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Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction
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Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  794 ratings  ·  267 reviews
A hilarious and nostalgic trip through the history of paperback pre-teen series of the 80s and 90s.

Every twenty- or thirty-something woman knows these books. The pink covers, the flimsy paper, the zillion volumes in the series that kept you reading for your entire adolescence. Spurred by the commercial success of Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club, these were not t
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Quirk Books
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I was kinda wishing that Paperback Crush would be this fun take on the 80's and 90's teen fiction. A work that would devour, laugh and celebrate history that was a product of its era. That literature was not diverse (or at least not diverse the way people want to see diversity - gender, sexuality, color of one's skin, and occasional hip disease), it was formulaic, fluffy, mirroring the times in many ways, but these books had a lot of good in them and they are not completely lacking an good impac ...more
Cameron Chaney
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, adult, nonfiction
I will have a video review for this book up soon, but you can read on for an early look at my (very mixed) thoughts…

Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss… where to begin? I’ll start by saying that as someone who grew up in the ‘90s, children’s fiction played an important role in shaping who I am today. Had I never picked up a Goosebumps book or one of its many rip-offs, you wouldn’t be reading this review right now. I never would have become a veracious reader, I never would have become a writer, an
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bea-2018, arc, keepers
Edit: Bought the finished copy at ComiCon. Woot, all the pictures!

End edit.

I really loved this book. I grew up reading YA from the 80s and 90s, so this spoke to me re: memory lane, but it also felt well researched. The author mentions YA books from other eras from American history, including the first YA mystery, YA career books, etc. This was an ARC, so I don't know what the notes and bibliography will look like until it comes out in a finished form, but I so want it in the finished form. The p
Nov 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Thought it would be lighter. And funnier. It was a woman trying to be oh so hip and giving commentary on books that weren’t really meant to be more than they were on the surface. Disappointed there wasn’t more on the overall sweet valley series, baby sitters club. It gave a tidbit of each of the authors. Plus the social commentary. We get it, no diversity. No this no that. They were written 30-40 years ago before everything became a socially conscious message. Things are just so over the top the ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty much everything I wanted. It's s fun pop cultural dive into the history of Teen/Tween fiction from Nancy Drew to the Wakefield Twins.

The format is fun, lively and perfect to pick up and put down in between running for class prez and prom Queen and baby-sitter of the year and fending off an ancient curse brought on by your family's inability to be decent human beings for one second.

While th majority of the coverage is for the 80s/90s, Moss goes into the history of these books (primarily a
I squealed in excitement when Paperback Crush was first brought to my attention. I pounced upon the advanced copy, flipping through its contents, waves of nostalgic recognition brightening my day. Bummer Summer! Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You! If This is Love, I'll Take Spaghetti! Old friends, these books. Once home, I eagerly delved into reading what I was certain would be a "good read."
On the nostalgic front, Paperback Crush certainly delivers. Author Gabrielle Moss traces the rise of tween a
This was just fun. Thoughtful reading on nostalgic teen and tween book series from the 80s and 90s, peppered with interviews and insights into the trends and themes of these ubiquitous books. I extra appreciated that Moss highlighted how white and upper class these titles were, while also including the few inclusive titles that did exist (and I'm FASCINATED by Marie G. Lee's name change to make her less Asian-sounding as an author but she was the first Asian American author to write an Asian Ame ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, netgalley
Somewhere between the YA ‘problem’ novels of the 1970s and the record breaking premiere of Harry Potter, publishers targeted tweens with a very specific kind of book. They were often short paperbacks with flashy covers and sometimes ridiculous plots. In Paperback Crush, author Gabrielle Moss has written a beautiful celebration and critique of these massively popular tween paperback series.

It should be noted that though this book is detailed, it isn’t encyclopedic. There are simply too many books
Stacy Fetters
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
"This is R.L.’s world; we just make out with our dead, hunky ex-boyfriends and have psychotic breaks in it."

