Simon & Schuster celebrates its centenary with a list of 100 notable books, from ‘Catch-22’ to ‘Eloise’


One of the largest and most influential publishers in the world, Simon & Schuster, celebrates its centenary this year.

To commemorate the centenary, the publisher has unveiled a list of 100 notable releases: a mix of bestsellers, award-winners, headlines and cultural sensations. The list tells many stories, through the books selected, not selected, and the evolution of the highlights.

“A group of Simon & Schuster employees took on the daunting challenge of selecting 100 titles from our history that are believed to best represent the breadth and depth of the company’s publishing program, across all imprints,” the publisher announced Wednesday.

The list starts at the beginning, in 1924, with a release that would help define the publisher’s long history of tapping into popular tastes. “The Cross Word Puzzle Book,” by F. Gregory Hartswick, Prosper Buranelli, and Margaret Petherbridge, was compiled by founders Richard Simon and Max Schuster from puzzles in the New York World, a prominent newspaper at the time. “The Cross Word Puzzle Book,” which came with a pencil attached, is considered the first publication of its kind.

Since then, S&S’s signature works include Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s 1974 bestseller, “All the President’s Men,” which helped establish the publisher’s eminence in political nonfiction, and Joseph Heller’s pacifist classic, “Catch-22.” The list also includes award-winning history (“Frederick Douglass” by David Blight, “Parting the Waters” by Taylor Branch), literary fiction (“Underworld” by Don DeLillo), commercial fiction (“Where Are the Children?” by Mary Higgins). Clark), the groundbreaking “The Common Sense Book for Babies and Child Care” by Dr. Benjamin Spock, and the children’s favorite “Eloise” by Kay Thompson and illustrator Hilary Knight.

“We wanted to convey the influence these books had on culture over the last century and the scope of what we published,” says Jonathan Karp, CEO of Simon & Schuster.

No author could be included twice, and books no longer available through Simon & Schuster were excluded, such as a major release by the publisher in the 1950s: Sloan Wilson’s novel about the struggles of a war veteran. Second World War in his country, “The Man in Grey”. “Flannel suit.”

Between 1924 and 1976, all the authors listed are white, a reflection of what Karp calls “the tenor of the times.” Few writers of color were successful during that era, and those who did went on to publish their most notable works elsewhere: Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou with Random House, Richard Wright with Harper (now HarperCollins), James Baldwin with Dial Press, Alex Haley with Doubleday, Langston Hughes and Toni Morrison with Knopf.

“They (Richard Simon and Max Schuster) were a couple of white guys who had lists of book ideas they wanted to publish, and I suspect a lot of those ideas reflected their cultural sensibilities and personal interests,” Karp says.

A handful of black writers appear between 1977 and 2000, beginning with Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enough,” before the list diversifies widely in the 21st century. Recent selections include “The Summer I Turned Pretty” by Jenny Han, “Waiting for Snow in Havana” by Carlos Eire, “The Emperor of All Maladies” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward, “ Long Way” by Jason Reynolds. Down” and, the final entry, a 2023 book, Safiya Sinclair’s acclaimed memoir “How to Say Babylon.”

“I have clear memories of being in the room when some of these books were introduced and feeling the energy they generated,” says Wendy Sheanin, a committee member and vice president of independent retail at Simon & Schuster. “’How to Say Babylon’ had that kind of energy and felt like a book that people will continue to read.”

Karp calls the committee discussions “lively” and insists he did not try to “make light” of anyone. One of his personal favorites, novelist John Irving, was not included, although he did successfully defend Bruce Springsteen’s memoir, “Born to Run.”

“I’m glad my colleagues agreed,” says Karp.

Karp openly questioned a choice. “No Ordinary Time,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II, was chosen over her biography of Abraham Lincoln. “Team of Rivals,” the story of Lincoln’s inner circle of former presidential contenders, was read by then-candidate Barack Obama, among others.

“‘No Ordinary Time’ is a wonderful book, but ‘Team of Rivals’ influenced Barack Obama’s decision to name Hillary Clinton secretary of state,” Karp says. “That book really influenced the course of events.”

Like many major publishing companies, Simon & Schuster began as an independently owned company and expanded greatly after the 1960s. The founders of Simon & Schuster had died in the late 1960s and the company changed ownership several times before be bought last year by private equity firm KKR.

Along the way, Simon & Schuster acquired many other publishers, whose books are now part of the S&S catalog and its century-old list. Several older selections, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” and Alan Paton’s “Cry, the Beloved Country,” were published by Scribner, which Simon & Schuster acquired in 1994. Other works were published for the first time. elsewhere includes “Are You There God?” by Judy Blume. It’s Me, Margaret” and “Science and Human Behavior” by BF Skinner.

The list of 100 not only shows the different types of books that were published, but also the different ways in which they were successful.

Some books seemed destined from the beginning to make the news, whether it was “All the President’s Men” or Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs.” Others were surprise hits that ended up selling millions, including “Catch-22” and Fredrik Backman’s novel “A Man Called Ove.” The list also includes what Richard Simon called “planned publication,” projects initiated by Simon & Schuster, such as Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” a perennial bestseller published in the 1930s after the executive of S&S Leon Shimkin will participate in a conference. Course taught by Carnegie.

“I think the original editors, Simon and Schuster, part of their genius is that they matched ideas to authors,” says Karp, who also cites examples as recent as David McCullough’s best-selling book on the Wright Brothers. “That’s something we’re still looking to do: find the right author for the book we think readers want.”

Other highlights of the publisher’s centennial will include promotional giveaways, an exclusive website, and a spring gala featuring Blume, Woodward, and dozens of other authors.

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