Books We Were Reading in 1981

As a young teenager I used to read a lot of books, and on this page I'm going to take a look back at an array of titles from 1981. I will be including not only the books that I enjoyed, but also titles that even the most persuasive person on earth couldn't force me to read such as The Observer's Book of House Plants.

Talking of which, the Observer's book series was very popular when I was a teenager and The Observer's Book of Ships was one of a handful of titles that my parents bought for me back in the early 1980s. I wasn't particularly keen on ships, but to most teenage boys they're more interesting than house plants which is why, I guess, my parents decided to give a copy to me as a Christmas present. 

These pocket-sized books were published in the UK by Fredwrick Warne & Co. from 1937 to 2003.

The Observer's Book of Ships (1981 edition)
Ah, Townsend Thoresen - remember them?
The Observer's Book of Aircraft (1981 edition) by William Green
The Observer's Book of Aircraft (1981 edition) William Green
The Observer's Book of House Plants (1981 edition)

The Observer's Book of House Plants by Stanley B. Whitehead

Ladybird Nature Series Garden Flowers book from 1981

Ladybird Nature Series - Garden Flowers by Harry Stanton

Well, they're more interesting than house plants, but this isn't the kind of thing most teenagers would have been reading, that's for sure!

The Ladybird Book of Tables (1981)

The Ladybird Book of Tables and Other Measures (First Edition 1981) from series 678

The Conservative government decided that every primary school pupil must know their Maths tables before they left school, and this ladybird book provided a "fun" way to learn them. This was definitely one of those books that was forced upon kids by teachers and parents, and definitely not a title that any child would want to voluntarily read for pleasure!

Congo by Michael Crichton (Penguin 1981)

Congo by Michael Crichton (Penguin Books 1981)

As we all know, this guy has a knack of writing geeky, sci-fi literature that appeals to the mainstream. First published in 1980, Congo takes the reader deep into the African jungle and was a like a modern day version of King Solomon's Mines. Congo was turned into a film in 1995 which was slated by the critics. Thankfully, the novel was rather more gripping and would have been on the shelf of just about every sci-fi fan back in the day. Ten years later and it was Jurassic Park that had us all salivating.

Time Bandits by Charles Alverson  - 1981 first edition paperback - Sparrow Books
Time Bandits by Charles Alverson (Sparrow Books 1st edition paperback)
Based on a screenplay by Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam

Know The Game Darts by Derek Brown (1981 E P Publishing)
Know The Game Darts by Derek Brown. 1981 paperback by E P Publishing Ltd
Laurie Lee Cider With Rosie (Penguin paperback from 1981)
Laurie Lee - Cider With Rosie - Penguin 1981

We read this classic title at school and the story revolved around Lee's childhood in Gloucestershire. This is actually the county where I grew up myself in the 1970s, although not just after the First World War as Lee did - I'm not quite that old!

The Police A Visual Documentary by Miles (1981 Paperback)
The Police - A Visual Documentary by Miles (1981 paperback)
The Guiness Book of Records 1981
Guinness Book of Records 1981 Edition

Most of us probably have at least one Guinness Book of Records in our collection. I had the 1979 edition which I remember had a green cover that looked like a striped lawn.

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