My heart stayed in the ‘80s.
I’ve loved other decades, I’ve enjoyed many years, but nothing will ever compare—nothing compares to you. (See, I didn’t even plan that, it just came out! And before you shake your head and tell me Sinead O’Connor sang that in 1990, it was written by Prince in the ‘80s because it’s always back to the magical ‘80s, baby—Nobody puts baby in a corner. Okay, I’ll stop. I promise.)
I won’t list all the reasons I love the ‘80s or how I always find comfort in my favorite ‘80s music/movies/books because no one has that much time. Instead, I’ll tell you what I hate about the ‘80s: Freddie Krueger and men in short shorts with scrunchie white socks. That’s it.
So in honor of The Princess Bride’s September 25th movie anniversary, here are six ‘80s nostalgia book recommendations for fellow ‘80s enthusiasts. To be honest these are just six awesome books, but they each tie into the ‘80s somehow which makes them even more perfect.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe: A cult classic movie adapted from a cult classic book since it’s out of print and requires some hunting skills to read—And Cameron Crowe plans on keeping it that way. What fascinates me about the book is that a 21 year old walked into a high school and convinced the principal to allow him to spend a year pretending to be a student in order to write about them. Only in the ‘80s–seriously, that has lawsuit written all over it if you even thought of doing that now. But thanks to that “open-minded” principal we got a look at high school life from the students’ perspective. It isn’t written first person by Crowe nor as him studying these students: it reads 3rd person from the view of each student he chose to include in the book, telling his/her story. Overall (except for one difference) the movie was very loyal to the book, but the book has many more stories and characters. It was like a behind-the-scenes of the movie and the editing room floor. If you’re a fan of the movie the book is certainly worth a read. And if you’re scratching your head having never seen the movie, the book is an interesting look into teen life in the ‘80s—pre-social media, cell phones… And challenges the notion that teens today are wilder and exposed to more.
32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter: I immediately picked this book up after reading the main character wanted a “Molly Ringwald ending” and proceeded to devour the book as it could not have fit more perfectly in my wheelhouse. The book starts with Davie as a child trying to manage her way through an awful home life and equally bad school life. The only thing helping her get by are Molly Ringwald movies and her desire to one day have a Molly Ringwald Ending—but that all comes to a crashing end… Cut to her running away, growing up, and leaving behind the fairy tale. Until of course she literally bumps into her past. Will she get revenge or holdout for her Molly Ringwald ending? This book managed to have a great story, amazing characters, and created that magic feeling the best ‘80s movies left you with.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: Set in the mid ’80s during the AIDS epidemic (when we didn’t yet have much information about the disease) fourteen-year-old June is trying to come to terms with the loss of her uncle–a famous painter she had a special bond with. The book takes us into the world of grief, sibling relationships, unexpected friendships, and how the lies we tell children and the secrets we keep–thinking it’s for their own good–can cause more damage than the truth. Perfect for those looking for an emotional read with small pop-culture details of the ‘80s rather than saturation.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman: I’ll admit I never read The Princess Bride or The Neverending Story (next on the list) until recently because I grew up assuming the books were novelizations of the movies—those dumb thoughts that carry on from childhood. Whether you still love and can recite the entire movie by heart or never watched it (that hurt to say, I hope everyone’s childhood had Princess Buttercup in it) this is an awesome book. There is SO much more than the movie—there’s a zoo of death! And you meet Inigo Montoya’s father! And the beginning of a sequel!—and it’s cleverly written. It weaves two narratives, oozes satire, cynicism, and humor as Wesley tries to save his true love. A great read at any age.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, Ralph Manheim (translator): An imaginative adventure tale of a boy, Bastian, who realizes that the book he’s reading is nothing like any other book—the world of Fantastica is real and only a human can save it. I was pretty obsessed with the movie as a kid, so much so that I would riffle through my mom’s jewelry box (when she was out of course) and tape one of her necklaces to my forehead because I wanted to be the Childlike Empress. I also wanted to be Atreyu but since that involved a traumatic scene with his horse I thought Empress was a better choice.
The book was the equivalent of watching a comfort movie for the first half and then the story continues past what I’d known from the movie, throwing me into a new story, which was a perfect balance of nostalgia and “new.”
It’s always a risk to read the book a movie was adapted from when the movie was a huge part of your childhood, and whose characters are 100% already defined in your mind as the actors who played them, but with The Neverending Story and The Princess Bride I still managed to fall in love with the books even more than the movies.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: If it’s still in your TBR pile you might want to bump it up now that it’s being adapted to film, if you’re a read-the-book first kind of reader. This was an utterly fun book not only jammed packed with pop-culture references but the entire plot is based on a super rich inventor from the ’80s that left a puzzle to solve inside OASIS (virtual reality world he created) and whoever solves it (needing immense ’80s knowledge because the inventor was obsessed with the ’80s) gets a ridiculous prize. It’s ’80s-nostalgia porn. And fans are already excited for the sequel.
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride written by
Westley Cary Elwes.
Do you have a favorite “‘80s book?” Or does your nostalgic heart reside with the ‘70s? ‘90s?