This list from BuzzFeed of the 65 books (why 65?) you should read in your 20s is a few months old at this point, but I thought it worth sharing. I have been out of my 20s for over a year now, and the end of that decade did coincide with some pretty big events in my life (finished grad school at 29, got engaged at 30), but I don’t think this had much to do with my 20s winding down. It’s just how it happened to play out. Being 31 doesn’t feel intrinsically different from being 28, so I’m not sure why this list is limited the way it is. Perhaps they actually mean that you should read these books in your early 20s, but even that is dubious. The point is that books change as we age, and this is why rereading is important. Not a radical idea, but maybe you only first realize this in your 20s because you’re finally starting to make decisions on your own. And all of this is predicated on being privileged enough to avoid having your adult life start at like 16 in a coal mine. The ennui of the college-educated is gross, but it’s something a lot of BuzzFeed readers (myself included) know well, so I guess that’s what this list is really about.
But for god’s sake, if you’re going to make of list of what post-college drifting 20-somethings should read, how can leave off the greatest post-college drifter novel of all time? I’ll simply give you a telling passage:
“You two start on home, Daisy,” said Tom. “In Mr. Gatsby’s car.”
She looked at Tom, alarmed now, but he insisted with magnanimous scorn.
“Go on. He won’t annoy you. I think he realizes that his presumptuous
little flirtation is over.”
They were gone, without a word, snapped out, made accidental, isolated,
like ghosts even from our pity.
After a moment Tom got up and began wrapping the unopened bottle of
whiskey in the towel.
“Want any of this stuff? Jordan? . . . Nick?”
I didn’t answer.
“Nick?” He asked again.
“No . . . I just remembered that today’s my birthday.”
I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous menacing road of a
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some great and surprising picks on this list. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy is incredible and wildly underread. If more people read it because of this listicle (such a gross term), I am fine with it.
So I guess I’ll throw out a question: What books do you think are missing from this BuzzFeed list?
Great post. Thanks for sharing the article. Definitely need to add some books to my summer reading list!
I’d add Franny and Zooey to the list!
I am totally with you on “Franny and Zooey,” though I think “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters” messes me up even more with each rereading…