The Struggle is Real: 13 Relatable Books for Millennials
That majestic balance between thriving and “Well, I guess this is okay,” is a skill that very few possess. Millennials, however, have mastered it. There is something about having a shared connection to both those older and younger that uniquely solidifies us in the world, and of all the generations, the Millennial experience is unmatched for sure. And, just to prove that you are not alone out there, here are 13 relatable books about our struggles.
1.) Beautiful World, Where Are You?
This story about four young Irish Millennials navigating life and love in this beautiful world is the latest from Sally Rooney, author of Conversations with Friends and Normal People. “Sally Rooney’s writing is cool, wry, and smooth, and gives the reader a sense of being in the lucky position of overhearing not only what fascinating strangers are talking about, but also what they’re thinking.” ―Emily Gould, author of Friendship
2.) I just need a quick nap.
Ottessa Moshfegh doesn’t shy away from the dark, the ugly or the real. “I should be happy, right?” is a question that many likely find themselves asking. Moshfegh’s book covers very relatable topics in an unmatched approach that you will keep you locked in ‘til the very end.
3.) Imposter Syndrome
Growing up in the age of the internet has never looked so … awful, but Jia Tolentino has the best job: to experience culture, the arts, the personal, the political. And then she gets to tell us about it. Through nine different essays, Trick Mirror explores various cultural phenomenon and the impacts they have on our psyche. To read Tolentino is to expand your world.
4.) Where’s your sense of individuality?
Think back to the popular girl clique from your high school. What did they call themselves? If it wasn’t “The Plastics,” “The Heathers,” or “Bunny,” they probably weren’t even as bad as you remember, and honestly, either way, you should read Bunny. (And there really shouldn’t be any shame in wanting to read a book just because of the cover — that means it’s doing its job.)
5.) Who are you?
Breakups, whether good or bad, release us into the world as a brand-new person. A single person who has to navigate who they are outside of another person. Will you be reborn, or will you be reckless? In the same vein as Luster and I May Destroy You, Queenie makes us look at life and question whether we will continue on this same path or do better.
6.) No, but really, who are you?
Two American students abroad find themselves surrounded by celebrity—and murder. Calla Henkel brilliantly stages a cat-and-mouse game between a well-known thriller novelist and two art students in a tense story that explores the intensity of female friendships, Millennial life, and identity.
7.) A detour for love.
Cutthroat literary agent Nora Stephens begrudgingly goes on a month-long sister trip when she reconnects with Charlie, a book editor who is just as stubborn as she is. This small town is not big enough for the two of them. Books, reading, book lovers and tsundoku are all words that send our hearts a flutter, and as one of our Best Books of 2022 (So Far), Emily Henry’s Book Lovers will do just that.
8.) Dust yourself off and try again.
Millennials don’t always know the balance of taking time off to rest up and recharge. (Gen Z is coming for us, after all.) Carrie Soto understands sacrifice, she worked hard and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. When a younger equally as fierce player beats her record, it’s time for Carrie to come out of retirement. Jenkins Reid has provided us with the book equivalent to the Millennial soundtrack for the past few years, and we hope it never ends
9.) Is this the apocalypse?
In the early days of 2020, many of us were feeling pretty confident that the real-life apocalypse—the one that all the books, movies, and television shows had warned us about—was here. With one single cough, human existence would be wiped out. We feel like survivors to have endured what we have, and with a dry, sharp humor, Ling Ma’s Severance manages to blend various storytelling styles into an artfully done satire.
10.) The game of life.
Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before. Taking place over 30 years, this dazzling and intricately imagined novel by bestselling author Gabrielle Zevin examines the nature of identity, disability, failure, and above all, our need to connect.
It’s challenging enough to figure out who you are out in the world, but add learning to navigate life in a body you’re not comfortable with as a brand-new model in the beauty and fashion industry? Now it is just stressful. This queer coming-of-age story about the anxiety of finding belonging is going to be a fantastic addition to your bookshelf this summer.
12.) Trauma Bonds Are Real
Millennials know a little something about trauma. And, as we get older, we realize how so many of the fairy tale stories we loved as children are supremely disturbed. Following a support group of five young women helping each other work through their traumas, How to Be Eaten is a darkly funny quintessential read.
13.) … Now what?
I’m sure you thought this would end on a positive note, but a story about the uncertainty of what we do next or what path we decide to take seems to span multiple generations, and as terrifying as it may seem, it is life, and that makes it beautiful.