Throwing It Back: Books To Span The Decades
In a year we’d probably all rather forget, escaping into a past decade is the perfect getaway. Whether you want to go all the way back to the 30s, or you’re feeling nostalgic for the 90s, there is a world waiting for you within these six books spanning the decades.
1930’s: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
‘The Giver of Stars’ is a magical story for book lovers everywhere. Set in Depression-era rural Kentucky, it sees five women travelling around the mountainous region to deliver books to its residents. A fictional tale, based on a real life project inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt, Moyes will captivate you with beautiful descriptions of the natural surroundings. It enchants with its warmth and the importance it places on the rich female friendships between its protagonists. With the backdrop of the 1930s, it does not shy away from the sexism and racism that was rife during this period. Through the struggles the characters face, the immersive plot illuminates the ability of literature to transport, educate, and unite.
1950’s: Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
Set in 1957, Small Pleasures takes you back to the gentle world of home-baking, weekly baths, Sunday best and pre-digital obsessions, bringing the nostalgic reminiscing of older generations to life. It is a story of duty, hope, family and love, where emotions must be carefully managed.
Gretchen Tilbury believes her 10-year-old daughter is a miracle – the product of a virgin birth. For investigating reporter, Jean Swinney, the story provides welcome relief from her own mundane existence made of writing repetitive articles and caring for her elderly mother. But as she unpicks one miracle, a new one emerges, one that gives Jean her chance at happiness. But will it come at a price?
An absolute must-read, but keep your tissues close by.
1960’s: 11/22/63 by Stephen King
11/22/63 follows Jack Epping as he discovers a portal that can take him back to the 60’s, a portal that offers the chance to change history and prevent the JFK assassination. Exploring the ‘what if’ situations of time-travel, the novel is written in effortless prose with memorable characters you inevitably get invested in. King presents an intricate portrait of the 60’s, a time of big American cars, rock’n’roll, beautiful fashion, while also delving into the darker aspects – the cruel racism as doors to public spaces are labelled ‘men’, ‘women’ and ‘coloured’. In a whopping 800 pages, 11/22/63 is filled to the brim with action, a breath of fresh-air for anyone looking for a bit of nostalgia this time of year.
1970’s: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The iconic ‘70s rock band Daisy Jones & The Six is a household name in this captivating novel. Nobody knows why they split up at the height of their popularity, and this book serves as an exposé containing interviews with each of the band members. Daisy Jones’ journey to stardom once she unites with The Six seems like a match made in heaven, but it is actually rife with tension as Daisy and the band’s lead singer Billy Dunne challenge one another time after time. The glamour of the music industry meets the grunge of reality as these stars finally set the record straight.
1980’s: Reason To Be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe
Get ready to be whisked away to the 80s with Nina Stibbe’s Reasons To Be Cheerful. The novel follows teenager Lizzie Vogel as she gets a new job in a dental practice. We watch Lizzie come of age, fall in love, and find her footing in the real world. This book oozes with the zeitgeist of the ‘80s and provides some real escapism from our contemporary moment. There’s a reason why this novel won the Comedy Women In Print Prize - it is laugh-out-loud hilarious and completely relatable. Allow yourself to be transported back in time and to fall in love with this wonderful, hopeful book.
1990’s: The Crow Road by Iain Banks
Banks’ second novel, The Crow Road, is a powerhouse of nostalgia. Written mostly from the perspective of Prentice, a Glasgow University student from a polyphonic Scottish family, the novel is full to the brim with the aspects of ‘90’s life we romanticise nowadays as a better time: boozy family parties in the Scottish Countryside, old fashioned cars, and journeys up and down the Scottish landscape on squeaky old trains. The internet is barely a fixture in anyone’s life in this novel, and a murder mystery aspect makes computers, and what we’d now consider clunky, obsolete tech, an exciting new space to delve into colourful family histories. It’s a powerful journey into 90’s nostalgia, a book to seek refuge in as this trying year comes to a close.