The most recommended books on the 1960s

Who picked these books? Meet our 25 experts.

25 authors created a book list connected to the 1960s, and here are their favorite 1960s books.
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Book cover of Styx & Stone

Jennifer Kincheloe Author Of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

From my list on smart historical mysteries that start a series.

Who am I?

I’m a public health research scientist who writes humorous historical mysteries set in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD. Like you, I read. I love smart, well-researched historical fiction with strong female protagonists and a good romantic subplot. Extra points if the book is funny because studies show laughter is good for you. 

Jennifer's book list on smart historical mysteries that start a series

Jennifer Kincheloe Why did Jennifer love this book?

Ellie Stone, a young alcoholic newspaper reporter in 1960s New York, makes her own rules while searching for a killer. The series is an incredible window into the era and the protagonist is superb. Booksellers, publishers, authors—we all know who James Ziskin is—simply one of the most decorated mystery authors writing today. This series has won so many awards, I can’t begin to list them all here. In spite of this, James Ziskin remains a secret to most readers. This baffles me and the only thing that can explain it is that we happen to be in that one alternate universe where James Ziskin, who is a bestselling author in every other multiverse, randomly hasn’t caught fire in this universe. Yet.

By James W. Ziskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Styx & Stone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ellie Stone is a professed modern girl in 1960s' New York City, playing by her own rules and breaking boundaries while searching for a killer among the renowned scholars in Columbia University's Italian Department.

"If you were a man, you'd make a good detective."

Ellie is sure that Sgt. McKeever meant that as a compliment, but that identity-a girl wanting to do a man's job-has throttled her for too long. It's 1960, and Ellie doesn't want to blaze any trails for women; she just wants to be a reporter, one who doesn't need to swat hands off her behind at…


Book cover of The Girls

Buffy Cram Author Of Once Upon an Effing Time

From my list on living that 60s cult/commune life.

Who am I?

I grew up living in a housing co-op on Vancouver Island, BC. While not technically a commune, it did have some of the hallmarks. There were gangs of partially clothed kids roaming wild. There were a bunch of idealistic adults who had dreams of shared land stewardship and, well, shared everything. The housing project succeeded in many ways (it still exists today) and, it failed in other ways (over the years there were many fractures in the community). I’ve always been fascinated by attempts at communal living. I suppose my obsession with cult life is just an extension of this. It is my life imagined one step further.

Buffy's book list on living that 60s cult/commune life

Buffy Cram Why did Buffy love this book?

If you’re as obsessed with Charles Manson as I am, you’ll love this novel, which tells the story of Evie, a bored and misguided 14-year-old girl who ends up inadvertently joining a cult that, while not directly stated to be the Manson cult, certainly alludes to it.

In this cult, the leader is Russell Hadrick, and though I find him less charismatic than Manson, he wields the same power over people. The other cult members and their eventual crime is the same as the real-world cult too. What I’m most impressed with about this book is the way it details everyday cult life, what with its musty piles of communal clothes, the tedium of chores, and the listlessness of too many people with too much time on their hands.

By Emma Cline,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping and dark fictionalised account of life inside the Manson family from one of the most exciting young voices in fiction.

If you're lost, they'll find you...

Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed.

It's the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.

If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where…


Book cover of Inherent Vice

Travis Jeppesen Author Of Settlers Landing

From my list on when you need a heavy dose of satire.

Who am I?

Given the state of the world today, laughter truly is the best coping mechanism. The best satire is all about excess in design, intention, characterization, and deployment of attitude. The more extreme, the better; leave restraint to the prudish moralists! 

Travis' book list on when you need a heavy dose of satire

Travis Jeppesen Why did Travis love this book?

Really hard to pick just one Pynchon for this list, as he is an all-around master of satire. But Inherent Vice is probably his LOL funniest, a stoner take on the detective genre set in the hippie world of 1970s southern California. The cinematic adaptation by Paul Thomas Anderson ain’t half bad, either. 

