Book to the Future: the 1970s
Pick up your South West Reading Passport 2016: Book to the Future from your local library, read through the decades and win prizes from now until March 2017. Find out more on our Book to the Future blog post.
There are more suggestions in your passport, but we’ve gathered a selection of books to get you started, either set in, or published in, the 1970s. You can also download a reading list here: the 1970s
Jonathan Coe, The Rotter’s Club. Unforgettably funny and painfully honest, Jonathan Coe’s tale of Benjamin Trotter and his friends’ coming of age during the 1970s is a heartfelt celebration of the joys and agonies of growing up. Featuring, among other things, IRA bombs, prog rock, punk rock, bad poetry, first love, love on the side. Prefects, detention, a few bottles of Blue Nun, lots of brown wallpaper, industrial strife, and divine intervention in the form of a pair of swimming trunks. Set against the backdrop of the decade’s class struggles, tragic and riotous by turns, packed with thwarted romance and furtive sex, The Rotters’ Club will be enjoyed by readers of Nick Hornby and William Boyd and anyone who ever experience adolescence the hard way.
Richard Adams, Watership Down. The book about bunnies that has become a modern crossover classic, read by all ages. Often approached with caution and then embraced with a passion, the story draws the reader in to an often violent struggle to find a new safe home. The characters come alive without ever ceasing to be rabbits. A new animated version is due out in 2017.
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. When this was published, it was hailed as offering spiritual and philosophical insight and was embraced by many an angst-ridden teen. For some it is just as good, if not better, on a second reading while others wonder why they loved it so much the first time round. If it is new to you, why not give this short, sweet fable a try.
Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal This fast-paced thriller is littered with dead bodies. If you are looking for an exciting story written with enough insider knowledge to make the procedures described ring true then this is for you.
Alex Haley, Roots. A sweeping saga about an African American family. Roots was based on the author’s own history, although how much is fact and how much is fiction is disputed. When turned into a TV mini series Roots attracted record audiences in the States and inspired an interest in family history.
John Irving, The World According to Garp. Not a book to approach lightly both because of its size and its subject matter. Explicit, funny and tragic this is a book about sex, death and relationships. The book was critically acclaimed and on the best seller list for several years when first published.
P D James, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. Yes there’s Adam Dalgliesh but P D James also wrote two books about private investigator Cordelia Gray. In this first outing, the detective is hired by a grieving father to look into the death of his son. The official verdict is suicide but Cordelia uncovers secrets and suspicions in this gripping puzzle.
Stephen King, The Shining. King is often dismissed as a novelist because of his subject matter but he is a consummate story teller who knows how to plot a novel. Forget the film and focus on being scared by a classic ghost story scenario. A small number of people, trapped in a claustrophobic situation and a building that seems to have an evil life of its own…
Judith Krantz, Scruples. Glamour, glitz, sex and shopping. That is probably all you need to know.
John Le Carré, Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy. An outing for Le Carré’s compassionate but ruthless agent George Smiley. In this classic spy story it has become clear that a double agent has not only found a place in Britain’s secret service, but has worked their way up to a position of authority. George Smiley is tasked with uncovering the threat to security.
Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea. A book to divide opinion. Is it deep or superficial? Full of far-fetched coincidences or a profound examination of a self-centred and obsessive individual? As usual, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. A theatre director moves away from London seeking isolation and a simple life by the sea only to run into his first love.