What books do you have, that you bought in the '70s?
December 30, 2011 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Were you an adult in the '70s? What books do you have, that you bought during that time period?

It's okay as long as the book was written before that time period -- I don't care when it was written as long as you bought it IN the '70s.

I am trying to get an idea of what different people's bookshelves looked like then.

I think that by looking at bestseller lists from that time, or lists of well-known books from that time and before, I will only get a really incomplete picture. Because that will just tell me about the most popular books and books that ended up standing the test of time, and I think most people's bookshelves were more varied than that.

If you still own too many books you bought in that time period to list, I'm most interested in fiction that would probably be out of print now, and all non-fiction.
posted by cairdeas to Media & Arts (79 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
*In first sentence meant to say -- it's okay IF the book was written before that time period.
posted by cairdeas at 12:05 PM on December 30, 2011

I strongly suspect that Jonathan Livingston Seagull or Fear of Flying showed up on more than a few bookshelves of that period.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:06 PM on December 30, 2011 [12 favorites]

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and stuff by Brautigan, but I was a tween/teen in the 70's. And Vonnegut was on EVERYONE's bookshelves.

Plus Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
posted by readery at 12:13 PM on December 30, 2011 [8 favorites]

Hesse was popular, especially Siddhartha.

And, of course, The Godfather by Mario Puzo, and Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw.
posted by jgirl at 12:16 PM on December 30, 2011

Here is what comes to mind. If I were home and scanning my shelves this list could be a lot longer. . .

Earth Household, Gary Snyder
The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell
The Hite Report, Alexandra Hite (And the Joy of Sex)
Woman on the Edge of Time and Small Changes, Marge Piercy
Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
Autobiography of a Yogi
Post Office and Factotum by Bukowski
Trout Fishing in America and The Abortion, An Historical Romance by Richard Brautigan
Nature, Man and Woman and In My Own Way by Alan Watts
posted by Danf at 12:17 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I wasn't an adult in the 70's, but I distinctly remember Harvest Home being in my parents' bookshelves.
posted by Lucinda at 12:19 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

And a few more ubiquitous books that were on everyone's board+cement block shelves:

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler
The Whole Earth Catalog
The Foxfire books
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
posted by readery at 12:20 PM on December 30, 2011

The stupid zen and seagull books for sure --

The Godfather
Lots of stuff by James Michener, Leon Uris, James Clavell
Inside The Third Reich
Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Little Big Man
The Joy of Sex
The Happy Hooker
On The Road
The Exorcist
All the James Bond stuff

I turned 21 in 1980. What's that make me? Most of these are acute memories from my parents and friends' parents bookshelves. Acute because I grabbed them and read them (in part anyway).
posted by philip-random at 12:21 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

My parents were adults in the 70s and our house had a regular rotation of library-owned Agatha Christie and John le Carre titles. Here on metafilter the answers you get are going to skew more middlebrow-classic-ish, but my parents just liked a good yarn.
posted by headnsouth at 12:22 PM on December 30, 2011

I wasn't an adult in the 70's, but I remember everyone was talking about
The Joy of Sex
Future Shock by Alvin Toffler (seriously. Used bookstores in the '80s had bushels of them!)
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 12:22 PM on December 30, 2011

I was a book-curious kid about that time and my folks had the Robbins/Vonnegut/Wolfe/Pirsig stuff around the house as well as Brautigan and Donald Barthelme. Books about bodies such as Fear of Flying, Joy of Sex, Hite Report and Our Bodies Ourselves were around a lot of homes. You might also have had stuff like the Whole Earth Catalog and Passages by Gail Sheehy. Also political stuff like Fear and Loathing by Hunter S Thompson.

