Sweet Dreams are Made of This… Fiction Set in the 1980’s

As those of us in Generation X are firmly planted in middle age, and the children of Gen X are nostalgic for the music they listened to when they were children, now’s a great time to seek out books either set in the 1980’s or with that 1980’s vibe to them.  We’ve had a dig around the collection and here are some that you might enjoy…

The great believers / Makkai, Rebecca
“In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister. Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Malibu rising / Reid, Taylor Jenkins
“Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party and anticipation is at a fever pitch. By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But ahead of that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family will all come bubbling to the surface.” (Adapted from catalogue)

I must betray you / Sepetys, Ruta
“In a country governed by isolation, fear, and a tyrannical dictator, seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer, but he decides to use his position to try to outwit his handler, undermine the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country.” (Catalogue)

The music shop / Joyce, Rachel
“In 1988 Frank owns a music shop. He is loved by many people but is happy to be alone until Ilse Brauchmann comes into his life. Both hold secret pasts. This is a book about second chances.” (Catalogue)

My best friend’s exorcism : a novel / Hendrix, Grady
“1988. Charleston, South Carolina. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act–different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries–and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?” (Catalogue)

Oona out of order / Montimore, Margarita
“Just because life might be out of order, doesn’t mean it’s broken. It’s new years eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight Oona is torn from her life and everyone she loves, finding herself in her 51 year old body thirty-three years into the future. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that will with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. Hopping through decades, and a lifetime Oona Out of Order is a surprising, magical novel that explores the power of love, the bonds of family, and the wonders of life” (Adapted from catalogue)

Ready player one / Cline, Ernest
“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines — puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win — and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape” (Catalogue)

Silver sparrow : a novel / Jones, Tayari
“A story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and two teenage girls caught in the middle. Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families, the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters, the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle, she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another’s lives.” (Catalogue)

Swing time / Smith, Zadie
“Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.” (Catalogue)

Tell the wolves I’m home / Brunt, Carol Rifka
“It is 1987, and only one person has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus — her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life — someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.” (Catalogue)

Trust exercise : a novel / Choi, Susan
“In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed or untoyed with by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley. The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Hot and Bothered – Navigating Perimenopause for Generation X

In the media and entertainment, we’re always hearing about what’s happening with the Millennial, Boomer and now Generation Z women, but in that we seem to have lost most traces of the Heathers, Clueless Chers, Riot Grrrls and Mallrats of Generation X.  At this point in time, many Gen X women find themselves sandwiched between Zoomer kids and Boomer parents, still in the thick of the careers we fought so hard for and realising that when we tried to have it all, we realised we probably didn’t really want it all.

Let’s not forget that we’re also smack bang in mid-life right as the world is in a global pandemic.

Of course the looming reality for most Generation X women is menopause.  If we’re not already well on our way to it, it’s on the horizon in the next few years.  Unfortunately it’s still a subject that is considered taboo and is not often discussed – our mothers and grandmothers whispered about “the change” and generally swept all that was happening to them aside.  Of course the younger generation of women is definitely not interested, because who wants to think about getting older?  But there is plenty of information available through your local library, for you to go boldly forth into your future and to stimulate discussion with your peers.

Try a few of these out:

Hormone repair manual : every woman’s guide to healthy hormones after 40 / Briden, Lara
“The Hormone Repair Manual is a must-have guide to understanding and overcoming the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Naturopath Lara Briden, author of the international bestseller Period Repair Manual, has more than 20 years’ experience in women’s health. The Hormone Repair Manual is backed by evidence-based research and case studies and is a reassuring guide to soothing, nourishing and strengthening your body, mind and spirit during this time of change.” (adapted from catalogue)

The complete guide to the menopause : your toolkit to take control and achieve life-long health / Mukherjee, Annice
“Dr Annice Mukherjee went through the menopause at just 41 following a breast cancer diagnosis, and she is also a top UK hormone specialist with nearly 30 years of experience. In this book she combines her medical expertise and personal experience to develop an essential menopause toolkit offering balanced, practical and comprehensive advice designed for our modern world. The author has used her unique holistic system to help thousands of women look better, feel younger and enjoy an improved quality of life in the long term.” (Catalogue)

The menopause manifesto : own your health with facts and feminism / Gunter, Jen
“The only thing predictable about menopause is its unpredictability. Factor in widespread misinformation, a lack of research, and the culture of shame around women’s bodies, and it’s no wonder women are unsure what to expect during the menopause transition and beyond. Knowing what is happening, why, and what to do about it is both empowering and reassuring. Filled with practical, reassuring information, this essential guide will revolutionize how women experience menopause–including how their lives can be even better for it!” (adapted from catalogue)

