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Readers' Picks: 10 Books Boomers Love

These reads resonated with those who grew up in the boomer generation

10 Books Boomers Love

AARP The Magazine asked author Erica Jong to select 10 essential books of the boomer generation. Then we asked readers to come up with their own list. Here are the top reads you picked, starting with your 10th place selection ... 


10. 'The World According to Garp'

John Irving’s tragicomic 1978 novel about the rise and fall of a novelist/wrestling coach is laced with autobiographical elements; it won a National Book Award for fiction in 1980.

David Rogowski

9. 'The Joy of Sex'

The Sexual Revolution was already under way when Alex Comfort’s “Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking” appeared in 1972, but this seminal self-help manual — and its famously graphic illustrations — spiced up the love lives of mainstream America in the Me Decade.

David Rogowski

8. 'The Color Purple'

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1983, Alice Walker’s acclaimed third novel, about African American women in rural Georgia of the 1930s, was successfully adapted into a film and Broadway musical.

David Rogowski

7. 'Slaughterhouse-Five'

Many a boomer high-schooler hauled a knapsack full of Kurt Vonnegut paperbacks; this science-fiction satire from 1969 about a time-traveling Dresden bombing survivor abducted by aliens was perhaps the most popular.

David Rogowski

6. 'Fahrenheit 451'

Science-fiction legend Ray Bradbury crafted this 1953 parable about book-burning "firemen" in a repressive future society as a response to government censorship during the McCarthy era.

David Rogowski

5. 'Lord of the Flies'

More anxiety about the future of the human race, this time from William Golding: His dystopian novel about British schoolboys descending into savagery was published in 1954 and became a staple of high school reading lists in the 1960s.

David Rogowski

4. 'In Cold Blood'

Truman Capote called his hugely influential 1965 account of a real-life Kansas murder spree a “nonfiction novel,” though questions swirl around how much he might have fabricated.

David Rogowski

3. 'Roots'

Alex Haley’s sprawling 1976 inquiry into his family’s past — and the TV miniseries that followed in 1977 — became a national cultural event that sparked a wide interest in genealogy.

David Rogowski

2. 'Catch-22'

The 1961 novel that birthed an exceptionally useful idiom captured the absurdity of war for Vietnam-era readers; author Joseph Heller delivered a sequel, Closing Time, in 1994.

Ted Morrison

1. 'The Catcher in the Rye'

First published in 1951, J.D. Salinger's portrait of youthful alienation became an object of fascination, especially for teen readers; so has the life of its reclusive author.

Ted Morrison

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