Last weekend there was an interesting meme going around LibraryThing, with members comparing the New York Times bestseller lists from the week of their birth. I couldn’t resist generating my list to see what was popular — at least in the United States — way back when. It’s also interesting to put the country’s popular reading in a cultural and historic context. Here’s a snapshot of notable events from February 1962, in the weeks just before and after my birth (thanks, Wikipedia!):
- February 3: The United States embargo against Cuba is announced.
- February 4: The Sunday Times in the United Kingdom becomes the first paper to print a colour supplement.
- February 14: First Lady of the United States Jacqueline Kennedy takes television viewers on a tour of the White House.
- February 20: While aboard Friendship 7, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth, three times in 4 hours, 55 minutes.
- February 21: Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev first dance together in a Royal Ballet performance of Giselle in London.
- February 28: The Beatles appear at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, along with Gerry & the Pacemakers and Johnny Sandon and the Searchers
And these are the New York Times Best Sellers for Week Ending 18/02/1962, the week I was born:
Go here to create your own list. Note that if you were born before 1950, you will get a list for the year, not the week.
- FRANNY AND ZOOEY J.D. Salinger
- THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY Irving Stone
- TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Harper Lee
- A PROLOGUE TO LOVE Taylor Caldwell
- DAUGHTER OF SILENCE Morris L. West
- LITTLE ME Patrick Dennis
- CHAIRMAN OF THE BORED Edward Streeter
- THE IVY TREE Mary Stewart
- SPIRIT LAKE MacKinlay Kantor
- THE CARPETBAGGERS Harold Robbins
- CAPTAIN NEWMAN M.D., Leo Calvin Rosten
- KIRKLAND REVELS Victoria Holt
- TWILIGHT OF HONOR Al Dewlen
- THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY Sheila Burnford
- THE JUDAS TREE A.J. Cronin
- A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME Anthony Powell
- MY LIFE IN COURT Louis Nizer
- CALORIES DON’T COUNT Herman Taller
- THE MAKING OF THE PRESIDENT 1960 Theodore H. White
- LIVING FREE Joy Adamson
- THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH William L. Shirer
- A NATION OF SHEEP William J. Lederer
- MY SABER IS BENT Jack Paar
- BEFORE I SLEEP James Monahan
- THE GUNS OF AUGUST Barbara W. Tuchman
- CIA: THE INSIDE STORY Andrew Tully
- THE COMING FURY Bruce Catton
- CITIZEN HEARST W.A. Swanberg
- THE LAST PLANTAGENETS Thomas B. Costain
- PT 109 Robert J. Donovan
- I SHOULD HAVE KISSED HER MORE Alexander King
Well. I’ve read one of these: To Kill a Mockingbird, which has clearly stood the test of time. Others, less so (anyone read or remember Calories don’t Count?)
On LibraryThing, one of my friends immediately jumped into the discussion, recommending A Dance to the Music of Time so highly, she’s convinced me to read it. Luckily my library has it, and its sequels.
What else have I missed? What do you recommend from this list?