Sunday, May 24, 2009

Books of My Youth - a Tribute to the '80s


My husband and I were invited to a 40th birthday party last night. The theme was the '80s, and we were all required to dress up accordingly. After I had assured my other half that no, I didn't have "that crap" still shoved in the back of the closet, I did a little shopping at Goodwill and decided on the Flashdance look...a ripped up grey sweatshirt, legwarmers that were actually detached sweater arms, alot of makeup, a headband, and poofy hair. No pictures - Jennifer Beale I am not. But this inspired contemplation on that wacky decade of my youth, specifically my favorite books. So while you all were reading your Steinbeck, Jane Austen, and other cultured literature, here is how I was spending my time. I even took care to find the exact cover I owned!



Flowers in the Attic Series by V.C. Andrews - I'm not sure what the attraction was...nooky with your brother? Ewww. But all of my friends read every last book in this series.










Forever by Judy Blume - Now, we ALL know what the attraction was on this one. This book started the generational trend of giving your private parts names, after all. I think there was one book that was passed around to all of my friends, read at night under the covers with a flashlight and hidden in the underwear drawer. The lingering question in my mind is...did my mother know I was reading this?








The Promise by Danielle Steele - This book, and everything written by this author, is a big skeleton in my closet. In hindsight, The Promise was probably the best of her books, but still. The characters are obnoxious and whiny, the plots completely predictable, but I bought into them hook, line and sinker.









Whispers by Dean Koontz - My mom had this book on her shelves, I think maybe she got it from one of those book-of-the-month clubs. I don't recall asking for permission to read it, I just did. It frightened the bejeebees out of me, gave me lifelong baggage with cockroaches, and plunged me into a two-decade love affair with this author. The truth? I still read his stuff.





The Stand by Stephen King - I don't remember the exact moment I decided I needed to read all of Stephen King's books, but The Stand was gift from a boyfriend when I was in 8th grade. (I'm actually a little shocked that I would have the patience to read a 1,000 plus page book at this age!) I read it, loved it, and blew through the rest of whatever had been published at that point in one summer. I continued to read everything written by King, even the angry-woman- book phase, until maybe 10 years ago. I think I bowed out at "The Cell".


So if I would not have been buried in trashy paperback novels, and been reading something that contributed to the betterment of young minds, would I have turned out differently? Not sure, but I certainly did have fun! So what were you reading back then?

26 comments:

christina said...

LOL. We could easily have been friends in middle school! (That's what they called it around here, but I know most call it junior high).

I was reading all of the same books about that time, except D. Steel. Instead I was reading the trashy Harlequin historical romance novels - you know, the ones with the half naked women hanging on this huge chested male counterpart? Fabio was big then. LOL. Mom was always pretty lenient about what I read. In hindsight, the Harlequin books really set me up for a let down when I finally did start having sex.

What a fun post!

Beth F said...

Funny! I haven't read any of these. I really can't remember what I was reading that didn't have to do with grad school. Lots of mysteries, I'm guessing. Oh I think I read Collette during that time. Benson, Niapaul, A Dance to the Music of Time series, MFK Fisher. I really don't know.

farmlanebooks said...

I didn't read any Stephen King or Dean Koontz (but I am easily scared!) but I read every other book you mentioned! I loved Virginia Andrews and read every single book she wrote, and all the others written in her name after her death.

I read a few Danielle Steele books, but i have no idea which ones, or what happened in any of them!

I think everyone reads Judy Blume, and most people get the majority of their sexual knowledge from them! lol!!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Christina - I did read quite a few of those Harlequins also, and you are so right. Those books are so far from reality, it is amazing that any of us have normal sex lives!

Beth - I think you probably just had more quality literature going on in your life! This is why I am now trying to make up for lost time!

Jackie - Where would we all be without Judy Blume? I still have my childhood book "Are you there God, it'e me Margaret" on my shelf, waiting for the right time to give to my daughter! Thankfully, Forever was burned! I don't need curious minds getting hold of that one.

Shelley/Book Fanatic said...

I read the whole Flowers in the Attic, and it was creepy! lol

ds said...

Okay, now I really feel old *sigh*. Never read any of these, that was the school, school geeky lit stuff that I won't bore you with. And mysteries. There is nothing like a good mystery. Sounds like the party was tremendous fun!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Thank you so much for reminding me how old I really am. Yep, appreciate that one, Sandy, lol.

Literary Feline said...

The '80's! I vaguely remember those days. :-)

I tried reading Flowers in the Attic, but I couldn't get into it and so gave up on it. I know it's a favorite of many not only then, but now as well. Koontz and King were authors I didn't discover until I was an adult and well outside of the 80's. You were more likely to find me reading a John Saul book in the eighties.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Sandy!

