What are the best books of the 1940s?

asked by Anonymous
377 contributors
18 solutions
  1. 37

    #1For Whom the Bell Tolls

    For Whom the Bell Tolls
    For Whom the Bell Tolls is a book by Ernest Hemingway. Widely regarded as his greatest masterpiece, it tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American who fought with leftist guerrillas during the Spanish Revolution in the 1930s.

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    Daniel Mills
    Written on April 21, 2018
    "This is a great book. I would enjoy this one."
  2. 34


    1984 is a dystopian novel by George Orwell that tells the story of Winston Smith, who lives under the rule of the tyrannical government ruled by the omnipresent Big Brother. It is a bleak portrayal of how society might become in the future.

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    Terry Wagner
    Written on April 13, 2018
    "One of the best books of it's era. "
  3. 32


    Ficciones is a collection of 17 short stories by the famous Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. These stories are inquiries into the labyrinthine nature of the human mind.


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    Terry Jacobs
    Written on April 19, 2018
    "I love reading older literature and my father suggest reading this book. It was mind blowing. So much i never realized now made sense. Highly reccommend."
  1. 30

    #4Animal Farm

    Animal Farm
    Animal Farm is a short novel by George Orwell that tells the story of a farm that's taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. They set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality, but a revolution starts to show. 

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    Ruth Bradley
    Written on May 20, 2018
    "Animal Farm is a great example of a book from the 1940's. It is a classic and was written extremely well. I feel it still is very significant even today. Many children have even read this classic in school."
  2. 28

    #5The Little Prince

    The Little Prince

    The Little Prince is written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery about a prince who visited Earth from a tiny asteroid. It is known as a book for kids but it has been considered as an allegory of the author's wartime experiences. 


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    Arnav Tata
    Written on April 25, 2018
    "I first saw the movie for this when I was a kid and came across the book in a bookstore. I read it and it brought a lot of great memories. It's an imaginative story that anyone can enjoy."
  3. 27

    #6A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a classic coming-of-age book by Betty Smith that tells the story of a girl named Francie Nolan and her poverty-stricken family as they struggle to survive in early 20th century Brooklyn, New York.

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  4. 25

    #7Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was written by Anne Frank, published from the diary she kept when she and her family were in hiding from the Nazis in the then German-occupied Netherlands.

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    Joy Zhu
    Written on May 15, 2018
    "The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the most widely known - and popular - books, known across the world and across many different age groups. This accurate description of a time of suffering and fear is both hard to read, but also a necessity for any generation. Young adults can relate to many of Anne's struggles and heartaches, while learning what life was like for a young adult in this time."
  5. 23

    #8A Streetcar Named Desire

    A Streetcar Named Desire

    A Streetcar Named Desire is Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer-winning play about Blanche DuBois and her attempt to have a normal life while living with her sister Stella and her abusive husband Stanley Kowalski.                                                     


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    Marina Ramírez
    Written on April 12, 2018
    "A Streetcar Named Desire is an excellent read. Although I struggle with calling it a book, it can be read as such even though it's truly a play. Easily one of the best works to come out of the 1940s in any format."
  6. 23

    #9All the King's Men

    All the King's Men
    The political novel All the King's Men follows the life of Willie Stark, a demagogue and politician. It chronicles his beginnings as a genuine ally of the people and his subsequent corruption because of greed for power.

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    Thomas Hernandez
    Written on April 17, 2018
    "All The King's Men is an American classic at this point. It was prescient at the time and it's still relevant today."
  7. 21

    #10The Man Without Qualities

    The Man Without Qualities

    The Man Without Qualities is a philosophical written by literary icon Robert Musil. It was published in English in October 1997 with the translation of Sophie Wilkins and Burton Pike.


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    Ann Cooper
    Written on May 4, 2018
    "I first read The Man Without Qualities for an english class. At the time I didn't appreciate it, but now that I am older and more well read, I can see the good in it. It's a little dry, but a really well crafted piece of work that still manages to be interesting in the modern day. It's also a good look at what people were writing in the 1940s."
  8. 20


    John Hersey's heart-wrenching book Hiroshima recounts what happened on the day the first ever atomic bomb was dropped on a city. It includes narratives by eyewitnesses who survived the bombing. 

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    Stephanie Oliver
    Written on April 17, 2018
    "I think it is a great solution. Hiroshoma is interesting."
  9. 17

    #12I Capture the Castle

    I Capture the Castle

    I Capture the Castle is a novel by Dodie Smith that tells the story of the Mortmain family through the eyes of Cassandra. Through poverty and the dawn of first love, Cassandra writes down her experiences in her journal.


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    Aaron Grant
    Written on April 23, 2018
    "I like reading older classic books. So after much research, I think I found the best book that came from the 1940s. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is an excellent novel that has great emotional experiences in it. "
  10. 15

    #13Brideshead Revisited

    Brideshead Revisited

    This book is the story of Charles Ryder and his romances, life and of course his friendship with the Flytes brothers, Sebastian and Julia. The novel covers many topics, including Sebastian's homosexuality.