By Thomas Pynchon,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Inherent Vice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon-Private eye Doc Sportello surfaces, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era

In this lively yarn, Thomas Pynchon, working in an unaccustomed genre that is at once exciting and accessible, provides a classic illustration of the principle that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't there.

It's been a while since Doc Sportello has seen his ex- girlfriend. Suddenly she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. It's the tail…


Book cover of More Better Deals

Timothy J. Lockhart Author Of Evil Intentions Come

From my list on American noir fiction taking you to the end of a one-way street.

Who am I?

I have loved crime fiction since encountering it in college. After seeing the Bogart-Bacall version of The Big Sleep, I read the underlying Raymond Chandler novel and was hooked. I devoured Chandler’s other works and moved on to James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, John D. MacDonald, and others. Later I discovered the crime novels of Charles Williams, Day Keene, Gil Brewer, and other “pulp masters.” Loving those novels led me to try my hand at writing crime fiction, and Stark House Press has now published five of my novels with another on the way. My crime-writing career is an unusual path for someone whose M.A. thesis is on Jane Austen!

Timothy's book list on American noir fiction taking you to the end of a one-way street

Timothy J. Lockhart Why did Timothy love this book?

I admire this novel for its seamless blend of classic noir themes and, in an unusual aspect of such a novel, racial issues.

I find the narrator to be a near-perfect blend of intelligence, determination, and the fatal flaws of lust and greed.  The femme fatale shares those qualities but adds more than a touch of ruthlessness. The novel features a number of compelling, even frightening scenes—for example, a late night burial, or re-burial, in a pet cemetery.

The plot is beautifully crafted, with a number of twists and turns that on my first read I did not see coming. And the ending is pitch perfect, a satisfying mix of death, sadness, and justice but with a glimmer of hope that contrasts effectively with the noir themes and at least partially resolves the racial issues.    

By Joe R Lansdale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked More Better Deals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ed Edwards works in the dirty, tough world of used car sales,but feels sure he is destined for more in life.Dreaming of a brighter future for himself and his plucky little sister, Ed wants to get out of the game.

And when Dave, his lazy, grease-stained boss, sends him to repossess a Cadillac, the better deal Ed has been searching for suddenly seems in reach.

The Cadillac in question belongs to Frank Craig and his beautiful wife Nancy, owners of a local drive-in and pet cemetery. Ed knows Nancy well - too well. In the throes of their salacious affair,…


Book cover of Dark Harvest

R.B. Thorne Author Of Listen: The Sound of Fear

From my list on when the body is dead, but the book goes on.

Who am I?

I’ve been a fan of horror—specifically, supernatural horror—for as long as I can remember. Though the topic of life after death is perhaps one of the most long-standing debates in existence, almost every family has a story or two about things that can’t be explained. I’ve turned my lifelong interest in death, the occult, and how the two can coexist, into slow-burn horror stories for people who like a little weird with their fear. Stories that explore the beautiful complexity of queer people. Stories for the strange at heart.

R.B.'s book list on when the body is dead, but the book goes on

R.B. Thorne Why did R.B. love this book?

This book is fast and punchy. It’s filled with twists and a high level of unnerving emotions. Set during autumn harvest, this is an absolutely perfect Halloween read. It is rather short, which means a fast reader or someone with some time could devour it in a day or two. There’s also an upcoming film adaptation.

By Norman Partridge,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Dark Harvest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is Halloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol' Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death. Pete McCormick knows that killing the October Boy is his one chance to escape a dead-end…


Book cover of Funny Girl

Beth Morrey Author Of Clover Hendry's Day Off

From my list on books set in the world of television.

Who am I?

I worked in television as a development producer for twenty years, designing game shows, reality shows, formatted documentaries, all sorts of programming. One of the prerequisites of working in telly is to watch a lot of it, and that has always been a joy for me, as I love the medium. Even after I left the profession to become an author, I’ve retained my passion for the small screen and write a regular blog on what I’m watching. So, for me, a combination of books and television is something to be savored and celebrated. 

Beth's book list on books set in the world of television

Beth Morrey Why did Beth love this book?

Nick Hornby is one of my favorite writers, and About a Boy is one of my favorite books of all time.

