Continuing my early 2016 focus on sixty years ago, today we will look back at the New York Times bestseller list for January 15, 1956.
- ANDERSONVILLE, by MacKinlay Kantor (Won the Pulitzer Prize for 1956)
- MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR, by Herman Wouk (Made into a 1958 film with Gene Kelly and Natalie Wood)
- AUNTIE MAME, by Patrick Dennis (Made into a 1958 film with Rosalind Russell playing the lead. Russell played the role on Broadway in the non-musical production starting in 1956)
- CASH McCALL, by Cameron Hawley (Made into a 1960 film with Natalie Wood and James Garner)
- TEN NORTH FREDERICK, by John O’Hara (Won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1956, Gary Cooper starred in the 1958 film)
- THE TONTINE, by Thomas B. Costain
- THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT, by Sloan Wilson (Made into a Spring 1956 film starring Gregory Peck in the lead role)
- AN EPISODE OF SPARROWS, by Rumer Godden
- A CHARMED LIFE, by Mary McCarthy
- THE SMILING REBEL, by Harnett T. Kane
- THE DEER PARK, by Norman Mailer
- SOMETHING OF VALUE, by Robert Ruark
- NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS, by Mac Hyman (Made into a television series, Broadway play and feature film. A major step for Andy Griffith in the lead role and a start for his long-time friend Don Knotts)
- BEYOND DESIRE, by Pierre La Mure
- THESE LOVERS FLED AWAY, by Howard Spring
- THE PROPHET, by Sholem Asch (Author was a fascinating story in himself. Read about him…search online)
- GIFT FROM THE SEA, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (This was the 43rd week it appeared on the NYT list)
- INSIDE AFRICA, by John Gunther (A series of “Inside” books covered continents and major countries. He did one on America after visiting all 48 states…yes 48)
- THE EDGE OF THE SEA, by Rachel Carson
- A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, by Walter Lord (Made into the 1958 film on the sinking of the Titanic)
- THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING, by Norman Vincent Peale (This was the 167th consecutive week the book appeared on the NYT list. It would drop off later in the spring after 186 weeks on the list)
- MEMOIRS, Vol. 1, by Harry S. Truman
- THE SCROLLS FROM THE DEAD SEA, by Edmund Wilson
- THE FAMILY OF MAN, by Edward Steichen (Author was Carl Sandburg’s brother-in-law. Look into this book, an amazing collection of photos)
- HOW TO LIVE 365 DAYS A YEAR, by John A. Schindler
- HERBLOCK’S HERE AND NOW, by Herbert Block
- THE NEW YORKER 1950-1955 ALBUM, by New Yorker Magazine
- A DEMOCRAT LOOKS AT HIS PARTY, by Dean Gooderham Acheson (Author was an interesting political figure in US history, read about him)
- THE WORLD WE LIVE IN, by the editors of Life and Lincoln Barnett
- SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR, by Emily Kimbrough
- ELOISE, by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight (This was the first book in the series that was originally intended for adults, but re-released in the late 1960’s as a children’s series, where it became immensely popular in a second life)
- THE EXURBANITES, by A.C. Spectorsky
In 1956 there was no Christian best-seller list because there were few Christian bookstores and little or no information about them and what was selling. In fact, most of today’s Christian publishers did not exist in 1956.
Christianity Today magazine mailed its first issue later in October 1956.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis had only been available for a few years.
The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien was finished in 1955, but didn’t really become popular until the 1960’s.
Catherine Marshall’s A Man Called Peter, the biography of her late husband, completed 169 weeks on the New York Times list with the January 1, 1956 list. It was made into an Academy Award nominated film in 1955.
The history of books written by Christians is a rich heritage. Knowing something about the history of publishing and the Christian’s role in it makes the present and future a little more understandable.