80s Retro Reads

music cassette 80s retro reads
Staff Picks

Our Retro Reading list is keeping us in a state of nostalgia. Some set in the 1980s, others transporting us back to the culture of that decade, these novels are a must for those who love Stranger Things and long to experience the pre-internet & smart phone era.

  1. Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah
    A novel about a Lebanese immigrant to Montreal who works at a weight-loss call centre. A vivid love letter to the 1980s and one woman's struggle to overcome the challenges of immigration. Longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was named one of the best works of Canadian fiction in 2022 by CBC Books.
  2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready? In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. This book is stuffed with action, puzzles, romance, and 80s nostalgia.
  3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
    Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits--smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.
  4. The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
    Until May 1987, fourteen-year-old Billy Marvin is decidedly happy. Afternoons are spent with his buddies, watching copious amounts of television, gorging on Pop-Tarts, debating who would win in a brawl (Rocky Balboa or Freddy Krueger? Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel? Magnum P.I. Or T.J. Hooker?) and programming video games on his Commodore 64. Then he meets a girl. This novel takes you to the dawn of the computer age, and to adolescence--a time when anything feels possible.
  5. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Malibu 1983. Four famous siblings throw an epic wild party at a Malibu mansion that’s filled with a motley crew of famous and not-so-famous revelers engaging in increasingly debauched shenanigans. The evening doesn’t end well, but it’s a night that people won’t forget.
  6. Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
    It's New Year's Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside.
  7. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
    London in the 1980s: two best friends, with two things in common. The first is their love of dance – one of the girls has talent, the other has flat feet. Both girls are mixed race, but the dynamics of each family are different.  It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.
  8. Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi
    This bittersweet coming-of-age novel, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s.
  9. The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick
    1980's Manhattan shimmers like the mirage it was, as money, power, and invincibility seduce a group of young Wall Street men. Together they reach the pinnacle, achieving the kind of  wealth that grants them access to anything and anyone they want. Until, one by one, they fall.
  1. 1989 by Val McDermid
    A follow up to her novel, 1979, journalist Allie Burns is growing up. She stumbles over a story about HIV/AIDS that will shock her into a major change of direction. When murder is added to this potent mix, Allie will be called upon to chase a story that will take her further afield than she'd ever planned, and force her to question all her old certainties.