You might have some luck clicking around Wikipedia's lists of books published by year to get an idea of what was notable even if it wasn't a best seller. Here are a few years: 1973, 1974, 1975.
posted by jessamyn at 12:24 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Herman Wouk's The Winds of War (fabulous; I would never part with mine) and War and Remembrance

QB VII by Leon Uris

Lots of Philip Roth
posted by jgirl at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2011

Every Jewish home in the 1970s had a copy of Stephen Birmingham's Our Crowd -- or at least it seemed that way to me.

Also, Belva Plain's Evergreen--huge with the middlebrow Jews.
posted by neroli at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2011

Also the self-help genre was huge. Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer was popular.
posted by jgirl at 12:30 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

My parents were adults in the 70's, and I was allowed to read every book on the shelves so I spent a good time perusing. These are a few of the titles/authors I remember (not already mentioned, lots of good ones on preview!).

Linda Goodman's Sun Signs
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
James Clavell, Shogun
Erich Segal, Love Story
Mario Puzo, The Godfather
Judith Krantz, Scruples
Leon Uris, Trinity
John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman
Thomas Harris' self-help I'm OK, You're OK
David Reuben, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)
The Peter Maas police biography Serpico
Tommy Thompson's great non-fiction Blood and Money, about the 1969 suspicious death of Houston oil heiress Joan Hill

And multiple titles by Sidney Sheldon, Larry McMurtry, James Michener, Louis L'Amour
posted by pineapple at 12:30 PM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Stuff by Carlos Castaneda. And a plethora of self help books such as I'm ok, You're Ok.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:33 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used to babysit for a young couple who lived nearby in the mid-70s, and as a book-obsessed youngling I always gravitated towards their bookcase (and everyone else's - my brotehr would be hurtling round gardens, I would be sitting cross-legged staring into some mid-teak glass-fronted monstrosity of a bookcase ...)

I remember the Tropic of Cancer / Capricorn books, The Hobbit, Lawrence Durrell. Mom and Dad had a few books - I remember How to Win Friends and Influence People and a "modern" version of the Bible and a copy of the Koran, of all things (but I think that had more to do with some voluntary work my mom was doing at the time).
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:37 PM on December 30, 2011

Oh - Chariots of the Gods may have turned up as well. I remember my parents owning that when I was a kid in the 70's -- never saw either reading it, though. I get the sense it was a "everyone's talking about that nowadays, maybe we should check it out" purchase.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:38 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh' that modern Bible
Good News for Modern Man. Someone gave me that in the 70's.
posted by readery at 12:39 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Off the top of my head, from my parents' bookshelves:

Helter Skelter (Vincent Bugliosi)
The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty)
Ragtime (E.L. Doctorow)
The World According to Garp (John Irving)
The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
The Godfather (Mario Puzo; actually published in 1969, but huge throughout the '70s due to the movies)
Fear of Flying (Erica Jong)
All the President's Men (Woodward and Bernstein)
Roots (Alex Haley)
...and the outlier: David Hockney by David Hockney
posted by scody at 12:39 PM on December 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

Oh, and I also recall my parents (and consequently, my sister and me) reading a lot of John Steinbeck, Thornton Wilder, and F. Scott Fitzgerald back then, though obviously none of it was originally published in the '70s.
posted by scody at 12:41 PM on December 30, 2011

I brought Richard Brautigan books in the 70's.
posted by JXBeach at 12:45 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

good one, scody, I remembered most of those from our shelves too. How on earth could I forget Thorn Birds and Roots?
posted by pineapple at 12:45 PM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

I can't link to any images where I am right now, but the photographer Thomas Barrow did a series of photos in the 70's of people's bookshelves (skewing strongly towards academic/intellectual types, though). A lot of them are in his book Inventories and Transformations, and you can google up a bunch of the images.

