. And thanks for that information.

  23. I am loving seeing these lists on people's blogs. Some of my favorites are 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and children's books that I adored (Babar comes to mind)

  24. What a cute take on this week's theme! I've only read Cat in the Hat.

  25. My goodness! I have read eight of them. I am showing my age!

  26. I actually have a book about a bookmobile on my list this week, so it's incredible to find someone with one degree of separation from them. Actually, I am genuinely curious to see how many you'd recognize from my list this week. I'm betting a minimum of 5. (The average score so far is between 0 and 1.)

    Marjorie Morningstar sounds really interesting -- older adult fiction is tougher for me to find than the juvenile stuff in terms of what appeals to me, but this sounds like exactly the kind that is up my alley. I like your mom's projected taste, based on this post, so this is a pretty good guide.

    My Family and Other Animals has been on my TBR for a while; I need to stop forgetting about it. According to my reading log I did read a later Durrell book in high school, but I tragically don't remember a whit.

  27. What a lovely idea for a post and I adored the twist at the end!! My birth year seems notable for Watership Down, The Stepford Wives, My Name is Asher Lev and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas!


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