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If you work in a bookstore, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll spend a lot of time looking at books. Spines, covers, titles, jackets, blurbs, and more, all marketed to get you to pick up the book and pay money to read it. As I was leaving work this past Sunday, I was caught by the cover of one book in particular. I picked it up and read the synopsis on the back. It wasn’t the type of story I get interested in—too “gritty detective” for me. I immediately remembered the old adage about judging a book by its cover, put it down, and walked away.
However, I think the game is changed when it comes to readers and the books they do choose to read. More often than not, these choices shed light on one’s interests and the way one looks at life. Spurred on by this idea, I’m taking a closer look at five books I’ve read recently and what they say about me. Personally, I think my picks are very Gen Y.
- The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (fiction)
Atwood’s novel about a future dystopia wherein women are viewed as little more than baby-making machines, and the lifestyles such a society creates, was one of the most powerful books I read in college. As a person who actively questions his gender identity, I find Atwood’s exploration of socially-engineered gender roles—and the limitations and injustices such roles create—to be deeply fascinating. As someone who values social activism, I also think that good dystopic fiction can unearth the possible future problems we might run into if we just keep going with the status quo. I first read this book two years ago, but I’ll be going back to it in the near future.
- Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie (nonfiction)
This how-to book from the creator (and “chief shoe giver”) of Toms shoes gives today’s young professionals a blueprint for finding and doing a job that can make a difference. I’ve always wanted to use my writing to help others; it’s a pretty vague ideal. Mycoskie, though, uses his own experience to give his readers practical tips and tricks to use in the real world.
- A Place of Yes, Bethenny Frankel (nonfiction)
I’ve had a lot of respect for Bethenny, from the work she does to the way she lives her life, since I saw her on the first season of “The Real Housewives of New York City.” When it comes to reality TV, I think she’s as genuine as it gets. That said, her book is an honest evaluation of her past and the principles that led her to success and happiness. College was a hard time for me. There was a lot of self-exploration to be done and, in doing so, I realized I was undervaluing myself and taking part in some unhealthy habits. Bethenny’s book is a good starter guide to revamping your life when what you’re doing just isn’t working.
- Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami (fiction)
A few months ago, I lost a professor who was just becoming a close mentor. He was a brilliant man who died too young and who always made his students think deeply. The only way I can describe Murakami’s book is to say it makes me think in the same way. From its metaphysical approach to time and its complex plot to the inclusion of talking cats and a transgendered character, there’s a lot about it that I appreciate. For a taste of Murakami’s literary prowess at about half the length of 1Q84, check out Kafka. I definitely recommend it.
- Generation Me, Jean Twenge, Ph.D. (nonfiction)
I’m only about 65 pages into Twenge’s analysis of Millennials, but I was driven to it due my blog content and a recent interest in generational differences. While I find myself disagreeing with Twenge more often than I agree with her, it’s certainly interesting to read an outside perspective of my generation. P.s. I’m trying to finish the book in time to post a review by the end of the week.
From mind-stretching fiction to real life accounts with a purpose, I think my library is pretty darn Millennial. How about you—what was on your summer reading list this year? Let me know in the comments below; I love hearing from you!