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The ReadDown

The Essential Gen X Book List

Do you consider yourself as part of Gen X? If so, you’ve probably read or been recommended these novels! Revisit your favorites, and set the mood by playing Sonic Youth or Ani DiFranco in the background.

  1. 1
    Bright Lights, Big City Book Cover Picture
    Bright Lights, Big City Book Cover Picture

    Bright Lights, Big City

    by Jay McInerney

    With the publication of Bright Lights, Big City in 1984, Jay McInerney became a literary sensation, heralded as the voice of a generation. The novel follows a young man, living in Manhattan as if he owned it, through nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties as he attempts to outstrip mortality and the recurring approach of dawn. With nothing but goodwill, controlled substances, and wit to sustain him in this anti-quest, he runs until he reaches his reckoning point. This remarkable novel of youth and New York remains one of the most beloved, imitated, and iconic novels in America.
    Bright Lights, Big City Book Cover Picture
    Bright Lights, Big City Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.95

    Also available from:

  2. 2
    The Broom of the System Book Cover Picture
    The Broom of the System Book Cover Picture

    The Broom of the System

    by David Foster Wallace

    The Broom of the System Book Cover Picture
    The Broom of the System Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $19.00

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  3. 3
    Everybody Loves Our Town Book Cover Picture
    Everybody Loves Our Town Book Cover Picture

    Everybody Loves Our Town

    by Mark Yarm

    Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge is the definitive word on the grunge era, straight from the mouths of those at the center of it all, featuring Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Mudhoney and more.
    Everybody Loves Our Town Book Cover Picture
    Everybody Loves Our Town Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $20.00

    Also available from:

  4. 4
    Less Than Zero Book Cover Picture
    Less Than Zero Book Cover Picture

    Less Than Zero

    by Bret Easton Ellis

    Set in Los Angeles in the early 1980’s, Less than Zero has become a timeless classic. This coolly mesmerizing novel is a raw, powerful portrait of a lost generation who have experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age.  They live in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money in a place devoid of feeling or hope.
    Less Than Zero Book Cover Picture
    Less Than Zero Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

    Also available from:

  5. 5
    Angels in America Book Cover Picture
    Angels in America Book Cover Picture

    Angels in America

    by Tony Kushner

    In this production, adapted especially for the listening experience, Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, and the entire cast recreate their acclaimed performances from the 2018 Tony Award-winning National Theatre revival of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. With narration by Bobby Cannavale and Edie Falco, and a musical score by Adrian Sutton, this audiobook is a compelling and immersive theatrical listening experience.
    Angels in America Book Cover Picture
    Angels in America Book Cover Picture

    CD
    $35.00

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  6. 6
    American Psycho Book Cover Picture
    American Psycho Book Cover Picture

    American Psycho

    by Bret Easton Ellis

    In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront.
    American Psycho Book Cover Picture
    American Psycho Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

    Also available from:

  7. 7
    Motherless Brooklyn (Movie Tie-In Edition) Book Cover Picture
    Motherless Brooklyn (Movie Tie-In Edition) Book Cover Picture

    Motherless Brooklyn (Movie Tie-In Edition)

    by Jonathan Lethem

    Motherless Brooklyn is a brilliantly original, captivating homage to the classic detective novel by one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation.
    Motherless Brooklyn (Movie Tie-In Edition) Book Cover Picture
    Motherless Brooklyn (Movie Tie-In Edition) Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

    Also available from:

  8. 8
    The Beach Book Cover Picture
    The Beach Book Cover Picture

    The Beach

    by Alex Garland

    The Beach Book Cover Picture
    The Beach Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  9. 9
    The House on Mango Street Book Cover Picture
    The House on Mango Street Book Cover Picture

    The House on Mango Street

    by Sandra Cisneros

    The House on Mango Street Book Cover Picture
    The House on Mango Street Book Cover Picture

    Hardcover
    $25.95

    Also available from:

  10. 10
    Geek Love Book Cover Picture
    Geek Love Book Cover Picture

    Geek Love

    by Katherine Dunn

    Geek Love Book Cover Picture
    Geek Love Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

    Also available from:

  11. 11
    Palm Sunday Book Cover Picture
    Palm Sunday Book Cover Picture

    Palm Sunday

    by Kurt Vonnegut

    In this self-portrait by an American genius, Kurt Vonnegut writes with beguiling wit and poignant wisdom about his favorite comedians, country music, a dead friend, a dead marriage, and various cockamamie aspects of his all-too-human journey through life. This is a work that resonates with Vonnegut’s singular voice: the magic sound of a born storyteller mesmerizing us with truth.
    Palm Sunday Book Cover Picture
    Palm Sunday Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  12. 12
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Book Cover Picture
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Book Cover Picture

