Monday, March 28, 2016

Bestselling Books from 1970 to 1989

Here we go with Part 5 of 6.

I have read 48 of the books on these lists, my personal best. Part of this is because I was in college during the early 1980s when I apparently had much more time for reading and because the tastes of the time more closely matched my own. (This is not generally the case in the most recent decades, as we'll see in the final installment.)

We have the first appearances of Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving, Anne Rice, Danielle Steele, Tom Clancy and several others.

The most common categories seem to be spy thrillers, historical fiction, romance novels, and potboilers.

Westerns made a comeback with the works of Louis L'Amour.  Romances of various styles were covered by Jacqueline Susann, Belva Plain, Danielle Steel, Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins. I think Sidney Sheldon's novels are also romances of a sort. Love them or hate them, these romances were eminently readable as opposed to the cookie cutter Harlequin-style books.

Spy thrillers come into their own in the 1970s, mainly due to the success of Ian Fleming and his James Bond novels along with the success of Robert Ludlum. My husband is a big Tom Clancy fan but I only ever read The Hunt for Red October which was the first of his books and didn't make the bestseller lists. You also have Graham Greene, Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, Martin Cruz Smith and John le Carre to satisfy the spy thriller urge.

I am not generally a fan of spy thrillers but I did read and love the Bourne series. I probably read the first book because the TV miniseries was great, starring Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith. Good times.

In fact the 1970s saw the rise of TV miniseries and several made it to air: "QB VII", "Rich Man, Poor Man", "The Winds of War", "Captains and the Kings", "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", "The Moneychangers", "Shogun", "The Thorn Birds", "War and Remembrance", "Scruples", "I'll Take Manhattan", "Princess Daisy", "Noble House", "Space", "Mistral's Daughter", "Master of the Game", "North & South", "Hollywood Wives", and "The Pillars of the Earth". It helped that Judith Krantz wrote some decent potboilers and that her husband was a Hollywood producer. The biggest of the miniseries was "Roots" and that was a bestseller on the non-fiction lists.

And, as always, several books were made into movies too.

Only one book won a Pulitzer! Here are some Pulitzer-winning novels that didn't make the top 10 lists: A Confederacy of Dunces, Rabbit is Rich, The Color Purple, Ironweed, Lonesome Dove, and Beloved!

As I look through the lists there are only a few names (and their books) I don't recognize at all: Helen MacInnes, Tom Tryon, Marjorie Holmes, Paul Erdman, Margaret Craven, Jack Higgins, John Hackett, Kit Williams, Lawrence Sanders, Cynthia Freeman and Stephen Donaldson. Anyone else remember them?

I know I read a book by Belva Plain at some point but I don't remember which one. I have only read one Danielle Steel book in my life. It was called The Ring and had something to do with the Olympics in 1936 (I think) and it was perfectly fine but I was never a big fan of her style of romance. I love me some potboilers however and read most of the Judith Krantz oeuvre with glee.

I read and loved pretty much everything Stephen King wrote until I read The Tommyknockers, which I hated. Then I took a break from his novels for most of the 1990s.

One of my all-time favorite authors is Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I discovered a couple of his books in my high school library when I was 16 or 17 and though they shocked me I adored them. Seriously, I was a sheltered young lady, raised as a Catholic and fed on a diet of things like "Bewitched" and "Brady Bunch". Breakfast of Champions had simple line drawings of "beavers". Oh my, I got the vapors at age 16...! But Vonnegut was profane and funny. It's probably time for a re-read of some of them.

I still read some of the books on the list even today. For instance I re-read "...And Ladies of the Club" at least once every 10 years because I love it so much.

How many have you read?

Next time: the big finale featuring 1990 through today.

1970
  1. Love Story by Erich Segal
  2. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
  3. Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway
  4. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
  5. Great Lion of God by Taylor Caldwell
  6. QB VII by Leon Uris
  7. The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight by Jimmy Breslin
  8. The Secret Woman by Victoria Holt
  9. Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
  10. Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw
1971
  1. Wheels by Arthur Hailey
  2. The Exorcist by William P. Blatty
  3. The Passions of the Mind by Irving Stone
  4. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
  5. The Betsy by Harold Robbins
  6. Message from Malaga by Helen MacInnes
  7. The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
  8. The Drifters by James A. Michener
  9. The Other by Tom Tryon
  10. Rabbit Redux by John Updike
1972
  1. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  2. August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  3. The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth
  4. The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
  5. The Word by Irving Wallace
  6. The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
  7. Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell
  8. Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes
  9. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
  10. Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins
1973
  1. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  2. Once Is Not Enough by Jacqueline Susann
  3. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
  4. The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth
  5. Burr by Gore Vidal
  6. The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart
  7. Evening in Byzantium by Irwin Shaw
  8. The Matlock Paper by Robert Ludlum
  9. The Billion Dollar Sure Thing by Paul E. Erdman
  10. The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene
1974
  1. Centennial by James A. Michener
  2. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  3. Jaws by Peter Benchley
  4. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
  5. Something Happened by Joseph Heller
  6. The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth
  7. The Pirate by Harold Robbins
  8. I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven
  9. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
  10. The Fan Club by Irving Wallace
1975
  1. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
  2. The Moneychangers by Arthur Hailey
  3. Curtain by Agatha Christie
  4. Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner
  5. The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh
  6. The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins
  7. The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone
  8. The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton
  9. Shōgun by James Clavell
  10. Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow (Pulitzer)
1976
  1. Trinity by Leon Uris
  2. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
  3. Dolores by Jacqueline Susann
  4. Storm Warning by Jack Higgins
  5. The Deep by Peter Benchley
  6. 1876 by Gore Vidal
  7. Slapstick or Lonesome No More! by Kurt Vonnegut
  8. The Lonely Lady by Harold Robbins
  9. Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart
  10. A Stranger in the Mirror by Sidney Sheldon
1977
  1. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien
  2. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  3. Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
  4. The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré
  5. Oliver's Story by Erich Segal
  6. Dreams Die First by Harold Robbins
  7. Beggarman, Thief by Irwin Shaw
  8. How to Save Your Own Life by Erica Jong
  9. Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin
  10. Daniel Martin by John Fowles
1978
  1. Chesapeake by James A. Michener
  2. War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
  3. Fools Die by Mario Puzo
  4. Bloodline by Sidney Sheldon
  5. Scruples by Judith Krantz
  6. Evergreen by Belva Plain
  7. Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
  8. The Holcroft Covenant by Robert Ludlum
  9. Second Generation by Howard Fast
  10. Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
1979
  1. The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum
  2. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  3. Overload by Arthur Hailey
  4. Memories of Another Day by Harold Robbins
  5. Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
  6. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  7. The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart
  8. The Establishment by Howard Fast
  9. The Third World War: August 1985 by John Hackett
  10. Smiley's People by John le Carré
1980
  1. The Covenant by James A. Michener
  2. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
  3. Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon
  4. Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz
  5. Firestarter by Stephen King
  6. The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
  7. Random Winds by Belva Plain
  8. The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
  9. The Fifth Horseman by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
  10. The Spike by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss
1981
  1. Noble House by James Clavell
  2. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
  3. Cujo by Stephen King
  4. An Indecent Obsession by Colleen McCullough
  5. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
  6. Masquerade by Kit Williams
  7. Goodbye, Janette by Harold Robbins
  8. The Third Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders
  9. The Glitter Dome by Joseph Wambaugh
  10. No Time for Tears by Cynthia Freeman
1982
  1. E.T., The Extraterrestrial by William Kotzwinkle
  2. Space by James A. Michener
  3. The Parsifal Mosaic by Robert Ludlum
  4. Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon
  5. Mistral's Daughter by Judith Krantz
  6. The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel
  7. Different Seasons by Stephen King
  8. North and South by John Jakes
  9. 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke
  10. The Man from St. Petersburg by Ken Follett
1983
  1. Return of the Jedi by James Kahn
  2. Poland by James A. Michener
  3. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
  4. The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré
  5. Christine by Stephen King
  6. Changes by Jim Butcher
  7. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  8. White Gold Wielder by Stephen R. Donaldson
  9. Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
  10. The Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour
1984
  1. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
  2. The Aquitaine Progression by Robert Ludlum
  3. The Sicilian by Mario Puzo
  4. Love and War by John Jakes
  5. The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
  6. "...And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmyer
  7. The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth
  8. Full Circle by Danielle Steel
  9. The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz by Joan Rivers
  10. Lincoln by Gore Vidal
1985
  1. Texas by James A. Michener
  2. The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel
  3. Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor
  4. If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon
  5. Skeleton Crew by Stephen King
  6. Secrets by Danielle Steel
  7. Contact by Carl Sagan
  8. Lucky by Jackie Collins
  9. Family Album by Danielle Steel
  10. The Class by Erich Segal
1986
  1. It by Stephen King
  2. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy
  3. Whirlwind by James Clavell
  4. The Bourne Supremacy by Robert Ludlum
  5. Hollywood Husbands by Jackie Collins
  6. Wanderlust by Danielle Steel
  7. I'll Take Manhattan by Judith Krantz
  8. Last of the Breed by Louis L'Amour
  9. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
  10. A Perfect Spy by John le Carré
1987
  1. The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
  2. Patriot Games by Tom Clancy
  3. Kaleidoscope by Danielle Steel
  4. Misery by Stephen King
  5. Leaving Home by Garrison Keillor
  6. Windmills of the Gods by Sidney Sheldon
  7. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
  8. Fine Things by Danielle Steel
  9. Heaven and Hell by John Jakes
  10. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
1988
  1. The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy
  2. The Sands of Time by Sidney Sheldon
  3. Zoya by Danielle Steel
  4. The Icarus Agenda by Robert Ludlum
  5. Alaska by James A. Michener
  6. Till We Meet Again by Judith Krantz
  7. The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice
  8. To Be the Best by Barbara Taylor Bradford
  9. One by Richard Bach
  10. Mitla Pass by Leon Uris
1989
  1. Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy
  2. The Dark Half by Stephen King
  3. Daddy by Danielle Steel
  4. Star by Danielle Steel
  5. Caribbean by James A. Michener
  6. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  7. The Russia House by John le Carré
  8. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  9. California Gold by John Jakes
  10. While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark

2 comments:

  1. Seven, but only one from the 1970s, Jaws.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "(This is not generally the case in the most recent decades, as we'll see in the final installment.)"

    I've been having this thought all along as well -- current best-seller lists rarely align with my own reading habits. But it looks like I was right in vogue in 1978:
    War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
    Bloodline by Sidney Sheldon
    Scruples by Judith Krantz
    Evergreen by Belva Plain
    Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach (Hank - ptooey! - made me read this)
    Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

    Back to work...

    ReplyDelete