Three for Thirty & Forty for Forty

I am going to be thirty in less than a month, something I have mixed feelings about and may possibly keep pretending to myself isn’t happening. It’s not the getting older thing, I am not that bothered about that, it’s that feeling I had (which I have clearly held onto) from being at school and in my late teens that ‘by thirty you should know what you are doing with your life’ – I still have no idea. Anyway, that is by the by but being 30 does have something to do with books as the other day I muttered the worlds I have long used ‘oh that’s another book to read by the time I am 30’. The friend I was with flippantly quipped back ‘better hurry up then’ and I felt perplexed.

I think most book lovers have several lists in their heads at any one time (though of course this could just be me). First is the list of what you have just read, are reading and want to read pretty much next, second is the list of all those periphery books that you want to get your mitts on, third is the list of books for rainy days or to read as a treat, fourth are those books ‘you really should read before…’ Mine has always been books I should read before I am thirty. Oops, failed there.

These are books that as a reader part of me does genuinely want to read and also some of me feels I simply have to have read. These include some of the generic classics I have missed out on as yet like ‘Madame Bovary’, ‘Crime and Punishment’,  ‘Of Human Bondage’ etc as well as more modern novels like ‘Catch 22’. Do you know the sorts of books I mean?

Of course I can’t read all the books on my ‘to read before I am thirty’ (Dickens was one but I am now bored of the whole Dickens anniversary to the point it has officially put me off) list, especially as I said I would read by whim this year. But I think I will try and read three of them, one for each week I have left in my twenties. The first of these might just be ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank which I cannot believe I have almost reached the age of thirty and not read. I am mulling over the other two options, but mulling is good because I also want to create another list of novels, and here I need your help, as I want to create a list of 40 books I should have read by the time I hit forty. I know it is ten years away but that makes it rather manageable.

I would love you to suggest your very favourite books, choose a few that you think I should definitely read or you would recommend to anyone as a perfect read. They don’t have to be classics, they just have to be books you adore (and tell me why) in fact the lesser know ones along with some infamous ones might make a nice mix. I am thinking of books which it simply is a crime not to have read by then in your opinion. I will then compile a list of the forty to publish in my first week post thirty and start reading, four of these a year seems manageable.


Filed under Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

84 responses to “Three for Thirty & Forty for Forty

  1. cool
    I thought it was compulsory for everyone to read The Diary of a Young Girl when they’re still at school. 🙂

    read Catch 22, it’s funny, thought provoking and pretty much gets right to the heart of the sheer absurdity of war. It’s one of the best anti-war novels you’ll read.

    I suggest you read Lanark by Alasdair Gray (my blog name is taken from the book). It’s still one of the the best novels to come out of Scotland. It’s a mesmerising mixture of bildungsroman, dystopian fiction with a touch of Blake & Kafka, political novel in the time of Thatcher & a dash of postmodernist pyrotechnics.

    • I think we were told a lot about Anne Frank but it was never a book we were made to read. I worry that I wouldnt feel the emotion behind it if I did read it, would that make me feel a bad or lesser person.

      Catch 22 may well end up on my 40 for 40 list. I haven’t heard of Alasdair Gray so I will go and look that up now.

  2. Howards End by E.M. Forster I know you were put off EMF by studying for A levels but it really would be a shame if you did not read this. Such a fab book. Or Vickram Seth a Suitable Boy, this has one of my favourite cover quotes from the times on the cover. ‘Make time for it, it will keep you company for the rest of your life’ Also Zadie smith’s On Beauty is quite special. Enjoy your Birthday, I am 40 this year *GULP*

    • I might give Forster another go but I would really have to be persuaded further. I might grab it from the library and see how I fair. I think I have A Passage To India somewhere in the TBR.

      A Suitable Boy is a brilliant suggestion, that may very well go on the list.

      I didn’t love On Beauty, I don’t really get the whole bowing down to Zadie Smith either, I thought it was a bit average – oops.

  3. Carol N Wong (@Carolee888)

    Instead suggesting book, my suggestion is to simply pick one of them that calls to you. I am now 65. My next gulp moment is 70!!! Do you realize that as time goes by the years get shorter. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew until now! I took a job and worked for 18 years because I needed to pay the bills.


  4. I second A Suitable Boy – it is engrossing. As is A Fine Balance – my favourite novel in recent memory…I must re-read it. It is one of the first novelsd I read that took place in India, and made me love novels that take place there.

  5. I used to have a list of books I felt I should read as they were classed as great. I’ve sort of ditched that now. Reading should be fun, and what is fun about reading something you don’t want to read or feel you should read?

    You’ve probably read a lot if not all of these but: A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, I have never felt more lost in a story. Persuasion by Jane Austin, another favourite, I like a mature romance, the younger ones feel silly/unrealistic. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a magnificently Gothic; this kept me guessing until the end, the twist made me literally shout ‘oh my god’! The Reader by Bernhard Schlink made me question my thoughts on morality and how to assign guilt and blame. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom made me cry and The Alchamist by Paulo Coelho filled me with inspiration. I’m sure there are more, but these are ones I could think of on the spot. These all got something emotional out of me, they’ve also stuck in my head since I’ve read them, some for years.

    • These are books I want to read Alice, its more I need a gentle nudge over the reading precipice if you know what I mean. Oddly I have either read or tried all your suggestions apart from Persuasion. George R.R. Martin I just didn’t get hooked by at all, The Thirteenth Tale I liked enough, loved The Reader and the other two… I will stop there 😉

      • Haha, you needn’t say more 🙂

        You’re very well read so I had a suspicion you’d have read most of my list.
        I suggest watching the TV series Game of Thrones and then picking the book up again if you haven’t already. I honestly don’t think I would have fought past the first chapter at the wall if I wasn’t excited about what was to come. It also helps you remember all the characters.

      • There is an option of watching and reading, it could do the trick indeed. Its only been on certain unabvaiable to me channels so far I think. I saw so much about it I could have wiped it from my memory as it went into overkill.

  6. I second The Thirteenth Tale – I loved it when it came out a few years ago and I am listening to the audio book while I am crafting away during the days at the moment.

    I got to meet Diane Setterfield when I was working for a well known book shop during a signing and she was lovely – made me like the book a tiny bit more than I did already.

    • You see I wonder if I simply missed the party with Diane Setterfield rather like I did with Jennifer Egan, everyone seems to have loved it, I didn’t get that. It should be said I didnt think it was a bad book or loathe it like I did the Goon Squad. Ha.

  7. I was going to suggest A Fine Balance but someone else already has
    I would therefore recommend My brother Jonathon, by Francis Brett young, a midland author now out of print but brilliantly readable about a black country Gp before NHs.
    Also, south Riding, Winifred Holtby,
    The moonstone Wilkie Collins
    The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker
    The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott
    Maps for lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam
    The Major of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    I’ll stop there as there are many more I could name and you may have read many of those already.

    • The more suggestions a book has the more likely I am to add it to the list I am creating to be honest.

      I have read the Holtby, Collins and Martel, but the others will go on the list. Would you suggest Casterbridge over say Tess for a new to Hardy reader?

  8. Jenni

    After giving the matter some serious thought and rummaging through your blog archives I managed to compress my recommendations into just three. 🙂

    Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
    My favourite Gaskell book is Wives and Daughters, but it’s rather long and she died before being able to finish it, so the ending is a bit of a letdown. If you’ve never read Gaskell I think Cranford is a great place to start. I think you’ll enjoy Gaskell’s poignant observations about life in a small country-town.

    Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
    My favourite Ishiguro novel. I noticed you were going to save this to the last. Don’t.

    Famous Last Words by Timothy Findley
    Timothy Findley is one of my favourite authors but I don’t think he has received enough attention. Not here in Finland anyway, maybe it’s different in Britain (and Canada of course). This is the first book I read by him and it still is my favourite.

    • Ha I like the fact you went off and researched Jenni, serious kudos to your for that and what a great selection too. Remains of the Day is high up on my soon to reads, so I might not put it in this list and simply read it soon instead.

      I have never heard of Timothy Findley but I just looked him up and the cover of Spadework freaked me out. Like to discover a new author so he may well be on the list with Cranford possibly too.

  9. Orla

    Anne Frank is a great choice, the most moving book I have ever read. Classics I love include Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck and The House of Mirth by Wharton.

    More recently, I loved The Map of Love by Adhaf Soueif (romantic and epic) and February by Lisa Moore (heartbreaking and brilliant).

    For non-fiction: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (exciting, horrific and unputdownable) and A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and In Cold Blood by Capote.

    Enjoy! And Happy Birthday in advance!

    • Anne Frank is one that will probably go on the list. I am not sure I could read another Steinbeck after Grapes of Wrath, The House of Mirth is a brilliant idea.

      The Map of Love had rave reviews so that could be a great choice, as could some of those non fiction books, I loved In Cold blood – I thought it was incredible.

  10. Samir

    Ah yes, I had the same thing when I turned 30… I thought, what the! I had so many book to read first… now I’m playing catch up.

    I’m going to recommend my top 3 of 2011 (the reasons why are in this post on my blog: )

    Namely, Erri de Luca: Three Horses, Albert Camus: The Outsider, John Updike: The Maples Stores.

    Have a good birthday.

  11. Catch 22 is brilliant. Definitely read it.
    As for books I love and would recommend…The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Robin Hobb’s Assassin trilogy. The Hunger Games trilogy. Anything by Sarah Waters. Anything by Bill Bryson. Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Anything by Neil Gaiman, especially American Gods. All of the Sherlock Holmes books. Anything by Daphne Du Maurier.
    There are so many….
    PS Did I ever email you my address for letters? I think I did but I can’t remember and can’t find it it my email sent items.

    • Another recommendation for Catch 22 so that is one I should read. Du Maurier and Sherlock are in the bag, I love both of those. I have missed out on Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, that is one I should read.

  12. Miss Hargreaves 😉

    But, more seriously… well, I can’t remember everything you have read, but I can’t remember you saying you’d read Virginia Woolf? Oh, and Jane Austen, of course!

    • Me and Virginia… Oh I have tried and tried Simon, I really have, mind you Orlando intrigues me but I only got on with the one about the dog, I didn’t like Lighthouse or Dallaway. Jane Austen is one I should read a full novel of, yes.

      • Ok, maybe give up on our Ginny then 😉 Have you read Mollie Panter-Downes’ One Fine Day? I’m reading it now and it’s so brilliant – and is quite like Woolf, but in a way that I don’t think would put anybody off.

      • I have read Mollie Panter Downes short stories, I think it was hers, by Persephone I believe. I liked them a lot.

  13. Hi – you make me feel old! Can I assume you’ve read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? Once that’s out of the way, I’d suggest The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: a brilliant, contemporary take on dictator-fiction, and something whose sheer audacity will shape how you feel about other books for some time after…

    • Sorry haven’t meant to make anyone feel old with this post Mark, I just wanted to get suggestions and see if anyone had any rave recommendations. Oscar Wao is a brilliant idea, I have wanted to read that for ages.

      Is it bad I havent read Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn?

  14. Simon T mentioned Austen. Not so long ago on Rachel’s blog (Book Snob) you were talking about having not read any of hers (Jane Austen’s that is, not Rachel’s). I doubt anyone would recommend “Northanger Abbey” as the best way in, but I have a hunch it is the one most likely to appeal to you. It features a big haunted house and a heroine who is obsessed with the sensation literature of her day. Doesn’t that sound like your kind of book?

  15. Ok, if you haven’t read it already, it’s got to be the Icelandic sheep farming novel: Independent People by Halldor Laxness. This is just the *best* book I have read in years. And for something completely different and new In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield, which is an extraordinary novel about mermaids in an alternate medieval Britain. I know you probably think that sounds hideous and not at all your thing. But it’s amazing!

    • I have never heard of the icelandic sheep farming novel, but with my new found love for books in the rural wilderness that could be perfect. I also like the sounds of mermaids. Lovely recommendations Victoria.

  16. Louise Trolle

    I’m 34, but already now I’ve accepted the fact, that I’ll probably not finish all the books I own at present in this lifetime (unless I stop buying new ones which is NOT likely!!) 🙂
    I’d recommend these;
    Through a Glass, Darkly by Jostein Gaarder
    One of the most touching tales I’ve ever read, a philosophical story about a sick girl who goes on nightly adventures with an angel named Ariel. It’s hard to describe but a great book.

    Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier
    One of my all time favourites, one of the best books about friendship, and the journey of understanding your fellow humans. I rationed the last 100 pages, 10 a day, because I didn’t want to finish it!

    I second American Gods by Neil Gaiman! I’m so excited about going to Rock City in Tennesee this Summer.

    If you want to read classics, I recommend Karen Blixen and W. Somerset Maugham

    • I love the sound of all three of those which you have mentioned. I really wanted to see Through a Glass, Darkly when it was on in London a year or so ago.

      Maugham I must read more of, I have never heard of Karen Blixen… I am off to go and look her up.