Our hormones, our health : how to understand your hormones and transform your life / Esche-Belke, Susanne
“A handbook for women who want to understand their hormones and transform their lives for the better. Written by two doctors from their experience as practitioners and as women, and full of pioneering knowledge from epigenetics, stress medicine, nutritional medicine, and modern hormone replacement therapy, Our Hormones, Our Health aims to show women how to live with good health, good humour, and much happiness — no matter what their stage of life.” (adapted from catalogue) eBook version here

Perimenopause power : navigating your hormones on the journey to menopause / Hill, Maisie
“Perimenopause Power is a handbook that exudes calm positivity and makes sense of complex physiological processes in an easy-to-understand manner, helping women to understand what the hell’s going on with them and provide instruction on what can be done to improve their experience of the dreaded “change.” Maisie Hill, the celebrated author of Period Power, delves into the science of menopause in an accessible way and provides a whole slew of tips to see women through the challenge of wildly fluctuating hormones.” (adapted from catalogue) eBook version here

What fresh hell is this? : perimenopause, menopause, other indignities, and you / Corinna, Heather
“Heather Corinna tells you what can happen and what you can do to take care of yourself, all the while busting pernicious myths, offering real self-care tips – the kind that won’t break the bank or your soul – and running the gamut from hot flashes to hormone therapy. With practical, clear information and support, inclusive of those with disabilities, queer, transgender, nonbinary and other gender-diverse people, people of colour, working class and others who have long been left out of the discussion, What Fresh Hell Is This? is the cooling pillow and empathetic best friend to help you through the fire.” (adapted from catalogue)

The M word : how to thrive in menopause / Mansberg, Ginni
“The time is ripe for a book that lifts negative connotations around the experience of peri-menopause/menopause and Dr Mansberg is perfectly placed to do just that. A practicing GP and mother who has just turned 50 herself, Ginni has written a solution-focused book for understanding, embracing and (even) enjoying this stage in a woman’s life. She outlines medical science, explaining what happens at a cellular level in the body once key hormones begin to diminish; she details symptoms and experience; then explores pros and cons of treatment options, as well as home remedies.” (adapted from catalogue) eBook version here

The new hot : navigating the menopause with attitude and style / Mathews, Meg
“When Meg Mathews hit menopause she was shocked at the lack of awareness, understanding and support shown to women – and also found the information available far too dreary. After getting her symptoms under control she became determined to help other women avoid an experience like hers. The New Hot is her no-holds-barred guide to menopause designed to entertain and empower women in equal measure. It’s full of Meg’s personal insights as well as the latest information and advice from a wide range of menopause and lifestyle experts.” (Adapted from Catalogue) eBook version here

Older and wider : a survivor’s guide to the menopause / Eclair, Jenny
“Older and Wider is Jenny Eclair’s hilarious, irreverent and refreshingly honest compendium of the menopause. From C for Carb-loading and G for Getting Your Shit Together to I for Invisibility and V for Vaginas, Jenny’s whistle-stop tour of the menopause in all its glory will make you realise that it really isn’t just you. Jenny will share the surprising lessons she has learnt along the way as well as her hard-won tips on the joy of cardigans, dealing with the empty nest (get a lodger) and keeping the lid on the pressure cooker of your temper (count to twenty, ten is never enough).” (adapted from catalogue)

Perimenopower / Wilk, Katarina
“We hear a lot these days about the menopause, but there may be up to fifteen years of hormonal changes in a woman’s body before she reaches the point where her periods stop. These years can be turbulent both emotionally and physically – with panic attacks, insomnia, acne, hot flashes, weight gain and low moods. As our hormones fluctuate from our mid-thirties, so do the needs of our bodies. With the right lifestyle and dietary changes, you can turn the perimenopause into a powerful life transition towards a stronger, healthier and happier you.” (adapted from catalogue)

Special mention, just for entertainment value…

Turns out, I’m fine / Lucy, Judith
“Judith Lucy was just Great! Sure, the last remaining member of her immediate family had died, she was menopausal, she suspected her career was in the shitter and it seemed like the world was going to hell in a handbasket – but she was about to move in with the love of her life! Everything would work out because SHE HAD A MAN. Then, in the space of twenty-four hours, her relationship came apart and so did she. A broken heart became the catalyst for a complete existential melt down. She was nearly fifty, suddenly alone and unsure about every aspect of her life. How had this happened? Should she blame one of her four parents? What part had the comedy world played and was her disastrous history with men about more than just bad taste? In her most candid and insightful book yet, Judith figures out what went wrong and then turns her attention to finding out what her life might look like if it went right. She tries everything from dating a tree to getting a portrait of her vulva done to swimming with a whale shark. Thanks to a series of revelations and a slight drowning experience, Judith slowly starts to realise that her life is still full of possibilities and despite death, heartache and a dry vagina it turns out … she’s fine.” (Catalogue)

For many more titles on the topic, click here.

And don’t forget: