Bestsellers 25 Years Ago This Week: 1988



What were you reading 25 years ago (assuming you’re of a “certain age” group)? Any of these books ring a bell?

I was 22 in 1988, the year I graduated from Rosary College (now Dominican University) with my B.A. in English literature. (There goes lying about my age.) I wasn’t reading much that year – the last semester of college and a summer spent trying to find a job taking up most of my time – and what I was reading had been generally written in the Victorian era, a preference I held onto for a long stretch of time. All I’ve read from this list is Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.

Interesting to see what public reading taste was like a quarter century (gulp) ago. I’d like to know how relevant THRIVING ON CHAOS, THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND, CHAOS and THE GREAT DEPRESSION OF 1990 are today, the author of the last work apparently not aware what the internet would do for business in that decade nor how far we’d fall once the bubble burst.

Any of these sound familiar?:

The New York Times Best Seller List

February 28, 1988

1 THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, by Tom Wolfe. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux,
$19.95.) A bond trader caught in the jungles of New York.

2 PRESUMED INNOCENT, by Scott Turow. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $18.95.)
A brutal murder creates a crisis among a big city’s politicians.

3 KALEIDOSCOPE, by Danielle Steel. (Delacorte, $18.95.) Three sisters,
separated by fate, and the lawyer whose mission is to find and reunite them.

4 THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, by Stephen King. (Putnam, $19.95.) Two writers’
zealous attempt to unearth mysterious artifacts creates nightmares in a
Maine village.

5 2061: Odyssey Three, by Arthur C. Clarke. (Del Rey/Ballantine, $17.95.)
Continuing the space saga begun in ”2001” and ”2010.”

6 LIGHTNING, by Dean R. Koontz. (Putnam, $18.95.) A mysterious stranger
saves a woman from a series of dangers and disasters.

7 WINTERS’ TALES, by Jonathan Winters. (Random House, $13.95.) Unusual
short stories by the comedian and television personality.

8 PATRIOT GAMES, by Tom Clancy. (Putnam, $19.95.) The C.I.A.’s Jack
Ryan battles terrorists in England, Ireland and America.

9 WINTER, by Len Deighton. (Knopf, $19.95.) The experiences of a Berlin
family, from Kaiser Wilhelm to Adolf Hitler.

10 THE TENANTS OF TIME, by Thomas Flanagan. (Abrahams/Dutton,
$21.95.) Turmoil and rebellion in 19th-century Ireland, observed through the
eyes and voices of many witnesses.

11 MORTAL FEAR, by Robin Cook. (Putnam, $17.95.) The death of a
distinguished biologist leads to discoveries about medical science’s
mysteries and Boston’s nether world.

12 BELOVED, by Toni Morrison. (Knopf, $18.95.) Memories of her past haunt
an escaped slave in post-Civil War Ohio. Winner: Pulitzer Prize 1988

13 MONGOOSE R.I.P., by William F. Buckley Jr. (Random House, $17.95.)
Blackford Oakes in charge of a secret operation involving Fidel Castro,
Soviet missiles and President Kennedy’s death.

14 THE SHELL SEEKERS, by Rosamunde Pilcher. (St. Martin’s, $19.95.) A
woman and a painting tie together three generations of an English family.

15 LEAVING HOME, by Garrison Keillor. (Viking, $18.95.) A collection of Lake
Wobegon monologues, from the radio program ”A Prairie Home

1 TRUMP: The Art of the Deal, by Donald J. Trump with Tony Schwartz.
(Random House, $19.95.) The career and business style of the New York

(Random House, $24.95.) How economic and military forces affected the
fortunes of great nations in the past 500 years.

3 THE PRIZE PULITZER, by Roxanne Pulitzer with Kathleen Maxa. (Villard,
$17.95.) Life in Palm Beach’s steamy rich society recalled by a woman who
married into it.

4 LOVE, MEDICINE & MIRACLES, by Bernie S. Siegel. (Harper & Row,
$17.95.) A surgeon stresses the importance of the patient’s mind and

5 THE CAT WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS, by Cleveland Amory. (Little,
Brown, $15.95.) A self- styled curmudgeon’s memoir of a cat.

6 THRIVING ON CHAOS, by Tom Peters. (Knopf, $19.95.) The author
discusses how companies can survive in today’s and tomorrow’s turbulent

7 THE CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND, by Allan Bloom. (Simon &
Schuster, $18.95.) A critique of liberal arts education during the past 25

8 DETOUR, by Cheryl Crane with Cliff Jahr. (Arbor House/Morrow, $18.95.)
Lana Turner’s daughter recalls the circumstances under which she killed her
mother’s gangster boyfriend 30 years ago.

