Time Reading Program

The Time Reading Program

Started around 1962, this series from Time, Inc. republished nearly 100 titles, mostly from the 20th Century, each with original cover art and an introduction by well-known writers such as John Hersey, Frank O’Connor, and Harold Nicolson or the author himself (Loren Eisley, Vladimir Nabokov). Although classed as paperbacks, the books were, in fact, plastic-backs, bound in stiff plastic covers with distinctive wrap-around artwork. The books were originally sold through mail-order or given away as promotions to Time magazine subscribers. Although some of its titles (Walden, 1984, Brave New World, and others that have been omitted from the list below) are anything but neglected, the program included a number of the most often-recommended neglected books (Eastern Exposures, Richer By Asia, Delilah).

The American Character, D.W. Brogan
The American Presidency, Clinton Rossiter
Apes, Angels, and Victorians, William Irvine
Attending Marvels: a Patagonian Journal, George Gaylord Simpson
The Beast of the Haitian Hills, Philippe Thoby-Marcelin & Pierre Marcelin
The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder
Bring Out Your Dead:The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793, J.H. Powell
Christ Stopped at Eboli, Carlo Levi
Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee
The Crime of Galileo, Giorgio de Santillana
Cross Creek, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Decline of Pleasure, Walter Kerr
Delilah, Marcus Goodrich
The Devils in Massachussetts: A Modern Inquiry Into the Salem Witch Trials, Marion L. Starkey
Disraeli, Andre Maurois
Doctor and the Devils, Dylan Thomas
Eastern Approaches, Fitzroy Maclean
Elizabeth the Great, Elizabeth Jenkins
Fancies and Goodnights, John Collier
The Financial Expert, R.K. Narayan
The Forest and the Sea, Marston Bates
A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes
In Flanders Field: the 1917 Campaign, Leon Wolff
In Hazard, Richard Hughes
Kabloona, Gontran De Poncins
Karl Marx: His Lift and Environment, Isaiah Berlin
The Late George Apley, John P. Marquand
Lions, Harts, Leaping Does and Other Stories, J.F. Powers
Logbook for Grace: Whaling Brig Daisy, 1912-1913, Robert Cushman Murphy
The Lost Weekend, Charles Jackson
The Man of the Renaissance, Ralph Roeder
Mistress to an Age: a Life of Madame de Stael, Christopher Herrold
Naked to Mine Enemies: the life of Cardinal Wolsey, Charles W. Ferguson
Napoleon’s Russian Campaign, Philippe, Count de Segur
Notre Dame of Paris, Allan Temko
The Reason Why, Cecil Woodham Smith
Reveille in Washington: 1860-1865, Margaret Leech
Richer by Asia, Edmund Fuller
The River and the Gauntlet, S.L.A.Marshall
The Roots of Heaven, Romain Gary
Saints and Strangers, George Willison
The Sea and the Jungle, H.M. Tomlinson
The Sea of Grass, Conrad Richter
Stalingrad, Theodore Plevier
The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant
Three Who Made a Revolution, Bertram D. Wolfe
The Trial of Doctor Adams, Sybille Bedford
The True Believer, Eric Hoffer
The Universe and Dr. Einstein, Lincoln Kinnear Barnett
The Voice at the Back Door, Elizabeth Spencer
When the Cheering Stopped, Gene Smith
Wind, Sand, and Stars, Antoine de Saint Exupery

6 thoughts on “Time Reading Program

  1. Probly the best ever scheme to get people interested in reading, I was stationed in Panama when the series was in progress, early 60’s. I started reading and could’ nt wait till the next lot came in. Wish it was still available. I got 77 on the shelf….

  2. You can still find books in the series via Amazon and EBay. I just purchased 83 copies for about $1 per copy. The books in this series are true gems and you will discover the meaning of being “well read” if you get into these wonderful books.

  3. The breadth and quality of the writing made all that I had received during the Time, Inc. reading hey day a joy. I got 12 for $24 on Ebay and they are still alive. The editors of Time, Inc. really knew what they were doing. I wish I could find another such program now.

  4. I inherited a nearly-complete collection of the Time Reading Program books (104 of 108 books; not sure what happened to those!). As a lover of great design, I have thoroughly enjoyed looking through the covers a few times, but I do not have room in my house for the full collection, and can’t bear to split it up, so I’m going to see if it finds any interest on eBay. Just thought I’d share, in case you, or any of your readers are interested. I’ve also shot photos of each beautiful cover and updated the Time Reading Program Wikipedia page with the full collection of books.

    (Sorry this link will go stale in 10 days)

  5. Late to the party, but I’ve been collecting these books, too! It was the lovely cover of Richard Hughes’s A High Wind in Jamaica that drew me in.

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