9 Books to Read by Age 30

These are the books that defined my 20s. Read them to become a better writer—or a more 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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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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