Today Old Books by Dead Guys, a labor of bibliophilic love since January 2012, celebrates its 1000th post. Over the past eight years, this site has amassed a sizable and varied library of book reviews. Just as we did with the 500th post, it is time to take a look back at the history of the blog and get an overview of what’s been covered. Click on the numerous links below to read more.
Most Reviewed Authors
Anyone who follows the blog or the Facebook page will recognize these usual suspects.
1. Jack London (77 reviews)
Best books include The Iron Heel, The Call of the Wild, Martin Eden, Before Adam, The Faith of Men, Moon-Face, The Road, John Barleycorn. The best biographies of London are Earle Labor’s Jack London: An American Life and Irving Stone’s Sailor on Horseback.
2. Emile Zola (48 reviews)
Best books include Germinal, La Terre, Pot-Bouille, The Debacle, L’Assomoir, Paris, The Death of Olivier Becaille, The Flood
3. Honoré de Balzac (37 reviews)
Best books include Père Goriot, Cousin Bette, Lost Illusions, Eugénie Grandet, The Hidden Masterpiece, Farewell, also the biography Honoré de Balzac: His Life and Writings by Mary Frances Sandars
4. H. Beam Piper (31 reviews)
Best books include Police Operation, Genesis, Flight from Tomorrow, The Edge of the Knife, Little Fuzzy. Find them all in The H. Beam Piper Megapack.
5. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (30 reviews)
Best books include The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Great Shadow, The Captain of the Polestar, The Doings of Raffles Haw
6. Clifford D. Simak (26 reviews)
Best books include Way Station, City, Mastodonia, and the excellent series The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak.
7. Upton Sinclair (23 reviews)
Best books include The Jungle, 100%: The Story of a Patriot, and the Lanny Budd series
8. Frank Norris (22 reviews)
Best books include The Octopus, McTeague, The Third Circle, The Pit, Moran of the Lady Letty. Read the post Frank Norris: An Overview for more info.
9. Georges Simenon (19 reviews)
Best books include Dirty Snow, Tropic Moon, and the Inspector Maigret mysteries The Late Monsieur Gallet, A Man’s Head, The Night at the Crossroads, Maigret and the Fortuneteller, Maigret and the Killer
10. Henryk Sienkiewicz (17 reviews)
Best books include With Fire and Sword, The Deluge, Pan Michael, Quo Vadis. Of related interest: The Memoirs of Jeremiah Curtin (Sienkiewicz’s English translator)
11. Pearl S. Buck (15 reviews)
Best books include The Good Earth, Sons, A House Divided, Dragon Seed, The Promise, Command the Morning
12 (tie). Alexandre Dumas (12 reviews)
Best books include The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, Solange; also the biography The Black Count
12 (tie). Eugene O’Neill (12 reviews)
Best plays include The Hairy Ape, Anna Christie; plus the short story Tomorrow
14 (tie). James Fenimore Cooper (11 reviews)
Best books include The Last of the Mohicans, The Pioneers, Wyandotté
14 (tie). Hermann Hesse (11 reviews)
Best books include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldmund, Gertrude, Knulp
Most Reviewed Nations
Consider this the Olympics of OBDG! Although in this case the USA dominates the medal count, Old Books by Dead Guys firmly believes that all nations create great literature (it’s just harder to find some of them in English). So when you’re looking for a new read, cast a wide net and explore the far reaches of the globe.
