Hipster Reading List

When it comes to reading material, you won’t find books like Fifty Shades in a hipster’s library. As we all know, hipsters are more about experimentation (the more removed from the real world, the better) and existential crisis involving a youth wondering about aimless wanderings. Better still is if it is a big, thick book with lengthy footnotes and obscurely worded mumbo jumbo. Here are some titles that should make it to your reading list.

Modern Literature

When it comes to modern hipster literature, let’s not forget to add in elements of pastiche – borrowing elements from celebrated classics. Because it’s totally hipster to upcycle everything including original ideas.

1Q84 (Haruki Murakami): A smart title that harks back to Orwell’s classic, 1984 (‘9’ is pronounced ‘Q’ in Japanese), Murakami’s latest title is experimental, involving a number of wandering young women in plenty of long, dreamy sequences. It checks all boxes for a hipster classic – bonus points for existential angst: “I can bear any pain as long as it has meaning.”

The Kraus Project (Jonathan Franzen): Another title that borrows from a classic – this time a collection of essays from Austrian cultural critic Karl Kraus. Hipster author Franzen references these papers to rail against modern life; you know, the “media-saturated, technology-crazed” technoconsumerist products like Google, Instagram, and Apple. It’s also got long footnotes.

Whiskey, Words and a Shovel (R.H. Sin): What’s more hipster than fiction? Poetry. Sin’s latest book is actually a collection of poems that resonate with a hipster’s life – particularly those pertaining to relationships. Hipsters tend to love his negative ponderings: “It’s like sunshine peeking through dark clouds. I should be happy but I’m not.”

Classic Literature

To give modern hipster literature some context, it’s essential to brush up on some classic titles that were once considered too risque for the public. It’s possible that you actually carried these books with you on the train so as to seem on-trend.

1984 (George Orwell): Orwell’s nightmarish vision of the world is eerily prophetic in the way that he describes the perpetual war, omnipresent surveillance, and public manipulation in a superstate that’s under the control of the privileged elite. Given the bizarre happenings around the world today, it’s an essential read for any hipster.

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger): This is a classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion, seen through the eyes of a wandering teenage boy as he leaves his privileged life to go underground in New York City. Sex, innocence, loneliness, and lots of profanity, are perfectly articulated in this novel of mixed pain and pleasure.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Friedrich Nietzsche): Hipsters love quoting Nietzsche, for the simple reason that he is against the mainstream. This philosophical book is his most influential, which argues that the meaning of existence should not be about meek submission to religion or authority.

You can read more about this story, and the rest of Issue 46 here.