The best books written in the 1920s tinged with healthy skepticism of American values and mores

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied history in college and, after a few misspent years in broadcasting, worked in marketing and public relations for several companies. In my free time I wrote articles and books on historical events and people. A dozen years ago, on a trip to San Francisco and Alcatraz, I conceived of an idea for a novel. True to my background, it was based on a real historical event – the 1962 escape of three men in a raft from the prison. It wasn't until my mid-sixties when I felt ready to step out of my non-fiction comfort zone and write my first novel. Can't wait to start the next one.


I wrote...

Inseparable: An Alcatraz Escape Adventure

By David Kruh,

Book cover of Inseparable: An Alcatraz Escape Adventure

What is my book about?

Inseparable is a historical novel based on the infamous 1962 Alcatraz escape by three inmates, in a raft they made inside the prison. When an independent-minded 13-year-old boy finds two of the escapees near death on a Sausalito beach, he decides (for reasons explained in the book) to help them to freedom. To achieve their goal, the three must evade the police, the FBI, a determined reporter, the boy's mother, and the third escapee, whom they thought had died in the attempt.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Main Street

David Kruh Why did I love this book?

The decade after World War One was the beginning of today's America. We had saved the world from future wars and were basking in a roaring economy. Yet, much like the 1950s (another post-war boom decade) something simmered.

Main Street was Lewis' second published novel, the first in which he used his pen to poke at the edges of his uncertainty of the value we gave to the things we had, and the things to which we aspired. Lewis does this, powerfully, with the story of an educated, big-city, left-of-center woman who moves to her husband's small, conservative town after their marriage. 

By Sinclair Lewis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Main Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

In this classic satire of small-town America, beautiful young Carol Kennicott comes to Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, with dreams of transforming the provincial old town into a place of beauty and culture. But she runs into a wall of bigotry, hypocrisy and complacency. The first popular bestseller to attack conventional ideas about marriage, gender roles, and small town life, Main Street established Lewis as a major American novelist.


Book cover of Babbitt

David Kruh Why did I love this book?

I could easily have all five of my picks be novels by Sinclair Lewis. I'll stop at two.

In George Babbitt, Lewis's titular lead, we have a character whose very name became synonymous with conformity. What I absolutely love about this book has a lot to do with the bold plot choices Lewis takes with Babbitt. I write this knowing that many critics did not like the book because, they complained, there really wasn't a plot! (Cripes, what book were they reading?)

These plot turns include his dalliances with socialism (which runs counter to his position as the city of Zenith's most successful realtor) and a socialist woman.

By Sinclair Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Babbitt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Prosperous and socially prominent, George Babbitt appears to have everything a man could wish: good health, a fine family, and a profitable business in a booming Midwestern city. But the middle-aged real estate agent is shaken from his self-satisfaction by a growing restlessness with the limitations of his life. When a personal crisis forces a reexamination of his values, Babbitt mounts a rebellion against social expectations — jeopardizing his reputation and business standing as well as his marriage.
Widely considered Sinclair Lewis's greatest novel, this satire of the American social landscape created a sensation upon its 1922 publication. Babbitt's name…


Book cover of The Great Gatsby

David Kruh Why did I love this book?

I love this book for its multiple themes of unrequited love, racism, gender, class, even environment.

Fitzgerald's description of the view from a train moving through the ash fields of today's Flushing Meadows is, in my humble opinion, one of the most haunting in literature. I also love this book because it was a commercial failure. (Fitzgerald died never believing he was a success.)

Yet The Great Gatsby became one of those books we can't stop talking about. It's so rich and complex filmmakers have tried four times (and failed) to bring it to the screen. As if to underscore the timelessness of its themes, I recently discovered TGG was also made into a video game. A video game! 

By F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked The Great Gatsby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the summer unfolds, Nick is drawn into Gatsby's world of luxury cars, speedboats and extravagant parties. But the more he hears about Gatsby - even from what Gatsby himself tells him - the less he seems to believe. Did he really go to Oxford University? Was Gatsby a hero in the war? Did he once kill a man? Nick recalls how he comes to know Gatsby and how he also enters the world of his cousin Daisy and her wealthy husband Tom. Does their money make them any happier? Do the stories all connect? Shall we come to know…


Book cover of Selected Stories

David Kruh Why did I love this book?

This is not a novel, but a collection of Lardner's newspapers columns and short stories, many of which revolve around a bush league pitcher named Jack Keefe who tells stories to his friend.

I love baseball and am fascinated by the early days of the game, and Lardner's Jack makes me feel as if I am experiencing life in baseball's “bushes” back in the 1920s. Oh, yea, that's the other draw of this book for me a view, from his columns and other stories, of the daily grind of American life in an era that was much more than flappers and bathtub gin. (Although there is a bit of both therein). 

By Ring Lardner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Selected Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection brings together twenty-one of Lardner's best pieces, including the six Jack Keefe stories that comprise You Know Me, Al, as well as such familiar favorites as "Alibi Ike," "Some Like Them Cold," and "Guillible's Travels."

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date…


Book cover of Red Harvest

David Kruh Why did I love this book?

It would be obscene to read this on a Kindle. This early Dashiell Hammett novel has to be read in paperback, the older a copy you can find, the better.

It has everything a great pulp novel should have; murder, crooked cops, gangs, and a rumpled too-honest-for-his-own-good hero. What I love about this book is how Hammett uses his own experience working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency (who were basically hired thugs) and a real historical event (a labor dispute in Montana that resulted in several deaths) to weave a solid crime novel.

By Dashiell Hammett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Red Harvest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Detective-story master Dashiell Hammett gives us yet another unforgettable read in Red Harvest: When the last honest citizen of Poisonville was murdered, the Continental Op stayed on to punish the guilty--even if that meant taking on an entire town. Red Harvest is more than a superb crime novel: it is a classic exploration of corruption and violence in the American grain.


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The Cowboy's Lost Family

By Roxanne Snopek,

Book cover of The Cowboy's Lost Family

Roxanne Snopek

New book alert!

What is my book about?

He’s looking for the one thing she’s done with: family.

Brade Oliver arrives in Grand, Montana, looking for blood—and answers. Genetic tests reveal that his biological family may reside in the small, western town, and he’s on a mission to finally discover the one thing his adoptive family couldn’t give him: the truth.

Kendall McKinley craves a normal life, free of the demands, drama, and constraints of her dysfunctional family. Despite being focused on building her career and working on a restoration project, Kendall can’t help herself from noticing a handsome stranger the first night he arrives. But when Brade…

The Cowboy's Lost Family

By Roxanne Snopek,

What is this book about?

He’s looking for the one thing she’s done with: family.

Brade Oliver arrives in Grand, Montana, looking for blood—and answers. Genetic tests reveal that his biological family may reside in the small, western town, and he’s on a mission to finally discover the one thing his adoptive family couldn’t give him: the truth.

Kendall McKinley craves a normal life, free of the demands, drama, and constraints of her dysfunctional family. Despite being focused on building her career and working on a restoration project, Kendall can’t help herself from noticing a handsome stranger the first night he arrives. But when Brade…


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