30 Books to Read Before I Turn 30

Hello, lonely and neglected blog!

Earlier this week, I saw an article entitled "30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Turning 30." Given the fact that a little over two weeks ago, I turned 29, I'm acutely aware that one single, solitary year of my twenties is now left to me. I decided that it's time to give myself a push to read several books that I've kept telling myself I should really get to one of these days. I already read a lot of books for work, book club, and pleasure... but this year, I'm going to do my own literature course that isn't necessarily based off of the best books ever written, but rather, is based off of my own guilty conscience-- I mean, a deep desire to find the time to read many books I've deeply wanted to pick up but something had gotten in the way. If at the end of this experiment, I feel like I benefited from such a public statement of intent, then it's likely I'll make up a "35 to 35" list, too, and at least I'll have a few years to chip away at it rather than less than 50 weeks.

When compiling titles (thanks to all my friends who chimed in on suggestions), I wound up with a really great and very selective list... of about 90 books. Paring it down to 30 was incredibly rough. I reserve the right to set my own rules -- one of which is that if I can justify to myself the swapping out of a title during this next year, I'm free to do so. I'll try to be fair-ish there (aka I'll probably give myself agony for "I just don't feel like reading this one" versus "this other book suddenly has a very timely significance and seems like a fair trade for this other title"). One of the things I took in to consideration when picking some of these books (though not all) was if it might behoove me to read certain titles while "still young," as one can certainly have different reactions to a book at various times of life. Obviously, this isn't a "30 best books" list, this just happens to be a list of 30 books I haven't yet completely read (because some of them are actually ones where I've read selections but not the whole text). It's also skewed to my own interests and therefore has a number of books that would probably make no one else's "why haven't I read this yet?" list but made mine because they've been recommended repeatedly or they've been staring down at me from my bookshelves for way too many years.

Comments of "what do you MEAN you haven't read this??" will be unappreciated. I already recognize that I probably should have read it by now, that's why it's on the list. And smug comments of "oh, I've read 22 of these" will be met with even more irritation (and if I know you in real life and you live near me, I might slip something squishy into something of yours when you least suspect it). Encouraging comments, meanwhile, even if they show you've read books on this list, will be happily received and I thank you in advance.

So, here's my list of 30 books I'm going to try and read before I turn 30. If you're friends with me on Goodreads, I'll create a "30 to 30" shelf.

Oh, wait, one last thing. The whole "bonus points" thing is pretty damn irrelevant... it's mostly that I felt the need to add the alternate titles for specific authors in case I decide to swap one for the other or let you know what almost made the cut. I'm hoping I can maybe cash in these bonus points for being able to go back in time so I'm 25 again or something.

1. The Iliad - Homer (bonus points for The Odyssey and double bonus points for The Aeneid by Virgil)
2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (bonus points for Oryx and Crake)
3. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
4. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
5. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
6. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
7. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
8. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (bonus points for A Light in August)
9. The End of the Affair - Graham Greene
10. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
11. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
12. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
13. The Wings of the Dove - Henry James
14. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
15. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeline L'Engle
16. The Balkan Trilogy - Olivia Manning
17. West With the Night - Beryl Markham
18. 100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (bonus points for Love in the Time of Cholera)
19. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
20. The Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller (bonus points for The Tropic of Capricorn)
21. The Women of Brewster Place - Gloria Naylor
22. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
23. The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon (the biggest bonus points in the world for Gravity's Rainbow)
24. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jena Rhys
25. White Teeth - Zadie Smith
26. Maus - Art Spiegelman
27. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
28. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
29. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
30. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde