Historical Fictionistas discussion

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Recommendations? > Books Set in the 1980's

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Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛  (pinkhairedwannabe) | 46 comments I'm on a huge 1980's binge and wanna see what life was like when my mom was a little girl. So does anyone have any good suggestions for books set in or with focus on the 1980's? They can be fiction or non-fiction, but I do prefer fiction. They can also be set in a country other than America. I'd prefer young adult but will read any age group.

I can't wait to see the recommendations!


message 2: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Walker (jkwalkerauthor) You may be asking in the wrong place, Elizabeth. Most define "historical fiction" as set more than 50 years ago. As someone who graduated university in 1982, I can personally attest that the 1980's aren't quite "historical fiction" yet. (And I am thankful for that!)


message 3: by Fiona (last edited May 22, 2017 06:46AM) (new)

Fiona Hurley (fiona_hurley) | 226 comments There is a "Fiction Books That Take Place In The 1980s" list:
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/8...

Most of these were written in that decade.

I'm probably around your Mom's age (eek!) and when I was young I enjoyed the Adrian Mole books and anything by Judy Blume.


message 4: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Cook | 3 comments I don't agree that historical fiction is necessarily in the past. I would consider Robert Harris's book 'Conclave' fits the definition, even though it is present time, a parallel world I suppose. But if this book happened in reality, it would be a historic event, a momentous event, to be recorded and debated for much future time.


message 5: by Betsy (last edited May 22, 2017 11:02AM) (new)

Betsy (linwearcamenel) | 27 comments I'm not always a hardliner for the "fifty years before the book is written" rule, because there are things I consider historic because they happened before I was born but aren't fifty years old yet (the Vietnam War, Watergate, for example). A book written in the 1970s about the 1970s I'd consider contemporary because it was written at the time. A fictionalization of Watergate written now, I'd probably consider historical fiction because it's history to me and is an attempt to look back and recreate a historical event through fiction. I think it does have to be set in the past though, otherwise everything would be historical fiction.

As a recommendation, Elizabeth, since you said you like young adult, Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park is set in the 1980s.

EDITED: to add that I also found this Finale which is about the Reagan presidency. I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for because it's more about the politics of the era though - looks like political historical fiction is what that author writes as he also has one about Watergate.


message 6: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 717 comments West End Quartet: Four Novellas by Ariadne Apostolou. Also Seeking Sophia by the same author.

I don't consider either historical fiction, for the reasons already listed. Lovely stories, though.


message 7: by Beth (new)

Beth Sponzilli | 82 comments I'd saw watch some 1980's movies instead!


message 8: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Hurley (fiona_hurley) | 226 comments Beth wrote: "I'd saw watch some 1980's movies instead!"

You should definitely watch the TV series Stranger Things. It captures the era perfectly.


message 9: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer | 2959 comments Elizabeth♛ Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛ wrote: "I'm on a huge 1980's binge and wanna see what life was like when my mom was a little girl. So does anyone have any good suggestions for books set in or with focus on the 1980's? They can be fiction..."

Dharma Punx A Memoir by Noah Levine , Dharma Punx: A Memoir by Noah Levine
This book spands the decades of 70's 80's & early 90's. It's also one of my all time favorites, and one that I have recommended MANY times. I hope you'll check it out!


message 10: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Walker (jkwalkerauthor) Margaret wrote: "I don't agree that historical fiction is necessarily in the past. I would consider Robert Harris's book 'Conclave' fits the definition, even though it is present time, a parallel world I suppose. B..."
I defer to the Historical Novel Society's definition but they acknowledge there's some difficulty around the margins--"alt history" being an obvious example. What to do with "Man in the High Castle?"

My biggest gripe is calling Jane Austen or Charles Dickens "historical fiction." There were no authors more cuttingly insightful of their contemporary period than these two. I think we need to invent a new category for them, maybe "well-aged contemporary fiction?"

I love the discussion of what constitutes "historical fiction" in all its forms, however. It's one of those truly engaging debates in which everyone seems to have an opinion--but doesn't involve (much) politics!


message 11: by Aurora (new)

Aurora | 64 comments Hmm sons of heaven by terrence cheng takes place in 80s in China and America


message 12: by Anna (new)

Anna (annacoates) I believe contemporary historic fiction is already a thing, covering everything from the end of WWII up today. Take a newly written novel by a young author, set in 80's Berlin, and the story spins around the collapse of the Wall - works for me as story is written today, from todays POV, and by an author who was too young to remember these events so work is based on research. I can' t see much difference if another author sits in archieves, reserching the Tudors. In both cases the idea is the same.

Austen and Dickens were not writing historic, they were writing contemporary. By today' s standards Austen writes romance, or women's fiction. :D But if you take Homer's Illiad and it' s sequel Oddysey - that' s historic fiction from the author'spoint of view, IMHO


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 407 comments Austen used a contemporary setting entirely, and Dickens mostly. (A Tale of Two Cities and Barnaby Rudge are his two historical novels. Both are set in the 18th century, and Dickens was born in 1812.)


message 14: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Hurley (fiona_hurley) | 226 comments Anna wrote: "Take a newly written novel by a young author, set in 80's Berlin, and the story spins around the collapse of the Wall - works for me as story is written today, from todays POV, and by an author who was too young to remember these events so work is based on research..."

The biggest difference is that they have living sources of information. They can interview people who lived through the period rather than rely on archives.

Also, they have readers who will remember the period and could criticize them if they get it wrong!

Andrea Levy wrote 2 historical novels: Small Island (set in 1950s Britain) and The Long Song (set in 19th century Caribbean). In her Author's Note for The Long Song, she describes her different approaches to research for each novel. For Small Island, she was able to talk to her parents, who had lived through that time. For The Long Song, she had to rely on archive sources; and even worse, because she was writing from the viewpoint of slaves who couldn't write, she was relying on second-hand sources about them.


message 15: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Walker (jkwalkerauthor) Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Austen used a contemporary setting entirely, and Dickens mostly. (A Tale of Two Cities and Barnaby Rudge are his two historical novels. Both are set in the 18th century, an..."
Yes, good catch on TOTC and BR - my oversight.


message 16: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Walker (jkwalkerauthor) Fiona wrote: "Anna wrote: "Take a newly written novel by a young author, set in 80's Berlin, and the story spins around the collapse of the Wall - works for me as story is written today, from todays POV, and by ..."
Great insights from a fabulous writer. I loved 'Small Island' - will have to read 'The Long Song' now. Thanks.


message 17: by Michele (new)

Michele | 377 comments Ready Player One isn't set in the 1980s but the entire story is an homage to the era :)

If you can do plays, try David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago & The Duck Variations. The very 80s movie "About Last Night" (the original, at least, have not seen the recent remake) was based on the first one.


message 18: by Michele (last edited May 25, 2017 06:22PM) (new)

Michele | 377 comments For books that take a YA perspective from that time period, try Waiting Games or The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 (a funny Brit take on it). Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a beautifully written story about a girl coming to terms with the death of a favorite family member in the early days of AIDS.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is set in the 1980s, as is American Psycho and Anthropology of an American Girl.


message 19: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 598 comments I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower!


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