In just a few years, the 1920s will be a hundred years in the past. This is significant, because that decade, while superficially celebrated in pop culture and fashion, is largely misunderstood. While most people can picture Flappers and gangsters, rum-runners and stock brokers, what many miss is that the 1920s were in many ways the first recognizably “modern” period in American history. Coming on the heels of a world war that forever changed warfare itself and the world map, the 1920s were the first discrete decade to have all the basic, fundamental aspects of modern life. There was a focus on urban living as people moved from more rural areas and mechanized industry supplanted agriculture as the economic focus. Technologies such as radio, telephones, automobiles, airplanes, and film were in place, and even fashions remain recognizable to the modern eye. What this means in the realm of literature is that the books written and published in the 1920s remain current in many senses. The limitations and possibilities of technology are recognizable in these books, as are the economic and social scenarios presented, by and large. Much of the vocabulary of the modern age was coined in the 1920s. There are stark differences in the way people lived a century ago, of course, but there’s enough overlap with our own modern experience to make the literature of that decade resonate powerfully with today’s reader. This is one reason so many novels written in the 1920s remain on the “best ever” lists, another being the extraordinary explosion of experimentation and boundary-pushing that writers engaged in, a sense of limitless potential that goes hand-in-hand with the manic energy associated with the decade. This is why it’s essential that every serious student of literature be familiar with the literature of the 1920s. Here are 10 books published in the 1920s that everyone should read.