Here you’ll find a list of books that are either set in the 1920s or were written during this time. This list is broken down by age but there are many books that can be enjoyed by some or all of the age groups. This list is just a sample of the thousands of books that we can access through the county-wide system. Descriptions were taken from our Literature database; Novelist (click to access from home.)
Click on Titles to be taken to the Catalog
Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction Books (Some may be suitable for teens or even children. Please ask a librarian for help with determining age suitability)
The Color Purple By: Alice Walker – Two African American sisters, one a missionary in Africa and the other a child-wife living in the South, support each other through their correspondence, beginning in the 1920s.
The Good Earth By: Pearl S. Buck – Wang Lung, a Chinese peasant, rises from poverty to become a rich landowner with the aid of his patient wife in the 1920s.
The Great Gatsby By: F. Scott Fitzgerald – In 1925, The Great Gatsby was published and hailed as an artistic and material success for its young author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is considered a vastly more mature and artistically masterful treatment of Fitzgerald’s early themes, which examine the results of the Jazz Age generation’s adherence to false material values. In nine chapters, Fitzgeralds presents the rise and fall of Jay Gatsby, as related in first-person narrative by Nick Carraway.
The Hours By: Michael Cunningham – The spirit of Virginia Woolf permeates the lives of several American readers as evidenced in this trio of tales about the author Woolf, a New Yorker planning a party to honour a writer, and a young mother reading Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.
The House By: Danielle Steel – A workaholic attorney, Sarah Anderson finds her life transformed by an inheritance from an elderly client and by a magnificent mansion, built in the 1920s by a wealthy Frenchman, a legacy that leads Sarah to architect Jeff Parker.
Middlesex By: Jeffrey Eugenides – Calliope’s friendship with a classmate and her sense of identity are compromised by the adolescent discovery that she is a hermaphrodite, a situation with roots in her grandparent’s desperate struggle for survival in the 1920s.
New World Coming By: Nathan Miller – Miller characterizes the 1920s as a decade full of drinking, dancing, hedonism, and crime. Miller first concentrates on the writer who captured the decade’s insouciance and ennui in The Great Gatsby, periodically revisiting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s self-destructive slide, then returning to recount the period’s social and economic trends. Blacks moved north, women began voting, factories hummed, farms stagnated, stocks inflated, and speakeasies proliferated.
The Sun Also Rises By: Ernest Hemingway – The story of a group of Americans and English on a sojourn from Paris to Paloma, evokes in poignant detail, life among the expatriates on Paris’s Left Bank, during the 1920s and conveys in brutally realistic descriptions the power and danger of bullfighting in Spain.
Tinkers By: Paul Harding – On his deathbed, surrounded by his family, George Washington Crosby’s thoughts drift back to his childhood and the father who abandoned him when he was twelve.
Teen Fiction and Non-Fiction Books (Just because it says teens doesn’t mean adults won’t like them too!)
Harlem Stomp!: a cultural history of the Harlem Renaissance By: Laban Carrick Hill – Explores the literary, artistic, and intellectual creativity of the Harlem Renaissance and discusses the lives and work of Louis Armstrong, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and other notable figures of the era.
How it Happened in Peach Hill By: Marthe Jocelyn – When fifteen-year-old Annie Grey and her “clairvoyant” mother arrive in Peach Hill, New York, in 1924, each finds a reason for wanting to finally settle down, but to reach their goals they will have to do some serious lying and Annie will have to stand up for herself.
The Kat Who Walked in Beauty: the panoramic dailies of 1920 By: George Herriman – A companion to the complete Krazy Kat Sunday series collects rare and unique dailies from the 1910s and 1920s, many of which feature unrestricted layout and pictorial content, in a volume that also includes the first stand-alone Krazy & Ignatz strips and illustrations from the Krazy Kat Jazz pantomime ballet of 1922.
Operation Red Jericho By: Joshua Mowll – The posthumous papers of Rebecca MacKenzie document her adventures, along with her brother Doug, in 1920s China as the teenaged siblings are sent to live aboard their uncle’s ship where they become involved in the dangerous activities of a mysterious secret society called the Honourable Guild of Specialists.
The Star Fisher By: Laurence Yep – Fifteen-year-old Chinese-American Joan Lee and her family find the adjustment hard when they move from Ohio to West Virginia in the 1920s.
Vixen By: Jillian Larkin – In 1923 Chicago, seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody rebels against her upcoming society wedding by visiting a speakeasy, while her Pennsylvania cousin, Clara, hides similar tastes and her best friend, Lorraine, makes plans of her own.
The Voice that Challenged a Nation By: Russell Freedman – An account of the life of a talented and determined artist who left her mark on musical and social history is drawn from Anderson’s own writings and other contemporary accounts.
White Lilacs By: Carolyn Meyer – In 1921 in Dillon, Texas, twelve-year-old Rose Lee sees trouble threatening her Black community when the Whites decide to take the land there for a park and forcibly relocate the Black families to an ugly stretch of territory outside the town.
WitnessBy: Karen Hesse – A series of poems express the views of various people in a small Vermont town, including a young black girl and a young Jewish girl, during the early 1920s when the Ku Klux Klan is trying to infiltrate the town.
Children’s Fiction and Non-Fiction Books (Adults can like these too!)
The 1920s: Luck By: Dorothy Hoobler – In 1927 the Dixons move from rural Georgia to Chicago, where African Americans have more opportunities, and there Lorraine meets a famous movie actress and her little brother Marcus finds that his artistic talents are useful.
Dave at Night By: Gail Carson Levine – When orphaned Dave is sent to the Hebrew Home for Boys where he is treated cruelly, he sneaks out at night and is welcomed into the music- and culture-filled world of the Harlem Renaissance.
Egyptology: search for the tomb of Osiris, being the journal of Miss Emily Sands, November 1926 By: Emily Sands – Presents information on ancient Egypt in the form of a journal of a young woman who went missing on a trip to search for the tomb of the god Osiris in 1926.
Henry and the Kite Dragon By: Bruce Edward Hall – In New York City in the 1920s, the children from Chinatown go after the children from Little Italy for throwing rocks at the beautiful kites Grandfather Chin makes, not realizing that they have a reason for doing so.
The Little Match Girl By: Jerry Pinkney – An American child of the 1920s who sells matches is visited by some visions which bring some beauty to her brief, tragic life.
An Old-fashioned ABC Book By: Elizabeth Allen Ashton – An alphabet book celebrating the art of Jessie Willcox Smith, whose popular illustrations were featured on the covers of “Good Housekeeping” throughout the 1920s and 1930s.
This Land is your Land By: Woody Guthrie – This well-known folk song is accompanied by a tribute from folksinger Pete Seeger, the musical notation, and a biographical scrapbook with photographs.
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop By: Margaree King Mitchell – Despite serious obstacles and setbacks Sarah Jean’s Uncle Jed, the only Black barber in the county, pursues his dream of saving enough money to open his own barbershop.
Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze By: Elizabeth Foreman Lewis – In the 1920’s a Chinese youth from the country comes to Chungking with his mother where the bustling city offers adventure and his apprenticeship to a coppersmith brings good fortune.