Here you’ll find a list of books that are either set in the 1970s or were written during this time. This list is broken down by age but there are many books that can be enjoyed by some or all of the age groups. This list is just a sample of the thousands of books that we can access through the county-wide system. Some descriptions were taken from the catalog, others from our Literature database; Novelist (click to access from home.)
Click on Titles to be taken to the Catalog
ADULT FICTION AND NON-FICTION BOOKS (SOME MAY BE SUITABLE FOR TEENS OR EVEN CHILDREN. PLEASE ASK A LIBRARIAN FOR HELP WITH DETERMINING AGE SUITABILITY)
After This By: McDermott, Alice – A portrait of an American family during the middle decades of the twentieth century evokes the social, spiritual, and political turmoil of the era as seen through the experiences of a middle-class couple and their children.
Big Stone Gap By: Trigiani, Adriana – The 35-year-old self-proclaimed spinster of a small Virginia village discovers a skeleton in her family’s formerly tidy closet that completely unravels her quiet, conventional life.
Breakfast of Champions: or, Goodbye Blue Monday! By: Vonnegut, Kurt – The author questions the condition of modern man in this novel depicting a science fiction writer’s struggle to find peace and sanity in the world.
The Bright Forever By: Martin, Lee – The disappearance of nine-year-old Katie Mackey, the daughter of the most affluent family in a small Indiana town, while riding her bicycle to town to return some library books, has profound repercussions for her entire family.
Divisadero By: Ondaatje, Michael – Fleeing the violence that destroyed her family and separated her from her sister Claire and Coop, an enigmatic young man who lives with them, Anna finds refuge in an isolated house in south-central France, while she struggles to reconcile the past and present.
A Gathering of Old Men By: Gaines, Ernest J. – The murder of a white Cajun farmer named Boutan unleashes a fury of buried hatred and defiance, as Sheriff Mapes tries to identify the killer–a white overseer and a group of Black farmers all claim responsibility–and prevent revenge.
Her Father’s House By: Plain, Belva – Decades after her father kidnapped her from his ex-wife’s home to save her from an unstable environment, a young woman struggles to come to terms with her father’s criminal action and the deception that forms the foundation of her entire life.
The Historian By: Kostova, Elizabeth – Discovering a medieval book and a cache of letters, a motherless American girl becomes the latest in a series of historians, including her late father, who investigate the possible surviving legacy of Vlad the Impaler.
I Am Legend By: Matheson, Richard – A lone human survivor in a world that is overrun by vampires, Robert Neville leads a desperate life in which he must barricade himself in his home every night and hunt down the starving undead by day.
The Kite Runner By: Hosseini, Khaled – Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant’s son, in a tale that spans the final days of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the atrocities of the present day.
The Last Juror By: Grisham, John – Convicted of the murder of a young mother in a 1970 trial that ended with his threat to seek revenge against the jurors, Danny Padgitt is paroled after nine years in prison and returns to the scene of the trial in Ford County, Mississippi.
Let the Great World Spin By: McCann, Colum – A rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.
Lord of Misrule By: Gordon, Jaimy – At the rock-bottom end of the sport of kings sits the ruthless and often violent world of cheap horse racing, where trainers and jockeys, grooms and hotwalkers, loan sharks and touts all struggle to take an edge, or prove their luck, or just survive. Equal parts Nathanael West, Damon Runyon and Eudora Welty, Lord of Misrule follows five characters, scarred and lonely dreamers in the American grain, through a year and four races at Indian Mount Downs, downriver from Wheeling, West Virginia– from dust jacket.
Once a Runner By: Parker, John L., Jr. – Distance runner Quenton Cassidy is suspended from the track team for his involvement in an athlete protest and risks his future prospects to train on a monastic retreat with an Olympic medalist.
Paradise By: Morrison, Toni – Tells the story of Ruby, Oklahoma, an all Black town settled by a dozen families in the 1890s when they were turned away from other communities. But now it’s the 1970s and the men of the town blame the women and the women’s shelter for the change in their community’s character.
Restless By: Boyd, William – When someone tries to kill her three decades after being trained as a spy, Sally Gilmartin reveals the truth about her past to her daughter, Ruth, a young single mother with a growing problem with alcohol, who is given the task of finding the man who recruited Sally for the secret service.
Vinegar Hill By: Ansay, A. Manette – In 1972, Ellen Grier, her husband, and their two children return to Holly’s Field, Wisconsin. There they must live with her in-laws, in a loveless house where everyday cruelty threatens to destroy her spirit.
The Virgin Suicides By: Eugenides, Jeffrey – The narrator and his friends piece together the events that led up to suicides of the Lisbon girls, brainy Therese, fastidious Mary, ascetic Bonnie, libertine Lux, and saintly Cecilia.
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! By: Flagg, Fannie – TV anchorwoman Dena Nordstrom, the pride of the network, is a woman whose future is full of promise her present rich with complications, and her past marked by mystery.