I love how his prose is pared down but so profound; every sentence, however simple, carries weight, and his characterization is wonderfully human. In this book, Hornby champions mainstream entertainment, something I’m passionate about, as I can’t stand cultural snobbishness.

It’s an homage to a golden age of light entertainment, and, like television comedy, this is a book that "makes us all part of something."

By Nick Hornby,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Funny Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER SOON TO BE A TV SERIES STARRING GEMMA ARTERTON AND RUPERT EVERETT

'Simply unputdownable' Guardian

'Hilarious' Daily Telegraph

'Highly entertaining' Sunday Times
_________________

Make them laugh, and they're yours forever . . .

Barbara Parker is Miss Blackpool of 1964, but she doesn't want to be a beauty queen. She wants to make people laugh.

So she leaves her hometown behind, takes herself to London, and overnight she becomes the lead in a new BBC comedy, Sophie Straw: charming, gorgeous, destined to win the nation's hearts.

Funny Girl is the story of a smash-hit TV show and…


Book cover of Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love

Ellie Alexander Author Of Muffin But the Truth

From my list on heartwarming foodies to cozy up with this winter.

Who am I?

I wrote my first mystery in second grade, thinking I was writing a page-turning thriller when in reality I penned a sweet, little cozy where everything turns out okay in the end and everyone always has a cup of hot chocolate and a vanilla cookie in hand. Somehow, I’ve managed to turn my love of baking and writing into a long-term career. With over 30 mysteries and counting I’m not sure if I’m going to run out of recipes or ways to kill someone off first. 

Ellie's book list on heartwarming foodies to cozy up with this winter

Ellie Alexander Why did Ellie love this book?

This sweet gem is like a salve for any food-loving reader’s soul. I devoured it on a stormy weekend, curled up on my couch with a cup of tea and it has stayed with me ever since. The story is set in the 1960s and written entirely in letters between an aspiring food writer in LA and a food columnist in the Puget Sound. Who knew that you couldn’t find garlic in the grocery store back in the 60s or that a simple gift of saffron would lead to a lasting friendship. Love & Saffron is a tender novel about friendship and how food connects us. I have literally given this book to all of my friends. It will warm your heart and leave you hungry for more. 

By Kim Fay,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Love & Saffron as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Instant National Bestseller and #1 Indie Next Pick

In the vein of the classic 84, Charing Cross Road, this witty and tender novel follows two women in 1960s America as they discover that food really does connect us all, and that friendship and laughter are the best medicine.

When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter--as well as a gift of saffron--to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for…


Book cover of What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry

Alex Wright Author Of Informatica: Mastering Information through the Ages

From my list on forgotten pioneers of the Internet.

Who am I?

I’m a researcher, writer, and designer who has spent most of the past twenty-five years working in the technology industry, following an earlier career as a journalist and academic librarian. I've developed an abiding interest in the history of knowledge networks. I've written two books on the history of the information age, as well as a number of newspaper and magazine articles on new and emerging technologies. While the technology industry often seems to have little use for its own history, I have found the history of networked systems to be a rich source of inspiration, full of sources of inspiration that can help us start to envision a wide range of possible futures.

Alex's book list on forgotten pioneers of the Internet

Alex Wright Why did Alex love this book?

Longtime technology journalist John Markoff explores the origins of the Silicon Valley mythos in this engaging and insightful history of the early personal computer industry.

The book explores how the modern personal computer took shape amid the counterculture of the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1960s and 1970s, where an eccentric cast of technology visionaries, hackers, and misfits began pushing the boundaries of human consciousness: embracing utopian ideals, experimenting with mind-expanding drugs, and exploring the still-uncharted possibilities of personal computing.

Markoff does a masterful job of connecting the dots between the Sixties counterculture and the revolutionary ethos that undergirded the early personal computing industry, making a convincing case that our present-day technology culture is deeply rooted in this transformative period in American culture. An entertaining and inspiring read.

