20 Books You Need to Read While You’re a Twenty-Something

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Usually when I write this column, I try my best to give you guys advice. I try to help you relate and feel some sort of comfort from my own trials and tribulations of being a twenty-something. When I write this column, I do my best to focus on one specific topic, tell a story that relates to my life, and then hope that there are a few of you out there who have been through it too. That is what I usually try to do, but today, I was scouring the shelves at a local used bookstore and had a bit of a realization:

There is no advice I can give that these books haven’t already given.

There is more sage wisdom and advice and relatable situations in books than there are in my little column. Now, to be clear, I am not trying to be self-deprecating or anything like that, because I do love writing this column, I’m simply saying that books can help you in ways that other people just can’t.

I was an English major in college, so I basically majored in reading literature and then writing about it — which is a nerd’s dream (my dream). I have read an array of books. From Hemingway to Dillard to Hawthorne to King, I’ve read it. I’ve studied Mark Twain, and I’ve analyzed Willa Cather. I read and annotated and analyzed and discussed Emily Dickinson poems to death.

I studied books. I studied books so much that once I graduated, the last thing I wanted to do was pick up another one and read…for fun. I wanted to find another way to relate to life and feel good and be connected to something, but there is just something different about reading. Reading a book is an escape for me — and in our twenties, we need an escape every now and then. Whether you want to laugh a little with Mindy Kaling or cry with John Green, I know that even people who “don’t read” can find a book worth delving into.

The great thing about literature is that though the time ticks by and life may change, the main themes of great literature does  not. We’re all still wondering about where life is going. We’re all still trying to figure out our identities. And at the end of the day, all we really want is to be loved. These themes and story lines have never wavered throughout  years and years of book writing, and for that, I am thankful because that means that storytelling is still relevant and books are still precious.

Below, you will find a list of some of my favorite books. These books will move you, inspire you, make you cry, make you think, make you laugh, make you sad when you’ve come to the end. Theses characters have helped me through some of the hardest moments of my life, and I hope they do the same for you. And if there are ones on here that you already read in high school or college, I suggest you give them another go because trust me, you’ll see the story through totally different eyes this time around. Enjoy and happy reading!

1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

2. Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann

3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

4. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

7. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers

8. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

9. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

11. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

12. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

13.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

14.  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling

15.  The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

16. Extremely Loud and Incredible Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

17. This is Where I Leave You by Johnathan Tropper

18. The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

20. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Katie recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

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