Beyond bell bottoms, disco, and Watergate, the 70s were a decade that produced cultural icons and social movements that changed the world forever. The best-selling books of the 70s fit that mold, too, making an indelible mark on the literature landscape that we’ll never shake. Do you remember these classic, groovy reads?
– Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1972. The first cookbook by the General Mills company was a bestseller, but it also showcased some of America’s favorite recipes from that decade. From Layered Pumpkin Pie to Belgium waffles and Taco Salad (yes!), this book introduced us to all sorts of home cooking classics.
-Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (1973)
The author of Slaughterhouse Five wrote a satire about the ill-effects of fame, science, and well, breakfast. It’s an absurdist novel that made Vonnegut one of America’s best writers in decades.
-Rabbit Redux by John Updike (1971)
The sequel to Rabbit, Run follows Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom and his wife Janice through the year after their move to Pennsylvania.
-Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)
On the surface, this may seem like a children’s tale, but rabbit Hazel and his friends are far from childish as they embark on a long journey to find a home.
-The World According to Garp by John Irving (1978)
An American classic written in 1978 that follows the life of a fictional writer named T.S. Garp and his mother as they deal with tragedy after tragedy. The book is known for its portrayal of women’s issues and its discussion of the nature of masculinity.
-Jaws by Peter Benchley (1974)
A classic novel about a giant Great White Shark wreaking havoc on a beachside community.
-Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach (1970)
This story’s protagonist is an avian seagull struggling to be more than another bird in the sea of life; he wants to break free from his conditioned role as “lower and slower” and be a seagull of higher ideals.
-The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970)
A classic novel about a little African-American girl who wishes her skin were blue so she would be more beautiful. The book is also an exploration of the limitations imposed on those living in poverty and their quest for something better, as well as a critique of white culture’s understanding of beauty.
-Love Story by Erich Segal (1970)
A modern love story, originally published in 1970 by Erich Segal. The novel tells the tragic love story of two young people from different backgrounds who meet at Harvard University and fall deeply in love.
-The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971)
The Exorcist is a 1971 novel by American writer William Peter Blatty which tells the story of 12-year-old Regan who becomes possessed by a demon.
-Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. (1970)
A collection of semi-autobiographical stories about growing up in the 1960s and early 1970s. Written by Judy Blume, a Newbery Honor book
-Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1975)
The novel tells the story of Theresa Dunn who becomes adventurous sexually during her single years after graduating from college with an education degree and being left by her long-term boyfriend.
-The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough (1977)
The Thorn Birds is a 1977 Australian-published bestseller written by Colleen McCullough. The story follows the life of an Irish Catholic family living on a sheep station in Australia, who struggle with their love for one another and religious faith as they are confronted with social changes beyond their control
-Chesapeake by James A. Michener (1978)
The novel follows the Brookes family, starting with American settlers in Virginia and passing through generations to a modern-day lawyer.
-Legacy by David Stevens (1976)
A story about an American family that moves to New Zealand and falls in love with their new life. It tells how they deal with social change and the country’s economic crisis.
(Do you like Best Selling Books of the 1970s? Then you might like our article about Best Selling Books of the 1980s, click here. Or 1970s Books Series, click here.)