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What are millennials reading? We asked, you answered

Recently, we asked MinnPost’s YPN members and other millennials to send in their recent reads and book recommendations. Readers heard the call and we received some very impressive and extensive reading lists.

Find out which books are hot among 20- and 30-somethings and get diverse suggestions for future reading from the submissions below.

Participants who shared their reading lists with YPN were entered in a prize drawing. We want to congratulate winner Deborah Carver — she’ll receive two Park Square Theatre ticket vouchers. Enjoy the show, Deborah!

On my bookshelf is anything and everything by Sarah Vowell [“The Wordy Shipmates,” “Assassination Vacation”], Nick McDonell [“The Third Brother,” “Twelve”], Jonathan Ames [“Wake Up, Sir!”, “The Extra Man”], Tom Perrotta [“Election,” “Little Children”] and Jennifer Vanderbes [“Easter Island”].
– Jeremy Striffler

The one book that particularly struck me this year was Nick Harkaway’s debut novel, “The Gone-Away World.” The story takes a post-apocalyptic world and turns it into something you’ve never considered — no mean feat for a generation that frequents zombie pub crawls.  — Marina Yoder

I’ve read 173 books this year, in the genres of history, economics, and sci-fi/fantasy. I’m currently reading “Wide Awake: A Memoir of Insomnia” by Patricia Morrisroe, “Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was” — a fantasy by Argentinian writer Angélica Gorodischer and a biography of Nell Gwyn that focuses on her 17-year relationship with Charles II: “Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King” by Charles Beauclerk.

The next books I’ll be reading are “This Is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount” by Jay Weiner and “I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay” by John Lanchester— Hillary Drake

I recently read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and just finished “The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream” by Christopher B. Leinberger. I’m now working on “Voices from the Street” by Philip K. Dick — Matt Lewis

I am currently reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson and I know many millennials that are also getting into the Larsson’s Millenium series. Other recently read books:

“Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins
The “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer
“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien
“Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert
— Stephanie Trow

This year, I’ve read and reviewed:

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson
“Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace
“To Reach the Clouds: My High-Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers” by Philippe Petit
“Still Life with Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins
“Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” by Anthony Bourdain
“You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto” by Jaron Lanier
“Dear American Airlines” by Jonathan Miles
“I Don’t Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I’ve Dated” by Julie Klausner
“Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro
“Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell
“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
“Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America” by Erik Larson
“Shoplifting from American Apparel” by Tao Lin

I’ve also read “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” (again) and a whole slew of other stuff I can’t remember at the moment.
— Chase Turner

Two books I’ve recently read — and loved: “Shadow Tag” by Louise Erdrich and “Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” by Bill Clegg— Joe Wenker

A few books I’m in the middle of reading:

“Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath
“Thirty Famous One-Act Plays” edited by Bennett Cerf and Van H. Cartmell
“Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred Taylor
— Cassie Clark

Books I’ve just read and would recommend:

“The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis
“Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” by Anthony Bourdain
“Institutes of the Christian Religion” by John Calvin
“When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Yourself” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
“War” by Sebastian Junger
“Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall

I would also recommend reading any book by Cormac McCarthy — the “Border Trilogy,” “Blood Meridian,” “The Road” — and any book by Timothy Keller — “Prodigal God,” “The Reason for God,” “Ministries of Mercy.”
— Tyler Giles, age 25

“Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher and William Ury
“The Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal, Save the Relationship — and Still Say No” by William Ury
“Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization” by Lester Brown
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
— Evan Henke, age 24

I read a wide range of things. “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides is one of my all-time favorite books.

Recently, I’ve been on a Y.A. kick; I just finished “The Absolute Value of -1” by Steve Brezenoff (my co-worker’s husband) which was very good. I am currently loving “Fixing Delilah” by Sarah Ockler and the “The Hunger Games” trilogy (“Mockingjay” was my least favorite of the three).

I read “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, but didn’t like it much.
— Emily Harris

I’m currently in the middle of D.H. Lawrence’s “Women in Love,” which is the best book about urban millennial 20-somethings I have ever read. The only difference between the urban young people in 1920 and 2010 is that in the 1920s they thought about death a lot more — residue from the 19th century, I suppose.

But the best millennial book — series, really — I’ve read this year is “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The series is technically for teens, but very exciting, dark and extremely well-written.
Deborah Carver

The last book I read (via Kindle) was Adam Carolla’s “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks: . . . And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy.”

I’ve also recently read “Perfect Rivals: Notre Dame, Miami, and the Battle for the Soul of College Football” by Jeff Carroll, and am currently working on “Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series” by Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter and Jeff Passan.  — Robert Short

I read Dinaw Mengestu’s “How to Read the Air” a few weeks ago and was truly taken aback. While Mengestu’s prose is careful and extremely personal, his story speaks to some of the most formative struggles that people — particularly people of color — often face. Mengestu discusses the need to legitimize marginalized identity and the pressure to fabricate experiences that fit into the norm of mainstream society.

With Minnesota’s diverse immigrant population, I believe “How to Read the Air” is an especially fitting read for any follower of MinnPost.

Having never actually read James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain” while I was in school, I decided to read it earlier this week. I would recommend it, but I find some of his other works more compelling.

I’m now reading Tim Wise’s “Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.” So far it’s excellent. I’m a huge fan of Tim Wise; I’ve been impressed with his past work.
— Lauren Nakamura

“Black Sun” by Edward Abbey
“Catch-22” by Joseph Heller
“Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison” by Michel Foucault
“Fierce Pajamas: An Anthology of Humor Writing from The New Yorker”
“The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity” by Roy Porter
“The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain” by Terrance W. Deacon

“Catch-22,” “The Symbolic Species” and “The Greatest Benefit to Mankind” are likely my most referenced and recommended books.
— Hana Grover

Have more book recommendations? Share them in the comment section below.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Audra Otto on 12/21/2010 - 12:23 pm.

    As a millennial myself, I thought I might share a few of my own recent reads:

    “King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War” by Catrine Clay
    “Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire” by Amanda Foreman
    “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule” by Thomas Frank
    “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann
    “The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court” by Jeffrey Toobin

  2. Submitted by Audra Otto on 12/21/2010 - 12:52 pm.

    Along with her reading list submission, millennial Hana Grover included a keen observation regarding the difficulty our generation faces trying to balance technological innovation and social media with book-learning and literary culture:

    “We feel simultaneous pressures to catch up on the never-ending list of literary ‘classics’ and historical nonfiction, and to be proficient and up-to-speed with every emerging technology….”

    It often feels like we have to choose whether to spend the little free time we have A. learning how we got to where we are today, or B. staying current with the technological developments of the moment.

    How do you maintain a healthy balance?

  3. Submitted by Amanda Ripstra on 12/22/2010 - 11:02 am.

    I’m 25 and just recently learned that qualifies me as a “millenial”.

    One of my favorite books from this year was One Day by David Nicholls.

    I’m in the last book of the Millenium trilogy which I’m also loving.

    I reread Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows as well. I couldn’t believe how much I forgot from my first reading!

    This list is giving me some ideas about what to read next! Thanks!

  4. Submitted by Victoria Turnquist on 12/30/2010 - 08:31 pm.

    Hello! I hope lots of millennials read this: my favorite book this year which has now been placed in my top 10 favorite books of all time was The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer. It’s the most wonderful memoir…and the quality of writing left me speechless. Honestly. If you haven’t experienced this book, please please please pick up a copy! You’ll love it, I swear.

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