Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Books to Read in Your Twenties

Hey, ya'll. We stumbled across this terrific list written by another blogger. Check this out: 
I realized that I have 2,843 days left of being in my twenties; I began to consider, in what ways would I like to have grown by age 30? 
"Books" is what immediately came to mind. I want to know my classics, discover the best novels of our decade, and fall in love with new authors. In what other time of our lives will we have so much freedom to indulge in 500-1000 page novels, or actually spend time appreciating those books we “read” in high school?
How great! We were inspired by the list and decided to make our own. Such fun! These are books we've been dying to read, or we've been too intimidated to read (hellllo, Les Miserables!), or we feel should be read in order to be socially literate. We've got just over 2,000 days left in our twenties - enough time to check each and every book off this bucket list, hopefully.

Let's start with the books that appear on both of our bucket lists: 

1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Liz: Malcolm X’s words and philosophy are just as relevant today as they ever were. In light of the persistent police violence and institutional racism that exists in the U.S., this book is an important read. 

Char: Agreed. I've started it, but kept putting it off. But this is an important book, and it's especially relevant today.

2. On the Road by Jack Kerouac 

Liz: Coming of age novels are my jam. 

Char: I just want to be socially literate, bebe. When books are referenced so often, I feel the need to read them. I want to know what everyone is talking about. I may or may not also like the way "Kerouac" rolls off the tongue. (A completely legitimate reason to read a book, dammit.)

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Liz: I picked it up when I was in High School, read the first 30 pages and hated it. As an adult person, I think I might enjoy it more, so it’s worth giving another shot. It’s also referenced so often in other books, in society, in life, I might as well try to understand what the F folks are on about.

Char: Why can’t I finish this? It’s taking me so long, but I like it and I really need to just finish it already.

4. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

Char: Because Mark told me to.

5. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is beloved by all and Lee finally had another book published. We’ve got to read it. 

That's all for the books we both want to read before the big 3-0. But don't fret, there's so much more where that came from. 

Charlotte: At the risk of sounding exceptionally corny, when I was coming up with this list, I tried to think about what kind of woman I want to be. (One answer: Not the kind of grown ass woman who hasn't read Pride and Prejudice.) I want to be someone who reads often and who reads critically and thoughtfully. I also want to be the kind of woman who never finds herself without a witty comeback. I'm already pretty good with that, but I can stand to up my literary humor game. 

I want to know more about the world, I want to understand the struggles of other people, and I want to be able to talk about the classics. I also do not - do not - want to be the kind of person who doesn't pick up a book because reading it feels like a daunting task. Do that too many times and suddenly my reading habits will become a metaphor for my life, and that's not the kind of life I want to make. 

You'll also find a few heavy Catholic books on here, because I've really started to love being a Catholic. It's already made me a better person, and I've been devouring saints' stories left and right. Your twenties are supposed to be a wonderful time to solidify habits, and I'd love to start incorporating more of the Catholic customs into my life. No time like the present! 

Lastly, I've got a few kids books on here. Maybe I'll have kids before my thirtieth birthday, maybe I won't - but I really like the idea of having a few kids books under my belt before I'm a parent. Is that weird? Probably. But again, I tried to keep in mind what kind of woman I want to be while writing this - and a good parent is definitely part of the answer.

I own a lot of these, plus most are classics or at least very old, meaning they're nearly free for the kindle. I officially have no excuses to not finish this list.  

Sorry for the novella! Here we go:

6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Honestly, I just loved the movie so much that I’ve got to read the book. The story is a beautiful one.  

7. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri 
We read Dante’s Inferno in high school, and I’ve wanted to read the other two ever since. 

8. The Diary of Anne Frank
I’ve read this before, but I think I should reread it. 

9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Again, because I’d like to be socially literate. 

10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 
Numerous people have suggested this, but they’ve also told me it’s very depressing. At some point I’d like to read it, though.

11. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens 
Similar to Pride and Prejudice in that I’ve been reading this forever. I love it, so it’s weird that I haven’t finished it. I think it’s mainly due to putting it down and picking up Harry Potter instead. 

12. Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton
Because I bought it a few years ago and never even opened it. For shame, Charlotte.

13. Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman by Sarah Bradford 
This was the first substantial book about Tubman, and I’d really like to delve into it. 

14. Something by Stephen King
Because I feel like it’s wrong to have never read anything by Stephen King.

15. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 
Another one of those books that people love and talk about, and that I really ought to read. Plus, Mark told me to read it.

16. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
I loved the movies and I generally love anything by C.S. Lewis. I love LOTR and Harry Potter, so I will likely enjoy the Chronicles of Narnia, as well. 

17. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Literally because another blogger said it was great and that it fell right behind HP on her list of favorites. 

