Below you will find 20 books to read before you turn 20. These lists are always arbitrary, but there is something timely about reading these works. If they find you at the right time. these books will stay with you the rest of your lives.

I’ve tried to place them in order of difficulty starting with the easiest as far as writing style goes. The subject matter ranges from light fantasy to deeply disturbing throughout the list, and there is a mix of both fiction and nonfiction to keep your brain on its toes.

When you are done reading, come back and check out our 30 before 30 list.

20 books to read before you turn 20

1. Peter Pan by James Barrie

2. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

3. Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

4. The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky

6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

7. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

9. Caucasia by Danzy Senna

10. Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol

11. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

12. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

13. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

14. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

15. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

16. The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber

17. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

18. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

19. America by Jean Baudrillard

20. The Stranger by Albert Camus

How many have you read? What books have stuck with you that you read before age 20? Are there any on this list that you think you need to be older to appreciate? 

3 Responses

  1. I’ve read a considerable amount of those already, and I’ve got two years to finish off the list 🙂 Very good list, by the way. Really enjoyed the Harry Potter series when I was younger, The Book Thief is just fabulous, and The Great Gatsby is beautifully/creatively worded. Love ’em all!

    1. That is fantastic. I’d say you are well on your way. I hadn’t even read all of these by the time I was 20, but when I was making the list, they seemed like the right ones to choose for a hungry and growing mind.

      30 Before 30 will be published this week, so stay tuned for that!

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