1. American (493 reviews) 🇺🇸
Jack London, Frank Norris, Upton Sinclair, James Fenimore Cooper, Katherine Anne Porter, John Steinbeck
2. French (158 reviews) 🇫🇷
Emile Zola, Honoré de Balzac, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Jules Verne
3. English (139 reviews) 🇬🇧
H.G. Wells, Charles Darwin, Joseph Conrad, Bertrand Russell; also includes the Scottish authors (below)
4. Scottish (42 reviews) 🏴
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson
5. German (37 reviews) 🇩🇪
Hermann Hesse, Paul Heyse, Karl Marx, Alexander von Humboldt, Ernst Haeckel
6. Polish (34 reviews) 🇵🇱
Henryk Sienkiewicz, Wladyslaw Reymont, Boleslaw Prus, Adam Mickiewicz
7. Canadian (33 reviews) 🇨🇦
Margaret Atwood, Harold Bindloss, Brian Moore, Mazo de la Roche, Grant Allen, Hugh MacLennan, and art books featuring Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven
8. Mexican (25 reviews) 🇲🇽
Juan Rulfo, Mariano Azuela, Carlos Fuentes, artists Diego Rivera and Leopoldo Mendéz
9. Belgian (23 reviews) 🇧🇪
Georges Simenon, Maurice Maeterlinck
10. Chinese (21 reviews) 🇨🇳
Pearl S. Buck (American raised in China), Confucius, Lu Xun, Mo Yan, and some Chinese-language textbooks
11. Norwegian (17 reviews) 🇳🇴
Knut Hamsun, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Alexander Kielland, Thor Heyerdahl
12. Russian (15 reviews) 🇷🇺
Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Sholokhov
13 (tie). Danish (10 reviews) 🇩🇰
Joannes V. Jensen, Henrik Pontoppidan, Jens Peter Jacobsen
13 (tie). Swedish (10 reviews) 🇸🇪
Selma Lagerlöf, Frans G. Bengtsson, Werner von Heidenstam, August Strindberg
Top Ten Most Reviewed Genres and Subjects
There is some overlap between these classifications of subject, format, genre, or chronology. Some books fit into more than one category.
1. Classic Literature (612 reviews)
2. Modern Literature (271 reviews)
3. Adventure (231 reviews)
4. Short Stories (183 reviews)
5. Science Fiction (173 reviews)
6. Pulp Fiction (133 reviews)
7. Nobel Prize (126 reviews) See the complete list of Nobel reviews here.
8. Biography (109 reviews)
9. Recent books (104 reviews)
10. History (86 reviews)
Best Omnibus Posts
Occasionally Old Books by Dead Guys publishes a post that doesn’t focus on a single book, but rather explores a particular author, topic, or theme.
100 Five-Star Books
The Rougon-Macquart Cycle by Émile Zola
The Best Short Stories of Jack London
The Novels of Jack London
Jack London’s Nonfiction
Frank Norris: An Overview
The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper
Celebrating Polish Literature
Historical Novels of the Ancient World
Literature of the “Soil”: Agrarian Epics from Around the World
Rock and Roll (Auto)biographies
Top Ten Most Visited Reviews
When your primary audience is random Googlers, you never know what they’re going to be looking for. For better or for worse, here is a list of the ten most visited posts at OBDG, as of today.
1. The Best Short Stories of Jack London
This list I compiled is by far the most viewed page on the site. I’ve read and reviewed London’s complete works, so if readers are looking for an authoritative list, my picks are as good as anyone else’s.
2. Swords in the Mist by Fritz Leiber
Really? A lot of people must be nostalgic for the Dungeons & Dragons days of their youth.
3. The Ape-Men of Xlotli by David R. Sparks
I don’t understand this at all. Xlotli isn’t even a real word in any language.
4. The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel
A vintage English sci-fi novel from 19o1, and not a very good one.
5. Burning Daylight by Jack London
Not one of his better known works. I’m not sure why so many people are interested.
6. Tomorrow by Eugene O’Neill
O’Neill won the Nobel Prize for his plays. This is his only short story.
7. Old Books by (Mostly) Dead Nobel Laureates 2016
OBDG celebrates the Nobels every year. This list has been updated since 2016 (see above).
8. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
The flagship novel of modern American realism.
9. Mercenary by Mack Reynolds
Reynolds’s sci-fi was hit and miss. This ’60s novella is not one of his better works.
10. The Peasants by Wladyslaw Reymont
A Polish classic that’s largely unknown to English readers, even though he won the Nobel.
Thanks for reading Old Books by Dead Guys! Stay tuned for our 5,000th post (circa 2050).