Remember When(sdays)

It’s always exciting, starting something new. A new relationship, a new career, and even a new decade. What does this new decade mean to you?

For me it has been an inspiration of sorts. I’ve been thinking about where we have come over the decades in terms of the creative works that have been released into the world. Books, movies, music, and so much more. As a result I started making a list of books that hold special memories for me that have been released since the decade I came into existence (because what better place to start than the beginning of my own story). As I started putting this list together I thought it might be fun to put it here and see where those stories have come together for this decade – some have inspired movies, or television shows, some have new books that are being released still, and some just hold a special place in our hearts.

For some this will be before your story begins, and others well into the second or third chapter. Either way I hope you enjoy my version of a throwback Wednesday.

Remember When in 1980 –

Imagine for a moment – bright lights, big hair, synthwave, and steampunk culture. Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum – big names on the paperback racks.

For me, it’s hard to pick a top 10 list, so how about a personal top selection?

1980: Douglas Adams’ second book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe came out this year on the tail of his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – and while the number of movies and shows haven’t exactly been tripping over each other to get produced, it would make me a very bad sci-fi nerd to not call out the importance of this author.

1981: The book of this year that called to me the most is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Alvin Schwartz). Also, you might remember the movie that came out last year – although fairly polarizing because for a lot of people (I include myself in this group) it felt like a steaming pile of shut the front door on our childhood. Some people enjoyed the fun movie, and I don’t blame them … but it certainly wasn’t the beloved scary stories that you couldn’t believe you found in your school library.

1982: This is a hard year to pick … I narrowed it down to two books. One that is near and dear to my love of fiction, and one that is near and dear to my love of what literature is. Stephen King’s The Gunslinger was released and we were in love. This same year Alice Walker published The Color Purple – which, if you haven’t read any of Alice Walker’s work … stop what you are doing, please go look her up – she’s amazing, and I really need to write a blog post strictly to focus on my love for her as an author, it could be titled “My Love Letter to Alice Walker” … it’s a working title.

1983: Hands down, The Witches wins my pick for this year … not only is Roald Dahl just the best when it comes to children’s literature, but the movies based on his work have done an amazing job of emblazoning themselves onto our brains.

1984: There are a number of choices for books this year, yet oddly enough the one I can’t help but zero in on is What to Expect When You’re Expecting – I never actually read this book, but somehow I had at least five used copies somehow find their way to my coffee tables and book shelves, and night stand during my first pregnancy 20 years after it was initially published. That is longevity right there.

1985 – This is another of those years where I have a hard time picking a book that hits the marks … because there are too many. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was published this year, and getting ready for season four of the show summer 2020. And my absolute, hands down, favorite book of all time (no, I don’t care that I’m well into my 30’s Tabitha, it’s my favorite!) is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – partially because this book is just endearing, and the fact that it inspired a series of lovable debates with my now husband about which is better – If you … Give a Mouse a Cookie or Give a Moose a Muffin. My vote – the mouse, hands down.

1986 – How many people didn’t want to ride the magic school bus or have Ms. Frizzle as their teacher (or as an adult wish they could find where she buys her dresses)? This is the year that The Magic School Bus #1 came out – and yes so many other books came out this year, but again – near and dear to my heart, this one is.

1987 – Stephen King was all over 1987 (mind you, he was all over the 80’s in general, but this year especially) with four books that I do enjoy – immensely, but he gets bumped because Toni Morrison also released a pretty amazing book this year … Beloved – and in 1998 Oprah Winfrey did a pretty spectacular job in the film adaptation, but we’re not done with the 80’s yet, so the film has to wait until another day …the novel uses some amazing literary techniques to tell its story, and keep you emotionally invested to the end.

1988 – Roald Dahl’s telekinetic, brainy (and well-read) little girl who could fit in very well with the X-Men was introduced in his book Matilda this year. (Also, I learned that in 2010 there was a musical … a MUSICAL!! … which is now in my must see list).

1989 – I am rounding out the end of the decade with three books – because it was just so hard to narrow it down (and even still was hard to narrow it down to just these three). Ken Follett’s historical fiction The Pillars of the Earth – which has had a video game, a television miniseries, and two sequels … and certainly did a great job of ripping any romantic notions I had about the middle ages right out of my brain (I’m ever grateful for this, in fact). Next – Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club which speaks to the mother-daughter relationships of Chinese immigrant women and their American born daughters and also had a movie released in 1993 (I cried when I read the book, and again when I watched the movie, even though I knew what to expect … yes I cry a lot, but seriously this story is a tearjerker). (Separate side note – Amy Tan and Stephen King were in a little band of literary types called The RockBottom Remainders for awhile … I missed out on ever seeing them live, but check them out on YouTube … one of those neat random facts you never know when it might come in handy). Last … but not least … R.L. Stine published the first book in a series that both gave me nightmares and daymares but also helped me to appreciate family trees in the beginning of books (although that didn’t really kick in until somewhere around book 20) … The New Girl: Fear Street #1. Maybe someday there will be a movie of these – after all, how many Goosebumps movies are there now??

A few honorable mentions …  The Babysitters Club, American Girl, and Sweet Valley High series’ began coming out in the 80’s. Anne Rice’s Vampires Chronicles picked up steam during this decade after the success of Interview in 1976. Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently was introduced to us in the 80’s (also, there is a pretty great series from BBC). And of course, Robert Ludlum, Stephen King, Frank Herbert, and Tom Clancy basically owned the 1980’s.

What do you think? Did I hit or miss the mark? Any you think would have made better picks? What are your thoughts on the 1990’s? I plan to do a similar list next week focusing on the 90’s – any and all thoughts welcome!




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