Literature accompanies us throughout life, and just like our choices and tastes, our book lists grown and evolve with us. We turn to stories that capture our own reflection, echo the beat of our hearts, and nurture us in our exploration and understanding of the world around us. There are certain books that help to heal us, to expand our minds, challenge what we think we know, and to prepare us for the years to come. When picking the pages that will help guide you through your ascent into adulthood, here are the titles we think are must-reads for your thirties…
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A modern-day story of a young woman who emigrates from Nigeria to the United States to attend university, Americanah studies what it means to try and assimilate to the American dream. Exploring themes of gender, race and migration through a smart and savvy modern lens, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie creates a compelling novel that needs to be read and helps us understand the blurred lines between who we were and who we are.
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s most iconic Pulitzer prize-winning novel is a must. Inspired by a true story of a 19th-century slave mother who crossed the river of Ohio to freedom just before the Civil War, this is a heart wrenching hard and important read. Morrison uses beautiful language, a hint of magic realism, and profound insight to weave this survivors tale.
Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed
Those who have listened to the Dear Sugar radio show will be smitten to know that Cheryl Strayed released a whole book on tidbits and letters from her award-winning advice column. Radical empathy is Strayed’s expertise and this beautiful book will heal your soul on everything from love and marriage to learning to survive as an adult.
The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood
Whether or not you have caught the multiple Emmy winning TV series, Margaret Atwood’s book needs to be devoured. Taking an unflinching approach to exploring the patriarchy in a dystopian world, this is a pill that’s hard to swallow but also provides very necessary food for thought.
Bad Feminist – Roxanne Gay
A collection of essays from Roxanne Gay reminds us of all the nuances of being a woman trying to tackle feminism in the 21st century. From the inner battle with pink and Sweet Valley High to white savior complex and to how you are shaped as a feminist in the modern world, Roxanne Gay takes a sincere look at society and culture.
A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara
Be sure to have a box of tissues handy as you plough your way through Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. Following four college friends who are now in their thirties there are some big themes, a thousand tiny heartbreaks, and an astute understanding of how trauma impacts our lives and the lives of those around us.
Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
An oldie but a goldie, Revolutionary Road is one of those novels that will either make you sink into the depths of despair or book a one-way ticket to Paris. Following the marriage of Frank and April Wheeler, it very much deconstructs the complex nature of struggling to become unstuck as an adult (with chilling consequences).
Which page-turners are making your list? Share your favorite books to read in your thirties in the comments.