15 timeless books from the Seventies that will never lose their literary lustre

The Seventies fashion trend has gathered no moss throughout 2015, steamrolling stylishly through stores, editorial spreads, festival fields, photo-sharing sites, blogs, beauty tutorials and interiors. Rebranded as the Modern Seventies but the Seventies nonetheless, this retro revival works such a relaxed vibe that we all feel included.

Halt! Stylish nostalgia doesn’t just stop at boho-beautiful flares, suede skirts and socks with platform sandals. We’re dipping low into the book archives and coming up trumps with bestseller books published in the Seventies – timeless gems that will never lose their shine.


1 Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Published 1970

It’s one of those effervescent book titles that deserves its own star embedded on Hollywood Boulevard. The content holds up under the spotlight too. Pre-teen issues are given the Blume treatment as main character Margaret, 12 years old, explores coming-of-age themes and conversations about the opposite sex, bras, periods and “fitting in”. Growing up unravels endless questions – and Margaret reckons God is the one with the answers.


2 The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Published 1970

The first-ever book by Toni Morrison might not have been up to her own stellar standards when she looked back at her debut 20-some years after its 1970 release but writers are their own worst critics. According to Morrison: “It required a sophistication unavailable to me.” Whatever she thought it lacked in sophistication, she didn’t fall short on emotion. The story of young Pecola Breedlove in her loveless world squeezes the most hardened hearts.


3 Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. Published 1971

Buy the ticket, take the ride. Drugs, highs and hallucinations, this book took the American road trip (the car is called the Great Red Shark) to another level as it chronicled the escapades of Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo. Top-gear entertainment, albeit no character arc or resolution, it’s one of those re-read books that grants access to a treasure chest of pure-gold quotes: “Turn the goddam music up! My heart feels like an alligator!”


4 The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Published 1971

To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained, Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) knew what his readers wanted. He wrote according to this mantra and fulfilled his promise book after book. This children’s favourite has the signature Seuss stamp all over it: colourful, wildly imaginative characters and rollicking rhymes.  The love-the-planet theme (save The Truffula trees) fires out an eco message while the book bounces and frolics along at a glorious pace.


5 Watership Down by Richard Adams. Published 1972

Rabbits, yes, that’s right, rabbits with big ears and bobtails. This must have been one challenging pitch to pull off at the publishers. Richard Adams persevered, however, and just as well he did or the world would never have known about bunnies Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver, Dandelion and Bluebell who set off in search for a new warren home, Watership Down. Like timeless style, the key to success is all about layers and this book is no different – wrap up in the symbolism, imagery and classic themes or simply go along for the adventure. Pure escapism and charming descriptions.


6 Surfacing by Margaret Atwood. Published 1972

One of the earlier books in Atwood’s momentous writing career, “Surfacing” is about a woman who goes on a mission to find her missing father. An ambitious work, it tightly packs imagery, self-discovery and superb descriptions between the pages. Atwood’s greatest knack is making writing seem effortless – an Atwood sentence has a gold-embossed finish when you go in for a closer look. Priceless prose.

We’re dipping low into the book archives and coming up trumps with bestseller books published in the Seventies – timeless gems that will never lose their shine


7 Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. Published 1973

Yup, Jong probably stopped counting the book’s print run when it tipped over the 20-million mark. This super-successful title was published in 1973 and got down to business with unabashed content and confessional exploits. Featuring protagonist poet Isadora Wing, she shares her fantasies and sheds her inhibitions. Feminism, unfaithful marriages, unfulfilled people, emotional chaos, uncensored thoughts and the no-strings-attached mindset, Jong seizes her themes, gleefully unzips them and bares all to the world.


8 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. Published 1974

The commas come and go in the title depending on book edition but the charm remains the same: a quietly absorbing puzzling-solving spy novel. Le Carré doesn’t resort to high-action shenanigans but instead shows us how suspense is done and he’s not one for skirting over the details. British Secret Service Agent George Smiley is the main man while intrigue and deception are the book’s best supporting acts. The book was remodelled into a movie starring Gary Oldman as Smiley.


9 Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice. Published 1976

The blood-sucking debut from writer Rice introduced vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac to the world (sometimes it’s okay to go large when thinking up character names) and his horrible history of sinking his teeth into unsuspecting people. IWTV started out as a short story until Rice revived and reshaped it a few years later. Completed in 1973, the gothic-horror manuscript was rejected multiple times before nailing a publishing date in 1976. Vampires started trending and the movie hit the big time in 1994 starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Strap in for a lush, rollercoaster storyline.


10 Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver. Published 1976

We like what he did with the “please” in the title. It’s a serious editing sin to repeat yourself as a writer but when you hit Carver status you can pretty much make the writers’ rules and break them. It also takes considerable skill and precision to pull off short stories because there’s no room for creative waffle. In this collection, Carver cuts to the point with his hush-hush style – quiet narrative and on-point presentation of his characters. No emotion is left unturned.


11 The Shining by Stephen King. Published 1977

King was on a creative roll during the Seventies, firing out books faster than riffs on a Led Zeppelin guitar. You might be Team “Carrie” but this book surely has the demonic edge. “The Shining” is the timeless tribute to the horror genre embellished with telepathic abilities, premonitions, ghosts and hellishly spooky hotel corridors. If you only associate “The Shining” (movie) with the image of Jack Nicholson’s face jammed between a door and a hard place, the time has come to read the book and sacrifice your soul to King’s killer prose and complex-character achievements.


12 The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. Published 1977

The bumper book notched up almost 700 pages (paperback) and covered three generations in the process. In the publishing world, it’s officially known as “an epic read” or a good old-fashioned family saga blockbuster. It is a master class in its own right – showing romance writers how it’s done while celebrating one of the most intoxicating and captivating themes in literature: forbidden love. McCullough wasn’t done there though, she threw betrayal, tragedy, heartbreak and ambition into the mix to entertain the masses (over 10 million copies sold worldwide).


13 Tales Of The City by Armistead Maupin. Published 1978

The Seventies, San Francisco, Mouse, Mary Ann Singleton and Mrs Madrigal (whoa, so many S&M-beginning words in one sentence). What’s not to love? There’s no shortage of misadventure as wide-eyed, innocent Mary Ann takes on the world with a little help from her friends. Move lock, stock and barrel into Barbary Lane and you’ll never want to leave hence the reason a book series was born.


14 The World According To Garp by John Irving. Published 1978

John Irving at his imaginative, flamboyant best – creating a character such as Garp and building a big book around a small person. As ever, Irving hurls himself at his chosen themes and wrestles with them until he nails them down with stronghold narrative. You couldn’t escape this book even if you wanted to; there’s too much intrigue, craziness and Irving narrative gold going on.


15 The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Published 1979

Science fiction finds its funny bone in this ambitious romp through space. Earth no more, protagonist Arthur Dent and his mate, Ford Prefect, hit the galaxy big time. Adams effortlessly created a cosmos that highlighted adventure while showcasing tongue-twisting words, one-liners and way-out worldliness. Quirky, hilarious and ridiculous, it’s a classic reminder about the health benefits of pure escapism – and laughter.

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