This is an interesting project: Gabe Habash is reading the most popular books of every year, from 1913 to 2013.

Here’s his reading list.

Surprising how few of these books I’ve read, let alone heard of. What was popular in 1924 doesn’t mean that anyone will read it today (likewise, it’s hard to imagine in 80 years that anyone will have heard of 50 Shades of Grey–the most read book of 2012–let alone have read it). But it’s an intriguing way to access history and culture.

Some things I noticed:

I’ve read 8 of the 94 books (it’s not 100 books, because some were popular in multiple years). Only The Grapes of Wrath and The Good Earth were assigned to me. The rest I’ve read from this list were written by Tom Clancy, Stephen King, Steig Larsson, or Dan Brown.

John Grisham wrote the most popular book for 11 out of 100 years, including every year from 1994 to 2000. That’s an impressive run, and no one else on the list gets close at all (looks like Stephen King, Dan Brown, and Sinclair Lewis might be next for repeats).

For whatever reason, Publishers Weekly, who created the list, didn’t count Harry Potter books. This is just like The New York Times created a children’s bestseller’s list in the 2000s so that the “regular” bestselling books could get back to being #1 bestsellers (no one could get higher than #4 for awhile, thanks to Harry).

Cool idea!