Livin’ in the 90s

Yesterday, a friend asked for a list of favorite songs from the 90s, which sent me into a nostalgia spiral. I think I’d forgotten about the 90s, really. I’m not sure how.  I spent all of high school and college in the 90s, so you’d think I’d be more invested in them. But my heart has always belonged to the 80s, with New Wave, and Star Wars (the good ones), and Atari, and Bunnicula. I guess I’m more nostalgic for my childhood than my teen years.

But thinking about 90s music got me to thinking about 90s books. Being in school at the time, much of my reading was focused on coursework and classics, so I’m not as familiar with the contemporary literature of the time. I distinctly remember reading The Bean TreesHigh Fidelity, Memoirs of a Geisha, Angela’s Ashes, She’s Come Undone, Naked and, of course, The Secret History in college, and I know I read some Crichton, King and Grisham, though I’d be hard pressed to tell you which books. Now I’m starting to wonder which books I missed, and I’m thinking it’s time to put together a list so I can start catching up (what, with all that free time I have for reading!). So, what 90s books do I need to put on the list? Any favorites of yours that I can’t be missed?

5 Responses to Livin’ in the 90s

  1. Silver James says:

    Wow…Can I remember that far back? Let me go check my library shelves. … … …

    I’m back. There were a lot of “literary” novels published in the 90’s–not that I read them. LOL I culled down my list to four that I’ve reread at least once. All of them were made into movies later.

    MISS SMILLA’S FEELING FOR SNOW by Peter Hoeg. Reviewers panned the movie but I found it lyrical and disturbing much like the novel. There’s an odd sense of lethargic urgency in this book. Yes, I know that makes no sense. It stayed on the NYT list for quite awhile.

    THE RUSSIA HOUSE by John Le Carre. This book is vintage Le Carre. And Sean Connery was in the movie which is always a win. It’s a taut thriller combining publishing, the Moscow Book Festival and espionage.

    A YEAR IN PROVENCE by Peter Mayle. There were times I thought the author was a little smug when it came to this book, but there’s enough genuinely funny stuff to make it worthwhile. That said, the movie was better. IMO

    THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris. Do I even need to describe this iconoclastic work? Though it’s far better known for the movie adaptation. I couldn’t read this one at night.

    I’ll be interested in what other people recommend to you, Michael. (Did I mention you are just a young pup? 😉 )

  2. Victoria says:

    Back in the 90s I read all of the Oprah’s Book Club books. I was a huge Kaye Gibbons fan and one of my favorite books of the decade was Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. The Secret History is probably at the top of my list but I also loved The Virgin Suicides. For a far more lighthearted read, we can’t forget Bridget Jones.

  3. YA Writer says:

    I had to run to my bookshelf and flip through the copyright pages to see which books were published in the 90’s.

    A few must reads from the decades:

    All the Pretty Horses: Cormac McCarthy, the first and finest book of the Border Trilogy, basis for the crappy movie directed by Billy Bob Thornton.

    The Shipping News by Annie Proulx: Completely charming from sentence one. Also the basis of a lackluster movie.

    Independence Day by Richard Ford: I personally preferred The Sportswriter, but that was published in the eighties. This, the sequel, was published in the nineties and it’s still pretty darn good. The Pulitzer committee was also in a mood to hand out prizes that year, and this one took top honors.

    A New Path to the Waterfall by Raymond Carver: This is the book I always give people who tell me they hate poetry. About half the time they change their minds. Every bit as good as his short stories (and that’s saying alot).

    In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’brien: My favorite book of his, next to The Things They Carried. Beautiful prose, a mysterious story and no easy answers.

    The Night in Question by Tobias Wolff: The title story is a masterpiece and it still haunts me.

    The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides: A lovely, spare little book with perfect, matter of fact prose. The basis for a pretty good movie by Sophia Coppola that captures the tone of the book.

    Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo: I love this book. Russo’s finest work. Funny, sad, and he is the only writer I know who can pull off such a leisurely pace, yet still keep the reader enthralled. I loved the Paul Newman movie, too.

    Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon: I know everyone prefers The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, but I love this book. It is so darn funny!

    Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen: This book is haunting, mysterious, poetic, and beautiful. Very short, but the kind of book you can pick up again and again and always find something you missed.

    I highly recommend all of these titles!

  4. Lorelei says:

    The novel of the 90’s— Infinite Jest.

  5. emily says:

    Well this is a walk down memory lane — the 1990s were John Grisham’s big years when he published The Firm, etc. Beyond the BRAND NAME AUTHORS — these are my personal faforites

    SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW (English translation of Danish title), a 1992 novel by Peter Høeg.

    SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, a 1994 novel written by David Guterson.

    COLD MOUNTAIN, a 1997 historical novel by Charles Frazier (won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction)

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