Retro Reads and the Book Covers We Loved

From time to time, I suffer from severe nostalgia.  Lately, I started thinking of the books I read when I was young and I kept thinking about The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger. I only had a vague memory of what the story was about, but it was one of the first “teenage” books I read.   I read it before I was technically a teenager since my sister was older and always had a book stashed somewhere (which only made them more alluring to me and incidentally, how I ended up reading Forever by Judy Blume) Anyway, while I couldn’t remember the protagonist’s name, I could in fact remember very clearly the cover of the book— pea green with a dumpy girl slumped down in front of her locker looking sad?…defeated?… at any rate, not happy.   I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  I had to have it.

But, when I went to buy it, I could only find copies with different covers other than the original.  This would not do.  The old cover was so perfect.  Somehow I knew the experience wouldn’t be the same if I read one of these newer editions.  These covers were too cute for a story I remembered as being not so cute.  What to do?  I finally found a bookseller that sold used books and a week later got a copy…with the old cover.  I breathed a sigh of relief; the book I remembered was not dead.  I tore through it that night, giddy as I reminisced with good ol’ Marcy Lewis.

Anyway, this made me think about the new covers on old favorites and how the glossier, prettier covers just make me miss the old covers (for example, 1984 Ramona Quimby compared to the more recent Ramona Quimby)  I know it’s about marketing and selling books, but like I said, I’m a sucker for nostalgia.  Then, I came across this article by Lizzie Skurnick and thought do cuter book covers do more than just make me miss the old ones? Do they say something about our society? Hmmmm…what do you think?

By the way, here are some of my favorite retro YA/MG reads.  Any others we should add?

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

Flowers in the Attic by V.C Andrews (not for intended for YA audience, but I was definitely reading it!)

Are You There God, It’s Me Margarete by Judy Blume

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4 Responses to Retro Reads and the Book Covers We Loved

  1. Jenny B. says:

    I totally forgot about Dollhouse Murders. I loved that book. I’ve got to find it and have it!
    I also read Flowers in the Attic when I was probably too young to read it.

  2. erikamarks says:

    Jenny, you’ve hooked me with this post–a lady after my own nostalgic heart!

    I vividly remember this artist’s covers (or maybe this was simply the style of the late 70s/early 80s/book club titles) so well–and I couldn’t agree more. Sweetening the glummer moods of these covers with more contemporary art misses the point. The original art reflects the sensibility of the books. Ms. Blume, Ms. Danziger, et al brought us teen angst without vampires and werewolves (as far as I can remember…) and didn’t make it pretty. Because, let’s be honest, it wasn’t.

    I remember too those covers from the Flowers in the Attic era, too. (They were in a corner of our town library and required some clever sneaking to peek at.) Other creepy crawlies like Coma, Legacy, The Stepford Wives, Eyes of Laura Mars, etc.

    As for others that stick in my memory:
    How to Eat Fried Worms, anything from Betsy Byars or Beverly Cleary, Bridge to Terabithia.

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