18. On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard
Kind of self-explanatory? And I’m starting to really love books about the Faith. 

19. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Because one of my favorite kids from work told me I “absolutely have to read this!” Will do, Samson.

20. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Again, it’s a classic I feel like I should read. I’ve started it before, but… HP strikes again.

21. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler 
I love Amy Poehler and I like books by funny women, so.

22. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut 
I’ve wanted to read this for a long, long time. Must take the plunge, Char. 

23. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Because several friends have told me to. 

24. The Confessions of Saint Augustine 
Like I said, love these kind of books. I enjoy learning more about the saints, too. 

25. Cities and the Wealth of Nations by Jane Jacobs
Because I have it. And I hear it’s terrific.

26. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Another classic! I started reading this before, and enjoyed it, but stopped. 

27. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 
This book is America’s second favorite book (right behind the Bible), so I figure I need to see what all the fuss is about. 

28. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Another classic. 

29. In Search of Lost Time by Proust 
Not going to lie, my main reason for wanting to read this is just because it was featured in an episode of Gilmore Girls. (But also I just googled it and it’s so highly revered that I really want to read it.)

30. Catechism of the Catholic Church
I’m already reading this, but it’s been slow going. If I can’t finish it in 5.5 years, I’m a major slacker.

31. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
What’s that? Classic. (Plus, from everything I’ve read/heard, I think I’ll like the story.)

32. The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch 
Church classics. 

33. Beloved by Toni Morrison 
One of those books, again, that everyone should read. Of all the people I know who have read it, none disliked it. 

34. The Waves by Virginia Woolf
I’ve heard this described as Woolf’s “strangest” novel and “most experimental” novel, and I’m intrigued. 

35. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 
I know it’s a difficult and long read, but it’s world renowned and I need to just get over the intimidation and read it.

36. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 
It’s a classic and it’s in that movie, Definitely Maybe. 

37. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Haters gonna hate but I mainly want to read this book because it briefly appeared on an episode of The Daily Show. 

38. Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Another one everyone should read. 

39. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset 
Numerous bloggers I read have mentioned it so I figure it’s got to be good. 

40. Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots by Scott Hahn 
As I’m getting better at the whole being a Catholic thing, I’d like to read this.

41. Peter Pan by JM Barrie
I’ve heard that the book is amazing. 

42. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
This will be a reread for me, but I think it's such a helpful book. 

43. My own book. 
Really, I have 5.5 years. I should be able to finish writing it. 

And now, Liz's bucket list! 

Before I turn thirty I want to read:

44. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A classic. I like that the Bronte sisters write moody stories. I loved Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, so Wuthering Heights sounds like a natural fit for me.

45. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
I read the first three when I was young, and then I just stopped reading them. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy them- I guess I just lost patience for them to come out. I obviously need to correct this and read the series ASAP. 

46. The Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson
Lisbeth Salander is a god damn role model. As a young woman, I’m drawn to a series with an admirable female lead. 

47. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
I read The Kite Runner last winter and loved it! It brought tears to my eyes, so I can’t wait to read Hosseini’s other novels

48. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Same as above.

49. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
I’ve read and loved so many Murakami novels. This is one that is constantly hyped up by Murakami fans, so I want to read it myself. 

50. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
It’s a classic dystopian novel that I have yet to read- it’s time.

51. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
A classic. It's been on my reading list for years. 

52. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
A lesser-known classic. It's applauded for its feminist themes.

53. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Adichie has written excellent essays on feminism, and this novel by her sounds like it'll be a fantastic exploration of young love, the experience of being a black woman in America, and the experience of being undocumented.  

54. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton is another writer applauded for her feminism. 

55. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Another expertly written classic. 

56. This Changes Everything Capitalism vs the Climate by Naomi Klein
Clearly this book is relevant to our time. The topic is crucially important to the future of our planet as we know it.

57. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Fuck suburbia, that’s why.

58. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
A classic. Sounds depressing, and who doesn’t like to read depressing shit? 

59. 1984 by George Orwell
Shamefully, I read a good chunk of this in Highschool, but never finished it.

60. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Another one I started to read, but never finished. I really liked it too! It's renown for being expertly written, and it's definitely apparent when you're reading it. I hope by reading this book I'll become a better writer myself, through osmosis of course. 

There it is! Our twenties bucket list!

Did we do a good job? Do you all think we missed any essential reading? Here's to many nights reading away and completing this list!  

Liz & Char


  1. Bonfire of the Vanities, An Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, A People's History of the United States.

    1. Hey, Wendy! I haven't heard of the first two (so I'll have to put them on my list!), but I read A People's History and loved it. What a terrific book. It should definitely be on everyone's list! Thanks for the suggestions!