A-List: BuzzFeed's 65 Books to Read in Your Twenties

A-List: BuzzFeed's 65 Books To Read In Your Twenties

everything is illuminated.

For me it was The Crucible I bitterly trudged through it in high school. But rereading Arthur Miller’s play a few years ago, as civil rights for gay Americans began demanding the national spotlight, something resonated for me in his story of the Salem witch hunts (an allegory on the 1950’s finger-pointing about communism, as Miller himself experienced the era’s rampant McCarthyism firsthand).  I didn’t read The Catcher in the Rye until I was 23. I felt regret at Holden Caulfield’s inability to swallow even some of his idealism and face the harsh realities of the “real” world, and a sadness that I had. There was a kinship that a teenaged me trapped in suburban hell might have formed with the character, but didn’t have that opportunity.

Buzzfeed author Doree Shafrir and company have compiled a list of exactly those sort of treasures, stories that shine even brighter from the vantage point of (some) maturity. “Even if you read them in high school or college,” she advises, “you’ll have a different perspective on them now that you’re Out In The World. (Trust me.)” Of course, I’d love to be a pretentious schmuck and point out all of the poignant literature I have on my own bookshelf and call them glaring omissions (especially authors like Jeanette Winterson, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Jeffrey Eugenides, uh hello). But the issue is really just that Shafrir et al. have made me feel insecure in my status as the “well read one.”  I’ve cracked less than ten of those books and that bums me out. I consume so much media. How can I devour all of the amazing words and phrases, lyrics and melodies, stage and screen, that exist and still have time to work and earn enough to survive? It’d give ol’ Holden an absolute anxiety attack.

It’s with a heavy-heart, Internet, that I admit that I haven’t tackled a lot of these classics. Though I’ve enjoyed a quite a few of these titles, when it comes to Plath, Kerouac, and many of their contemporaries, I’m just not as cultured as I thought I was. Check out the list, below, and see how you measure up. Or invest in Amazon Prime and start shopping. Casandra Armour

1. The Emperor’s Children- Claire Messud

2. What She Saw…- Lucinda Rosenfeld

3. The Deptford Trilogy- Robertson Davies

4. The Secret History- Donna Tartt

5. Giovanni’s Room- James Baldwin

6. A Visit from the Goon Squad- Jennifer Egan

7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao- Junot Díaz

8. Lucy- Jamaica Kincaid

9. The Moviegoer- Walker Percy

10. White Teeth- Zadie Smith

11. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay- Michael Chabon

12. Infinite Jest- David Foster Wallace

13. Bright Lights, Big City- Jay McInerney

14. The Namesake- Jhumpa Lahiri

15. Call Me by Your Name- André Aciman

16. The Rachel Papers- Martin Amis

17. Song of Solomon-Toni Morrison

18. The Sun Also Rises- Ernest Hemingway

19. Never Let Me Go- Kazuo Ishiguro

20. A Home at the End of the World- Michael Cunningham

21. The Sandman Series- Neil Gaiman

22. The Group- Mary McCarthy

23. Quicksand and Passing- Nella Larsen

24. Pastoralia- George Saunders

25. Ready Player One- Ernest Cline

26. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius- Dave Eggers

27. The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath

28. Main Street- Sinclair Lewis

30. Generation X- Douglas Coupland

31. The Fortress of Solitude- Jonathan Lethem

32. Housekeeping- Marilynne Robinson

33. I Love Dick- Chris Kraus

34. On the Road- Jack Kerouac

35. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues- Tom Robbins

36. Hard-Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World- Haruki Murakami

37. Bossypants- Tina Fey

38. Kitchen Confidential- Anthony Bourdain

39. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People- Toby Young

40. The Dirt- Mötley Crüe and Neil Strauss

41. Lunar Park- Bret Easton Ellis

42. Just Kids- Patti Smith

43. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City- Nick Flynn

44. Oh the Glory of it All- Sean Wilsey

45. I Don’t Care About Your Band- Julie Klausner

46. Wild- Cheryl Strayed

47. Lit- Mary Karr

48. I’m with the Band- Pamela Des Barres

49. Dear Diary- Lesley Arfin

50. The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton

51. Actual Air- David Berman

52. The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch

53. Alien vs. Predator- Michael Robbins

54. The Collected Poems of Audre Lord

55. Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris

56. How to Be a Woman- Caitlin Moran

57. My Misspent Youth- Meghan Daum

58. Slouching Towards Bethlehem- Joan Didion

59. Up in the Old Hotel- Joseph Mitchell

60. How to Cook Everything- Mark Bittman

61. How’s Your Drink?- Eric Felten

62. The Elements of Style- Strunk & White

63. Letters to a Young Contrarian- Christopher Hitchens

64. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain- Betty Edwards

65. He’s Just Not That Into You- Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo


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