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25 Books Everyone Should Read Before They Turn 25

Just in time for blanket weather. You're welcome.

One of the great tragedies of any book lover's life is that there will always be more good books to read than there are hours in the day or spaces on your bookshelf. Prioritizing which book to read next can be more agonizing than the dilemma Hamlet found himself in. Some books are just better if you read them at a certain time in your life, and some are ideal for reading as a young adult because of the ideas they propel you to think about.


Regardless of how old you are though, every book on the following list is a must-read in its own right. So this winter, curl up with a blanket and your favorite hot beverage and get to work crossing a few of these off.

  1. "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
    Little, Brown

    It's a classic for a reason, but it will resonate more if you read it before you become an old phoney.

  2. "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn
    Random House

    Beautifully written and bizarre, it will change the relationship you have with your own oddities.

  3. "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison
    Vintage International

    Toni Morrison is an important author to be familiar with and her first book is an emotional heavy-hitter that will will offer you perspective and introspection on the meaning of trauma and survival.

  4. "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
    Warner Books Inc.

    If you don't end up reading this one in school, do it on your own. It will forever change how you look at your own preconceived notions.

  5. "The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger
    Broadway Books

    One of the your first internships or jobs is bound to feel like it's destroying you as it builds your resume. Read this and realize you're not alone.

  6. "Orlando" by Virginia Woolf
    Oxford World Classics

    Way before Miley and Laura Jane Grace, there was Ms. Woolf challenging the concept of gender. Read and ruminate on who you are versus what you are in the years that you're forming your identity.

  7. "The White Album" by Joan Didion
    FSG Classics

    Use this collection of essays to get into Didion's distinct writing style and astute observations, then spend the second half of your twenties working towards being as cool as her.

  8. "Self Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Dover Thrift Editions

    Paying your rent. Choosing a job. Figuring out taxes or whatever. Being an adult is terrifying. Arm yourself with solid life advice like "Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string."

  9. "Ghost World" by Daniel Clowes
    Fantagraphics Books

    Living in a town where no one seems to "get it?" Read this hilarious graphic novel and realize you just need to find your partner in sarcasm.

  10. "Me Talk Pretty Some Day" by David Sedaris
    Little, Brown, and Company

    You will cackle out loud, and then realize that your eccentric family may actually be the best thing that's every happened to you.

  11. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
    Bantam Classics

    The right guy is the one who sees your wit and intelligence as an asset, not a challenge. Find your own Darcy. (Also, this book is a fun read since it's basically an old school rom-com, so there's that.)

  12. "The Rules of Attraction" by Bret Easton Ellis
    Penguin Books

    This story of a group of dysfunctional liberal arts students is impressive for its innovative form and fleshed out characters, but it will really hit home if read between the walls of a messy dorm room.

  13. "Night" by Elie Wiesel
    Simon and Schuster

    This first-person account of surviving the Holocaust is sobering, disturbing and incredibly written. It will change the way you look at the world and compel you work to make it a better place.

  14. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed
    Penguin Random House

    You don't have to go through trauma as severe as Stayed's to get something out of this story of survival and self-reliance. This book is mental food for the steep uphill trail that is your 20s.

  15. "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72" by Hunter S. Thompson
    Straight Arrow Press

    Before there was Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, there was George McGovern and Ted Kennedy. This gonzo account of the 1972 election is one of the most entertaining and thought provoking ways to realize that the American political system is essentially a circus.

  16. "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan
    G.P. Putnam's Sons

    This written antidote for homesickness will remind you of the importance of maintaining relationships with your female friends and relatives through out your adult life.

  17. "What Is the What" by Dave Eggers

    This real-life account of a young man's harrowing escape from the war-torn Sudan is basically an apathy vaccine.

  18. "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace
    Little, Brown, and Company

    This fictional masterpiece is a great representation of Wallace's paradoxically dark and gracious world view. Work your way through its 1,000 pages while you're stuck at a job you don't like, or, if you just don't have time, at least check out Wallace's epically inspiring "This is Water," speech.

  19. "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway
    Bantam Books

    One of the greatest love stories that isn't one. Read it before you meet your own "One That Got Away."

  20. "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
    McClelland & Stewart

    This dark cautionary fable will shape the way you look at gender as it relates to money and power.

  21. "Hyperbole and a Half" by Allie Broosh
    Simon & Schuster

    If you've been anywhere on the internet, you've seen Broosh's crude yet oddly relatable drawings as memes. Her hilarious book gives story and depth to these iconic stick figures. Broosh's somehow hysterical take on topics like depression will make you cackle out loud while making you realize you're not alone.

  22. "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison
    Random House

    Written in 1952, this deft meditation on blackness in America remains relevant, eye-opening, and important.

  23. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams
    Pan Books

    You don't have to be a science fiction person to get something out of this brilliant satire, which will help you have both an appreciation and a critical eye toward your own planet.

  24. "Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut
    Delacorte Press

    Really, anything by Vonnegut. His playful take on the absurd world we live in helps sugarcoat some of the darker truths about humanity.

  25. All of the "Harry Potter" books

    Just because your 11th birthday has passed doesn't mean you've missed your shot at going to Hogwarts. These books are a necessary cultural reference point and contain epic lessons on love, bravery and pretty much everything else that comes with being a mere Muggle.

What book would you add to this list and why? Tell us in the comments below!