    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

    by Dave Eggers

    A book that redefines both family and narrative for the twenty-first century. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together.
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Book Cover Picture
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.95

    Also available from:

  13. 13
    The Secret History Book Cover Picture
    The Secret History Book Cover Picture

    The Secret History

    by Donna Tartt

    The Secret History Book Cover Picture
    The Secret History Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  14. 14
    The Basketball Diaries Book Cover Picture
    The Basketball Diaries Book Cover Picture

    The Basketball Diaries

    by Jim Carroll

    Jim Carroll grew up to become a renowned poet and punk rocker. But in this memoir of the mid-1960s, set during his coming-of-age from 12 to 15, he was a rebellious teenager making a place and a name for himself on the unforgiving streets of New York City. During these years, he chronicled his experiences, and the result is a diary of unparalleled candor that conveys his alternately hilarious and terrifying teenage existence. Here is Carroll prowling New York City–playing basketball, hustling, stealing, getting high, getting hooked, and searching for something pure.
    The Basketball Diaries Book Cover Picture
    The Basketball Diaries Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  15. 15
    High Fidelity (TV Tie-in) Book Cover Picture
    High Fidelity (TV Tie-in) Book Cover Picture

    High Fidelity (TV Tie-in)

    by Nick Hornby

    High Fidelity (TV Tie-in) Book Cover Picture
    High Fidelity (TV Tie-in) Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $16.00

    Also available from:

  16. 16
    Journals Book Cover Picture
    Journals Book Cover Picture

    Journals

    by Kurt Cobain

    Kurt Cobain filled dozens of notebooks with lyrics, drawings, and writings about his plans for Nirvana and his thoughts about fame, the state of music, and the people who bought and sold him and his music. His journals reveal an artist who loved music, who knew the history of rock, and who was determined to define his place in that history. Here is a mesmerizing, incomparable portrait of the most influential musician of his time.
    Journals Book Cover Picture
    Journals Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $27.00

    Also available from:

  17. 17
    Anywhere but Here Book Cover Picture
    Anywhere but Here Book Cover Picture

    Anywhere but Here

    by Mona Simpson

    A national bestseller, Anywhere But Here is the heart-rending tale of a mother and daughter. A moving, often comic portrait of wise child Ann August and her mother, Adele, a larger-than-life American dreamer, the novel follows the two women as they travel through the landscape of their often conflicting ambitions. A brilliant exploration of the perennial urge to keep moving, even at the risk of profound disorientation, Anywhere But Here is a story about the things we do for love, and a powerful study of familial bonds.
    Anywhere but Here Book Cover Picture
    Anywhere but Here Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

  18. 18
    Girl, Interrupted Book Cover Picture
    Girl, Interrupted Book Cover Picture

    Girl, Interrupted

    by Susanna Kaysen

    Girl, Interrupted Book Cover Picture
    Girl, Interrupted Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $15.95

    Also available from:

  19. 19
    Wonder Boys Book Cover Picture
    Wonder Boys Book Cover Picture

    Wonder Boys

    by Michael Chabon

    A modern classic, Wonder Boys firmly established Michael Chabon as a force to be reckoned with in American fiction. At once a deft parody of the American fame factory and a piercing portrait of young and old desire, this novel introduces two unforgettable characters: Grady Tripp, a former publishing prodigy now lost in a fog of pot and passion and stalled in the midst of his endless second book, and Grady’s student, James Leer, a budding writer obsessed with Hollywood self-destruction and struggling with his own searching heart.
    Wonder Boys Book Cover Picture
    Wonder Boys Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $18.00

    Also available from:

  20. 20
    The Firm Book Cover Picture
    The Firm Book Cover Picture

    The Firm

    by John Grisham

    For a young lawyer on the make, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse: a position at a law firm where the bucks, billable hours, and benefits are over the top. It’s a dream job for an up-and-comer–if he can overlook the uneasy feeling he gets at the office. Then an FBI investigation plunges the straight and narrow attorney into a nightmare of terror and intrigue, with no choice but to pit his wits, ethics, and legal skills against the firm’s deadly secrets–if he hopes to stay alive . . .
    The Firm Book Cover Picture
    The Firm Book Cover Picture

    Paperback
    $17.00

    Also available from:

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