August 12, 2010

30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Age 30- And What Of That I've Read at Age 30.5

I saw this list via StumbleUpon. The list was on the site Divine Caroline and was written by Marc and Angel of Marc and Angel Hack Life (love them). They have come up with a list of 30 books you should read before you are thirty. The reasoning behind their choices:

"The Web is grand. With its fame for hosting informative, easy-to-skim textual snippets and collaborative written works, people are spending more and more time reading online. Nevertheless, the Web cannot replace the authoritative transmissions from certain classic books that have delivered (or will deliver) profound ideas around the globe for generations. The thirty books listed here are of unparalleled prose, packed with wisdom capable of igniting a new understanding of the world."
You can read the reasons behind each of their thirty choices in detail here.

Okay, so I am already thirty but I have at least read some of these books. What do you think? Would these books make your list of 30 before 30? How many have you read?

1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
2. 1984 by George Orwell
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
5. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (Honestly will probably never read this book. I want to, but I couldn't even get through the movie.)

7. The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
8. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
10. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
11. The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton
12. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
13. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
14. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
15. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
16. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

17. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot
18. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
20. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
21. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Attempted in 2007 and 2008 but didn't finish either time. Will go back to it.)
22. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
23. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

24. The Republic by Plato
25. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
26. Getting Things Done by David Allen
27. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
28. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
30. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

So only 10 out of 30. I have One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Prince, and Crime and Punishment on my bookshelf. I have added The Master and Margarita after reading about it. I confess I had not even heard of it (or a couple of others, actually.) So what about you? How many have you read? Do you agree or disagree with this list?

I personally would want to see Silent Spring by Rachel Carson on the list, especially before putting The Lord of the Rings on it. What do you think?


  1. I've read 17 books on the list. I'm past 30 but there are some books on the list that just don't interest me right now.

  2. I've also read 10 of 30. I'm not sure why some of those are on the list, though. It seems a bit poser-ish to say everyone should read "The Art of War" or "The Prince" or even "The Origin of the Species", even though I adore Darwin. Actually, this list has made me a bit cranky.

  3. I've read 12 on the list, and started another 5 without finishing.

  4. I've read 12 on the list, and started another 5 without finishing.

  5. Pussreboots- Yeah, some of them don't interest me either.

    Kristen- Yeah, I hear what you're saying. Why everyone needs to read a book on military tactics before the age of 30 is beyond me.

    Lenore- I hope I can get through Crime & Punishment one of these days.

  6. I've read three of them. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings and The Great Gatsby.

    I have a couple of the others that are on the list (War and Peace, David Copperfield) that I haven't read yet. I have many books that I haven't read yet, so I don't know when I'll get to those two.

    Most of the books on the list don't interest me.

  7. Interesting list, although I'm not sure about some of the titles on the list. I've read nine plus have two I didn't finish and some others on my TBR pile.

  8. I've read 10, too. I'll be interested to read your thoughts on The Master and Margarita. I've started it 3 times, and even though it's interesting, I think it's over my head. I'm thinking a better knowledge of Russian history might help me out.

  9. I'm WAY past 30 and I've only read 6 of the books on that list. Of course, some of them weren't out before I was 30.

  10. I've read maybe two (i started LOTR but never finished it). I dont have the attention span or the patience to read "classics". Why is there no Shakespear on the list? I would think there should be some Shakespear you dont get more classic then that really (and then i wouldnt feel so bad as I've read a few of Shakespear LOL).

    Also I think there should be more modern books like Harry Potter (love it or hate it, the series had a huge impact).

    I personally think most of these lists are on the snobbish side. But I just tell myself that to make myself feel better LOL.

  11. Oh my. At 24 I've only read 8 of them, and I'm not so sure I'll read the rest in the next 6 years! Interesting list though. (One of the ones I read was War and Peace though, I really enjoyed it!)

  12. I must say I'm deeply suspicious of a list that only manages to include one book written by a woman! (Like Kristen, this list makes me a bit cranky.)

    I've only read 6 books on this list (and didn't finish one more).

  13. I've only read 4...guess I'm a loser because I'm 41 now!!

  14. I've only read 8...I'll be hanging out with Staci in the 41 year old losers corner.

  15. I've read 11 of them, but many more of them are on my "no I will never read that book" list.

  16. I'm convinced that if 10,000 people made a list of 30 "must-read" books, there would be 10,000
    different lists. And each of us would have listed the books we want people to read so they'll be convinced of what we believe, or in other words, to make them more like us. I'm thinking the only "must-read" list that is any good at all is the one you make for yourself. Some books will do some people more harm than good. Who are we to make those decisions for other people?

    I really don't mean to rant. I guess I'm just getting tired or people telling me what I "must" read to be "well-read" or to meet somebody else's standards. I'm declaring my freedom to read what I darn well want!

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  17. As a literature major who studied books for 4 years in university I have only read 6 of these!! I don't know whether I am disappointed or embarrassed? I haven't heard of quite a few of them, some I have no interest in and, like Caspette, I agree that if this is a list of books to read BEFORE you are 30 there should be a lot more YA or developmental literature. What about The Outsiders? Or The Giver? Definitely some Shakespeare should be there.

  18. I guess I'm just getting tired or people telling me what I "must" read to be "well-read" or to meet somebody else's standards. I'm declaring my freedom to read what I darn well want!

    Hear, hear!

  19. Interesting list. I've only read 14 of them, and am over 30. I'm surprised that there's no Shakespeare or Twain on this list. I think that Invisible Man is a book that could be impactful to one's life. Also, I love Their Eyes Were Watching God.

    Interesting topic!

  20. I'm going to agree with the others about a list of 30 books which features only one by a woman. And I have yet to meet a person whose life was changed by War and Peace. It's like having Moby Dick on a list. Pointless.

  21. I've only read nine, which I'm rather relieved about! And I'm determined to never read The Art of War - hey, how about someone writing The Art of Peace - an art that takes far more effort and easily as much bravery as war - that is one title everyone should read!

  22. I read 10 ... and I'm 42. What does that mean????

  23. I've read 10 too...but hey, I still have 3 years and a half ;) Seriously now, I would argue against many of those being Must Reads, however you define that :P

  24. I'm ashamed. I'm 34. I have some work to do ;)

  25. I have this terrible problem of not knowing whether I have actually read certain classics or not. Some of them I KNOW I must have read in school growing up. But when I read the synopsis it just doesn't ring a bell. And then others I am sure I've never read and then I pick them up and partway through realize I totally read that already!

    So I know for sure that I have read To Kill A Mockingbird and War and Peace. As for the rest? I think I may have read 3 or 4 of the others but I just can't be sure. However - I have read TKAM about 40 times and I read every one of the 1,200 or so pages of W&P very enthusiastically just this year so I think that should make up for my lacking throughout the rest of the list ;0)

  26. Crap. Only 7 weeks left to read all those books.

    I've read four. :P And they were all high school English assignments.

  27. I've read most of the fiction...and The Master and Margarita is one I heard of in the last few years and finally had to read--and it was worth it. It helps to read a little bit about it before you plunge in, I think (I reviewed it sometime in the last year.)

  28. I found this list a few months ago. It's a good one. I have 14 more to read, but I have four more years to read them.

  29. Since I'll be closing in on 40 soo I should probably be more concerned that I've only read 8 of these!


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