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Books we loved in the 1980s


Books are like films and music in that we can often remember where we were when we read a particularly good one. If you, like me, were around in the 1980s, and an avid reader (although I had a bit more time to read in those days!) then you’re probably going to remember a few of these books. Here’s the first half of the decade, 1980-1985.

Let me know which ones you remember and loved.

1980: Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity was itself born in 1980. Matt Damon might have brought Jason Bourne to a new generation and audience, but Robert Ludlum was thrilling us all in the 70s and 80s with a variety of blockbusters, and by 1980 the remarkably resilient and troubled spy, Jason Bourne.

1981: Colleen McCullough’s Thorne Birds was to send pulses racing in 1983 as a TV mini series after the book, Australia’s highest selling book of all time, came out in 1977. But, McCullough was keeping her avid readers happy in 1981 with the publication of An Indecent Obsession. Do you remember the passions of Honour Langtry?

1982: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾ burst into our bookstores in 1982, thanks to Sue Townsend. Youngsters everywhere loved the honest and funny diary of Adrian as he navigates his adolescent teenage world. Did you relate to Adrian?

1983: Terry Pratchett delivered us Discworld in 1983 with the first in the series, The Colour of Magic. The comic fantasy novel spawned 41 novels, was one of the best-selling series of the next two decades and gave rise to a huge fan base and countless Discworld conventions. Did you become an addict of the disc-shaped world carried by elephants on the back of a turtle?

1984: No discussion of 1980s books could be without mention of Stephen King. After bursting onto the publishing scene with Carrie in 1973, he had The Talisman, written with Peter Straub among 1984’s best sellers as well as Pet Sematary. There can’t be many avid readers of thrillers and horrors in the 1980s who didn’t read a King book.

1985: Jilly Cooper’s Riders – published in 1985 was a true ‘bonkbuster’. If you were a teenage girl in the 1980s, with no internet and Mary Whitehouse (TV censoring activist) complaining about the slightest social or sexual impropriety on television – then Jilly Cooper was heaven. Not only did she talk about sex and affairs openly, but there were horses in the novels too! Did you have a favourite scene?