A lot of the other comments here tell you exactly what was guaranteed to be in any house I was likely to visit in my straitened suburban 70's upbringing, especially the wall-to-wall Michener. I remember lots of Gore Vidal, too. And John Jakes wrote a series of novels about colonial and revolutionary America that was huge for a while, including one called The Bastard -- it always gave me a pre-adolescent thrill to see that title openly displayed in an otherwise "decent" household.
posted by newmoistness at 12:54 PM on December 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

In addition to many of those already mentioned, I have The Women's Room by Marliyn French, Kinflicks by Lisa Alther, and Watership Down by Richard Adams.
posted by Dolley at 12:59 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you were a sci-fi/fantasy geek you were reading The Chronicles of Amber (Roger Zalazny) and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever (Stephen R. Donaldson). Also, The Silmarillion (JRR Tolkien) came out in 1977.
posted by elendil71 at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

And it was in the 70's that i got my copy of Wisconsin Death Trip
posted by readery at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2011

A couple I haven't seen mentioned already, from my memories of my parent's shelves:

Five Smooth Stones
Up the Down Staircase
The Late Great Planet Earth
posted by chazlarson at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2011

I've known a few women from that era who owned and thought highly of The Women's Room.

The Late, Great Planet Earth was huge amongst the fundamentalist Christian set.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:02 PM on December 30, 2011

And John Jakes wrote a series of novels about colonial and revolutionary America that was huge for a while

In addition to being delighted to know that I wasn't the only one who enjoyed seeing "The Bastard" displayed on a bookshelf at that age, this reminds me that my parents also read at least the first few installations of Winston Graham's Poldark novels, which were originally published in the '40s and '50s but were republished in the '70s due to the wild popularity of the BBC series.
posted by scody at 1:02 PM on December 30, 2011

My mother bought Agatha Christie mysteries and Erma Bombeck books.
posted by JanetLand at 1:07 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

The Secret Life of Plants - everyone was giving their plants names and talking to them.
posted by BoscosMom at 1:08 PM on December 30, 2011

James Clavell, Shogun and Tai-pan.
Trevanian, Eiger Sanction, the Loo Sanction, Shibumi
Frederick Forsyth, Day of the Jackal, the Odessa File
posted by Cocodrillo at 1:12 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not an adult then , but remembered from my parent's shelves:

Jacqueline Susann
Nancy Milford's bio of Zelda Fitzgerald

Parent Effectiveness Training

What I remember mostly from my grandfather's (who owned the Pickwick) house during that time were his Judaica and Old West collections, various kid's books and a collection of Russian fairy tales.
posted by brujita at 1:29 PM on December 30, 2011

The Population Bomb
Limits to Growth
Tao of Physics
Our Bodies, Our Selves
In Cold Blood
and of course the treasured Encyclopedia Britannica
posted by Corvid at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Memories of My Parents 1970's Bookshelves:

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
USA Trilogy by Dos Passos
The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber
Five Novels by John Steinbeck (contained his shorter stuff: Red Pony, Mice and Men, etc.)
We Came in Peace
Clarence Darrow: For the Defense by Irving Stone

Reference Books:

Random House Dictionary
Emily Post Etiquette Book
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations
Crossword Puzzle Dictionary
World Almanac
The Book of Lists

And a lot of the bestsellers mentioned above: Jaws, James Clavell, Puzo, Leon Uris, Michener.

Thank you parents for being avid readers.
posted by marxchivist at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

My parents had a lot of John D McDonald. And a full set of encyclopedias. I think almost everyone in the 70's had those!
posted by shmurley at 2:05 PM on December 30, 2011

Mary Stewart novels
Joseph Wambaugh mysteries
Joseph Heller
Kurt Vonnegut
John Updike
Saul Bellow
Stephen King
Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Irving: World According to Garp
Doctrow: Ragtime
Rosner?: Looking for Mr Goodbar
Complete Book of Running

Got to sort out my bookshelves and get rid of some of this.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:05 PM on December 30, 2011

My parents' bookshelf also contained:
The Joy of Sex
The Thorn Birds
Foxfire books

But the first one that popped into my head was . . . Valley of the Dolls
posted by ainsley at 2:13 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

A few that I don't think have been mentioned:

