Introducing The 1938 Club

The 1938 ClubDrum roll, please! After the success of The 1924 Club (we were so delighted with the response and support!) Karen and I vowed to make various clubs a bi-annual event, in April and October each year for as long as we are inspired to hold it. We’ll probably dart around with different years at different times, but Ali’s suggestion of 1938 sounded great. On the cusp of war, it is a fascinating time for literature all across the world… we think! We need your help to find out.

For those who missed The 1924 Club, what happens is simple: we ask bloggers and blog readers to read a book published in 1938, and to write about it during one week. We welcome novels, stories, non-fiction, poetry, absolutely anything from anywhere in the world – and together we can build up a much broader sense of the year than could be achieved by an individual reader. There won’t be a single ethos for 1938, of course, but there will hopefully be a fantastic cross-section.

This time we’re giving more warning! You’ve got a couple of months to dig out 1938 books to join in: The 1938 Club will kick off on 11th April 2016 for a week.

We particularly love it when people find unusual or quirky choices, especially if they turn into fantastic recommendations, but if you need somewhere to start then the Wikipedia page for 1938 in literature should help! If you fancy going for a famous book, Rebecca and Brighton Rock fit the bill. I know I’ve got a Richmal Crompton and a Dorothy Baker looking at me, and have been meaning to read Cyril Connolly’s Enemies of Promise for a long time, but have yet to finalise what I’ll be reading…

Do borrow the badge and spread the word, or let us know what you’re thinking of reading – or just if you’re hoping to join in at all! We’re already excited, and hope you are too.

53 thoughts on “Introducing The 1938 Club

  • February 11, 2016 at 7:49 am
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    I hope to join in for a change – am sure I must have something in the house from that year.

    • February 11, 2016 at 11:18 am
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      Excellent! I saw on Karen’s blog that you were thinking about Homage to Catalonia – it’s a fantastic book, so I definitely encourage to pick that one out :)

  • February 11, 2016 at 7:50 am
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    I will definitely join in and have at least one book and plenty of time to search the piles for others. The only worry is I was planning moving Mary Hocking reading week to the week before (3rd- 10th) not sure about other people but I can work with that.

    • February 11, 2016 at 11:19 am
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      Wonderful!
      I think that should work OK, particularly since everyone has lots of notice. Fingers crossed!

  • February 11, 2016 at 8:11 am
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    Yay! Here we go! I have so many good books lined up that it’s going to be really hard to choose…

    • February 11, 2016 at 11:20 am
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      Yayyy! I hadn’t realised until I read your post that we are doubling up on a couple of choices – the Dorothy Baker could end up being a bit hit :) I suspect nobody else will be reading Journeying Wave by Richmal Crompton, though…

    • February 11, 2016 at 11:20 am
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      Wonderful, Harriet!

  • February 11, 2016 at 11:39 am
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    I defy *anybody* to read “Lassie Come Home” and not emerge as a sobbing wreck!!! I can’t even watch the film!

    • February 14, 2016 at 3:51 pm
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      I didn’t even realise there was a book, I’ll be honest!

  • February 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm
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    I just saw this on Karen’s blog, and am looking forward to joining in. Ta for the wiki page link – that will be my starting point I think before I start trawling the bookshelves!

    • February 14, 2016 at 3:51 pm
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      Excellent, Sarah! And I hope you have something waiting for you on your shelves, from the Wiki page or otherwise :)

  • February 11, 2016 at 1:24 pm
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    This is such a fun idea! I look forward to hunting down a book that was published in 1938. I usually tend to focus on the story alone. And many times the facts that add to the story become blurry in my mind. I think this is a great way to be more mindful of a book’s background!

    • February 14, 2016 at 3:52 pm
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      Glad to have you on board, Geetanjali! I found the picture painted of 1924 so useful, for getting a good sense of the year.

  • February 11, 2016 at 2:39 pm
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    Count me in! This sounds like a lot of fun! I love that time period & am already thinking of book ideas…

    • February 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm
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      Hurray! Wonderful news, Shelbi :)

  • February 11, 2016 at 3:13 pm
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    Although it’s not an unusual choice, I have Rebecca on my Classics Club list, too, so maybe I’ll read that. Thanks for the extra notice. I wanted to participate last time, but I have my blog postings written about six weeks ahead, so that makes it harder to work it in.

