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80s Popular Books

by Kathy

In the past decade there has been a revival in English language books written for children. This is primarily due to the success of Harry Potter and many other successful children’s books.

The 80’s were a very successful time for children’s books in the United States, however there were still some independent authors who wrote original stories and sold them without any effort at all. The popularity of these books was probably due to the fact that they had been popular before. Here are some popular books that flourished in the 80s:

Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

This was the first book written by a black woman to achieve great popularity, and it was also the best selling book of 1982. Alice Walker also became the first black woman to win a Pulitzer.

The book was a groundbreaking work, and it remains a crucial text for womenists. Readers praised the book for being a thorough retelling of the lives of impoverished black women, domestic abuse, and lesbian relationships.

The 1985 film adaptation, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, made that movie a huge success among all Americans, but especially among black women. Among other awards, it won a Golden Globe for Best Actress and an NAACP for Outstanding Motion Picture. 

William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

This is one of the most famous novels in modern times, and is still acknowledged as one of the best science fiction books ever written. It is a cyberpunk work that has been cited as an influence on writers such as J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson.

It was also the first novel to win all three of the “holy trinity” of book awards for a piece of science-fiction work. More specifically, it won all three of the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award. Even today, it is still being read and celebrated.

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (1984)

This novel is a classic coming-of-age book that was a staple of middle and high school reading curriculums, especially during the 80s. It is also a classic of chicano literature. By 2002, two million copies of the book had been sold in 11 languages. Cisneros is now cited as one of the best-selling Hispanic authors in the U.S. The novel is also perhaps one of the most widely read and taught texts with regards to Latina literature. It was a striking revision of the western literary and theoretical canon.

Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985)

Winning the National Book Award, this is one of the best-known novels of 1980s America. Not only because it was written then, and not only because it was published then and admired, but also because it attacks directly at the culture of that time.

It was a book that was very specific about the anxiety, self-absorption, and alienation that people experienced in the 1980s. It also reflected the aftermath of the Watergate era, and the panic that ensued when the oil embargo and the Iranian hostage crisis occurred.

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