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40 Books to Read Before You’re 30

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A couple weeks ago, a Buzzfeed list of the “65 Books You Need To Read In Your 20s” circulated Facebook, and I have to say I was seriously disappointed…Not just in the choices on the list (or not on the list), but that anyone would accept Buzzfeed as a credible source on must-read literature! That’s like asking the Queen of England to create a list of the funniest fart jokes or Honey Boo Boo Child to recommend diet and exercise tips. This is NOT a knock on Buzzfeed– I love a good list of the “16 funniest lies you can tell a child” as much as the next girl–but basing your summer reading list off their recommendation? Ludicrous!

Now, what makes my list more trustworthy than Buzzfeed’s? Well, for starters, He’s Just Not That Into You didn’t make the cut. Oh, and you’ve probably already read half of these books. That’s the point–if you’re pretty damn close to 30, you should have already come across many of these reads because they are cultural pillars of our society. I must note that I do not like all these books, in fact there are several I would say aren’t even “good”, but they should be read.

I must admit that I found this process to be tortuous. There are books I spent hours reflecting on, and still regret not putting on the list (Wurthering Heights, The History of Love, Harry Potter!), but I wanted to condense it to just the essentials. I’d love to hear your feedback, though–what would you have skipped? Added?

In no particular order…(Click on the title to go to Amazon to read a description/order)…


1. The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

3. The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

4. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

5. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

6. The Giver, Lois Lowry

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

8. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkein

9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

10. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

11. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt

12. The Princess Bride, William Goldman

13. Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

14. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

15. East of Eden, John Steinbeck

16. Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift

17. Slaughterhouse V, Kurt Vonnegut

18. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

19. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

20. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

21. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

22. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

23. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

24. The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay

25. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

26. Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

27. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

28. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

29. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

30. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

31. The Plot Against America, Philip Roth

32. White Teeth, Zadie Smith


33. The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls

34. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand

35. In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson

36. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond

37. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt

38. Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom

39. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

40. Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt


About chicsmarts

favorite curiosities: taxidermy, dia de los muertos, teacups, bbq, general oddities, three tier cakes, and anything that sparkles.

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