What are the top books millennials need to read? Here are the 30 books to read before 30 that will teach and inspire you.
If you are like us, what you really want are book suggestions and book reviews. You want someone to say Read This, Not That. You want to know the best book club books, the most inspirational nonfiction books, and the books you just can’t put down. That’s where I come in.
I am an avid reader, so I figured compiling this list of 30 books to read before 30 would be a breeze. It’s just 30 books, right? But I didn’t just pick any good books to read before 30. I wanted to choose books that you absolutely need to read. I’m not saying that these are the 30 best books ever written. But they are the ones that will teach you, inspire you, and touch you.
So take a peek and let me know what you think of my list of 30 books to read before 30.
Children’s Books To Read Before 30
J. K. Rowling
If we were to have ranked our 30 books millennials need to read, without a doubt the Harry Potter series would have been our top pick. Your life just isn’t complete until you have read these books. And, no, the movies don’t count.
A. A. Milne
The adventures of Christopher Robin’s beloved bear of very little brain is one that every child should have read to them and that every adult should read again. With his smart humor, A. A. Milne reminds you of the pure joy of a child’s imagination.
R. J. Palacio
This story of a boy with a severely deformed face entering public middle school for the first time will make you ponder how you react to people who look differently. I know many of my choices have talked about the dark side of human nature, but this book will leave you with hope for mankind.
L. M. Montgomery
Growing up, every girl should be required to read the adventures of orphan Anne Shirley who uses all her imagination and spunk to win the hearts of everyone around her. She’s the girl every girl wishes she could be. A childhood classic that is just as entertaining when you are an adult.
There’s a good reason that practically every school makes you read this book. The story of young Scout and Jem watching their father Atticus Finch defend an innocent black man will make you want to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. A timeless classic that everyone should read.
Books You Should Have Read in High School
Living in Pakistan as the Taliban took over her valley, Malala’s advocacy for women’s education led her to international recognition and an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Her autobiography will inspire you to stand up for your beliefs because one ordinary girl can change the world.
Set in a world where printed books are burned by firemen, Ray Bradbury’s novel serves as a warning against the dangers of censorship and the consequences of an addiction to television. In our world of technology, Ray Bradbury’s novel feels prophetic.
A simple story of the animals revolting against the cruel farmer to set up their own government, Animal Farm is the perfect allegory for the danger of giving up our freedoms for the sake of security. If you’ve ever wondered how a dictatorship comes to be, this classic short novel will show you. Best when read with 1984.
Orson Scott Card
At what cost are we willing to sacrifice our children for the greater good? You don’t have to like science fiction to love this book; the story is extremely captivating. However, what gains it a place on our list is the deeper themes: compassion, ruthlessness, and our underlying humanity.
John Howard Griffin
In October of 1959, journalist John Howard Griffin spent six weeks traveling across the Deep South with one major change: he medically darkened his skin to look like a black man. His journal of the experience is an incredible read discussing race relations in the United States.
As science and technology can do more and more to improve our lives, how much of our humanity are we willing to give to reach utopia? Huxley paints a frightening picture of a world of total uniformity that will show you the downside of a world without suffering.
What happens when a group of English schoolboys is marooned on a deserted island? As the boys attempt to rule themselves, the dark side of human nature comes out in all its ugliness. Even if our society isn’t perfect, this book makes you glad that at least you live in a civilized society.
I was debating putting two Holocaust stories on this list, but I think you should read both. While Viktor Frankl’s account is about finding the meaning inside his trial, Elie Wiesel’s story is a heart-wrenching account of his life. While I love a good World War II novel, we must understand the true horror of these events to ensure they don’t happen again.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen the BBC miniseries or the Keira Knightley movie, you still need to read the book. Jane Austen’s witty novel is a fun reminder of the importance of marrying for love and not lust or security.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So begins Charles Dickens’ novel set amid the violence of the French Revolution. His classic tale reminds you that violence only begets violence and that it is never too late to find redemption.
Books To Read In Your 20s
W. Somerset Maugham said, “The crown of literature is poetry.” Emily Dickinson’s poetry is the perfect beginning to your journey into literature’s finest. Her beautiful lyrics will touch your soul and leave you in awe at the power of verse.
How much does higher intelligence give you a better life? The tale of a mentally disabled man who undergoes an experiment that increases his IQ to an insanely high level will make you ponder the benefits and drawbacks of both high and low intelligence. Keep tissues handy, it’s a book that will make you cry.
How well do you know your mother? This tale of four Chinese mothers trying to pass on their wisdom to their America-born daughters who don’t truly understand them will make you want to learn more about your own mother.
Everyone should read at least one fantasy series in their life, and this is the best one out there. Kvothe, a living legend in the world he lives in, tells how he cultivated his life into a myth of epic proportions to a local biographer. The intricate details of the world Rothfuss creates will captivate your attention for days on end. Let’s just hope he eventually writes that final book.
All of Khaled Hosseini’s books are worth reading, but The Kite Runner is his debut novel. The unforgettable story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, it beautifully describes love, friendship, betrayal, and redemption.
A must-read for any woman embarking on her career, Sheryl Sandberg’s book will inspire you to fully lean in to your profession. She gives great advice on how to combat bias against women in the workplace and manage a career, a marriage, and a family.
In a world of materialism and overconsumption, we could all use a bit more minimalism in our lives. Marie Kondo’s how-to guide on decluttering your home is a bit silly at times, but her KonMari method does work. Warning: you will have the irresistible urge to attack the clutter in your house as you read this book.
Nelson Mandela’s inspiring autobiography of his life as he evolved from a freedom fighter to a political prisoner to a great leader testifies of the refining power of transformation through struggle and gives hope that our struggles are not in vain.
How do you find meaning in your suffering? If anyone can find the answer, it’s psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. A memoir of his and others’ experiences in Nazi concentration camps, Frankl will help you cope with, find meaning in, and move past the trials in your life.
I don’t even like dogs, and I loved this book. The antics of Marley, the world’s worst dog, are simply hilarious. Even more, the love that springs up between Marley and his owner despite Marley’s many flaws is so touching. A great reminder for you to be grateful for the love of four-legged friends in your life.
What makes extremely successful people different from others? Gladwell uses statistics and interesting real-life examples to show how closely success is tied to not only natural ability and hard work but also opportunity and timing.
In today’s society, we seem to idolize the extrovert. Well-researched and thought-provoking, Cain not only shows the power of introverts but also addresses the struggles introverts face and how to overcome them. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, this will make you see people in a different light.
Virginia Woolf believes that for a woman to truly write, she needs two things: money and a room to herself. While you may not agree with everything she says, this short essay covers the interesting topics of intellectual freedom and the process of creating.
If you want to be a savvy millennial, you need to make your money work for you. Dave Ramsey’s book is the best starting point to get you thinking about finances. His book clearly explains the dangers of debt – especially credit card debt – and is a great how-to guide to get you out of debt and ready to be financially free.
Sometimes it takes doing something crazy, like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, for you to truly put your life in order. So if your life, your job, or your friends are not what they ought to be, you’ll be inspired to reset your life to find your focus.
What Would You Say are the Top 30 Books to Read Before 30?
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my list? What books would you add and which do you think I should have left off? As always, let me know in the comments!
More Books to Read Before 30: