If you’re an author, or simply love to read, maybe you’ve heard a new term recently: Boomer Lit. It’s an emerging genre that encompasses novels, memoirs, self-help books, poetry and more.
The premise is simple. There’s a market of seventy-eight million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. They are reaching retirement at a rate of 3.5 million a year. Thanks to medical advances, they are healthier and can expect to live longer than preceding generations. They have a significant amount of disposable income; they are looking for new experiences. They grew up with books as entertainment, rather than cable TV or computers, so many are avid readers.
The Young Adult (YA) genre was created for the Boomers in the 1960s and ‘70s, and for decades it remained the only genre that was audience-centered rather than based on a theme such as romance or science fiction. Now those same Boomers are eager to read about people like themselves as they enter “the third stage of life.”
Claude Nougat, author of the Boomer novel A Hook in the Sky, is the initiator and foremost proponent of Boomer Lit. Last September she set up a thread in the Kindle Forums where Boomer authors could list their work, and in October she started a group on Goodreads to discuss and promote the genre. That group now has over 240 members. Nougat then established a Facebook page and Twitter account for the movement. High-traffic websites—including The Passive Voice, The Kindle Nation Daily, Digital Book Today, Gawker Media, and Venture Galleries—picked up the discussion, and Boomer Lit started to become a national phenomenon.
“Boomer Lit is not about nostalgia and evoking the past,” Nougat explained in a recent guest post on Wodke Hawkinson’s Find a Good Book to Read blog. “Like YA lit focused on the first transition to adulthood, Boomer Lit is about the next big transition.” But Boomer Lit is not about becoming old and gray and sick. This generation doesn’t lie down and quietly accept what comes. Boomer books introduce protagonists who face life’s latest challenges with courage and humor. Each volume added to the group’s shelves illustrates that older people can be rebellious, sexy, romantic, adventurous, wise–and fun.
I’ve participated in the discussions for several months, and I’m struck by the number of Boomer authors who are first-time authors. I’m one of them, sixty-three when Incomplete Passes was published. With initial careers and a lot of life experience behind us, our generation is finding its voice.
While I’m a disciple rather than a leader, it’s incredibly exciting to be in on the beginning of a trend.
Is Incomplete Passes a true example of Boomer Lit, or is it simply boomer nostalgia? I’d say my memoir has a foot in both camps. IP devotes several chapters to my teen years, but it also takes me through “the midlife crisis that became a musical comedy” and depicts my pals and me as we are today, drawing strength from our friendship as we reunite in Wisconsin each fall. I see it as a coming-of-age story at three different stages of life.
Of course, you don’t have to be between the ages of 49 and 67 to appreciate—or write—Boomer Lit. Anyone is welcome to visit the Goodreads group and participate. http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/81261-boomer-lit-novels-short-fiction-memoirs-and-more:
And now there’s a new way to sample Boomer Lit. One of our group members, Shelley Lieber, has set up a weekly Boomer Lit Friday Blog Hop. Visit http://boomerlitfriday.blogspot.com and you can read excerpts from a dozen or more Boomer works. I’ll be participating for the first time this Friday, March 8. It’s a fun way to check out the trend, and I hope I’ll meet you there.