Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Maturing as Seen Through 30 Books by Alex Snider

There are a lot of 'books to read before you're 30' lists floating around these days, lists which are typically Western-centric and sorely lacking in any voices other than straight, White dudes. I guess that makes sense as the Western canon is made up almost entirely of those guys (all very worth-while, amazing books, don't get me wrong!). Personally, I'm less interested at this point in what I should read than in my own reading history and the story that it tells (also, in what I want to read). Looking back over my twenties reading lists and the hundreds of books I've read I can see distinctly how I've grown through the ways in which my reading priorities have shifted. I can track when I've discovered a genre or author and, like wildfire, devoured every work I can get my hands on. Adversely I can see when I exhaust a genre or get my fill. I can pinpoint when I was obsessed with the Modern Library Top 100 list, and when I stopped worrying about how many I've read. I can pinpoint when I realized that I wasn't reading enough women authors. I can pinpoint when social justice became a major part of my life. 


Through these lists, I know where I was, what my state was like and who I was at that time. Perhaps most importantly, is that I can see how the books I have read have helped shape the person I am. Books are pretty amazing, guys.

These are 30 books that I've read in my twenties, in chronological order (#30 being read the earliest) that reflect on my maturing. 90% of them, I still love. 

30.  The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

29.The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

28. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

27. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

26. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs

25. Women by Charles Bukowski

24. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

23. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

22. Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger

21. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

20. Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes

19. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

18. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

17. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor


16. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

15. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

14. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

13. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

12. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

11. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

10. The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid

9. The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

8. Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

7. Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie

6. The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

5. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

3. Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

2. If On A Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

1. Open City by Teju Cole (still reading)

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