Kelly & Christy’s Childhood Paperback Crushes
How many of you spent your summers and downtime consuming those paperback series from your childhood? Most famous is Goosebumps, still going strong today. Have you ever wondered about their publishing history? Being bloggers, we are interested in how the publishing world has made decisions and shifted over the years. Enter Paperback Crush, the history behind those 80s and 90s series. Cool, right? Opening this book is like a flashback – some of our favorites are featured! So to honor its upcoming release, we are sharing a few of the series we adored as kids and young adults. Thank you to Quirk Books for sending us a copy to fawn over.
Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fictionby Gabrielle Moss
Published by: Quirk Books
on October 30, 2018
A hilarious and nostalgic trip through the history of paperback pre-teen series of the 80s and 90s.
Every twenty- or thirty-something woman knows these books. The pink covers, the flimsy paper, the zillion volumes in the series that kept you reading for your entire adolescence. Spurred by the commercial success of Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club, these were not the serious-issue YA novels of the 1970s, nor were they the blockbuster books of the Harry Potter and Twilight ilk. They were cheap, short, and utterly beloved.
PAPERBACK CRUSH dives in deep to this golden age with affection, history, and a little bit of snark. Readers will discover (and fondly remember) girl-centric series on everything from correspondence (Pen Pals and Dear Diary) to sports (The Pink Parrots, Cheerleaders, and The Gymnasts) to a newspaper at an all-girls Orthodox Jewish middle school (The B.Y. Times) to a literal teen angel (Teen Angels: Heaven Can Wait, where an enterprising guardian angel named Cisco has to earn her wings “by helping the world’s sexist rock star.”) Some were blatant ripoffs of the successful series (looking at you, Sleepover Friends and The Girls of Canby Hall), some were sick-lit tearjerkers à la Love Story (Abby, My Love) and some were just plain perplexing (Uncle Vampire??) But all of them represent that time gone by of girl-power and endless sessions of sustained silent reading.
In six hilarious chapters (Friendship, Love, School, Family, Jobs, Terror, and Tragedy), Bustle Features Editor Gabrielle Moss takes the reader on a nostalgic tour of teen book covers of yore, digging deep into the history of the genre as well as the stories behind the best-known series.
Christy’s Paperback Crushes
I spent A LOT of time in my library from early childhood through, well, forever. I don’t think I could pick an absolute favorite series but I do have some that I consumed nearly in totality. And yes, I have read almost everything written under V.C. Andrews – judge me.
A Time to Die (One Last Wish, #1)by Lurlene McDaniel
Published by: Bantam Books
on May 1, 1992
Sixteen-year-old Kara Fischer hadn’t ever considered herself lucky. She doesn’t understand why she was born with cystic fibrosis. Each day she faces an uncertain future. But the close-knit bond she develops with Eric and Vince gives her the hope to live one day at a time.When an anonymous benefactor promises to grant a single wish with no strings attached, Kara can’t help but wonder if miracles might really happen. Will Kara live to see her dying wish fulfilled?
If you ever wondered where I got my love of crushing contemporary novels, let me introduce you to the One Last Wish series, where someone dies or has died in every book and everything sucks. Consumed every last one of those.
- The Boxcar Children – I just had to know if they ever found a forever home
- The Babysitter’s Club – I also read basically every offshoot of this series. I love that they’ve updated them in graphic novel form.
- Nancy Drew – Ok I think we all know how amazing Nancy Drew is and if you’re a fan, I hope you also watched VERONICA MARS and read the Trouble series. Did you see the news that Veronica Mars is coming back on Hulu???
- American Girls – I wanted one of those dolls so badly.
- Sweet Valley High – Soooo much drama.
- Janie Johnson (The Face on the Milk Carton) – I read A LOT of true crime following this series.
Thirst No. 1: The Last Vampire, Black Blood, and Red Dice (Thirst, #1)by Christopher Pike
Published by: Simon Pulse
on August 4, 2009
Includes: The Last VampireBlack BloodRed Dice
As to blood -ah, blood, the whole subject fascinates me. I do like that as well, warm and dripping, when I am thirsty....
Alisa has been in control of her urges for the five thousand years she has been a vampire. She feeds but does not kill, and she lives her life on the fringe to maintain her secret. But when her creator returns to hunt her, she must break her own rules in order to survive.
Her quest leads her to Ray. He is the only person who can help her; he also has every reason to fear her. Alisa must get closer to him to ensure her immortality. But as she begins to fall in love with Ray, suddenly there is more at stake than her own life....
I read Christopher Pike way before I should have been, hiding behind the spinning shelves in the teen section of the library. I actually read the Thirst series as an adult, when it was re-released in 2009.
- Goosebumps, etc – Come on. If you weren’t reading R.L. Stine in the 90s, did you even exist?
- Anything by Lois Duncan – Ahhhh, I absolutely ADORED Lois Duncan as a teen and even had the opportunity to ask her a question on Goodreads. She has such a tragic backstory, which I wasn’t aware of when I asked the question. Locked in Time was my fav!
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – We need a revival but a movie will do.
- Bunnicula – I can’t do anything but laugh at how badly I needed to read these.
- Anything by Roald Dahl – Matilda, amirite?
Kelly’s Paperback Crushes
I struggled with reading as a kid, so it is really surprising that reading is my everything these days. I was more into obsessing over music and movies more than books when I was a teen. Even though I was a slow reader and had serious shame over that fact, I did read as much as I could. I thought that if I keep reading I would get faster and so that was my mantra. Big books scared me, so the small serial novels were my go to as a tween.
The biggest name that stands out for me was R.L. Stine. I really enjoyed the thrill of the read and I remember getting my first horror book The Babysitter. Of course this was when I was already babysitting and so I had to read it! I still have my copy of The Girlfriend another one of his titles that stands out. Of course this was all in the very early 90s before he rolled out the most impressive serials called Goosebumps!
Sure I read a few Sweet Valley High books, and The Babysitter’s Club because who of my age didn’t read those. It made the teenage life seem glamourous and attractive, but soon I realized I didn’t like them as much as my other friends.
Matilda was a hugely important novel of my youth, it was released in the late 80s and I remember finally getting it as a birthday present the following year. I was in love with her magic and her philosophy. I was also obsessed with A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
The only other book that really rings a special place in my teen years was The Outsiders. It is probably the most read book in my arsenal. I used to re-read it every single year as a ritual. The last few years I have let that right pass on, but it doesn’t take away the fact that I felt such validation from a book about a misfit group of boys.
So what are some books from your youth that stand out?!