Dar said...

lol-I've read all of those too. I loved the Flowers in the Attic series-my mom and I had both read them. The Promise was one of my favorite books back then. I've often thought of rereading it to see if I still would feel the same. It was such a great story. I read tons of Stephen King-his books back then were much better. Have a great Sunday Sandy.

heidenkind said...

I was still in grade school in the '80s, so I didn't read any of those books. Not in the '80s, anyway. :) I read a lot of my mom's books, especially Mary Stewart and Emily Loring.

Ingrid said...

Oh my gosh, does that post bring back memories. I actually loved the Flashdance look (minus the poofy hair).

I was hooked on the "Flowers in the Attic" series - like you, Sandy, I'm not sure what it was about that series that attracted me then, because now, just the thought of it creeps me out.

Back then, I also still read Danielle Steel and loved her books. Now I can't stomach her writing or her stories, even though there are a lot of other romance writers that I thoroughly enjoy.

Carrie K. said...

I never read the VC Andrews books - too creepy. I did read every single Judy Blume and Danielle Steele. In high school, I read a lot of steamy romances - Amanda Quick, Jayne Anne Krentz (I think those two are the same person), I can't remember any other authors, but they were fluffy and racy.

Melody said...

Ahh...reading this post has brought me back wonderful memories! I'm a big fan of Danielle Steele and Dean Koontz back then, as well as John Saul! There're a few Stephen King's books I read, and I think The Cell is his weakest book by far!

Staci said...

Sandy,
Your post took me down memory lane and as soon as I saw your book choices I laughed so loud and agreed with each and every one!! I loved V.C. Andrews...I thought the Flowers in the Attic was naughty and enjoyed every single book!! Forever I read in 6th grade, my mom had no problem with me reading it. That was one Danielle Steel was really good!! And Koontz/King ruled the world!!! Thanks so much for this fantastic post!!!!

The Bumbles said...

You had me worried there for a minute - when you said you went with the Flashdance look I was picturing her scene with the wet T-shirt at the strip club!

Right on with Flower in the Attic - I devoured that book - I think it was so taboo it fit the teenage rebel role. Like others have already commented, I too read many a Harlequin back then in secret - I think I even managed to subscribe for some monthly book club through them and snuck them out of the mailbox. I don't think I've read a trashy romance novel since high school.

Your post seems to have hit quite a chord with your readers! Thanks for a more fun memory lane on Memorial Day weekend.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Well, I'd answer all of you but it seems I've gotten behind! For most of you I thank you for making me feel like I am not alone in reading this stuff. I get frustrated at times when I think about how much good literature I missed out on in school (ds, you had it all going on!). I guess these books, for a certain niche of a generation, was a right of passage. We grew up and became full-fledged pubescents with these books, and in looking back, it's all good! Thanks for the fun feeback, everybody!

Florinda said...

This may be the first time I admit publicly that I read - and loved - The Promise when I was 13. I'd had quite enough of Danielle Steel by the time I got to college, though.

I had that same copy of Forever, too. Thanks for the flashbacks :-)!

violetcrush said...

The Promise, I feel too, is one of her best books, none other has been better than this.

I just bought loads of V.C.Andrews books on sale but they are different books from diff series, I need to go and get all :)

Iliana said...

Sandy, if we had known each other then we would have been trading books all the time. With the exception of The Stand I read all of those and was hooked on those V.C. Andrews books. You are so right though, ewww ;)

The other books I was reading too though where those Sweet Valley High books. Haha...

Aren't the covers of those 80s books so funny to see now?

farmlanebooks said...

I went through a Sweet Valley High stage too!

Gavin said...

Sandy - I love the covers and who says we were all reading Steinbeck and Austin? The Stand..still one of my favorite books, and, let's see if I can remember back that far. Smiley's People by John Le Carre, Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson and The Name of the Rose by Unberto Eco, oh, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (this is cheating a bit, first book of the series was published in 1978)

ANovelMenagerie said...

Thanks for the walk down memory lane

Amy Reads Good Books said...

I love your tribute! I read all of Andrews as well. It was gross and compelling all at the same time. :) Of course, I also loved Judy Blume!

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

Too funny! I loved Flowers in the Attic, Forever and Whispers too. I did read some Danielle Steele, but not that one. I think I've only read 2 Stephen Kings books. For some reason they just don't appeal to me.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

What a fun idea! I was definitely a Flowers in the Attic Fan, too. And Judy Blume. And, gosh, so many others. Definitely some Harlequins, too. :)

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

with the exception of WHISPERS, I read these all multiple times in the 80s. That is, when my big hair wasn't casting a shadow on the page :)

I bet the party was a riot ... are you sure we can't convince you to run a pic?