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Fast Times At Ridgemont High

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  573 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
This is a true story. In the fall of 1979 Cameron Crowe at 22 years of age walked into the office of Principal William Gray's office and asked permission to attend classes for the full length of the school year to research a book he was to write of his experiences inside the walls of Ridgemont High and Redondo Beach, California. This is the day-by-day journal of horny and ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published September 15th 1982 by Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster, Inc. (first published September 1981)
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Jan 29, 2013 sj rated it really liked it
Shelves: yorwtfiw
Originally posted here.

If you're me, you go into a book like Fast Times at Ridgemont High thinking "Awwww, yesssss.  I can't wait to see THAT LINE in the original context!"

Because this is a book that (apparently, just like me) you've seen the movie, but have been UNABLE to find a copy to read.

[sidenote: What is up with everything I really want to read being out of print lately?  I ONLY HAVE SO MUCH TO SPEND ON BOOKS AND RESELLERS ARE KILLING ME, MAN!]

When I was a senior in high school, I'd just
Jeff Bird
Mar 30, 2009 Jeff Bird rated it it was amazing
I read this book when it first came on the shelves... oh so many years ago. One of the reasons I found "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" so appealing is that I had just moved from California to the midwest US. As I read through the pages of the book, I found that every character I read about could be a match to someone I went to school with back in Southern California. As crazy as some of the characters may seem in the book, don't be so fooled into thinking the author, Cameron Crowe, embellished to ...more
Tiny Pants
Apr 19, 2009 Tiny Pants rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journalism
So when I stumbled across this book, I didn't realize that it's pretty rare -- just knew that I had always wanted to read it. No idea why it's out of print, given that a) Cameron Crowe's only gotten more famous b) people have nostalgia for everything from the late 1970s/early 1980s and c) anything with teenagers in it seems to sell.

Anyway. I've always enjoyed this movie, but the book is a tremendous improvement. A few of the characters in the movie's parts are cut down considerably, and/or simp
Jun 13, 2008 Patrick rated it really liked it
It's like watching the movie with lots of deleted scenes. Cameron Crowe, why won't you issue a new printing of this hilarious gem?!
mark monday
that part with the bj was funny. ah, high school.
Michelle Morrell
Jul 07, 2015 Michelle Morrell rated it really liked it
I think most of us know the iconic movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," it means something different for all of us. For me it was the eye-opening allure of kids just a few years older than me in age, but leagues above in sheer LIFE. Jobs and dating, sex and abortions, drugs and alcohol, California and a lot of darn fine music, nothing near my sheltered life in an Alaskan Christian school.

I had no idea this was a book (or technically, a very long Rolling Stone article) first, written by Cameron
Sep 19, 2015 Robert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: x2015-16-season
Everything that you loved about the movie, along with the extra depth of character that film cannot capture. Most surprising is the retrospective look at how greatly the emphasis of education and societal standards have changed since the early 1980's. Whether the change is for the better or not...
Still my favorite coming-of-age novel after all these years.

I read this in 1981 at age 15 after reading an extended excerpt in Playboy magazine (yeah, I read Playboy at 15 for the interviews and the book extracts--wink wink). I'll never know exactly why my parents acquired the book--it wasn't a bestseller, to my knowledge, and it was kind of under the radar--but I loved the magazine excerpt, then co-opted the book and read it, and it's been a beloved part of my book collection ever since.

The mov
Heather Hughes
Jun 01, 2014 Heather Hughes rated it liked it
Fast Times at Ridgemont High based on fact was written in 1981 about a stealth adult who infiltrated a notorious high school in the next town over and re-lived high school in the context of the more advanced drug and sex norms. Crowe focuses on the coming of age journeys of 18-year-old Brad and his 15-year-old sister Stacy Hamilton. Brad worked to pay off a car, taking increasingly demeaning jobs. Stacy worked to find validation that she is valuable through sex. There are many side characters wh ...more
Jun 10, 2016 Mjhancock rated it liked it
I feel kind of churlish for giving this book 3 stars, as I'm fully aware that I feel unsatisfied with it for not being things it never claimed to be in the first place. I came to the book from a podcast (the Canon) discussing Ridgemont High; after watching the movie, and being really entertained by its approach to the teenage comedy, I thought the book would be interesting. And it was. It contained a lot of the scenes I liked about the movie, and some other fascinating ones, like the trip to Dis ...more
Nov 29, 2013 james rated it liked it
I loved the preface to this book much more than the book itself. It has a great concept - 22 y.o. goes to high school undercover and writes about life there.

