9 Books to Read by Age 30

…if you want to be a good writer. Or just an interesting person

Each of these books will teach you new ways of thinking about things you’ll face — or are now facing — in your twenties. If you’ve already read some of them back in high school, read them again now that you’re older and wiser. They will tell you new things. As you approach the end of your twenties in particular, these books are signposts that will point your way through the woods. Oh yeah, you know the woods I’m talking about. You’re right in the thick of it.

All right, enough intro. Let’s talk about great books. These are in no particular order, because ranking your favorite books is stupid.

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Cabin Fever in Cotton Country

I’m snowed in, deep in the heart of Texas.

Snowpocalypse Now. Snowmageddon. Eldritch snowclopean architecture, turning Lubbock Texas into a silent white field.

This probably looks like nothing to those of you from snowy places. You are probably laughing at me right now. You have every right to. Just know that in Lubbock, the Last Days have come.

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So… What’s Next?

Life has thrown me a curveball.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do next.

My plan had been to live in Florence, my favorite city in the world. I rented a very charming, rustically decorated flat there. The flat is right in the center of Santa Croce, in an old stone building that the Medici family probably built, where the roof beams in the bathroom still have their original decorative paint from the 1600s. I was there until midway through December, writing all day and going out for aperitivo and wine every night.

Then I found out something I probably should have looked into before.

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Here There Be Dianogas

Even in Star Wars, we need dark places on the map.

One particular moment in the original Star Wars trilogy has always connected with me more than all others.

It’s that moment in the first act of A New Hope when Luke walks out behind his aunt’s and uncle’s farmhouse and watches the twin suns setting over the desert. That haunting minor-key theme swells in the background, and you see Luke as you won’t ever see him again: as a regular dude just like you and me, looking off into the infinite without the slightest real idea of what’s out there, thinking: “Bring me that horizon.”

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The Fascination of the Abomination

Why is the human mind so eager to explore the darkness? What do we hope to learn there?

I. Paradoxes of the heart

Have you ever watched a movie that was so scary you couldn’t look away?

For as long as I can remember — and probably longer — I’ve been intrigued by monsters. At preschool age, I had what my parents called an “overactive imagination,” and a long series of nightmares from which I woke screaming convinced them to ban me from watching TV shows — even cartoons — involving monsters or horror of any kind.

What was I looking for in all this?

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