This was a blast from the past and I couldn’t stop reading it. No matter where I was, I found myself pulling out my phone to read this. I laughed, I cringed, I remembered how old I was, and then I laughed some more.

I remember reading some of these books when I was a kid. It was definitely a perk from being a 90’s kid. Some of these titles I have never heard of and they were instantly adde
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Very much through a modern lens, which is both good and bad. I hate the constant cries of how 'problematic' and 'racist' things were. It was an age pre-hyper political correctness -- of course these things were there, both with and without subtlety. Also, this book ends SUPER abruptly, which disappointed me more than anything else. I'm surprised the editor/publisher let it go to print that way, with no real conclusion. Overall an okay deconstruction of pop culture, but with some finesse lacking ...more
I loved this book! Of course I'm a sucker for this sort of thing anyway (I even co-host a podcast, Teenage Scream, about 90s teen horror; Point Horror, Nightmare Hall, Goosebumps, Christopher Pike – yes please) so I was predisposed to enjoy it.

The balance here is just right. There's the nostalgia of the plotlines, characters and issues; the soft watercolour covers of the 80s into the neon geometrics of the early 90s into the edgy black-and-white covers of the late 90s; the humour and wit of Mos
Vanessa (splitreads)
A light and entertaining look at a subject I was not that well-versed on: YA fiction of the '80s and '90s. Moss divides the book by themes these books touch upon, such as friendship, family, romance, and taboo subjects and issues. I enjoyed that this book had pictures of covers and used nice glossy paper. I also liked the little interviews with pivotal players in the genre. Definitely not a book that dives deep and that may get repetitive at some points (yes, I get that the majority of these boo ...more
Oct 21, 2018 added it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I'M OBSESSED. I feel like this book was written just for me
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh, this was great!
“Are you a mature, sensible individual who cares about mature, sensible things like your 401(k) and gum health – but who also cares about those poor dopes who kept moving to Fear Street, even though it had a well-documented murder problem?”

Umm, yes.

I have been on a bit of a 90s teen horror binge this year (and not only for Halloween), in part thanks to Hey Little Thrifter and the amazing Teenage Scream podcast hosted by Heather Parry and Kirsty Logan.

Paperback Crush consists
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
when i first heard about this back in june, i pre-ordered it immediately. i was so excited! my entire childhood was filled with babysitters club (and babysitters little sister!), sweet valley, rl stine, point horror, lois duncan, christopher pike, apple paperbacks etc etc.

i ate, slept and breathed all of these books.

my nostalgia for these books of my childhood is actually so real that i still collect books from these series to this day. ✨💕

so paperback crush seemed to me that it was going be an
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My library covered this book with contact paper, just in case the contents alone didn’t remind me of fourth through eighth grade.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a millennial, I grew up devouring the Babysitter Club and Sweet Valley High books (not to mention the Fear Street and Goosebumps series), so naturally, a book all about 80's and 90's teen fiction is right up my alley. Moss does a great job giving background on why these books were so popular and how they worked to influence the juggernaut of publishing that YA books have become. She also includes a perfect snarky tone that helps steer this book away from having too serious of an attitude. Not ...more
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well. Here's what I liked:
-It had a really, cool cover.
-Nostalgia over childhood/tween books.
-It had a really nice cover.
-The bit where the author says ordering a crate of "Sweet Valley" books was a form of self help for her.
-...have I mentioned it had a REALLY nice cover?!

I hate it when a book bombs for me. I had been waiting three weeks to get this from the library, and after getting it, I felt really let down. Things that annoyed me: the authors personality throughout the book was like hearin
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. It is a sweet and truly hilarious trip down memory lane--one that also continuously recognizes the more problematic elements of '80s and '90s teen novels. No book about that era in YA lit can succeed without understanding the cultural period in which these books existed, and that's what I loved most about PAPERBACK CRUSH. Gabrielle Moss has done a really thoughtful job of interspersing nostalgia and sociological context. I can't wait to pick up a finished copy to se ...more
Ms. Yingling
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Public library copy.

