We’re the social media natives, the SmartPhone buffs; wide-eyed puppies, introspective, taking surgical care in ‘finding ourselves’; the largest and most racially diverse generation in American history.
We’ve got quirks and preferences (some shit gets us going as a group and other shit we find generally off-putting).
Immediate and unlimited access to infinite information knocks book-reading down a notch on the Gen Y priority totem, then, yes?
We’re the most educated generation to date and, according to PewResearch Internet Project, more American Millennials read a book in the past year than did the general population. Somewhere in our fast-lane, pixelated, sensorially overwhelming days, we’re taking breaks from, you know, smashing our heads against the punk rock and stuff and making time to read. Millennial zeal for lit should be celebrated and scrutinized. Let’s consider—what might make a novel especially Millennial friendly?
1. It’s fast-paced and relevant
Millennials live moment-to-moment. Constant electronic communication breeds a ton of spontaneous outings. In an instant, we can ‘block’ friends from our lives forever.
Snapchats can be opened immediately and last for 10 seconds. We’re used to scrolling through continously-updated feeds, rushing to click ‘Like’ when something catches our attention and yeah, probably forgetting about it five seconds later.
We aren’t looking to waste our time on fluff and filler. A book that feels like an endless road to nowhere or takes too much time to get to the action likely won’t be a big hit with us.
2. It’s got eye-catching, significant cover art
Our attachment to TV and the Internet means we’re all the time surrounded with grand, exciting images. We stare at them, ‘reblog’ them, ‘favorite’ them, ‘like’ them and talk about them at the dinner table, pulling them up on our tablets. Snapchat and Instagram boast millions of monthly users. We care about pictures.
Strong cover art feeds this never-ending Gen Y hunger for striking images. More importantly, it gives a book context and purpose, tying together its aesthetic.
3. It’s character-centric
The self-esteem movement’s guinea pig kids grew up to be the Facebook generation. So much of our time is devoted to curating online personal profiles. We’re writing moment-to-moment updates on our lives. Our opinions inherently have some semblance of power because we can instantly share them with thousands of people. We’re putting off or altogether rejecting marriage so we can focus on ourselves.
Millennials like to look inward. Strong introspective novels are important for our generation. Take Sam Pink’s Person as a prime example of a novel whose main focus is the protagonist’s inner workings, mini-endeavors and identity: “I’m sitting in my room, listening to it sleet outside. The room is very cold. I have accomplished nothing today. It feels like practice. There’s a pellet gun in my hand and I’ve been taking random shots at the wall. The pellets just bounce weakly because the CO2 cartridge is almost empty. And now so are the pellets. This is my career. I am amazing.” Person is a pretty new novel (© 2010), but plenty of classics are character-centric too, i.e. Camus’s The Outsider (L’étranger). I have yet to meet a Millennial who hasn’t made sweet love to that one—y’know wh’mean, figuratively.
4. It’s accessible online
We’re on the Internet every day—networking, learning, keeping up with current events, taking classes, making money. We’re comfortable with the Web and the instant gratification it brings. eBooks cater to us in that they fit in with our tech-centered lifestyle.