Anything by Robert Heinlein - most seem very dated now but at the time they were great
Be Here Now by Ram Das
Interview with a Vampire - Anne Rice
One Acre and Security - Bradford Angier
Anything by Ursula Le Guin
posted by cat_link at 2:46 PM on December 30, 2011

One book that immediately popped to mind was Diet for a Small Planet. My mom and her friends were such hippies.
posted by msali at 3:14 PM on December 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

A couple that I haven't seen so far that I remember from my parent's bookshelves:

Dad's Louis L'Amour collection
posted by epersonae at 3:20 PM on December 30, 2011

We had pretty much everything listed above, plus extra helpings of SF/fantasy:

The 'Dangerous Visions' anthologies from Harlan Ellison
Lots of Delany (including Driftglass, which I bought with my allowance money)
Various SF authors, like Jack Vance, R.A. Lafferty, Philip Jose Farmer, Zelazny, plus the usual Heinlein, Asimov, Niven, etc.
Nebula Award winners anthologies
Best SF of the Year
The Worm Ouroboros (not sure anybody actually read it, but it was around...)

Also the Tom Wolfe books, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test & The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

Lots of Vonnegut.

Non-fiction included the Atkins Diet; I'm Ok, You're Ok; Passages. The Whole Earth Catalog.

Some slightly more obscure stuff we had lying around included The National Lampoon Encyclopedia of Humor, Vaughn Bode's Cartoon Concert, Ian Hunter's Diary of a Rock 'n Roll Star, and lots of underground comix.
posted by Bron at 3:22 PM on December 30, 2011

The Book of Lists! Definitely. And on my grandparents' bookshelves during that period, plenty of the Time-Life series, particularly The Old West (The look and feel of genuine brown plastic hand-tooled leather!). This is how everyone of a certain age can tell you that John Wesley Hardin was so mean, he once shot a man just for snorin'.
posted by scody at 3:32 PM on December 30, 2011

Doris Lessing
Ursula LeGuin
Joanna Russ
Margaret Drabble

I remember around 1972 or so realizing that almost all of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of books I'd read up until then were written by women. I made a concerted effort to find and read books by women. I found an annotated bibliography and it was a good starting point. I lived near a university and got a card for their library. I wandered through the fiction shelves looking for books by women. When I found one I'd open it at random and, if I liked what I found, checked it out.
posted by mareli at 5:15 PM on December 30, 2011

Based on my parents' bookshelves, I'll second Our Bodies, Ourselves and Spiritual Midwifery, and add everything Milan Kundera ever wrote.
posted by naoko at 5:36 PM on December 30, 2011

To go along with The Good News Bible, The Cross and the Switchblade and The Hiding Place. On the non-religious side, Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night, Silent Spring, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, and a whole bunch of Readers Digest Condensed Books.
posted by miss patrish at 6:17 PM on December 30, 2011

Here are some additional ones I didn't see mentioned, from my parents and their friends:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell
The Paper Chase by John Jay Osborn, Jr.
Paper Lion by George Plimpton
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing by Marilyn Durham
The Serial by Cyra McFadden
The Complete Galloping Gourmet Cookbook by Graham Kerr
The Whole Earth Cookbook by Sharon Cadwallader and Judi Ohr
The Elegant but Easy Cookbook by Marian Fox Burros and Lois Levine
The James Beard Cookbook
posted by gudrun at 6:38 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and if we are talking 1978 or later, then you can include A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman.
posted by gudrun at 6:40 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

This would depend very much on what kind of people you were. My parents who were the opposite of hippies, had Readers Digest Condensed books, a lot of mysteries mostly by Agatha Christie, a lot of bibles and popular religious books and the Time Life history of World War II series.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:41 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

oops, meant to say all the books I'd read were written by men...
posted by mareli at 6:58 PM on December 30, 2011

All of the above plus:
Sugar Blues
A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health - Jarvis
Adelle Davis nutrition books
Dr. Spock (most parents had a copy because there was nothing new that replaced it yet)
Dr. Robert S. Mendelsohn books on avoiding doctors
Thank You, Dr. Lamaze (old but still bought by young moms)
Birth Without Violence by Frederick Leboyer 1975?
Hygieia: A Woman's Herbal by Jeannine Parvati Baker 1979
Laurel's Kitchen 1978
The Joy of Cooking

Collections of short stories were HUGE in the 1970s. There was a really good science fiction one that came out every year which is probably where we read Philip K. Dick stories.
posted by cda at 7:34 PM on December 30, 2011

As a young adult, at school and at University in 70s UK, the books that I remember everyone reading are:
Herman Hesse - Steppenwolf
R.D. Laing - The Bird of Paradise and the Politics of Experience
T.S. Eliot - The Wasteland
J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings
posted by Susurration at 7:49 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here are some I remember seeing in the adult's bookshelves:

Irving Stone's fictionalized biographies--
The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo
Lust for Life [on Vincent Van Gogh].

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Jaws, Carrie...
King Rat, Shogun...
All the President's Men...
Erma Bombeck books.

And they've been mentioned already, but lots and lots of the Reader's Digest Condensed Books!
posted by calgirl at 8:11 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I became an adult in the 1970s. Fiction out of print now? That would be more like the stuff friends' parents were reading then. Authors like
  • Leon Uris
  • Irwin Shaw
  • Allistair Maclean
  • Irving Wallace
  • Arthur Hailey
  • James Michner
  • Saul Bellow
  • John D. McDonald's Travis McGee stories (and so many other mysteries)
  • Jerzy Kosinski
  • Norman Mailer
  • Richard Yates ...but so many more forgotten authors. Books I still have I bought then include JD Salinger, the Scribners paperbacks of Ernest Hemingway and Fitzgerald plus Larry Niven's "Known Space' series and Ray Bradbury but those are still in print. Along with Tom Wolfe and John Irving -- we were all reading "Garp" in 1979.

posted by Rash at 8:40 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

They republished Faulkner's books in the 70's, and I had/have them all. Also Joseph Blotner's 2-book biography of Faulkner.

Ibuse's Black Rain.

Water of the Wondrous Isles - William Morris
The Book of the Dun Cow
The Chronicles of Narnia
Engine Summer

Herman Hesse - Glass Bead Game

The Giving Tree
The Velveteen Rabbit

several German WWII anthologies - anything with Wolfgang Borchert

The Grapes of Wrath
The Illiad & The Odyssey
3 Plays - Sophocles
Don Quixote

posted by clarkstonian at 9:21 PM on December 30, 2011

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

True Grit, due to the John Wayne/Kim Darby movie

Rose Kennedy's autobiography Times to Remember

Liv Ullman's memoir
posted by jgirl at 9:37 PM on December 30, 2011

Everywoman -Derek Llewellyn-Jones
posted by h00py at 9:39 PM on December 30, 2011

Coming back to mention that you would have also seen books by John McPhee, Thomas Pynchon (particulary Gravity's Rainbow), Pearl Buck, D.H. Lawrence, and Nabokov.
posted by gudrun at 10:48 PM on December 30, 2011

I was born in 1970 and was an early reader. The books I remember (because I spent so much time reading/looking at the pictures): lots of National Geographics and Readers' Digests (who DIDN'T love 'Humor in Uniform'?) ; the Official Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy; some book edited by James Thurber - Treasury of American Humor(?); "We Were Five," the autobiography of the Dionne quintuplets; a big coffee table book "We, Americans" maybe?; "I Was a Teenage Dwarf,"; "Don't Eat the Daisies".

As for the Brautigans, the Nabokovs and the Steinbeck, I never discovered those until I got to college.
posted by bendy at 12:04 AM on December 31, 2011

I was a kid in the 1970s but I was a very early reader. Some of the books I remember my parents or friends' parents having:

-The Whole Earth Catalog
-Lord of the Rings saga
-Doonesbury collections (my dad had a boxed set.)
-A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
-The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten
-Murphy's Law by Arthur Bloch
-Broca's Brain by Carl Sagan
Lots of Rona Jaffe novels

and of course, the World Book Encyclopedia (and World Book Annual)
posted by SisterHavana at 12:36 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Almost forgot - The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace
posted by SisterHavana at 12:37 AM on December 31, 2011

My parents had a whole shelf of James Bond paperbacks, which all disappeared as the kids started to get old enough to read them.
posted by CathyG at 8:04 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, pre internet so seconding the World Book Encyclopedia, which my parents got used and always smelled like mildew, as well as various dictionaries like the American Heritage, Bartlett's Quotations, Roget's thesaurus, a National Geographic World Atlas, a Spanish-English and French-English dictionary, a set of National Geographic magazines, etc..

Also, books by Thomas Crichton, like the Andromeda Strain, Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl, and books on Egypt since the King Tut exhibit toured around the U.S. in the 1970's to huge success and Egypt was hot in popular culture (remember Steve Martin's Saturday Night Live skit).
posted by gudrun at 8:52 AM on December 31, 2011

One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Anarchist's Cookbook
To Your Scattered Bodies Go
Soul on Ice
Looking Backward
Dos Passos's USA trilogy
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:03 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

My parents had books by Dorothy Gilman and David Niven. But the first title from the bookshelf from those days that comes to mind is Coffee, Tea or Me?.
posted by sueinnyc at 9:48 AM on December 31, 2011

Apologies for the length of this answer.

I was 13 on January 1, 1970 and 23 on December 31, 1979. I started reading adult books around age 10.

These are a few of the books that I can remember that I read or used (in the case of reference books) during the 1970's. Most of them would have been on my own bookshelves, a few of them belonged to my parents or are books that I would have borrowed from friends.

In my case at least, your instincts are correct. Many of these books were written before 1970. Many of the most influential books of the 1970's I didn't read until the 1980's or later, so those books are not listed here. During those years, I was either an adolescent with only babysitting money or a poor struggling student, and books were expensive. Older books were cheaper and easier to find at used bookstores. I read a lot of classics, Dickens, Bronte, Austen, etc, also blockbuster bestsellers, but left these off the list since you said you were looking for lesser known or out of print works. If you would like me to me-mail you a longer list, let me know.


Asimov: A Short History of Biology
Simone de Beauvoir: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter; The Prime of Life
Rita Mae Brown: Rubyfruit Jungle
The Dell Crossword Dictionary
E.L. Doctorow: The Book of Daniel
Will and Ariel Durant: The Story of Civilization; A Dual Autobiography
Funk and Wagnall's Encyclopedia
Lillian Gish: The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me
Emma Goldman: Living My Life
Gail Godwin: The Odd Woman
Hannah Green: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
Joanne Greenberg: In This Sign
Richard Griffith: The Movies
Edith Hamilton's Mythology
Ursula K LeGuin: The Wind's Twelve Quarters (short stories)
The Living Bible
Mary McCarthy: Memories of a Catholic Girlhood
Manchester: The Glory and The Dream
Raymond Moody, Jr: Life After Life
Ellen Peck: The Baby Trap
Marge Piercy: Hard Loving (poetry); To Be of Use (poetry); Living in the Open (poetry); Small Changes; Woman on the Edge of Time
Tristaine Rainier: The New Diary
Science Fiction Hall of Fame: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time, edited by Robert Silverberg
Wallechinsky and Wallace: The People's Almanac
Webster: American Biographies; A Biographical Dictionary
Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own
posted by marsha56 at 2:43 PM on December 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

two books that haven't been mentioned that i know i had back then

guitar army by john sinclair - (that hasn't worn so well)

improvising jazz - by jerry coker - (if you're a musician, you need this)

i can't recall whether my phillip k dick and stanislaw lem paperbacks were bought in the 70s or 80s - probably 80s

but i'm almost certain i had moderan by david r bunch

and i certainly had zen buddhism by d t suzuki and the long goodbye by raymond chandler

generally, i preferred to check out books from the library back then
posted by pyramid termite at 2:56 PM on December 31, 2011

Very likely would have had a "Love Is..." comics anthology and a collection of Rod McKuen poetry.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:37 PM on December 31, 2011

And maybe an Art Buchwald or two.

