Submitted by countylibrary on

I’ve always been a radio fan, and now more than ever, when I venture outside on a grocery run, I appreciate turning on my car radio to find the DJs still there, the blocks still filled with requests and new releases, artist interviews and 60s/70s/80s etc. parties.  In fact, that’s one of my favorite musical phenomena: the “Decades Party”, in which each hour of the party/radio show is dedicated to the music of a different decade in the 20th Century. 

Music has a way of building a vivid atmosphere around it, and the right blend of songs can bring a whole decade of history to life around you.  Books heavily grounded in a particular decade can have the same time machine effect. 

Below, find a recommendation list of titles covering all the decades of the 20th Century, featuring some books published during and important to the time period and others that are works of historical fiction or nonfiction.  All, however, should pluck you out of our current times and immerse you in the past.


  • Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell
  • Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
  • Sex and the City, by Candace Bushnell
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
  • Girls on Fire, by Robin Wasserman


  • Firestarter, by Stephen King
  • Silver Sparrow, by Tayari Jones
  • Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe
  • American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis


  • All the President's Men, by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  • Daisy Jones & The Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James
  • City On Fire, by Garth Risk Hallberg


  • Hippie, by Paulo Coelho
  • The Girls, by Emma Cline
  • Black Betty, by Walter Mosley
  • Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
  • The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead


  • The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger
  • Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth
  • Leading Men, by Christopher Castellani
  • Summerlings, by Lisa Howorth
  • Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi


  • The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje
  • When The Emperor Was Divine, by Julie Otsuka
  • We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
  • Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley


  • Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
  • Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
  • To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Rebecca, by Daphne Du Marier
  • Go Tell It On The Mountain, by James Baldwin


  • The Diviners, by Libba Bray
  • The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
  • The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance, by Zora Neale Hurston


  • The Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman
  • The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
  • Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
  • Like Water For Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel