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Books & Authors

Nostalgia for the Nineties: Books of the Decade

From plaid flannel shirts to classic video games, a surge of 90's nostalgia has hit pop culture in the last few years.  Generation Xers are pining for their decade, which made us at The Library reminisce about popular books from the 1990s.


  “High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby (1995). Rob, twenty-something owner of a vinyl record store in London, and his two best mates spend days arguing over the subtleties of rock albums. Unlucky in love and stymied by his fear of failure, Rob ponders his recent breakup with girlfriend Laura and begins to rethink his career and relationships.



 "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt (1992). A group of misfit classics students from an elite college go too far in their out-of-class learning experiences. This thriller put Donna Tartt on the map as a rising star of literary fiction in the 1990s. Her most recent novel, "The Goldfinch," was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.





 “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides (1993). The debut novel of Jeffrey Eugenides (winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Middlesex”) is a haunting tale of five beautiful teenaged sisters from suburban Detroit. The narrative is told from the perspective of an unidentified group of neighborhood teenaged boys who learn of the sisters through speculation and observation. 


 “Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding (1996). Singleton Bridget Jones drinks, laughs, and flirts her way through London, searching for true love.  Bright, witty, and laugh-out-loud hilarious, “Bridget Jones’s Diary” is one of the first and best examples of the “chicklit” subgenre that thrived in the 1990s.



“Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace (1996). "Infinite Jest" is the Magnum Opus of the brilliant, gone-too-soon David Foster Wallace.  If you were a reader in the 1990s, you no doubt heard of "Infinite Jest," but only a rare few can boast of having read the entire 1079 pages, including footnotes.  



“American Psycho” by Brett Easton Ellis (1991). “American Psycho” tells the story of Patrick Bateman a New York City investment banker by day, serial murderer by night. Controversial for its portrayal of serial violence, and particularly gruesome violence against women, “American Psycho” touched on themes of the destructive nature of capitalism and the depersonalization of humans caught in its systems.


 “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield (1993). Reflective of the popularity of “new age” spirituality in the 1990s, this literary phenomenon spent 165 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. Drawing on Eastern religious traditions, the story tells of the protagonist’s spiritual awakening while he studies an ancient manuscript in Peru.  




“Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel (first English translation 1992). The power of food, an overbearing mother, and forbidden love drive the plot of this novel of a Mexican family.  Magical realism is used to blend the supernatural with the events of ordinary life.




 “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (1997), “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (1998), and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (1999) by J.K. Rowling. The first three Harry Potter books were released in the 1990s, and the world was never the same.




“Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt (1996). Memoir of Frank McCourt’s early childhood in New York City and later Limerick, Ireland. McCourt writes of the extreme poverty in which he was raised and recounts stealing food for his family, and his mother’s attempts to retrieve the family’s government subsidy before McCourt’s father spends it all in a pub. Both powerful and tender, “Angela’s Ashes” received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.



 “Stop the Insanity! Eat, Breathe, Move, Change the Way You Look and Feel--Forever” by Susan Powter (1993). Remembered for her super-short blond haircut and her motivational exercise and weight-loss infomercials in the 1990s, Susan Powter encouraged us to “stop the insanity!” of the dieting rollercoaster and take control of our lives for a healthier body and mind.  



 “Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray (1992). In perhaps the quintessential self-help relationship book of the 1990s, Gray posited that the emotional responses and communication styles of men and women are inherently different, which can cause strife within a male-female relationship. Although later criticized for lack of scientific rigor, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” was extremely popular with the book-buying public.






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