30 Books To Read Before You Turn 30

A mixture of literature that indulges the romance and glamour of staying out late drinking and listening to rock and roll, along with words that remind us we're just now on the cusp of understanding, well, anything.

A lot happens in life before we turn the big 3-0. There's teenage angst, twentysomething mistakes, and three decades of trying to figure out exactly who we are and what we want. Here, I've included a mixture of literature that indulges the romance and glamour of staying out late drinking and listening to rock and roll, along with words that remind us that we're just now on the cusp of understanding, well, anything. There's discussion of gender identity, falling in love, trauma, sex, and experiences so relatable you'll find yourselves laughing and crying all at once. Below are 30 of my favorite titles, but feel free to add your own. Just remember to read.

1. "The Dream of a Common Language," by Adrienne Rich

2. "Native Son," by Richard Wright

3. "The Sun Also Rises," by Ernest Hemingway

4. "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," by Milan Kundera

5. "A Collection of Essays," by George Orwell

6. "The Bluest Eye," by Toni Morrison

7. "How Should a Person Be?" by Sheila Heti

8. "In Watermelon Sugar," by Richard Brautigan

9. "Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar," by Cheryl Strayed

10. "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay," by Michael Chabon

11. "The Flamethrowers," by Rachel Kushner

12. "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," by Joan Didion

13. "Hateship Friendship Courtship Loveship Marriage," by Alice Munro

14. "Pastoralia," by George Saunders

15. "On the Road," by Jack Kerouac

16. "A Room of One's Own," by Virginia Woolf

17. "Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov

18. "Norwegian Wood," by Haruki Murakami

19. "White Teeth," Zadie Smith

20. "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," by Tom Robbins

21. "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kessey

22. "Just Kids," by Patti Smith

23. "Me Talk Pretty One Day," by David Sedaris

24. "Generation X" by Douglas Coupland

25. "Cat's Cradle," Kurt Vonnegut

26. "The Most of Nora Ephron," by Nora Ephron

27. "Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen

28. "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas," by Hunters S. Thompson

29. "Go Tell It on the Mountain," by James Baldwin

30. "The Picture of Dorian Gray," by Oscar Wilde

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Hallie Gould

Hallie has worked in beauty editorial for ten years and has been editorial director at Byrdie since 2021. Previously, she was a senior editor at Byrdie since 2016. During her time at Byrdie, she's written hundreds of high-performing stories on skincare, wellness (including fitness, diet, mental health, body image, et al) makeup, and hair. She's a regular on set, helping to source inspiration for makeup and hair looks, as well as interviewing celebrities, models, and other notable women and men in the beauty space.

Before that, Hallie ran Marie Claire's social media and wrote beauty and culture stories for the site, and helped launch Time Inc.'s digital-only beauty brand, MIMI. After college, she contributed to Time Out New York’s Shopping & Style section before landing her first beauty editor gig at Hearst's Real Beauty. Hallie's writing has also appeared in ELLE, Cosmopolitan, and InStyle. Hallie graduated with a BA in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.