Remember When(sdays)

This week it’s all about my book picks from the 1990’s – what books do you think of when you think of the 90’s?

Remember when in 1990 …

It was the time of parachute pants, Vanilla Ice, and day glo everything everywhere.

1990: Dr. Seuss has melted hearts for generations, and one of the most purchased books for graduates is his Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was published in 1990 – interestingly enough I “graduated” kindergarten this year. Also – because I couldn’t pick just one book! – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collaborative novel Good Omens is published – and goes on to be the positively fantastic series a couple decades later.

1991: My favorite book of all time is published (this is a hard title to have, because I basically love every book ever, but hands down this one takes the cake). Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, a novel that has pushed boundaries and refuses to fit into any box (neatly, or otherwise). This novel is read by men, women, doesn’t fit into a single genre, and has been made into a pretty awesome (so I’ve heard, still need to sit down and watch the whole thing) television series. Diana … so many thanks for putting this one into the world.

1992: Anne Rice regales us with The Tale of the Body Thief. Daniel Quinn introduces the world to Ishmael and we fall simultaneously in love with a gorilla, and out of love with humanity (ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration – but this one definitely makes you think about more than what is comfortable – maybe don’t make this one the warm fuzzy book you snuggle up to before bed).

1993: The very first Chicken Soup for the Soul was introduced to the world this year – and Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen gave both readers and amateur writers something to look forward to, while opening the self-help book industry into something more than the how to be better – it showed real people living real inspirational messages. (Not gonna lie, these are a treat I enjoy flitting through when I just want to think positive.)

1994: Janet Evanovich’s spunky Stephanie Plum jumped off the pages in One for the Money, strangely making New Jersey seem … less New Jersey? I have to admit I’ve never been to Jersey outside of Newark International, but we’ve all heard of the Jersey Devil (among other … interesting … stories).

1995: I love Alice Hoffman. This author makes everything she touches magic … and it’s still incredibly believable. Practical Magic is what I can only describe as a realistic fairy tale (long before realistic fairy tales hit the height of their career). Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman were pretty great in the film version in 1998 as well.

1996: This is one of those years where I had a hard time making a choice. Helen Fielding published Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the world got a modern Mr. Darcy to drool over (thank you Colin Firth, for every faithful portrayal of every Mr. Darcy, we owe you a debt of gratitude). Chuck Palahniuk inspired (perhaps a little too well, in fact) his readers to eschew capitalism and look deeper into existential beliefs, Fight Club really made the public start to question – what is life really about? Where are we really going? And … why … just why? (And the film, those visuals really vaulted this one to cult classic ahead of its time). And last, but not least for 1996, George R. R. Martin introduced us all to A Game of Thrones, and the history buffs swooned at the re-imagining of the War of the Roses. The television show started pretty faithfully too – although I have to admit I was more of a die hard book fan, I let the shows fall to the wayside.

1997: The late 90’s are filled with books that have some kind of special note in my mental vault, but 1997 should be dedicated to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. J. K. Rowling touched on a bit of magic with Harry – and regardless of similarities with other series, shows, characters of other decades, Harry holds a special place for all of us – because both Harry and his creator make us realize we all have something special if we just keep powering through.

1998: I borrowed a book from a classmate many many years ago that introduced me to my love of fantasy. Kristen Britain’s Green Rider is just a yes – magic, check. Blossoms into a larger series, check. Ghosts? Check. And the best part? Double checking on the publication dates gave me the best news ever – the series has grown since the last time I dipped my toe into that particular stream – I’m going to nerd out this weekend.

1999: Stephen Chbosky wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower – this book is not for the faint of heart, and I made the mistake of diving into it the first time via audio book at my desk at work. Hard to pound out data entry and system security reviews while having your heart mangled through Charlie’s story. Not easy, but worth the effort.

Honorable mentions: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (and the musical it inspired), the teacher, Erin Gruwell’s collaborative project The Freedom Writer’s Diary (And the film – Hilary Swank does a marvelous job) are all books that should definitely be remembered. Any I missed that need a special shout out? I know, there are so many more, but which ones are special to you?

Next week? 2000’s get their turn at the pass, too.

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