80s and 90s YA Fiction
The Young Adult book market has changed a lot over the years. I read a great deal of YA fiction throughout the 1990s (the vast majority of which was actually published in the 1980s). The genre was quite different back then. There was not the vast array of choice that there is for younger readers nowadays. There really has been something of a boom in YA literature in the last decade or so and several successful series (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight etc.) have been just as popular with the older readership as they are have been with teenage readers.
I find myself enjoying YA novels immensely (more so even than a lot adult fiction) though I have never exclusively stuck to any particular genre, preferring to keep my reads as eclectic as possible.
I still have a certain amount of fondness for some of my teenage reads. Even though the YA market is so much more diverse nowadays, the books I read as a young teen opened the gateway for me. As my tastes developed, I moved more and more into science fiction and fantasy eventually moving onto urban fantasy and horror novels. I got more into adult-orientated books/series and gradually left YA fiction behind. A couple of years ago however, I stumbled upon the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead which led to me reading the Twilight series (not my favourite but I can see why it is so popular), and The Hunger Games trilogy (which I think is exceptionally good). I have discovered a lot of fantastic authors over the last few years and there are many more on the horizon which I cannot wait to read.
Still, I sometimes look back at some of the books I read as a youth and wish that I could experience the joy they used to give me back then. I was a little bit shy and introverted as a kid (still am to be honest) and although I did have friends I spent a lot of my time alone. Books were my world – they gave me an outlet to experience new things and allowed my imagination to roam free – I really loved getting swept up in an adventure.
As a younger child I devoured nearly all of Enid Blyton’s books (particularly the Famous Five books and the Malory Towers series). I also had a particular fondness Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School series and various classics such as Little Women and The Secret Garden.
I also adored Watership Down and The Lord of the Rings (I have always had a great love for fantasy fiction in particular and these two books hold a special place in my heart).
My most voracious reading period was probably when I was in my early teens and this is where I really got into YA in a big way. I read a lot of the popular teen series such as Sweet Valley High (a little bit trashy but oh so addictive!), the Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Dreams (ah Sweet Dreams – the most chaste romance stories I have ever read!), Point Horror, and just about anything by Christopher Pike and Lois Duncan – thrill masters extraordinaire!
There are a lot of books I have forgotten about (although I have found quite a lot by scrolling through Goodreads listopia and other user’s bookshelves) but there are just as many that I look back on and remember just how much pleasure reading them gave me. I practically lived in my local library and was forever taking out the maximum book number I was allowed (30) and returning as soon as possible to get more (after I had read them of course). I also accumulated quite a large library of my own. However, I ended up giving away most of my collection when I thought I had outgrown them – a decision which I have come to bitterly regret.
Last year I went through what books I had deemed to be too precious to part with. This encouraged me to seek out other books I had loved and I spent a fair bit of time tracking them down and purchasing many of them again (mostly second-hand of course as too many are currently out of print). I also decided to try out other popular books from that era which I had not read back in the day. Life kind-of got away from me so I haven’t had a great deal of time to read (or more accurately re-read) most of these nostalgic reads but I intend to try and read at least one per month in 2014. Call it a goal: to read (or re-read) at least one classic YA book (either published in the 1980s or 1990s) every month.