Unfortunately, the author does not write from his own perspective. He presents it as objectively as he can. But in the preface he talks about how he befriended these people, how he was part of their group, and how these teenagers changed him. All that is missing from the book itself.

What's in the book itself - starts out with fast times in
May 29, 2010 Kirsten rated it really liked it
This was a great, quick read...and now I know what all my high school babysitters were doing in the early 80s. I think a Fast Times for each decade would be fascinating, but I wonder if any other author could capture Crowe's voice-- a perfect mix of sympathy, bemusement and wry understanding. This is very much ethnographic research; there are no tidy endings or even Crowe's opinions on any of the characters or their actions. This leaves a lot of room for speculation on the reader's part, which i ...more
Gary Anthony
Jul 05, 2014 Gary Anthony rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-age
I'm of two minds about Cameron Crowe's supposedly 100% true memoir. First, only real life could be so boring. Second, either things didn't really occur as presented in the book or it's a complete fabrication, because there are many inconsistencies throughout the book. For instance, (SPOILER ALERT - although, trust me, I'm saving you several hours of your life you'll never get back) near the end of the book, Mike Damone and Mark Ratner attend the school-sanctioned Senior Night at Disneyland, whic ...more
May 21, 2013 Stacie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, non-fiction
I am a big fan of the 1980s. Especially 80s movies. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) is one of my favorite movies. When I learned that it was based off of a book, I just had to read it. If I watch a movie that is based off of a book first, I always try to separate the two. The movie is fantastic, and the book is really good too. The thing I like about the book is that you get more information and more context out of it then the movie. However, I do think I like the product of the movie more. ...more
Feb 19, 2012 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorties movies. Just realized there was a book when browsing around the library.
Similar to the movie with some extras! Enjoyable story story of high life in the late 70's. Short chapters with relative illustrations to the topic.

22 year old Cameron Crowe goes "undercover" to spend a year in a CA high school and then writes this story about "the kids". In the book the characters of Stacy and Damone were a little different than in the movie and I really enjoyed the write up on Grad Nit
Jonathan Schildbach
Nov 22, 2012 Jonathan Schildbach rated it liked it
So, I knew the movie was based on a book by Cameron Crowe, but it never occurred to me to look for the book. My daughter checked it out from the library and I read it when she was done. Having seen the movie numerous times over the decades since its release, it's nearly impossible not to see and hear the characters as they are in the movie. It's fun to read through some of the material that didn't make the movie and to note how the material evolved from novel to screen, but the bulk of the writi ...more
John David
Oct 25, 2012 John David rated it really liked it
I own an original first edition of this book, and happened to notice it during a recent reorganization.

I first read it many years ago, and will probably read it again soon. Why? Because it was good then, and it is good now.

Very highly recommended for anyone in their late 30s, to early 40s. The characters and situations will ring very true for you. They will resonate within you, and you may tear (as in cry) up a little as you remember the lost days (better days?) of your youth.

It's fun to try t
Scott Collins
Jul 05, 2015 Scott Collins rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books and one I felt the need to return to after being disappointed by Cameron Crowe's latest film "Aloha," what I considered to be his first real misfire in a long, illustrious career.

I just needed to get back into his prose again, his attention to the characters and the details of their lives while all congealed into a bittersweet narrative about a collective of teenagers living lives that they truly are not emotionally ready to deal with yet. In fact, it made me wonder if
Oct 16, 2013 Jeremiah rated it really liked it

I wonder why this book has never been re-released. I was lucky to find an inexpensive copy. I have to say that the book is a much better read than the movie was to watch. The book is a lot broader and makes up for the limitations of a commercial movie with deeper characters and a number of incidents that didn't make it into the screenplay. Having seen the movie first, I still put the actors faces onto the names.

