Here’s the scoop on “The Books that Mattered” . . .

Is there any better feeling than falling in love? Especially for the first time? Especially when you are young and full of enthusiasm? Before the dreaded protective ice of age and irony and skepticism and, yes, experience has formed around you?

one flew over the cuckoo's nestto kill a mockingbird

You never forget your first love.

And what is better than being young and falling in love . . . with a great book? A book that seems to speak to your very soul, a book that you carry around in your backpack to share with your friends, a book that is destined to become an integral part of who you are and of how you see the world. Falling in love with a book is a lot like falling in love with a person, maybe better in some ways.

And there is something extra-special about the books that we fall in love with in our formative years–high school, college, young adulthood.

So, in essence this blog will be a love story.  It will focus on my own formative literary experiences as well as those of other baby boomers who came of age in roughly the same era (the baby boom generation generally encompasses those born between 1946-1964). I’ve emailed and spoken with dozens of baby boomers about their first literary loves–the books they kept in their lockers in high school, the books they carried in their backpacks in college, the books they had on their shelves with they went off to grad school or landed their first real jobs.

slaughterhouse-five

I’ll be discussing the first time we encountered some of the books that will forever be stitched into the fabric of our lives. Books such as On the Road, The Catcher in the Rye, East of Eden, Slaughterhouse-Five, To Kill a Mockingbird, Goodby Columbus and many more.

While some of the books have remained strong sellers and are widely read, others have fallen by the wayside. I’ll also be blogging about some of these cultural artifacts as well: Soul on Ice, Love Story, Steppenwolf, and, yes, even, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Why did we love them then? Could we love them again? Are they even still worth a look?

So each week or so I’ll be blogging about books from the Fifties, Sixties, or Seventies–what is was like to read them then and how these books look to us 30 or 40 years down the road.

There won’t be any rigid format. I hope the discussions will be lively, fun, occasionally touching, sometimes controversial (hint: it is my firm belief that Catcher in the Rye is the most overrated book of our generation).

Please make sure to give me any feedback you have. Would love to get other perspectives on your formative  literary loves.

electric kool-aid acid test

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11 Comments

Filed under baby boomers, books, literature

11 responses to “Here’s the scoop on “The Books that Mattered” . . .

  1. Hi Erich,
    Thanks for sending the link to your books blog, I’m looking forward to reading more.
    Barbara

    • Thanks for your comment. I’m hoping to cover the big obvious books, but also some smaller gems or oddities that slipped through the cracks over the years. Stay tuned.

    • Thanks for the comment Barbara. You may not remember this, but a while back (when the idea for this blog was just starting to form) you actually gave me some great feedback on some of the books that mattered to you way back when. Be happy to hear any other thoughts or comments you have on other Boomer books. Stay tuned.

  2. marie

    A truly delightful concept Erich and promises to be fascinating. I adore your 1st love metaphor.

    • Thanks for the very nice comment. Please feel free to make any suggestions about other books you’d like to see discussed. (Maybe for one post, we could do a “he said, she said” perspective on the same book. That might be fun.) Thanks again and stay tuned.

  3. Barbara Meixler

    Hi Erich,
    I’m looking forward to the blog and sharing thoughts on our first literary loves. Over the years I’ve re-read some of those formative reads and have been pleasantly surprised at how some have definitely stood the test of time for me (To Kill a Mockingbird and Cry, the Beloved Country being top of the list) and others have been shockingly disappointing. Was The Fountainhead really that transformative when I was in HS? And of course, the music that we all grew up on has had that same effect. Can’t wait to read more!
    Barbara M.

    • Thanks for the comments, Barbara. You sound like my ideal reader! Several of the books you mentioned are definitely going to be covered–To Kill a Mockingbird and The Fountainhead for sure. Now that I think of it, in the future I’ll try to give readers advance warning of books that I’ll be discussing so that they can share thoughts/perspectives before I actually write the post. On the Road will be my next post (after The Bell Jar). Early discussions with a few other people suggests that On the Road was much more of a boy’s book (than a girl’s book) — but I’d like to corroborate if that’s true or not. Anyway, thanks again and stay tuned.

  4. Amy McGovern

    Not sure when this was published but I have a strong impression of “Black Boy” (I think I read it in a week) and absolutely loved it–made a clear mark on me that I still remember today (a whole 10 years later hah). Possible review?

    • Actually, you’re the 3rd or 4th person to have mentioned “Black Boy” as book that mattered to them. I read it way back when, but have hardly any memories of it. Sounds like it definitely deserves a revisit. Thanks for the tip!

  5. What a neat idea. Sounds like a lot of fun. So glad I discovered your blog!

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