Got ’80s Nostalgia Thanks to Stranger Things? Then Read These Books.

For those of us who lived through the ’80s the first time, Stranger Things, Netflix’s smash sci-fi series, hit the nail on its nostalgic head. The hair, the clothes (the glasses!), the fonts and music…even the film quality itself felt authentic and familiar. And for those who may not remember (or weren’t even born during) the ’80s, the show probably felt like a great story with some appropriate nods to genre filmmaking and some decent references to an era you’ve heard a lot about.

Stranger Things may be the latest in a rash of TV shows taking place in the Reagan era (see also The Americans, The Goldbergs), but the trend is not relegated to the small screen. Whether you’re reliving the era or discovering it for the first time, you can get your fix from these five contemporary books that capture the acid-wash, new-wave, big-hair, Cold War decade as well as Stranger Things captured our nostalgic imagination.


Cover_Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

It’s 2044 and Wade Watts is like many teenagers—he hates his life and finds refuge and escape in video games. But uncovering clues to a game where the stakes are higher than Wade may realize leads him to a virtual world set in the ’80s, where solving the puzzles means unraveling the meaning in gratuitous, awesome pop culture references.




cover_eleanor-parkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

A seemingly mismatched pair of sixteen-year-olds navigate school, difficult home lives and the trials and excitement of new love in this YA-for-everyone story set in the course of a year. Set in the days when waists were high, kids were mean and making the right mix tape for someone was everything.




cover_tuesday-nights-in-1980Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

In the gritty, hedonistic art world of New York at the dawn of the 1980s, three people find themselves drawn to the city…and each other. As they each overcome personal tragedy and search for meaning, inspiration and community, we are treated to a look at a city in transition and a scene that still captures the imagination with its beauty and brutality.




goon squadA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Told in a series of related but separate chapters, Goon Squad tells the story of an aging record producer and the people in his orbit. The time frames jump as the stories do, but the parts set in the flashy, debauched 1980s music world will make you half wish you had been there…and half glad you weren’t.




cover_stories-i-only-tell-my-friendsStories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

Nothing represents young Hollywood in the ’80s more than the rise of the Brat Pack, a gaggle of teen heartthrobs, and among its brightest stars was Rob Lowe. So who better to divulge the secrets of a life of excess in the decade of excess than someone who was there, had it all, almost lost it all and lived to tell the tale?




So did you watch Stranger Things? Did it spark your nostalgia for all things ’80s?

    Karen Green

    Karen Green is a freelance writer and big city ex-pat now living in rural Ontario. She writes for numerous print and online publications, and considers her library card to be one of her most valuable possessions.

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