    • February 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm
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      I remember you saying that last time, Kay, and being astonished and impressed by your levels of blog preparation! It was one of the reasons we wanted to make sure to announce super in advance.

  • February 11, 2016 at 4:30 pm
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    Ooh Eric Ambler – I have his two!

    • February 11, 2016 at 5:26 pm
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      I’ve just discovered that the Ambler I picked up at the weekend (and I thought of you when I did!) is from 1938 as well – must be an omen!

      • February 14, 2016 at 3:54 pm
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        I have a couple, but haven’t checked if they’re the right ones… I know Thomas at Hogglestock is an Ambler fan, so maybe he’ll be persuaded to join in with one of them :)

  • February 11, 2016 at 6:11 pm
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    This will be very fun! I’m heading over to the Wikipedia page right now! More new books to discover….

    • February 14, 2016 at 3:55 pm
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      Excellent, Kathy! I hope you find something tempting.

  • February 12, 2016 at 12:16 am
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    Darn! Black Narcissus was published in 1939. Sounds a great project though. I must re-read Rebecca.

    • February 14, 2016 at 3:58 pm
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      That is always the way! Everything I own seems to have been published in 1937 or 1939.

  • February 12, 2016 at 3:08 am
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    Curses! I just read The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse. I”ll have to do some digging and see if I can find something appropriate on the TBR shelves. It sounds fun!

    • February 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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      You can use the review during that week, maybe? Or find something equally wonderful!

  • February 12, 2016 at 2:46 pm
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    Count me in….there’s also Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, and National Provincial by Lettice Cooper. Camaraderie and choice…it’s perfect!

    • February 14, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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      I’d forgotten Miss Pettigrew was 1938 – I always think of it being earlier. What a good year 1938 is already shaping up to be!

  • February 13, 2016 at 1:02 am
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    I shall be looking on with great interest! Goodness knows I’m committment-phobic but I love that you’re doing this. :-)

    • February 14, 2016 at 4:14 pm
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      If you get tempted to join in at the last minute, we will be very welcoming Lisa ;) Otherwise it will be fab to have observers!

  • February 13, 2016 at 5:54 am
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    Definitely will participate with Death of the Heart. Also there are a troop of Bookstagram ladies who are excited participants this time. So there will be lots of #1938club tags flying about that week. Very excited.

    • February 14, 2016 at 4:16 pm
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      I’m so excited about these Bookstagrammers who’ll be involved – thank you so, so much for flying the flag there! So exciting :)

  • February 13, 2016 at 9:26 pm
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    I just saw my copy of Being Geniuses Together, 1920-1930 by Robert McAlmon and Kay Boyle — I think I will join in and read that — I haven’t made a trip to ex-pat Paris in decades!

    • February 14, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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      What an excellent addition to the 1938 Club, thank you Sarah!

  • February 14, 2016 at 3:52 am
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    This fits in perfectly with my Reading New England challenge — I’m planning to focus on poetry and drama in April, so I can read Our Town by Thornton Wilder! It will be so interesting to see what else was published that year.

    • February 14, 2016 at 4:18 pm
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      Excellent! There has been some talk about Our Town on Twitter, and I know nothing about it, so I should check it out.

      • February 16, 2016 at 1:14 am
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        It’s always on the lists of greatest American plays. I haven’t read it since high school, so it’s time to revisit it (or see a performance, even better).

      • February 24, 2016 at 1:49 am
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        Our Town is one of my favorite plays with some great lines that I keep going back to again and again….like the Stage Manager’s speech from Part Three:
        “Now there’s some things we all know, but we don’t take’m out and look at’m very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars. . .everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.”

  • February 14, 2016 at 1:44 pm
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    I’ll be joining in. I’ll look through my shelves to see if I’ve got anything and if not I’ll take a trip to the Wikipedia page.

    • February 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm
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      Lovely, Joanne! I hope you find something wonderful.

