Vogue Magazine has recently put together a list of books recommended to read before you are 30.
The list is compiled by the editors of Vogue, and range from classic authors such as Virginia Woolf to popular modern novels by Sally Rooney.
It is a list full of impactful and reflective reads and timeless classics recommended for any age, but particularly for that point in your life where you may be figuring out who you are as an adult.
Of course some may argue that there is no time in your life where it is truly the ‘best’ time to figure anything out entirely, nor is there any real time frame for reading any particular novel… But Vogue were willing to try.
Here are our top ten from their thoughtful and interesting list of books to read before you are 30.
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Emily Brontë’s brooding novel set on the Yorkshire moors is classed as one of the classics of our time and many people’s favourite novels. Unlike some novels of the time this one is set away from strict social norms, and follows unconventional characters not created to be liked but to be understood. It speaks to many growing adults as a novel of pain, reflection, and growth, and the ability to love and be loved despite deep, scarring imperfections.
I Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith
Dodie Smith may be known for her children’s favourite 101 Dalmations but this 1938 novel became the perfect book of hers to move onto as an adult. The Smith wit and humour is threaded throughout as the precocious teenaged Cassandra narrates the story of her unconventional family life over 6 months. A coming-of-age story mixed with a love story, but not the love between two people (although that does indeed happen) it is a love story about a young woman and her life. Despite the financial struggles and instability of her home-life, Cassandra finds her joy. A good reminder for the rest of us, perhaps, to love what we can as the castle crumbles around us.
Money: A Suicide Note – Martin Amis
Amis’s novel is whip-smart, fast-thinking, and takes you on wild ride of wordplay and dark humour. The reflection of Ronald Reagan’s America and Margaret Thatcher’s England is bold and disturbing, following antihero John Self as he spirals through a world of hedonistic substance abuse and the pursuit of material success. The novel is sharp and fast- hold on to your seat!
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1987 novel is an enduring story of a woman who is haunted by her past. This novel is not for the overly sensitive heart as it deals with harsh realities of slavery in America, and does not shy away from punching the reader in the face with brutal descriptions. Beautifully written, lyrical and wonderful- completely at odds with the subject matter Morrison deals with. The novel finds a unique way of exploring major events in the world (like war, slavery ,and colonisation) and the effects on the individual. It is a story that will make a mark on your heart.
Never Let Me Go – Katzuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro’s stunning novel spans genres of romance and mystery. It is a sci-fi love story that critiques humanity in a scathing and moving way, and is utterly unputdownable. The reader follows three protagonists as they try and figure out what is really going on in their exclusive boarding school… Not all is as it seems, it is unsettling and makes the reader ask questions of what it means to have ‘purpose’ and ‘worth’ as a human being.
On Beauty – Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith’s third wonderful novel is set in the UK and the USA, and is inspired in part by Howard’s End by E.M. Forster. The reader is thrown into what is essentially a critique of marriage, family life, and the hypocritical nature of human beings. Quintessentially Zadie Smith, full of humour, wit, and sharp analysis of people at their best and their worst.
Conversations With Friends / Normal People – Sally Rooney
Rooney’s 2017/2018 double bill are sharp, cutting, humorous tales of being young, of love, and friendship. The author manages to capture the beauty and pain of those years that feel at the time to be so uniquely our own. Unlike other novels of the same ilk, Rooney writes without the sentimentality or rose-tinted glasses that paints the 20s as sexy and fun years of frivolity, but instead ensures the reader can see themselves in the characters or stories, warts and all.
Operating Instructions – Anne Lamott
Lamott’s chronicling of life as a single mother in her 30s sounds like a pious yawnfest but it is absolutely not. It is a riotous laugh-out-loud story of a woman navigating life as it presents small hiccups and big heartbreak, figuring out how to work through the ups and owns, and still figuring out who you are amongst it all.
Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
Follow the story of Nadia and Saeed as they fall in love in a country that explodes into civil war. The story is peppered with magical realism that transforms the act of migration into simple doors. Hamid’s story is intense, fast-paced, and evocative, pulling the reader through a powerful story of loyalty and love. It is another novel that has been pressed into many hands with the words READ THIS!