Wow. This was VERY well researched and clearly a labor of love. Interestingly, the majority of the books it covers were published in 1983 and after (although there are a lot mentioned from before that time); that's the year I graduated from high school, so I had NO memory of most of the titles!

Even more noteworthy-- the library I inherited in 2002 didn't have many of these. Yes, the R. L. Stine books are still there (I HAVE to start pulling those. They are nasty and falling
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
The author's look back on teen fiction - from best friends, to sleeping with your best friend's boyfriend, to sleeping with your best friend's boyfriend's ghost.

These two decades of teen fiction ranged from silly, frothy, fun (Sweet Valley High) to gut punches about abduction (The Face on the Milk Carton) and stalking (Are You In the House Alone?). While I was just a bit too old for the 90's era books, I have fond memories of some of the ones from the 80's. The most interesting parts of this boo
Alissa Patrick
The epitome of a light and frothy book. Not that it's a bad thing! The only "bad" thing is I ended up adding books to my TBR which is about to explode. But overall, I loved revisiting the books of my elementary and middle school youth that got me into reading in the first place. Babysitters Club. Goosebumps. Sweet Valley High. Flowers in the Attic. Fear Street. Christopher Pike. Judy Blume. The Face on the Milk Carton. To name a few. Thank you, 80s and 90s. **smooches**
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
**I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

loved this! moss won me over in the intro by making me laugh out loud. i also loved that she referred to reading these books in your 30s as a form of self-care. (i agree, it's surprisingly relaxing.) with how much i absolutely love the teen creeps podcast (which gets a shout out, yay!) it's no surprise that i thoroughly enjoyed this book. i will be buying a physical copy of this as well.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Total memory lane for me. Loved seeing all those covers that I perused at my local library, or at B. Dalton's and Waldenbooks in the mall. Didn't care as much for the write up about the books though. I enjoyed the layout of the book and the organization by subject.
Erin Charpentier
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
As an ardent reader of YA fiction in the 80s and 90s, I was really excited for this one. I loved Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, and RL Stine books. And yes, I know they didn't hold up well to the test of time and are fluff, but isn't that part of the fun? I just felt like something was missing from this book. I was most excited for the horror section because I loved that genre, but it felt rushed and closed all too quickly. I guess I wanted more dissection on some of my favorites and less ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh man, if this wasn't a delightful bit of nostalgia for this elder millennial. If it wasn't for me devouring the books Moss discusses (Sweet Valley, Fear Street, the various knockoffs etc) it's highly likely I would have never become the librarian I am today. I also see some people don't like Moss's politics here, but I beg to differ. I think there is an added value to being able to laugh at or critique these books through a modern lens...kind of the same way we feel when we look back on old ph ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
When I first heard of this book, I was SOOOO hyped, I could not wait to get my hands on it. But this book is so irritating, I almost DNF'ed it. I thought this would be a lighthearted, fun, nostalgic read, but instead the author tackles this type of genre in a very negative way. Her tone is very annoying and criticizes the genre for not being "progressive" or "diverse" enough. I mean it's the 80's and 90's, what the hell did you expect? I would give this book a 1 out of 5, but I am adding a star ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Actual content: one star
Nostalgia trip: FIVE STARS
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was such a time capsule to my youth. It covered books I read from elementary school through high school. It referenced the books that made me start to love reading - the Little House on the Prairie series and went straight through my 6th grade through high school obsession of Sweet Valley High (and Twins, and University and more). Obviously not all books rang a bell for me and there were some books that deeply affected me in my impressionable age that were not mentioned in the book- mo ...more
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Wish I could’ve loved this, but the tone really grated on my nerves. At least it was fun seeing all those old covers, and the design was nifty.
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