+ 30 Books to Read Before 30

So last month I turned 28. Yep, in the grand scheme of things I’m still a spring chicken, but edging ever closer to the big Three-O has made me more conscious of all the things I could/should try to do in my twenties.

I’ll be compiling ’30 before 30′ posts on various topics as I edge ever close to entering my fourth decade on earth! First up is a list of books to read before 30:

What I Know Now: Letters to my Younger SelfWomen from all walks of life write a letter to their younger selves. Some lovely advice such as the following:

“Notice some of the beauty around you.Partake in joy. And when you get the choice to watch on the sidelines or to dance, get out there and dance" - Lee Ann Womack
Leaves of Grass - Walt WhitmanI've only read Song of Myself so far, but love the following passage:

"My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels /
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit /
And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them."
The Second Sex - Simone de BeauvoirThis is a REALLY dense book and I will be surprised if I finish the first chapter before I hit 30! I know that this is a rite of passage and I'll definitely commit to finishing this one day.
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
Currently reading this. I firmly believe this should be on everyone's reading list regardless of age, and if you don't believe me here's some reasons on why we should!
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - Raymond CarverI read this for a module at university, and it affected me more than nearly all the other books during my English Literature course. It's so raw, honest about relationships and for that reason everyone should read this in their twenties
Adulting - Kelly Williams Brown
Not read this yet but I'm a massive fan of Kelly's blog, for posts such as this.
The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret AtwoodMargaret Atwood's novels are compulsory reading for women (and men), not least because of their tendency to deal with harrowing, thought-provoking subject matters in such a way that anyone can read them.
The Bell Jar - Sylvia PlathFor me, this was a boring but must-read novel. Boring in the sense that the protagonist seemed to have nothing to live for. But again, that's why you should read it. The metaphor in the title, of being suffocated/trapped by depression is haunting and needs to be observed to have a greater understanding of humanity.
As Conscious Is Harnessed to Flesh - Susan SontagI love her free-flowing, personal phrase in this collection of intimate thoughts.
Nights at the Circus - Angela CarterTruly memorable, one-of-a-kind novel. Angela Carter's work is deeply original and I'd also recommend The Passion of New Eve for another wildely insane, memorable read!
The Mark on The Wall & Other Fiction- Virginia Woolf"Still, there’s no harm in putting a full stop to one’s disagreeable thoughts by looking at a mark on the wall.”
Wild - Cheryl StrayedI really enjoyed following Cheryl's fucked-up but cathartic journey into the desert.
Middlemarch - George Eliot“...it is in these acts called trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted until men and women look round with haggard faces at the devastation their own waste has made and say the earth bears no harvest of sweetness—calling their denial knowledge."
Under My Skin - Doris LessingTo Read
Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas HardyI read this when I was a teenager and I still remember it clearly. “Tis because we be on a blighted star, and not a sound one, isn't it Tess?”"
Lady Chatterley’s Lover - DH Lawrence“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.” Anything by DH Lawrence is a must-read in my book. I love his ability to describe human emotion with such beautiful prose.
Letters of Note - edited by Shaun UsherMy favourite letters include the NASA scientist writing to the nun, and John Steinback giving advice to his son about love; "And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away."
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen"But nothing disturbs the feeling of specialness like the presence of other human beings feeling identically special.”"
Burial Rites - Hannah KentSemi-historical novel depicting the unjust treatment of a young women in Iceland.
Diving into the Wreck - Adrienne RichAdrienne Rich is a hugely important poet whose poetry and essays raised questions about feminism, sexuality and modern-day life.
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie“If you don't understand, ask questions. If you're uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It's easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here's to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”
Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence“Night, in which everything was lost, went reaching out, beyond stars and sun. Stars and sun, a few bright grains, went spiraling round for terror, and holding each other in embrace, there in a darkness that outpassed them all, and left them tiny and daunted. So much, and himself, infinitesimal, at the core of nothingness, and yet not nothing.”
The Awakening - Kate ChopinTo Read
Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki MurakamiI love this book because it's wholly unlike anything I've ever read. It's on this list for precisely that reason.
Song of Solomon - Toni MorrisonWhether it's Song of Solomon, the Bluest Eye or Beloved, Toni Morrison is essential reading.
Delta of Venus - Anaïs NinTo Read
Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”
Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth GilbertStill haven't managed to finish this book, but I think it's a necessary read not least because it deals with the discontentment of a woman who "has it all".
Ghana Must Go - Taiye SelasiAlmost poetic debut novel from Taiye Selasi. Cannot wait to read more from her
Revolutionary Road - Richard YatesA thought-provoking read centring on the mundanity of domesticity. “Intelligent, thinking people could take things like this in their stride, just as they took the larger absurdities of deadly dull jobs in the city and deadly dull homes in the suburbs. Economic circumstances might force you to live in this environment, but the important thing was to keep from being contaminated. The important thing, always, was to remember who you were.”