Since Getting Even and Without Feathers were both bestsellers then, you might have had one of those early Woody Allen books. And maybe a few Mad Magazine books like the Spy vs. Spy anthologies, or some Sergio Aragones, or Don Martin, or Al Jaffee. Especially if you were me in the Seventies.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:53 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was born in the 70s but my mom kept all of her books from then, most of which I read when I was old enough. Most have been mentioned here - Richard Brautigan, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Be Here Now, Rod McKuen etc. But she also had Go Ask Alice, which I think was a pretty popular book back then.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:05 PM on December 31, 2011

I also had books like Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, The Politics of Experience, Drugs and the Mind, The Divided Self, Be Here Now.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:11 PM on December 31, 2011

I was a young teen, but I too remember and still have Siddhartha, stranger in a strange land and the gulag archipelago, our bodies our selves, and various feminist manifesto type books. As well, everyone's parents had that stupid seagull book and some astrology book about everyone's sign and how it predestined your life path. I can see the cover in my mind, but can't pull the authors name out of memory.

There was an astounding array of amazing sci-fi in that period, as well as much 60's nostalgia, iirc. Also, woody Allen "without feathers" which I stole from my mom, and still have.
posted by dejah420 at 8:50 PM on December 31, 2011

I can't believe no one listed this (sorry if I missed it in my scanning of other answers...

Wayne Dyer: Your Erroneous Zones. 1976.
posted by jbenben at 9:44 PM on December 31, 2011

Without going into individual titles, it's important to remember that in that long-off age, there was no internet: our access to books was limited to the (usually laughably inadequate) local bookstore - so we were forced to resort to the book clubs for our books.

This meant that we often received Book-of-the-Month Club selections we may or may not have actively chosen; and it meant that we ordered lots of book-club books to fulfill our "buy four more books" obligations.

A notable (and surprisingly common) BOMC 'starter' book from the '70s was Will and Ariel Durant's "History of Civilization" set. They also offered a compact edition of the OED. (!)

And to fulfill their book club obligations, my parents would wind up with stuff like John Wain's biography of Samuel Johnson, Fawn Brodie's bio of Thomas Jefferson, and Robert Caro's book on Robert Moses.

And we also got the Literary Guild's matched-set editions of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Vonnegut novels.

OK, here's an individual title: everybody got The Greening of America.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 11:55 PM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Late to the party, but I remember enjoying parts of my mom's copy of Gaylord Hauser's New Treasury of Secrets.
posted by wittgenstein at 12:52 PM on January 1, 2012

Haven't seen mentioned Rachel Carson's Silent Spring which was still around long after it hit in the sixties.
posted by Anitanola at 12:04 AM on January 2, 2012

Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions
Casteneda's Don Juan
Chariots of the Gods
Almost everything by Larry Niven
Samuel R Delaney's Dahlgren

There were a number of books published in the 70's by "Adam Smith," including "Supermoney" and "The Money Game." One of those books mentioned a stockbroker in Omaha with a pretty good track record. It was the first time I'd ever heard the name Warren Buffet.
I also had a few books by Lobsang Rampa. And "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask." As it turns out, there was a lot I wanted to know about sex that wasn't covered in that book.
posted by faceonmars at 11:17 AM on January 2, 2012

Thank you for this fantastic thread everyone. This was exactly what I was hoping for. Thanks!
posted by cairdeas at 7:16 PM on January 2, 2012

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