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    Norma Vargas
    Written on April 5, 2018
    "This book is one of the best books I've ever read that was over fifty years old. It has romance, intrigue, and a bit of controversy--especially given the time when it was written, it's interesting that it explores homosexuality. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to read something a bit older but that still holds up well."
  11. 15

    #14Pippi Longstocking

    Pippi Longstocking
    Pippi Longstocking is a children's book by the Swedish writer Asterid Lingren. It tells the adventurous story of the titular Pippi, a nine-year-old girl with freckles, red hair in pigtails, and superhuman strength.

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    Heather Carter
    Written on April 24, 2018
    "Pippi Longstocking is a classic children's book. The book has good themes and more content than a typical book for this age group."
  12. 12

    #15Goodnight Moon

    Goodnight Moon

    Goodnight Moon is a classic of children's literature written by Margareth Wise that combines beautiful poetry with astonishes illustrations. It is, for sure, the perfect bedtime story for kids up to 3 years old.


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    Thomas Rogers
    Written on April 21, 2018
    "I love Goodnight Moon! I think every kid should have a copy of this classic book from the 1940s. It is a perfect story for bedtime!"
  13. 0

    #16Monsieur Monde Vanishes

    Monsieur Monde Vanishes

    Monsieur Monde Vanishes is a French noir mystery fiction novel written by Georges Simenon. This classic book follows the story of Monsieur Monde. It is first published in 1945 and New York Review of Books reprinted it in 2004.


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    Lawrence Burke
    Written on May 18, 2018
    "This is a classic book by a prolific author I'd never heard of before, and I was happy to discover he'd written *lots* of books over a long period of time. I'm going to be happy reading them! It's a great portrayal of France (I'm a newly made American expat) and I immensely enjoyed reading about my new home city. I'll be looking for more."
  14. 0

    #17The Strangers in the House

    The Strangers in the House

    The Strangers in the House is a French noir mystery fiction novel written by Georges Simenon. This classic book follows the story of Hector Loursat. It is first published in 1940 and NYRB Classic reprinted it in 2006.


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    Douglas Bishop
    Written on May 19, 2018
    "I never acquired a taste for the detective stories, whodunits or crime mysteries however high their quality might be, so I was surprised many years ago when I read Simenon's "The Venice Train" and "Prison". I used to think, as everybody else, that Simenon is all Maigret, the Great Detective. Both "The Venice Train" and "Prison" though should be considered as part of French realist and existentialist tradition, the later in full swing in the middle of XX century. Both books are about people who struggle (mostly unsuccessfully) to find their true identity and raison d'être. I liked both books very much, so when I found that NYRB has published quite a few Simenon's "non-Maigret" books, I decided to give one of them a try. To my today's taste the book is not as good as the previous two I read, though I read them many years ago, so I guess I need to read them again to be able to compare. Also I read them in Russian translation, and Russian translations to my experience are almost always better than English ones (be it from German or French). English speaking world never considered translation to be an art (see "Translators Struggle to Prove Their Academic Bona Fides" in "The Chronicle Of Higher Education"). "The Strangers in the House" is very much in vein of "realist/existentialist" Simenon. The story is about a sensitive and intelligent man, one Hector Loursat, a lawyer, who, after his wife left him for another man, has abandoned his practice, and withdrew from the society to live a life of solitude in his house with his daughter and a maid. Incessantly drinking wine, smoking, reading, losing shape both in the physical sense and in terms of his ability to communicate - this goes on for years and years. Extremely skeptical and/or cynical, unwilling to know anything about real world, one day he's being intruded upon by a murder committed in his house. The chain of events follows which makes him to become involved in the life of his previously mostly ignored daughter and the life of here young lover, a local boy who becomes a prime suspect in this crime. Involved to such an extent that Loursat undertakes the defense of the boy and surely he wins - happy end very uncharacteristic of Simenon, but strangely believable & acceptable in this book. Small French town, inhabited by regular people, usual conflicts of the generations, mendacity and hate underneath niceties of provincial bourgeois life... this book one more time shows Simenon as a great realist writer."
  15. 0

    #18Cheaper by the Dozen

    Cheaper by the Dozen

    Cheaper by the Dozen is an autobiographical novel written by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It tells the story of the happy life of the Gilbreth family, composed of two parents and their twelve kids.


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    Ronald Griffin
    Written on April 15, 2018
    "Although this product page is a 2002 publishing of the book, Cheaper by the Dozen, the book itself is actually from the 1940s. It was written in 1948 and subsequently released as a major motion picture two times over the next 50 years. The book was a best seller in the 40s and obviously has a long staying power with interest in the idea more than 50 years after the first film adaptation was made. "


Best What are the best books of the 1940s
1For Whom the Bell TollsBooks 37 Paid
21984Books 34 Paid
3FiccionesBooks 32 Paid
4Animal FarmBooks 30 Paid
5The Little PrinceBooks 28 Paid
6A Tree Grows in BrooklynBooks 27 Paid
7Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young GirlBooks 25 Paid
8A Streetcar Named DesireBooks 23 Paid
9All the King's MenBooks 23 Paid
10The Man Without QualitiesBooks 21 Paid

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