Best of the Decade: 1980s

Editor’s Note: This year, our Half Price Books calendar once again features lists of books, movies and music. We’re heading into a new decade with a new focus…the past. Each month, we’ll share a list of events, inventions and, of course, books, movies and music, from every decade since the 1900s right here on the blog. Enjoy!

Prince was big, Pac-Man was big…hair was big. We head back to the era when the keytar was king to bring you a list of rad, and radical, events, books, music and movies that made serious moves in the 1980s.


The Color Purple – Alice Walker
Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry
Beloved – Toni Morrison
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros
Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez

1980s 3


Purple Rain – Prince & the Revolution
The Joshua Tree – U2
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Remain in Light – Talking Heads
Graceland – Paul Simon
Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – Public Enemy
Daydream Nation – Sonic Youth

1980s 1


Raging Bull
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Do the Right Thing
Blue Velvet
Blade Runner
Full Metal Jacket
Sixteen Candles
Raising Arizona
Back to the Future

1980s 2


1980 US boycotts Moscow Olympics
1980 Pac-Man released
1980 John Lennon murdered
1981 MTV debuts
1981 Sandra Day O’Connor becomes first female on Supreme Court
1982 First permanent artificial heart implant surgery
1985 Nintendo Entertainment System launches in US
1988 First annual World AIDS Day
1989 The Simpsons debuts

Excessive synthesizers aside, the 80s brought us some of the best creative endeavors to date. Let us know what you were reading, listening to and watching while wearing your neon leg warmers!