9 CHAOS, by James Gleick. (Viking, $19.95.) An account of a fast-developing
new science that involves disorder, arrhythmia and the bizarre and the
random in nature.

10 KEEPING SECRETS, by Suzanne Somers. (Warner, $17.95.) The actress
recalls her experience as the daughter of an alcoholic.

11 TIME FLIES, by Bill Cosby. (Dolphin/Doubleday, $15.95.) Counting his
blessings and his losses, the television star muses on life at 50.

12 THE GREAT DEPRESSION OF 1990, by Ravi Batra. (Simon & Schuster,
$17.95.) An economist’s dire predictions about the coming decade. **(None available in system)

13 SPYCATCHER, by Peter Wright with Paul Greengrass. (Viking, $19.95.)
The autobiography of a former senior member of the British secret service.

14 OSCAR WILDE, by Richard Ellmann. (Knopf, $24.95.) The life of the
dramatist, essayist, poet and wit. **(None available in system)

15 THE SECRET OF INNER STRENGTH, by Chuck Norris with Joe Hyams.
(Little, Brown, $16.95.) The life of the martial arts champion and movie star. **(None available in system)

What else was happening in 1988?

Jan 3rd – Margaret Thatcher becomes longest-serving British PM this century

Jan 16th – Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder fired from CBS for racial remarks

Jan 25th – VP Bush & Dan Rather clash on “CBS Evening News” as Rather attempts to question Bush about his role in Iran-Contra affair

Feb 13th 15th Winter Olympic games opens at Calgary, Canada

Feb 15th – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site

Feb 23rd – Chicago gives Cubs right to install lights & play up to 18 night games

Apr 7th – Russia announced it would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan

Apr 12th – Sonny Bono elected mayor of Palm Springs Calif

Apr 14th – USSR, US, Pakistan & Afghanistan sign Afghanistan treaty

Jun 3rd – “Big,” premieres in US

Jun 6th – George Bush makes campaign promise to support reparations for WW II

Jun 17th – Microsoft releases MS DOS 4.0

Jun 30th – Chicago agrees to build a new stadium so White Sox won’t move to Fla

Jul 27th – Radio Shack announces Tandy 1000 SL computer

Jul 31st – Last Playboy club closes (Lansing Michigan)

Aug 1st – Rush Limbaugh begins his national radio show.

Aug 9th Cubs beat Mets 6-4 in their 1st official night game at Wrigley Field

Aug 11th – Al-Qaeda formed

Aug 12th – Movie “Last Temptation of Christ” is released

Aug 18th – Republican Convention in New Orleans select Bush-Quayle ticket

Oct 1st – Mikhail Gorbachev became president of Soviet Union

Oct 20th – LA Dodgers beat Oakland A’s in baseball’s 85th World Series 4 games to 1

Oct 21st – Ferdinand & Imelda Marcos indicted on racketeering charges

Nov 8th – George Bush (R) beats Mike Dukakis (D) for presidency

Dec 21st – Pan AM Flight 103 was destroyed by a bomb killing 243 passengers and 16 crew (also known as the Lockerbie bombing)


– Lisa Guidarini

6 thoughts on “Bestsellers 25 Years Ago This Week: 1988

  1. Reading this blogpost is like stepping into a time machine but I have to confess to not reading ANY of the books. My excuse? Well, from 1982 to 1989 I had four children. Am I forgiven?

    • Ruth, I think I can manage to forgive you. I recall what it’s like to have wee ones and how “out of the loop” it makes a mother… I lost 1993 – around 2000-ish, having three back to back to back, two years apart. I don’t miss those days, I must admit.

  2. I was a new mother in the late ’80s, not much time for books for these titles did take me back to what felt like simpler times. The Trump biography, wonder if that was reissued with updates? I think a graphic comic book would be more appropriate to the subject now. Thanks for the memories Lisa.

    • Robin. There’ve probably been Trump books written since then. He looks so young on the cover photo for that book! A graphic version would be great, I agree… 😉 As long as they got the horrendous hair right.

  3. I was reading a lot of Dean Koontz and Steven King. There were a couple of other authors I read that were in the suspense /horror category. I wish I could remember them now…

    • I went through a Stephen King phase, too. I loved The Stand probably best of all. ‘Salem’s Lot and The Shining scared the, err.., heck out of me. And no way was I going to read It. I do NOT like clowns.

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