These '80s Movies Were Based On Books You Definitely Need To Read
If you're obsessed with the '80s vibe of Strange Things and want to experience more stories from that era, try these books that inspired your favorite '80s movies. For your retro-reading pleasure, I've picked out 15 books by women that hit the big screen in the 1980s.
Greed, excess, and scandal ruled the 1980s, and that really shows in the books below. Here, you can find everything from dark sexual secrets to cutthroat tales of revenge — A.K.A. the stuff that made national headlines, some 30 to 40 years ago. Of course, there are also plenty of feel-good stories about down-to-earth people trying to make the best of their weird and wonderful lives, but let's face it — we revisit the Eighties for the sex, drugs, and rock-'n'-roll.
No matter if you remember the '80s fondly, or learned everything you know about the decade through John Hughes films, the books on this list — and the movies they inspired — are a great way to remember what the decade of hair metal and Valley girls was all about. Check out the 15 books by women I've picked out for you below, and be sure to watch the movies, too.
'Flowers in the Attic' by V.C. Andrews
After the untimely death of their father, four siblings travel with their mother to live with their estranged grandparents, who insist that the children remain confined to the attic if they are to be welcome in the house. The first installment in V.C. Andrews' five-book Dollanganger series, Flowers in the Attic landed in theaters in 1987.
'Mommie Dearest' by Christina Crawford
One of the world's most famous and shocking memoirs, Christina Crawford's Mommie Dearest purports to tell the story of her abusive childhood with Joan Crawford, who adopted her from a baby broker in the early 1940s. The 1981 film version, starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford, gave the world the chilling and somewhat absurd catchphrase: "No wire hangers, ever!"
'Beaches' by Iris Rainer Dart
Made into a hit film of the same name in 1988, Iris Rainer Dart's Beaches tells the story of Cee Cee and Bertie, two very different girls who become friends by the sea in 1981. Following them over the course of their 30-year friendship, Beaches crafts a story that will still resonate with young women today.
'Heartburn' by Nora Ephron
Made into a hit 1986 film starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, Nora Ephron's Heartburn is a roman à clef that explores her marriage to Carl Bernstein, which ended in divorce in 1980. The book paints a brilliant portrait of upper-middle class life in 1980s New York, and will fill you with nostalgia — and bittersweet laughter — to read.
'Ordinary People' by Judith Guest
Made into a Best Picture-winning film in 1980, Judith Guest's Ordinary People centers on the upper-middle class Jarrett family as they wrestle with the loss of one child and the subsequent suicide attempt of another.
'84, Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff
Based on a 20-year-long, trans-Atlantic friendship between the author and a rare books dealer, Helene Hanff's 1970 memoir, 84, Charing Cross Road, was made into an endearing film of the same name in 1987.
'The Watcher in the Woods' by Florence Engel Randall
A horror novel for young readers, The Watcher in the Woods — originally published as A Watcher in the Woods — tells the story of the Carstairs family, who move into a new house and find themselves observed, and possibly worse, by an entity known only as the Watcher. Florence Engel Randall's novel landed on the big screen in 1980.
'Housekeeping' by Marilynne Robinson
Made into a film in 1987, Marilynne Robinson's 1980 coming-of-age novel, Housekeeping, centers on sisters Ruth and Lucille, who are raised by a variety of relatives, including their grandmother and an oddball aunt, after their mother dies by suicide.
'Heartbreak Hotel' by Anne Rivers Siddons
A wealthy, white sorority sister at Randolph University has her eyes opened to the injustices of 1950s America in this novel from The Girls of August author Anne Rivers Siddons. Based on the author's experiences at Auburn University, Heartbreak Hotel was adapted for the screen as Heart of Dixie in 1989.
'The Accidental Tourist' by Anne Tyler
In this Pulitzer Prize-nominated novel, a travel writer reeling from personal loss returns home to live with his eccentric siblings after an accident leaves both him and his wayward Corgi injured. Made into a film starring William Hurt and Geena Davis in 1988, Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist is a feel-good comedy you'll want to read, A.S.A.P.
'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker
Told through undelivered letters sent between sisters in the Depression Era South, The Color Purple follows Celie and Nettie as they carry on with their very different lives, following their separation as young girls. The Color Purple was made into a hit film, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover, in 1985.
'The Life and Loves of a She-Devil' by Fay Weldon
Made into one of my favorite movies as a kid — I was a strange kid — Fay Weldon's The Life and Loves of a She-Devil takes readers on a roller coaster ride in the life of Ruth, a housewife trapped in a loveless marriage who decides to exact revenge on her cheating husband. The 1983 novel came to the big screen in 1989 as She-Devil.