By John Markoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What the Dormouse Said as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This makes entertaining reading. Many accounts of the birth of personal computing have been written, but this is the first close look at the drug habits of the earliest pioneers." -New York Times

Most histories of the personal computer industry focus on technology or business. John Markoff's landmark book is about the culture and consciousness behind the first PCs-the culture being counter- and the consciousness expanded, sometimes chemically. It's a brilliant evocation of Stanford, California, in the 1960s and '70s, where a group of visionaries set out to turn computers into a means for freeing minds and information. In these…


Book cover of Arcadia

Richard Ravin Author Of Nothing to Declare

From my list on set in the 1960s and 70s.

Who am I?

I came of age during the tumult of the 1960s and 1970s. I stood more on the sidelines than at the burning center, so I’ve always wondered what it was like for those who did. That’s why I wrote my first novel, to go beyond the borders of my own experience. The 60s/70s era of political and sexual upheaval has reduced itself over time to a series of cliches. What I love about the books on my list is how willing they are to break through to real feelings and events and sensations. Hope you like them, too.

Richard's book list on set in the 1960s and 70s

Richard Ravin Why did Richard love this book?

The utopian dreams of the 60s died hard, and this beautiful novel captures the mood of the decade—and the forces that destroyed it. Set mostly in a back-to-the-land hippie community, the book centers on Bit, the first baby born to the settlers. It follows him through childhood and adolescence, and checks in on him on the cusp of middle age, a single father in New York City. Bit’s a sensitive soul, and I felt for him, especially when the story tracked his relationship with his first lover and later runaway wife, the self-destructive Helle. Groff’s expressive use of language, her feel for the natural world, and her deep sensitivity to the psychology of her characters marks this book as a classic not to be missed. 

By Lauren Groff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arcadia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A staggering portrait of a crumbling utopia, this "timeless and vast" novel filled with the "raw beauty" beautifully depicts an idyllic commune in New York State -- and charts its eventual yet inevitable downfall (Janet Maslin, The New York Times).
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Timeless and vast... The raw beauty of Ms. Groff's prose is one of the best things about Arcadia. But it is by no means this book's only kind of splendor."---Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Even the most incidental details vibrate with life Arcadia wends a harrowing path back to a fragile, lovely place you can…


Book cover of The Crazy Man

Gina McMurchy-Barber Author Of Free as a Bird

From my list on heroes who have a disability.

Who am I?

I grew up in the 60s and 70s, when people were often uncomfortable with anyone who had a disability. My sister had Down syndrome and this drew a lot of negative attention. I struggled with being overprotective of her and often angry at those who treated her differently. When I grew up I became an advocate, not only for my sister, but for others who struggled with being accepted because of physical or developmental disabilities. Early on I worked in a pretty awful institution. What I learned there inspired my novel, Free as a Bird. Like my sister, I moved on to do other things, including archaeology, journalism, and teaching for 27 years.

Gina's book list on heroes who have a disability

Gina McMurchy-Barber Why did Gina love this book?

Twelve-year-old Emmaline and her mother are desperate for help with their farm and agree to take on Angus who has just been released from a hospital for patients with mental illness. At first they have the same fears and prejudice as people in town, but they come to learn that Angus is gentle and extremely knowledgeable. Thanks to him they have the best crop they’ve ever had. The most heroic point in the story is when one of the locals, Harry Record, leaves Angus far from town during a snowstorm with the expectation he will die. But as Angus struggles for safety he finds Harry’s little boy who was accidentally stranded in the storm and near death and gets him to the hospital in time to save his life. 

Quote: "That man is from the mental, stay away from him." 

This book was lovely to read because it was written…

By Pamela Porter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Crazy Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is 1965, and 12-year-old Emaline, living on a wheat farm, must deal with a family that is falling apart. When her dog, Prince, chases a hare into the path of the tractor, she chases after him, and her father accidentally runs over her leg, leaving her with a long convalescence and a permanent disability. Even worse, from Emaline's point of view, is that in his grief and guilt, her father shoots Prince and leaves Emaline and her mother on their own.

Despite the neighbors' disapproval, Emaline's mother hires Angus, a patient from the local mental hospital, to work their…