Students engage in discussion over Mizzou Reads novel

The novel, "Generation Me," was not popular among most students in the discussion.
Freshman Shelby Nace discusses the required freshman reading, "Generation Me" during a Freshman Interest Group meeting Thursday in College Avenue residence hall. FIG students addressed controversial observations of today's young adult generation.

Freshman Interest Groups discussed their opinions of "Generation Me," by Jean Twenge, with classmates Thursday. The majority of students involved in the discussion expressed criticism toward the book, a survey-based research novel about the "confident, assertive, entitled" current generation.

"Who knows ourselves better than us?" said freshman Krista Villers of the Four Winds Learning Community, who disliked the book. "It was really negative and I didn't even make it through, not going to lie."

Twenge stated in the novel that today's generation thrives off self-esteem. Uzma Khan, endocrinology professor in the School of Medicine facilitated the discussion for the Four Winds students. She felt the novel was a hard read because she was raised to believe that self-esteem was a good thing.

"(Twenge) focuses a lot on the negatives, but in (the book), there are a lot of positives," Khan said.

Khan felt Twenge accused the generation of being full of narcissists, but didn't see the difference between vanity and confidence.

"It's good to be blunt, it's good to feel good about yourself," Kahn said. "Self-esteem is good, narcissism is bad."

Sophomore Rebecca Mueller, peer adviser for the Four Winds Learning Community, agreed with Twenge, unlike most of the FIG.

"I think what she said about self-esteem was head on," Mueller said. "From the moment we are born, we are told we are special, which is a good thing. But thinking so much about yourself if you are not even doing anything important is detrimental."

Twenge also discussed current relationships. She felt marrying later in life, a common practice today, promoted promiscuous relationships.

Students felt this idea was generalized.

"Every teenager out there is not what she described in this book," Freshman Chase Hormel said. "Not everybody is out doing oral sex and losing our virginity and stuff that she talked about in the book."

Each year a different book is chosen by a committee to be the campus summer read. According to graduate student Jordan Parshall, the guidelines ensure the novel is at the correct reading level for college students.

"Every year there is a committee that chooses the book, people from the university that change out so we get a variety of opinions," Parshall said. The committee looks for books that are relevant to social or cultural issues that would encourage discussion for FIG groups.

"We want students to be interested in what is going on now because that is what will affect them," Parshall said.

According to Parshall, one important factor in the decision making process is the availability of the author for a campus visit.

Parshall said Twenge will be on campus to discuss her book Sept. 9. A book signing at University Bookstore will be held at 3 p.m., followed by a reception at Ellis Library at 4 p.m. and a lecture with a question and answer session at 7:30 p.m.

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