I would be interested in Crowe republishing this book with "where are they now" inte
Jan 01, 2014 Jaimie rated it liked it
My generation had Drew Barrymore's Never Been Kissed to reminisce about high schol, but Cameron Crowe was the original reporter to re-tread the best (or worst) times of our lives. Even though times have changed we still see the classic set of characters in every high school, though they are far more complicated than the stereo-types of "jock" or "school slut" will have us believe. Crowe's depiction of this morely crew of teens is shockingly real, balancing the laughs and the tears, so I am sure ...more
Dec 27, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
After years of trying, I finally got my hands on a copy of Crowe's criminally out-of-print "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." (Don't ask me how. I know a guy who knows a guy.)

It's a fast, funny read. Amazing how much of the book ended on screen for the movie -- it's nearly a screenplay. Wish I could have read it back in the day. The shocking young adult behavior seems charming and practically innocent now.
Aug 12, 2014 Jon rated it really liked it
This was a very cool read. It was surprising to see how close the movie hews to the original novel (though perhaps not that surprising, considering how much "good stuff" is in the novel). It was also very interesting to see how prevalent a 22 year old Cameron Crowe's voice was in his early writing; some of the prose is very evocative of dialogue in his later movies.

It would be nice to see Cameron Crowe do more writing of this nature. He has a gift for the written word.
Apr 13, 2011 TrumanCoyote rated it really liked it
If you had tried to pitch me this idea, I would've sworn that there was no way it could've worked; but, by gumbo, Crowe pulls it off, somehow weaving a coordinated affecting tapestry out of the threads of a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated characters and a hodgepodge of situations. The only real problem with the book was the somewhat limp ending, but I suppose that was inevitable given how school years generally do trickle out into summer.
Serge Pierro
Jun 23, 2016 Serge Pierro rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I recently came across this title on a list of out of print books and was unaware the Cameron Crowe went "undercover" to write it, so I thought it was worth hunting down a library copy to see what it was like. If it wasn't for the additional scenes contained within, this could almost be considered the screenplay for the movie, including many of the famous quotes. Every bit as good as the movie, and in some ways even better.
Oct 22, 2013 Pops rated it it was ok
It was interesting to see how the text was identical to the movie, but the tone was different. The book doesn't seem like a celebratory look at the lives of teenagers. There is an inherent sadness in so many of actions portrayed. The film takes a different tact. Spicoli becomes a stoner messiah in the movie, but in the book he is a lost child clearly looking for peace in a disruptive home life.
Stacy Fetters
Feb 06, 2015 Stacy Fetters rated it really liked it
Shelves: sneaky-librarian
Cameron Crowe infiltrates a high school in Cali and goes undercover to see what the hell kids are doing.
If you've seen the movie, you've also read the book. It was a hilarious and in your face read. But a little hard to believe that this actually happened.

This was the hardest book to get my hands on. If you can get it, definitely add it to your collection.
Jun 05, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
Pretty cool getting to read the book upon which one of my favorite movies is based. More in depth, more characters not included in the movie. Cameron Crowe had spent a year masquerading as a senior at Ridgemont High in 1979 or thereabouts and wrote an in-depth story of his experiences. Neat getting to see the perspectives of teens back then.
Aug 30, 2007 Gretchen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the Film
Cameron Crowe's writing style doesn't impress me. At All! Still, it was refreshing to get to know the characters from the movie in new ways... also I got the book as a gift from a dear friend~~ an original paperback! MMMMMhmmmm.
Nicole Diamond
If it has one star I liked it a lot
If it has two stars I liked it a lot and would recommend it
If it has three stars I really really liked it a lot
If it has four stars I insist you read it
If it has five stars it was life changing
Tom Morgan
Aug 26, 2014 Tom Morgan rated it really liked it
Enough content different from the movie to make it worth reading but enough in common to make it feel like I've watched the movie for the millionth time. Fun, light, and a product of it's time, just like the film. I'd like to see a where are they now with the people who inspired this book/film.
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Cameron Bruce Crowe is an Academy Award winning American writer and film director. Before moving into the film industry, Crowe was contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine, for which he still frequently writes.

Crowe has made his mark with character-driven, personal films that have been generally hailed as refreshingly original and void of cynicism. Michael Walker in the New York Times called
More about Cameron Crowe...

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