Although Gen X is considered the MTV generation, it has been defined by more than television. From Judy Blume Rig Edward Packard series Choose your own adventure books, Generation X found themselves at the center of some classic reading. We take a look at some of the many books that define Generation X.
SE Hinton’s “The Strangers” (1967)
This coming-of-age novel is unique in that the author was just a teenager when she wrote the story. Hinton began work on the novel at age 15, and by age 18 the book was published.
The story follows the conflict between two rival gangs: the Greasers and the Socs. The book became so popular that it inspired a movie, a TV series and a video game. Additionally, folk duo Jamestown Revival are writing the score for a 2023 musical based on the novel.
‘Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret’ by Judy Blume (1970)
A teenage tale that defined many people’s childhoods, this Judy Blume classic was on the playlists of many Gen Xers. For a book from over 50 years ago, it still contains themes relevant to today’s tweens, such as religion, rules, and dating. In fact, the book was recently made into a movie and is slated for release in April 2023.
‘Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing’ by Judy Blume (1972)
The first book of Rig series, this novel follows the relationship between 9-year-old Peter and his 2-year-old brother Farley, better known as “Fudge”. In the story, Peter grows increasingly annoyed with all of Fudge’s antics and how the toddler is able to get away with so much because of his age. For all of us who have younger siblings, it’s a pretty familiar story.
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams (1979)
This sci-fi series is adored by many people around the world. The trilogy – misnamed since there are five books in the series – follows the misadventures of Arthur Dent, Earth’s last surviving man after the planet’s destruction. Of course, Dent is saved by hitchhiking on a passing spaceship.
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“Choose Your Own Adventure” by Edward Packard (1979)
Being able to choose your own adventure was the coolest thing to do as a kid. You were the main character in these interactive books and had the chance to create your own story. The books were inspired by bedtime stories Packard’s daughters would help him tell. These stories were not only fun for her children, but also for millions of children around the world.
“Sweet Valley High” by Francine Pascal (1983)
Who can forget the adventures of identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica? The series which began in 1983 detailed the experiences of the twins and their friends at Sweet Valley High in a fictional town outside of Los Angeles.
“Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney (1984)
A book written in the second person, Bright lights, big city follows the escapades of a 24-year-old writer. A fact-checker for a magazine by day, he spends his evenings trying to escape his life by partying. However, he soon discovers that his previous trauma is what he is really trying to escape from.
“Less Than Zero” by Bret Easton Ellis (1985)
Can you get more Gen X than a novel named after an Elvis Costello song, about a college student, and written by a 21-year-old? The book follows the main character as he disconnects from the culture around him, loses faith in his friends, and reflects on the events he has just witnessed. There’s no more Gen X than that.
“Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen (1986)
A must-have classic for young adults, Hatchet follows 13-year-old Brian Robeson after he survives a plane crash. As the only survivor, the boy’s only tool is a hatchet, which he must use to stay alive for days to come.
Robeson learns to survive on his own and support himself. For the keyed generation, it was a lesson that most Gen Xers learned on their own.
‘Generation X: Tales For An Accelerated Culture’ by Douglas Coupland (1991)
Andy, Dag, and Claire are three names you’ll probably instantly recognize if you were a teenager or young adult in the 1990s. The main characters are underemployed, overeducated, unpredictable, and extremely suspicious of advertisers. This classic book is the go-to book for Generation X, especially since it popularized the term Generation X.
High fidelity by Nick Hornby (1995)
A book that captures the mid-1990s, High Fidelity tells the story of record store owner Rob Fleming after his girlfriend leaves.
The novel feels like a movie – which it eventually became in 2000 – as Fleming’s friends discuss mixtapes and the top five desert island lists. When his ex-girlfriend returns, Fleming becomes committed to her and his previous career as a disc jockey.
Microserfs by Douglas Coupland (1995)
It’s hard to think of another Gen X book that perfectly captures the rise of technology better than Coupland’s. Microserfs. Although it first appeared as news for the cover story of Wiredof January 1994, Coupland quickly turned it into a novel.
In fact, the story showed us what blogging would look like in the future as the book contains diary entries from the narrator, Daniel.