Books You Should Read in Your Twenties

by Jamie Klingler

A week or so ago, Buzzfeed ran this list of 65 books you should read in your 20s. The list had some mixed response from London Book Club members, including a friend of one who replied thusly:

There are some good books on there but you can’t include a comedian’s biography and “how to be a woman” on there. I mean. Really? Get a grip.

You just have to glide over the comments to see how many proper books for people in their 20s need to go on there. Serious omissions include Delillo, Vonnegut, Greene, Fante, Fitzgerald.

And also, His Dark Materials? In your twenties? What the fuck were you doing in your teens? No, see now you’ve gone and done it. That list has fucked me off. Whoever compiled it needs a slap.

Clearly, strong feelings abound. So, in the hopes of lowering people’s blood pressure to a more manageable level, we asked LBC members on Twitter to give us their perhaps more suitable suggestions. Here are 37 recommendations…

The Edible Woman – Margaret Atwood recommended by @meganjgibson

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood @hannahswiv

Regeneration – Pat Barker @blonde_m

Don Juan – Lord Byron @hannahswiv

L’etranger – Albert Camus @sam_cookney

Mysteries of Pittsburgh – Michael Chabon @mbadeane

Bullet Park – John Cheever @mbadeane

White Noise – Don DeLillo @mbadeane

The Broad-Stone of Honour’ – K.H. Digby @NetherleyPR

Anything by Bret Easton Ellis @jontyfulminates

I Feel Bad About My Neck – Nora Ephron @blonde_m

The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides @laurenbravo

Chump Change – Dan Fante @LeanneLeveaux

Howl – Allen Ginsberg @mbadeane

Bright Rock – Graham Greene @mbadeane

The End of the Affair – Graham Greene @hannahswiv

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller @hannahswiv

The Garden of Eden – Ernest Hemingway @jwcbarker

The Line of Beauty – Alan Hollinghurst @blonde_m and @laurenbravo

Twentysomething – (Matt’s mate) Iain Hollingshead @matt_muir

Into The Wild – Jon Krakauer @LeanneLeveaux

People of the Abyss – Jack London @LeanneLeveaux

How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran @voneron

Love in a Cold Climate – Nancy Mitford @laurenbravo

One Day – David Nicholls @alice_emily

Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon @alice_emily

The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon @alice_emily

Shanteram – Gregory David Roberts @mbadeane

God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy @alice_emily

Franny & Zooey – JD Salinger @hannahswiv

Anything by Walter Scott @NetherleyPR

The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald @hannahswiv and @sophillia

Changing My Mind – Zadie Smith @alice_emily

On Beauty – Zadie Smith @meganjgibson and @alice_emily

Anything by Irvine Walsh @samdevlin

Vile Bodies – Evelyn Waugh @laurenbravo

Moments of Being – Virginia Woolf @alice_emily