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

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  184 Ratings  ·  76 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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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 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
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bea-2018, arc, keepers
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 pictures in this are only in black and white and I would love to see them in ...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
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
Oct 21, 2018 added it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I'M OBSESSED. I feel like this book was written just for me
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
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
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.
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
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
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you were the type of reader in the 80's or 90's that devoured book titles as fast as your local bookstore or library could carry them, and if to do this day you can still remember by name almost every single child the babysitters club ever looked after, then Gabrielle Moss' Paperback Crush is the book you've been waiting for.

I really enjoyed this blast from the past that highlights so many beloved books from my teen years, a lot of which I'd honestly forgotten all about. And while this book m
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am crushing on this book and it totally deserves it. It is not only a nostalgia book of my childhood paperback collection, but an indepth look at the various things that made 80s and 90s YA tick. It is broken down into sections like romance, jobs, family, mystery and horror. And for each page i turned there was another books where i was screaming “I read that book”! Plus, while I managed to never read a Sweet Valley High book while I was a teenager, I now feel like I missed out on something, a ...more
The Kawaii Slartibartfast
Such good memories!!!

I really enjoyed this book! It brought back so many great memories of the wild and wackky books I read growing up. If you grew up buying Archway paperbacks for 3.99 or less, I'd recommend this book!
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
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book from BEA 2018. It was missing the Epilogue. This is an overview of teen lit from the 80’s and 90’s and the books from the 70’s and before that influenced this period of tween/teen lit. I am the audience for this book because I was a tween in the 90’s and a huge reader. I remember many of these paperbacks, but I didn’t read them because they seemed so “girly.” As a Librarian, I respect this overview because this period of teen lit is what impacted the YA genre that ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was just completely fun. I knew from the second that I read about it that I would adore it -- and I did. Reading this was basically a trip back into my childhood, and I enjoyed every second of the journey. I got to see familiar and expected old friends like Sweet Valley High (and Twins...and University) and the Babysitters Club. But I also got to see familiar titles that I'd forgotten about until I saw them in this volume and remembered reading and loving them. For example: Pen Pals. I ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: geekery
I really enjoyed this. It's in my sweet spot of thoughtful cultural commentary, laugh-out-loud-snark, and earnest appreciation for what, at times, is basically a completely banana-pants cliche-filled genre.

I remember reading and loving so many of these books! Seeing the covers, and remembering the plots described to help draw out the themes and contexts of different trends in YA lit was a fun exercise in nostalgia. Made even more fun by the way they were put all together, to draw out different t
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, humor, non-fiction
Holy nostalgia, Batman! Being a tween/teen girl in the 1980s/90s was seriously the best. All the angsty music, poor fashion choices that seemed so rad at the time, and of course, teen girl YA lit! Moss takes you on a hilarious tour through all of the highlights of this amazing genre. Babysitters and twins, streets full of fear and books with girls dying tragically, if it could happen, it did in late 20th century teen schlock. And even if it literally could not ever happen, it still did. All girl ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Okay, I admit I read it. In one big gulp. And had fun doing it. A book about literary life between Judy Blume and J.K. Rowlings. That was MY childhood. I loved this book for the nostalgia of it. I was addicted to Babysitter's Club. I spent much time drooling at Walden books.
This book had potential. But it didn't hit the mark for me. Politically correct, feminist, and just not much depth...and the ending. It just simply ended.
The glossy pages were great though, and I did enjoy several of the sta
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
Was super excited to get an ARC at BookCon, but I do hope to see some changes in the final version. I’m hoping there will be something to wrap up everything at the end, as this just...stopped. Also can’t wait to see the pictures in color. I would recommend to anyone looking to go down memory lane.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Actual content: one star
Nostalgia trip: FIVE STARS
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.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, owned, non-fiction
I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Quirk Books.

Today’s post is on Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss. It is 256 pages long and is published by Quirk Books. The cover is a picture of three girls on a bed with a horse poster behind them reading a book. The intended reader is someone who is interested in the history of young adult books and publishing or someone who read and loved those books as a teen and tween. Ther
Michal Lynn
I was provided with an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 rounded up.

There is no denying the nostalgic power of Scholastic Book Fairs and the Baby-Sitters Club, things that us 80s and 90s kids credit for making us readers for life. I am 31 years old and an avid YA reader, and I know that the category is still fairly new in the large world of literature, so it was interesting to read about when publishing companies acknowledged that they were actively publishing books for
Fabulous Book Fiend
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh I absolutely loved this book and I knew that I would. This explains the history and the cultural context of so many of my favourite middle grade and YA novels from the 90s. It mentions more well-known books like Babysitter's club and Sweet Valley High but also delves into various other lesser known series and standalone novels from the time centred around specific topics.

I love how the book is broken into the different topics and isn't written chronologically so if you wanted to start with t
Rachel Elizabeth

This book was purely nostalgic. I lived off of the cheap paperback books marketed at preteens and teens, and they fueled my desires to continue to read and write, which was why I was so excited for this book being released.

While this book taps into important areas like diverse representation, ableism, pregnancy/abortion representation and mental health, it is so brief. I feel like the chapters could have been more fleshed out with a better understanding of historical occurrences to make th
Kamesa Carter
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I totally loved this book! It took me right back to my tween and teen years! I had so many memories of running to the Waldenbooks at the mall and looking for the latest volumes of Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams as well as going to school and getting those Scholastic Book Club fliers and ordering The Girls of Canby Hall, Cheerleaders, Couples, and Sunfire books! I still have many of those books on my shelf and when things get to be a little too much in my adult life, I grab one of those books ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Paperback Crush is a fascinating and funny look at American teen fiction from the gap between Judy Blume and Harry Potter. Moss divides up the books by themes, and looks at how areas such as romance, friends, school, and fear sparked off a whole range of books aimed at the young adult and middle grade market. There's plenty of focus on how well the books actually dealt with big (and small issues), but Moss writes with a witty, light-hearted tone too, combining nostalgia, light mocking with hinds ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Holy nostalgia!! This book was so fun!

I loved the book covers throughout: there were so many I recognized that I had completely forgotten about, and now I want to find them to read again. The author talked about books I've never heard of, getting into how the 70's YA fiction set the stage.

The history of how these books came to be and the taboo subjects the late 70's and early 80's produced was really interesting to read. Who thought a book about the history of YA books would be so compulsively r
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“The Caitlin books, which ran as a set of three trilogies (Loving, Promises, and Forever) published between 1985 and 1988, chart a decade or so in the life of the beautiful, terrible poor little rich girl as she repeatedly breaks up and makes up with her first love, Montana-based hunk Jed (Jed!), rides many horses, drives many luxury cars, is emotionally neglected by her family, accidentally lets an elementary schooler eat poison (it’s okay, he survives, everyone calm down!), gets trapped in a mine, reconnects with her long-lost father, goes to college, is forced against her will to become a successful model, gets trapped in a barn fire, is forced against her will to become the head of a successful mining company, and is the subject of numerous unsuccessful plots by evil men who wish to “ruin” her.” 1 likes
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