Love These ’80s Movies? Read These Books

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Jaime Herndon


Jaime Herndon finished her MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia, after leaving a life of psychosocial oncology and maternal-child health work. She is a writer, editor, and book reviewer who drinks way too much coffee. She is a new-ish mom, so the coffee comes in extra handy. Twitter: @IvyTarHeelJaime

There is almost nothing I like more on a Saturday afternoon/evening than an ’80s movie marathon – bonus points if it’s a John Hughes marathon. I can remember being 7, 8, 9, 10, and having crushes on the Coreys (Feldman and Haim), Sean Astin, and River Phoenix.

That being said, I began to wonder what the characters in these movies might read, or what books I might recommend for people who loved certain movies. So grab some popcorn, Diet Coke, and Twizzlers (my preferred movie snacks), or whatever your favorites are – here are my picks for books to read if you love ’80s movies.

If you love…

16 Candles, pick up 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter. This modern take on the girl-gets-guy but also finds herself is fresh and funny, and it’s a favorite of many Rioters.

The Big Chill, read Post Grad: Five Women and Their First Year Out of College by Caroline Kitchener. Life after college can be hard – and it’s really easy to feel unprepared for it. It can feel like everything changes. Kitchener’s book looks at how life changes after the bubble of college, and the evolution of friendships in “the real world,” much like The Big Chill illustrates.

Goonies, read Misfit City by Kirsten Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, and Naomi Franquiz. This comic is such fun to read. A group of friends lives in a sleepy town whose only claim to fame is that it was where an 80s movie was filmed (The Gloomies). They end up finding a pirate map, and suddenly things aren’t so boring anymore.

Can’t Buy Me Love, try When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. Although the storylines are very different, both contain geeky guys who are completely charming, and sweet stories about love that no one was expecting. (And that book cover! One of my favorites of all time, for sure).

The Princess Bride, you have to read Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This fantasy comic is insanely popular for a reason – two characters from opposite sides of an intergalactic war find love and have a child together. The art and storytelling are beautifully done, and like The Princess Bride, there’s also humor.

Heathers, check out Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. These aren’t totally alike, but both deal with the absolute viciousness that can be found within teenage girls. Atwood’s book is older, but a classic, and still rings true today.

Back to the Future, read Kindred by Octavia Butler. Traveling through time is the common theme here, and Butler’s novel is one of my favorites. Dana goes back in time to the antebellum South, and the stories dovetail in such a well-crafted way that when you finish the book, you’ll want to immediately start it again to go back and try to catch anything you missed the first time.

Baby Boom, pick up Class Mom by Laurie Gelman. As a new-ish mom, I loved this book because it’s irreverent and funny and sarcastic. If you’ve ever been irritated by Sanctimommies or struggled to balance family and career, or been roped into being a class parent, you’ll especially appreciate this one.

The Never-Ending Story, go with the classic A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Fantastic creatures, different worlds, wonderful storytelling.

Footloose, try Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. Adults trying to police teenagers? Yeah, we’ve heard that one before. This YA novel will be a favorite of those who were teens in the 90s.

Which ones would you add?