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As a person of a certain age, I often have to remind myself that 1990 was not 10 or 15 years ago, it was 31 years ago. While I usually love my age, hug my silver hair, and take pride in the wrinkles around my eyes and mouth that show how much I’ve smiled and laughed, I admit that the passage of time has lately me for one Has thrown the loop. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem possible that it was that long; surely it was only yesterday.

I see Instagram posts about memorabilia and cultural icons of the 80s and 90s (does anyone remember the Big Bopper magazine YM and of course the best magazine ever, Sassy?) And immediately feel sad and lose myself in the rabbit hole reposted. My Spotify playlists are heavy on Tori Amos, Anger Against the Machine, Bikini Kill, The Roots, and Ani DiFranco.

I was recently more than a little nostalgic with Netflix’s adaptation of Moxie, Hulu’s release of Felicity and My So-Called Life, and reuniting the original real world cast for the 1990s. Perhaps nostalgia is the wrong word as I know that this period was certainly not “the good old days” and by no means perfect. Maybe after a year at home and a hyper focus on the daily survival mode and getting through it, it is a bit fun to remember parts of my teenage and teenage years. (Note that I said a little … my uncomfortable phase was in full swing for much of the 1990s).

If you’ve got a feeling for the 90s too, I’ve put together a small list of books that were made in the 90s, as well as books that just reminded me of the 90s, or that were really big in the 90s, or simple side by side in the 90s.

Christina Hammonds Reed’s Black Children

It’s 1992, Ashley Bennett’s senior year of high school, and LA life is good. But then four LAPD officers are acquitted of beating Rodney King almost to death, and Ashley is suddenly “one of the black kids.” She tries to pretend life is normal, but it’s far from: her family is falling apart, her friends are spreading rumors, and Ashley has to find out who she is and what she stands for.

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The Virgin Suicides of Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides of Jeffrey Eugenides

I remember when this first came out in 1993 – it might even have been reviewed in Sassy – and then when the film came out in 1999. Five sisters, beautiful and loved by the boys in the neighborhood, die one after the other of suicide over the course of a year. The book is haunting and thought-provoking, and the film (director: Sofia Coppola) is definitely worth a watch.

Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America by Elizabeth Wurtzel

Wurtzel was a cultural icon for many in Gen X. Her bold confessional style and raw honesty were like nothing many of us had ever read in the early 1990s: about sex, depression, antidepressants, self-harm, and therapy. This was made into a movie, but trust me – the book is better. Much better.

Let me hear a rhyme cover

Let me hear a rhyme from Tiffany D. Jackson

Brooklyn, 1998. After their best friend Steph was murdered, Jarrell and Quadir don’t want his music to go away. So they put together a demo of his rhymes with a new rap name: the architect. When the music catches the attention of a record label rep, things get tough. Everyone has a secret about what happened to Steph – will it all come out? How will you deal with the success of his music?

The benefits of a wallflower clickbait

The Benefits of a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This book was first published by MTV Books in 1999. It takes place in the early 90s and follows Charlie’s senior year through letters he writes. Sex, drugs, dating and dating violence, abortion, grief, friendship, family issues – this book had it all, and its open discussion of these issues got it on several banned lists.

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus

If you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the Riot Grrrl movement, this is the best I’ve read so far. Based on her own experiences, research and interviews, Marcus not only outlines the history of the movement, but also of several bands such as Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy and Sleater-Kinney and how the movement has influenced culture to this day.

Like a love story from Abdi Nazemian

Okay, I’m cheating a little with this one because it is set in 1989. But listen to me: It’s also about the queer community, ACT UP and AIDS activism. That was also a cornerstone of the 90s. I remember learning about it in middle school and seeing Keith Haring’s iconic posters for ACT UP. So I’m adding this story about Reza, an Iranian boy who just moved to NYC and is scared of people who will find out he’s gay when he can barely acknowledge it himself. He meets Judy, who is very involved with ACT UP, and they start dating. That means he has to make difficult decisions that may end the best friendship he has ever had.

If you still want more books on the 90s, check out this list of books to read if you loved Sassy magazine and this post on YA books from the 90s.