I had an epiphany recently while reading one of the many periodicals on books that I receive every month: Bookmarks magazine. In the back of Bookmarks there is always a history page describing publishing for a previous year. 1975 was an amazing year in my world of reading –maybe the best ever. I was sixteen and already an avid reader, still feeling my way trying to decide on and start a career. I honestly believe the books published in 1975 in some way guided me in my decision. One of my favorite books in the crime genre is The Choirboys, by Joseph Wambaugh. I was mesmerized by the book and couldn’t believe a life in that world existed. I eventually picked up his other book, The New Centurions, and I think that clenched it for me–I wanted to be a part of that grand adventure.
Another book in that same year hit number one on the New York Times bestsellers list: Centennial. This is one of those books that I read deep into the night and was late for work several days in a row. This was another adventure story where James Michener set me down in a world I didn’t want to leave. Also, on that same list was Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy (one, of if not the best of, John Le Carre); Dogs of War by Forsyth; and Jaws. The last two were good but not quite as great as the others.
Under Booksmarks‘ Notables in that same year was Shogun by Clevell: a book in my top five favorites of all time. I picked this book up at the store after work, went home, and started reading it and dropped deep into that highly sought after “Fictive Dream,” and didn’t come out of it until the next morning when I the alarm clock went off. I’d read right through the night. And even with young sixteen-year-old eyes, I’d strained them, and they ached all day. On that same Notable, list were: Ragtime, Salem’s Lot, and Terms of Endearment. What the heck was going on in 1975? All of them great books.
Then….Then under nonfiction bestsellers in 1975, topping the list, was All Things Bright and Beautiful. Another favorite series of mine. To this day I think back fondly on those great animal stories. On that same list: A Bridge Too Far, All The President’s Men, and Helter Skelter. Has there been any other year with such a consistent offering of great reads? Thank you for the memories Bookmarks magazine. 1975 seems to have been my favorite year in books, unless someone else can please enlighten me otherwise.