5 books that defined the Baby Boomer generation

Oct 16, 2021
Julie says there were a few titles that influenced the Baby Boomer generation. Source: Getty Images

Nostalgic recollections can be an escape into our past, for ‘our generation’. Like the young people currently enrolled in secondary colleges, we Baby Boomers were expected to read classic books. For the bookworms (I still am), this meant no problems for many of us.

One classic piece of literature we enjoyed was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved the book and the movie, starring Gregory Peck. This prize winning literature, even in Australia, did influence the Boomers we became. We learned about the futility of prejudice and victim blaming.

We tried to be more colour-blind as we matured. We had friends from many lands, accepting diversity in languages, religions, foods and music. In our multicultural Australia, I had a blending of backgrounds.

I find that this is true in lots of areas. The children of today are surrounded by others of many nations and creeds.

Even in medicine, we accept different forms of healing, such as massage, acupuncture, western medicine, reiki, naturopathy, a chiropractor, or an osteopath. Anything goes for Australia today.

Another classic book we read when we were young was Exodus by Leon Uris. This awakened us to the ongoing Sinai conflict, presenting the case for freedom fighters for Israel. We seemed to grow up barracking for the underdogs in life.

When I went to my nanna’s home on Saturday afternoons, I would check her bookshelf. I would sit in her spare room on rainy days, serially reading The Group by Mary McCarthy. Being repressed, I was trying to learn about reproduction and relationships from what is now such tame literature. That was an epic Baby Boomer book, a product of its times, like we seniors all are.

Classic reading with my junior intellectual friends also made us appreciate George Orwell’s 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. These books raised concerns that, in some way, have come true. I have read of the Taliban destroying books and burning museums, which held ancient treasures and knowledge.

The coronavirus pandemic has invaded Australia, so we read and hear only edited news. We login to every store or medical appointment with a QR code, so we can be monitored. So 1984, a book that did influence what we think, even today. Can you hear Orwell saying from afar, “I warned you”?

This is all part of our modern 21st century world, part of changes in diversity.

What books did you read that influenced you?

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