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Power of 50

Sizzling Summer Reads of the Last 5 Decades

Which of these 10 top-selling titles have you read?

1964: 'The Group' by Mary McCarthy

Long before Sex and the City, the story of eight well-bred Vassar grads in the 1930s was considered scandalous for its sexual frankness. Released in 1963, it stayed on the best-seller list for two years; the 1966 movie starred Candice Bergen.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

1969: 'The Godfather' by Mario Puzo

The title may evoke actor Marlon Brando, but before it was an iconic movie trilogy, The Godfather was a novel that introduced enthralled readers to Corleone family values. The operatic tale stayed on the best-seller list for much of the year.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

1970: 'Love Story' by Erich Segal

The aptly titled book was released on Valentine’s Day, and the film version, starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, was out before the year was through. Romantics have shed countless tears over the story of Jenny and Oliver, college students whose love has a tragic end.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

1974: 'Jaws' by Peter Benchley

The story of the Great White Shark From Hell surely kept many a beachgoer from ever truly enjoying an ocean swim. A blockbuster 1975 movie followed the book, which was based on real-life shark attacks in New Jersey.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

1988: 'The Bonfire of the Vanities' by Tom Wolfe

The man who gave us The Right Stuff made his first fiction work a mesmerizing spot-on depiction of the greed-is-good ethos of the 1980s. It features arrogant investment banker Sherman McCoy (played by Tom Hanks in the 1990 movie) as a poster child for Wall Street’s excesses.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

1989: 'The Joy Luck Club' by Amy Tan

Set in 1949 San Francisco, the novel explores the relationships between four Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters. The compelling story about traversing a generation gap was a best-seller for more than a year. Tan wrote the screenplay for a 1993 movie, too.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

1992: 'Waiting to Exhale' by Terry McMillan

This big-time top-seller focuses on the love interests of four 30-something African American women in Phoenix. The late Whitney Houston was at the center of the movie version, which featured a who’s who of top black actors. 

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

1996: 'Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics' by Anonymous

The mystery of Anonymous’s identity made this buzzy book more attractive than the fictionalized account of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign actually was. Journalist Joe Klein was outed soon enough; John Travolta played the prez in a 1998 movie.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

2003: 'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown

This controversial literary phenomenon became one of the best-selling novels in modern history. The thriller features a “symbologist,” Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks in the film version), working to unveil a conspiracy involving no less than the Catholic Church and the Holy Grail.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

2012: 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn

It seemed like everyone that summer was reading this gripping story of seriously soured marital bliss, with a nice OMG twist mid-book. Yes, many found the ending lame, but the movie starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, out in October, is rumored to include a better one.

Kat Teutsch; Prop Stylist: Karin Olsen

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