White Teeth By: Smith, Zadie – Set in post-war London, this novel of the racial, political, and social upheaval of the last half-century follows two families–the Joneses and the Iqbals, both outsiders from within the former British empire–as they make their way in modern England.
CHILDREN & TEEN FICTION AND NON-FICTION BOOKS (ADULTS CAN LIKE THESE TOO!)
Accidents of Nature By: Johnson, Harriet McBryde – Having always prided herself on blending in with “normal” people despite her cerebral palsy, seventeen-year-old Jean begins to question her role in the world while attending a summer camp for children with disabilities.
Brothers, Boyfriends, & Other Criminal Minds By: Lurie, April – While living on the same block as several members of the Mafia does have the advantage of a lower crime rate, fourteen-year-old April and her brother find there are times when it is also a major disadvantage.
Dreams of Significant Girls By: García , Cristina – This story of three girls who spend summers in an exclusive boarding school in Switzerland begins in 1971. The three girls from very different backgrounds form a bond as they spend the summer as roommates and the school year apart. Shirin is a pampered Iranian, Ingrid is a sexually adventurous German-Canadian with a talent for photography, and Vivien is a Cuban-Jewish New Yorker with a flair for the culinary arts. The boarding school setting provides an intriguing background for this coming of age story celebrating the power of female friendships.
Eva Underground By: Mackall, Dandi Daley – The year 1978 has been a pretty good one for Eva Lott. She has a terrific best friend, she’s dating the best-looking guy in school, and she just made the varsity swim team. So when her widowed dad says it’s time for them to move, she’s not exactly thrilled. And when he tells her that he intends to move to Communist Poland to help with a radical underground movement . . . Well, it’s all downhill from there.
Feathers By: Woodson, Jacqueline – When a new, white student nicknamed “The Jesus Boy” joins her sixth grade class in the winter of 1971, Frannie’s growing friendship with him makes her start to see some things in a new light.
Flutter: the Story of Four Sisters and an Incredible Journey By: Moulton, Erin E. – Nine-and-a-half-year-old Maple and her older sister, Dawn, must work together to face treacherous terrain, wild animals, and poachers as they trek through Vermont’s Green Mountains seeking a miracle for their prematurely-born sister.
Half Brother By: Oppel, Kenneth – For 13 years, Ben Tomlin was an only child. But all that changes when his mother brings home his new baby brother Zan–an eight-day-old chimpanzee.
Hard Ball: a Billy Baggs Novel By: Weaver, Will – A fourteen-year-old Minnesota farm boy has to figure out how to get along with the arch-rival in his love life and on the baseball diamond, and both boys must learn how to deal with the unfair expectations of their fathers.
I Rode the Red Horse: Secretariat’s Belmont Race By: Libby, Barbara – Tells the story of Secretariat’s victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, the last of the three races in the Triple Crown, from the point of view of the winning jockey, Ron Turcotte.
Inside Out and Back Again By: Lai, Thanhha – No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama. For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.
The Liberation of Gabriel King By: Going, K. L. – In Georgia during the summer of 1976, Gabriel, a white boy who is being bullied, and Frita, an African American girl who is facing prejudice, decide to overcome their many fears together as they enter fifth grade.
Life History of a Star By: Easton, Kelly – For more than a year, fourteen-year-old Kristin uses her diary to record her confused thoughts about the physical changes brought on by adolescence and the emotional strain on her family of living with the “ghost” of her beloved older brother who was physically and mentally destroyed while serving in Vietnam.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers By: Gerstein, Mordicai – A lyrical evocation of Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers.
Night of the Howling Dogs By: Salisbury, Graham – In 1975, eleven Boy Scouts, their leaders, and some new friends camping at Halape, Hawaii, find their survival skills put to the test when a massive earthquake strikes, followed by a tsunami.
Revolution is Not a Dinner Party By: Compestine, Ying Chang – Starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists’ Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed “bourgeois,” and people of laughter.
Tales of the Madman Underground: an Historical Romance, 1973 By: Barnes, John – In September 1973, as the school year begins in his depressed Ohio town, high-school senior Kurt Shoemaker determines to be “normal,” despite his chaotic home life with his volatile, alcoholic mother and the deep loyalty and affection he has for his friends in the therapy group dubbed the Madman Underground.
When You Reach Me By: Stead, Rebecca – As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, “The $20,000 Pyramid,” a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town By: Holt, Kimberly Willis – During the summer of 1971 in a small Texas town, thirteen-year-old Toby and his best friend Cal meet the star of a sideshow act, 600-pound Zachary, the fattest boy in the world.
Wild Girls By: Murphy, Pat – When thirteen-year-old Joan moves to California in 1972, she becomes friends with Sarah, who is timid at school but an imaginative leader when they play in the woods. After winning a writing contest together, they are recruited for an exclusive summer writing class that gives them new insights into themselves and others.
Wonderstruck By: Selznick, Brian – Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben’s story is told in words; Rose’s in pictures.