30 Books You Should Read Before You're 30

A brief, completely random search for "books to read before you turn 30" turned up this list from Huffington Post Books, and as a bonus to my 30-by-30 challenge, I'm going to see if I can read some (or all) of the list before my birthday... in 2017.

With four years to do it and a few books already under my belt, I got this. Right?

  1. The Dream of a Common Language, by Adrienne Rich
  2. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins
  3. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
  4. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
  5. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  6. A Collection of Essays, by George Orwell
  7. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
  8. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
  9. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, by Alice Munro
  10. Native Son, by Richard Wright
  11. Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan
  12. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
  13. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera
  14. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  15. Critique of Pure Reason, by Immanuel Kant
  16. Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
  17. The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
  18. You Shall Know Our Velocity, by Dave Eggers
  19. How Should a Person Be?, by Sheila Heti
  20. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
  21. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, by Grace Paley
  22. Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James
  23. Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion
  24. Letters to a Young Contrarian, by Christopher Hitchens
  25. A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
  26. The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing
  27. Giovanni's Room, by James Baldwin
  28. Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley
  29. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
  30. Birds of America, by Lorrie Moore

The list is a nice balance of new books and old, and many will create a nice overlap with my goal of reading 50 classics before I'm 30. But since no list is ever perfect, and it is our duty as passionate readers to debate and re-debate every book list ever to appear on the internet, I want to know...

What books would you add to a must-read by 30 list? Anything here you'd take off?


  1. Well, I turned 30 two years ago, and I've only read 10 on that list! I love everything by Howard Zinn. I'd add Elizabeth Gaskell and Kurt Vonnegut to the list.

  2. I've read 13 of them, so I have a ways to go. I turn 30 in 6 months and found the list at the link below a couple years ago and have been working towards completing it.


    1. I love that there are so many different versions of this same list to choose from. Thanks for sharing this link!


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