  • February 15, 2016 at 1:45 am
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    What an excellent year with so many wonderful books to choose from. I’ll definitely be participating and look forward to seeing what everyone else reads!

  • February 15, 2016 at 8:47 am
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    Great idea & 1938 is such an interesting year. I’ve read quite a few books on the Wikipedia list already & can see a few more on my shelves so lots of choice. I must check the Persephone catalogue. Apart from Miss Pettigrew, wasn’t there a Dorothy Whipple published around then? I also have National Provincial (thanks Darlene!).

  • February 15, 2016 at 6:48 pm
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    I’m in for sure. Not only will this be an easy one to do, it will be fun to scour my shelves to see how many I have from which to choose.

  • February 16, 2016 at 9:07 pm
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    Phyllis Bottome’s The Mortal Storm, 2d American Edition, 1938.

  • February 24, 2016 at 1:41 am
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    Wonderful idea!! I just did a little checking a discovered some of my favorite books were published that year! it will be hard to choose just one.

  • February 29, 2016 at 1:39 am
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    Looking forward to re-reading Howard Spring’s ‘My Son, My Son’, which has sat on my shelf for about 30 years since it was last out!

  • March 9, 2016 at 11:21 pm
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    I just realized one of the forthcoming Persphones was first published in 1938! It’s called “The Godwits Fly” by Robin Hyde and it’s a coming-of-age story of a young woman in New Zealand. The Persphone edition won’t be out in time for 1938 week but I’m going to see if I can get it via ILL.

  • March 15, 2016 at 1:31 am
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    I’m going to give myself a little fun test – I will join in if I can find a book published in 1938 on my shelves. I’ll take a look around in the next few days and see.

  • March 20, 2016 at 12:58 pm
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    Fabulous idea. Yes I will join in. Funnily, I happen to be reading a 1938 novel at the moment and today is the first time I have come across your blog☺️

  • March 20, 2016 at 11:49 pm
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    My sister loves Rex Stout, and I’ve read only one, and that decades ago, so will try Too Many Cooks. In deciding, I read the first page. It made me smile. I’ll be in good hands. Thanks for telling us about the 1938 Club way in advance, Simon. Happy reading, everyone!

  • March 22, 2016 at 10:11 pm
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    Sounds like a lot of fun.

  • April 11, 2016 at 7:41 am
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    A real blockbuster!,

    This review is from: My son, my son – Howard Spring
    An absolute blockbuster of a novel, narrated by author William Essex. Recalling his childhood as the unwanted son of a Manchester washerwoman, he remembers too his early – and lifelong – burning ambition to become rich.
    While in lodgings he becomes friends with Dermot, a gifted carpenter with strong patriotic feelings for the Irish, suffering under English rule. And as the narrative follows the personal and professional lives of the two men, Essex describes a conversation they have on the birth of their respective sons on the same day: Dermot resolves that his son shall achieve what he has not – “I shall never be satisfied with the position of Ireland under the muddy feet of your bloody country. My son shall not be satisfied with it. He shall go to Ireland, he shall learn to be an Irishman as I am not … now you know what I want most passionately in this world for my son.” Essex also wants to realise in his son what he has missed himself: “I’ve been poor in a way that even you have never known … I just want him to have everything. I’ll work my fingers to the bone to give him every damn thing he asks for.”
    The two families are always close, but the results of the different input from the fathers into their sons’ upbringing makes for a riveting read, nail-biting to the last. Not, perhaps, great literature, but Howard Spring writes with style and keeps the reader enthralled from the first sentence. I loved his memory – prophetic of things to come – of swimming on a Cornish holiday just before the First World War “The sight of all others most fascinating in those waters: a horde of tiny silver fish, swimming in a long thin procession, ten or a dozen abreast, like a small marine army on the move. Endlessly they went by, never changing their formation, wheeling now to the right, now to the left, but always precise, regimented, moving as by a common will. A small cloud drifted before the sun and the water, still pellucid, turned grey. And the silver fish turned grey. I could still see them: a grey endless army, moving to some unknown encounter across the grey floor of the sea.”
    A really good read – I’ve just bought another of Spring’s novels on the strength of it.

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