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Weekly Reader: 4.4.11

Parents: Political Persuaders?

Who are the main influencers of Gen Y?  In an attempt to find out, The Brookings Institute surveyed more than 1,000 young adults, in particular those seen as leaders by their contemporaries.

Two of the findings were surprising (0ne was not; they tweet and text an average of 79 times daily). First, where they get their news. The  go-to source is a news organization website followed by cable news shows. The second surprise: that parents influence their political beliefs.

The survey author, Peter W. Singer, wrote  in a CNN opinion piece:

Mom and dad, not Puffy or Pat Robertson, matter most to their politics. Some 60% cite parents as the influence on their own politics. This is strikingly different from baby boomers, who tended to think the opposite of whatever their parents wanted. For all their proclaimed self-importance and coverage in the media, celebrities and religious leaders actually had the least influence (2% and 1%) among young people when it came to political views.

A Summer Reading List

In little more than a month, the college kids will be heading home.  Summer reading lists harken back to grammar and high school days but it might be nice to suggest some novels about the struggles of young adults for reading on summer break.

For suggestions, check out the list compiled by The New Yorker’s book blog editor Macy Halford.  A self-described  30-something emerging adult Ms. Halford  sought books that “speak to the predicament of youthful instability, that period in which one tries to follow one’s heart wherever it may lead because the alternative—settling down—conjures visions of oneself plopped in a desk.”

Her list:

  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”  by James Joyce:   Has anyone captured the struggle of the young soul to define itself as well as Joyce?
  • The Group” by Mary McCarthy remains one of the best portraits of young American women making difficult life choices.
  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” by Michael Chabon: There’s also what seems an almost pre-nostalgia: nostalgia for events while they’re happening, or even before they happen. This, more than any other sense that I have, represents that kind of insane, self-serious but still real, pathos of growing up.
  • The House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton: The must-read book for all jeunes filles à marier in their twenties.
  • Sentimental Education” by Gustave Flaubert: The protagonist can never commit to a woman, stringing along mistress after mistress, running through friends and money.
  • The Guermantes Way” by Marcel Proust concerns the twenty-something narrator’s awkward introduction to adult society
  • The Emperor’s Children” by Clair Messud shows the struggles of both this generation and the older generation, a generation that wishes its children would achieve more, but happily supports it when it fails to do so.

Young Men: Slower Than Women to Mature

Some cultural critics believe that young men face more struggles for maturity than young women.    In “The Crisis of Modern Male Maturity,” author Janice Shaw Crouse blames three  trends:

  • Decline in Marriage: Males have a limited incentive to “man up” — to be motivated and have a reason to accept the admittedly demanding responsibilities of adulthood.
  • Decline in Education: More and more men are lagging behind women in educational attainment and thus lack the credentials to compete in the marketplace
  • Unclear Social Identity: Increasingly, men are finding their identity in their hobbies (fishing, hunting, racing, sports, etc.) instead of their careers.
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