Thursday, July 31, 2014

5 Books To Read in Your Mid-Twenties

Saturday was my 25th Birthday. Even typing that feels like a milestone. Perhaps (read: most likely) I am making too big a deal of the whole quarter of a century thing. Regardless time moves forward and there is nothing you, I or Dumbledore can do to stop it. Since there's no changing this whole aging thing I might as well embrace it to the fullest, and for me that means with books!

I figure there are five types of books you should find in your early to mid twenties. They're the ones that are going to make you think, grab your heart and give you googley eyes. They'll be your friends when real life drama gets to be too much. They'll stay up for you when everyone else has an early alarm. More importantly, they are different for everyone. Instead of giving you all five books that I thought were essential to my twenties (so far) I wanted to give you all a chance to come up with some of your own.

Now here are the five kinds of books you have to read in your mid twenties!

A Book for All Ages
 The Little Prince
Antonie de Saint-Exupery
The Little Prince is, in it's essences, a children's book. Once you dive into it's pages, however, it becomes so much more. I got it for Christmas one year and read it in a single sitting. I couldn't figure out why I was sad the rest of the day. Really The Little Prince has more to say to adults than it does to children. It's about loss, and the nature of relationships and how we perceive ourselves and those around us.  
That's what makes it a book for all ages. I would have gotten something completely different out of The Little Prince had my parents read it to me when I was tiny. I would have felt different had I read it in high school.
Other Options : Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, Ella Enchanted, 

A Look Into Someone Else's Life
When You Are Engulfed in Flames
David Sedaris
The ages between 20 and 25 are a mixed bag. There are new apartments, new friends, jobs that you hate, jobs that you maybe like but don't pay enough. Then there are all the bad decisions, the late nights and the petty arguments. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond the small bubble that is your world. That's why you need a book like this, one that looks into someone else's existence and makes you realize "okay, maybe I can handle this whole life thing."
For me that book was When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Sure sometimes life was hard, but David Sedaris reminded me that it could be ridiculous and funny too. It made me want to live like my time was worth writing about. 
Other Options: Just Kids, Sleepwalk with Me, I was Told There'd Be Cake

A Book for the Road 
American Gods
Neil Gaiman
There isn't a better time for a road trip. You have as few responsibilities as you're ever going to have. You're still young. Wanderlust is a real thing. But money....Yeah, that whole money thing can really ruin a lot of dreams. That's why these books like this are so important. I might not be able to drop everything and travel for months at a time, but I can read about people who have, and sometimes that's even better. 
That was my experience with American Gods. I read it over a summer where I did little traveling and my world seemed very small. It was like a breath of fresh air every time I got to join Shadow on his adventures. More than anything it reminded me that those adventures could be had here, in middle America, and not just in the Europe or California, as so much many stories would like you to believe. 
Other Options: On The Road, You Shall Know Our Velocity

A Book to get You Out of Your Comfort Zone  
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
One of the best things about your mid twenties is that you get to shape your own tastes. You've found a favorite wine, a go to meal, and probably a genre of book that you gravitate too. There's nothing wrong with comfort, or falling in love with historical fiction or fantasy or paranormal young adult fiction. It's just that now is the time to remember there is so much more out there!
For me I was all about contemporary literary fiction. I wanted to read to to about David Foster Wallace and Foer. I devoured Tartt. My shelves read like a whose who of the great minds of the last five years. Actually, they still do. Going to a liberal arts school had made me pretentiousl
For me, getting out of my comfort zone meant abandoning books that you'd find reviews for in The New Yorker. I picked up the Night Circus. It reminded me of the books I loved when I was younger. It broke away my prejudices against other worldy novels. More than anything it gave me reason to explore other genres. 
Other Options: Depends on your comfort zone really, Could be a Sartre novel or something like The Time Traveler's Wife. Try new things!
A Classic  
Pride and Prejudice 
Jane Austen
The classics you read in your mid twenties are special. No one is making you read them. You chose them because they sounded interesting. You don't have to write papers on them. There aren't professors lecturing about symbolism. Maybe it's a modern classic like Life of Pi, or you finally decide it's time to read the Odyssey? You finally get to feel like your in on some sort of secret. These novels aren't dry. At least not when you're enjoying them. They're still full of life and lessons, and to think that ten years ago you would never have learned them because of a deep relationship with sparknotes.
I didn't get to Pride in Prejudice until I was old enough to drink. I read it as much for pleasure as I did for class credit. It made me realize that Austen and Elliot didn't have to mean nap time. All of the classics I've read since are thanks to Elizabeth Bennett.

1 comment:

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Such a wonderful list! You've picked unique books (all of which I love) that cover some crucial mid-twenties ground. Have a WONDERFUL birthday!