7 Books That Are 100 Years Old That Still Inspire You Today

Not all books stand the test of time. This is great news for contemporary writers struggling to publish new works, but sadly, at some point, many books from past decades (and centuries) will no longer be read.

That’s unlikely to be the case with the 7 books we’re discussing today, though, as these books have reached their centennial and are still selling well. Every book we’re going to discuss today features 100 years of history, but more importantly, every book is an engaging read; just as it moved readers 10 years ago, it still inspires, teaches and move modern readers.

Now, for the record, we’re not calling these books “eternal.” It’s a word we reserve for novels like “Anna Karenina” or “The Count of Montecristo” or “A Tale of Two Cities.” Yes, these are great books to read and they are timeless because their stories and characters are always engaging. But they’re so good because they transport us to their time, not because they still feel fresh.

The books here are a little different. In addition to engaging stories and fully realized characters, they retain the same ability to surprise, inspire, and inform readers today as they did in the 1920s. Objectively, they may be old books, but they still resonate — or, in the parlance of our time, these old books still have a taste.

Why some books stay fresh while others are out of date

(Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash)

Why don’t some old books resonate in the same way? There could be many factors. First, sometimes a book can feel dated. Maybe the author’s language — especially in dialogue — is so different from the way you’re used to speaking that you can’t fully relate to the book, aside from a good story. (Mary Shelley’s classic “Frankenstein” was also influenced by it.)

At other times, the themes and stories of old books may not catch your attention at all; what happened in Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey” may have captured the attention of Georgian times, but may just not move 21stone Century Reader.

There’s also the fact that writers have been limited in what they can say over the centuries, based on social conventions and actual censorship. You can feel Flaubert challenging the accepted boundaries of sensuality and sexuality in many of his excellent novels, and one can only imagine what he might have written if he had been born in 1921 instead of 1821.

Now, that’s not to say you can’t enjoy any old books, but it can be harder confirm Books that feel outdated. However, this does not happen with these.

Ulysses by James Joyce – published in 1922

James Joyce

Ulysses is considered by many to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th centuryth century; in fact, it is hailed by many as one of the best of all modern fiction, meaning – albeit loosely – books of fiction written in the second half of the 1800s and beyond. Published in serial form between 1918 and 1920, and as a complete novel in 1922, the book has been both exciting and frustrating ever since.

In its protagonist, Leopold Bloom, you can see a lot of yourself no matter where you are, your hopes and fears, or even the particular mood of the day; Joyce manages to be in Bloom It is no accident that a universality has been created. Indeed, it’s a great feat to shape Leopold Bloom from another world hero, Odysseus, AKA Ulysses.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 1925

A scene from The Great Gatsby

Yes, you probably read this book in high school, but no, you probably didn’t quite “get it”. So, try again. Fitzgerald’s book is often considered the perfect epitome of high society life in the 1920s—a narrow interpretation that misses the point.

The Great Gatsby is actually the perfect epitome of human vulnerability, longing, connection and loss. As you observe the world of “Gatsby” through Nick Callaway’s eyes, you’ll experience the revelations of human skill with him, and you’ll find yourself bringing his keen perspective to everyday life beyond the books.

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises – published in 1926


Hemingway’s groundbreaking book is about a group of young people whose lives are largely defined by the horrors of the recent World War I, but it could also be about a group of friends and romantic partners tortured in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Its protagonist, Jake Barnes, suffered the physical damage that would define his life, but anyone who carries any burden, physical or mental, will feel it with him.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf – Published 1927

Virginia Woolf

Anyone who has ever been a family member will identify with this book, and it will only get better as your life goes on.

You can read it as a parent from the perspective of a child (including an adult son or daughter), as a parent who is angry with their child, or as a spouse who isn’t quite sure how to view their partner.

The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes – published in 1926

Langston Hughes

you can literally hear When you read Langston Hughes’s sublime poetry, Jazz was his first collection of poetry, and arguably his best, The Weary Blues. His mastery of the English language allows Hughes to present the African-American experience in a way that is both beautiful and raw, and readers cannot refuse.

He managed to be immediately warm and welcoming, but not accusatory. Sadly, these poems still resonate so well, partly because they are so well written, but also because even a century later, there is still so much progress in American society.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence – Published 1928

DH Lawrence

In “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, DH Lawrence lifts the veil on the “polite” society. The book was so full of raw sexuality, foul language and breaking down barriers that it was so shocking that it wasn’t until 1960 that an unabridged, uncensored text was published in the author’s native England.

Today, in a society completely accustomed to lewdness, lewdness, and vulgarity, this book reads simply: a cleverly written story with moving, relevant characters.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner – published in 1929

William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury, like most of Faulkner’s rich, dense, flowing novels, is a difficult work to read. But it’s as worth a read now as it was in the 1920s. It’s a story told in four ways, each revealing different details — not all of which are reliable.

The best way to read this book is to finish it and then immediately re-read the whole book. In doing so, you will get a full picture of the grief and hardships of the Compson family, and in doing so, you will spend as much time as possible getting as close to another person’s mind as possible. That experience will move you in the 2020s or the 2120s or beyond.

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