1980s Books for All Ages

Here you’ll find a list of books that are either set in the 1980s 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


1984 By: Orwell, George – Portrays life in a future time when a totalitarian government watches over all citizens and directs all activities.

1Q84 By: Murakami, Haruki – An ode to George Orwell’s “1984” told in alternating male and female voices relates the stories of Aomame, an assassin for a secret organization who discovers that she has been transported to an alternate reality, and Tengo, a mathematics lecturer and novice writer.

American Psycho By: Ellis, Bret Easton – In a black satire of the eighties, a decade of naked greed and unparalleled callousness, a successful Wall Street yuppie cannot get enough of anything–including murder.

Brick Lane By: Ali, Monica – Presents the story of two Bangladeshi sisters, one who chooses her destiny by opting for a “love marriage” and one who lets destiny dictate her future when she is married off to an older man and moves with him to a small, claustrophobic London flat.

The Eyre Affair By: Fforde, Jasper – In a world where one can literally get lost in literature, Thursday Next, a Special Operative in literary detection, tries to stop the world’s Third Most Wanted criminal from kidnapping characters, including Jane Eyre, from works of literature.

Flyy Girl By: Tyree, Omar – A year in the life of Tracy Ellison, a 16-year-old black girl, showing her evolution from a promiscuous manipulator of boys to a responsible young woman thanks to, among other things, the teachings of Louis Farrakhan. The setting is a middle-class black suburb of Philadelphia.

The Inheritance of Loss By: Desai, Kiran – In a crumbling house in the remote northeastern Himalayas, an embittered, elderly judge finds his peaceful retirement turned upside down by the arrival of his orphaned granddaughter, Sai.

Killing Time By: Howard, Linda – Twenty years after a time capsule is buried under the front lawn of a small-town courthouse, the capsule is dug up and its contents stolen, an event that coincides with the murders of the contributors to the time capsule.

The Line of Beauty By: Hollinghurst, Alan – Moving into the attic room in the Notting Hill home of the wealthy, politically connected Fedden family in 1983, twenty-year-old Nick Guest becomes caught up in the rising fortunes of this glamorous family and finds his own life forever altered by his association during the boom years of the 1980s.

The Marriage Plot By: Eugenides, Jeffrey – Madeleine Hanna breaks out of her straight-and-narrow mold when she enrolls in a semiotics course and falls in love with charismatic loner Leonard Morten, a time which is complicated by the resurfacing of man who is obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is his destiny.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil By: Berendt, John – In charming, beautiful, and wealthy old-South Savannah, Georgia, the local bad boy is shot dead inside of the opulent mansion of a gay antiques dealer, and a gripping trial follows.

No Country for Old Men By: McCarthy, Cormac – Stumbling upon a bloody massacre, a cache of heroin, and more than $2 million in cash during a hunting trip, Llewelyn Moss removes the money, a decision that draws him and his young wife into the middle of a violent confrontation.

Push By: Sapphire – A courageous and determined young teacher opens up a new world of hope and redemption for sixteen-year-old Precious Jones, an abused young African American girl living in Harlem who was raped and left pregnant by her father.

See How they Run By: Patterson, James – A long-germinating plot for revenge, first conceived in the extermination camps of Nazi Germany, erupts in full force during the 1980 Olympics in Moscow when a group of terrorists delivers a shocking ultimatum.

True to the Game: a Teri Woods Fable By: Woods, Teri – Gena, a street-smart Philadelphian, finds her life turned upside down by a whirlwind romance with Quadir, a wealthy man who can give her whatever she wants but whose connections with a powerful drug cartel could threaten both their lives.


Bog Child By: Dowd, Siobhan – In 1981, the height of Ireland’s “Troubles,” eighteen-year-old Fergus is distracted from his upcoming A-level exams by his imprisoned brother’s hunger strike, the stress of being a courier for Sinn Fein, and dreams of a murdered girl whose body he discovered in a bog.

The Chicken Dance By: Couvillon, Jacques – When eleven-year-old Don Schmidt wins a chicken-judging contest in his small town of Horse Island, Louisiana and goes from outcast to instant celebrity, even his neglectful mother occasionally takes notice of him and eventually he discovers some shocking family secrets.

Everything Beautiful in the World By: Levchuk, Lisa – Toward the end of the disco era, seventeen-year-old Edna refuses to visit her mother, who is in a New York City hospital undergoing cancer treatment, and barely speaks to her father, who finally puts her in psychotherapy, while her crush on an art teacher turns into a full-blown affair.

A Girl named Disaster By: Farmer, Nancy – While journeying to Zimbabwe from Mozambique, eleven-year-old Nhamo struggles to escape drowning and starvation and in so doing comes close to the luminous world of the African spirits.

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! By: Winter, Jonah – In the spring of 1987, the town of Islip, New York, with no place for its 3,168 tons of garbage, loads it on a barge that sets out on a 162-day journey along the east coast, around the Gulf of Mexico, down to Belize, and back again, in search of a place willing to accept and dispose of its very smelly cargo.

Kensuke’s Kingdom By: Morpurgo, Michael – When Michael is swept off his family’s yacht, he washes up on a desert island, where he struggles to survive–until he finds he is not alone.

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story By: Park, Linda Sue – When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.

Night of the Twisters By: Ruckman, Ivy – A fictional account of the night freakish and devastating tornadoes hit Grand Island, Nebraska, as experienced by a twelve-year-old, his family, and friends.

Paper Covers Rock By: Hubbard, Jenny – In 1982 Buncombe County, North Carolina, sixteen-year-old Alex Stromm writes of the aftermath of the accidental drowning of a friend, as his English teacher reaches out to him while he and a fellow boarding school student try to cover things up.

Pepperland By: Delaney, Mark – Sixteen-year-old Star is angry that her mother has died and nothing seems to make her feel better. It is not until Star finds an unsent letter addressed to John Lennon and a broken-down vintage Gibson guitar that she begins to find a way out of her grief and maybe even a way to take care of some unfinished business left by her mother.

A Stone in My Hand By: Clinton, Cathryn – Eleven-year-old Malaak and her family are touched by the violence in Gaza between Jews and Palestinians when first her father disappears and then her older brother is drawn to the Islamic Jihad.

The Summer I Learned to Fly By: Reinhardt, Dana – Drew (13) is a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, a treasured book of lists from her dead father, and an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mother’s gourmet cheese shop. Drew meets a strange boy named Emmett in the alley behind the shop while searching for her escaped pet. Emmett surprises Drew with his knowledge of rats and the two become friends. Emmett confides his dream of finding a legendary spring with healing powers, and Drew betrays her mother’s trust by running away with Emmett in search of the magic waters. Set in California in the 1980s, this quiet novel touches on themes of friendship, love, and sacrifice.

Watchmen By: Moore, Alan – Exceptional graphic artwork brings to life the story of the Watchmen as they race against time to find a killer, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Zayda Was a Cowboy By: Nislick, June – When a Jewish grandfather comes to live with his son’s family, he relates his experiences fleeing Eastern Europe for America, his adventures as a cowboy, and his assimilation into American culture.