      • Louise Trolle

        She was a Baroness, the grand dame of Danish literature, and was taken into consideration for the Nobel Prize in literature. In the English speaking world she’s perhaps best known as the woman who wrote the book behind the movie “Out of Africa”, and Meryl Streep plays her in the movie.
        She had a VERY strong personality, was extremely clever, and wrote books like “Winter’s Tales”, Babette’s Feast and Seven Gothic Tales.

      • Ahhhh now I have heard of ‘Out of Africa’ (never seen the film strangely) I think she sounds like she could be quite a character, and if her work reflects that I might just have to give it a whirl.

  17. gaskella

    Almost anything by Beryl Bainbridge; Blindness by Saramago; All quiet on the orient express by Magnus Mills. I’m loath to suggest older ‘classics’ as you need to be in the right mood to read them (one day I will re-read all the great Russians which I devoured in my late teens, but haven’t been able to get into since).

  18. For Austen, definitely either Persuasion (I agree with Alice that it is the most adult of her novels), which might match your current mood as the heroine is in her late twenties and has some regrets, or Northanger Abbey, which spoofs popular gothic lit of the day. As a bonus, they are both fairly short!

    Since you like Christie, maybe try Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey. I haven’t seen the recent season yet, but apparently Downton Abbey steals the plotline of this 1940s mystery.

    Otherwise, my American/New Englander half would suggest anything by John Irving. My blog readers (who picked my 12 challenge books this year) put Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany at the top of the list (Note: to second those above, they also put The Thirteenth Tale on there), but I haven’t read it yet so I’d suggest either the now classic The World According to Garp or my favorite, A Widow for One Year, which I think is the most “literary” of his novels.

    My French half would insist on Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Laclos (a novel told through the letters of bitchy, manipulative aristocrats—what’s not to love?) and anything by Théophile Gautier, a mid-1800s French journalist/critic/poet (you name it, he did it, he even wrote the scenario for the ballet Giselle) who wrote some great spooky short stories often involving ancient Egypt or Rome. You’d probably like his Egyptian-based Roman de la Momie, but I don’t know about its availability in translation, so I’d suggest Mademoiselle de Maupin, which involves gender identity. Not many talk about him now, but he was a favorite of Baudelaire and Wilde, among others.

    • Austen-wise I think starting with Northhanger Abbey would probably be the best start in all honesty.

      I have recenytly had the new John Irving so I will be reading him for the first time this year, which might send me in the path of other ones. A Widow for One Year interests me the most out of his back catalogue.

      I loooooved Les Liasons Dangereuses. A little long but brillianty grand and bitchy.

  19. My pick for you is anything by Raymond Chandler, with my particular favorite being “Farewell my Lovely”. Philip Marlowe is the original private eye. I think you’d really enjoy it!
    And don’t be so hard on yourself about getting things done by a certain age, you are living your life just like its meant to be!
    Words of wisdom from someone several decades older than you that still isn’t sure what she’s supposed to be when she grows up 🙂

    • I have not read any Raymond Chandler as yet, I did take the first one out of the library and then someone else ordered it before I had the chance to read it.

      I am reading by whim in the main but I do think there are certain books I should gravitate towards or at least try.

  20. Turning 30 was pretty meaningless for me. It’s just a number after all, and has little bearing on how you feel inside. Your inner age is more important. I went skidding past 40 a few years ago, with no brakes. I love being the age I am because a lot of things seem to improve.

    If you haven’t read it, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon. Seething with suppressed rage, it’s a hugely entertaining fairytale for adults. Sublime.

    • Its interesting I think a lot of people I knwo approaching 30 don’t see it as a small thing at all, I am sure we all will in hindsight.

      Fay Weldon is a great idea for a recommendation. I have always meant to read her books and haven’t but that might be my first. I love the idea of it being an adult fairytale.

  21. I think I saw recently that you had only read one book by John Fowles, so I would suggest either The Collector or The Magus, depending on which one it is that you haven’t read, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

    And from amongst the older Penguins: The Quest for Corvo by AJA Symons. It tells the fascinating story of the paranoid writer Fr. Rolfe using an unusual approach to biography writing in which he details both his subject’s life and the methods by which he uncovered the information.

    • The French Lieutenant’s Woman arrived here the other day and may just be my first of my three for thirty reads rather than my forty for forty reads. I didn’t realise it was set in the Victorian era. I thought The Collector was very impressive.

      You are the queen of old penguins I bow to your suggestions.

  22. My favourites
    Rings of Saturn w g sebald
    Brideshead revisited Evelyn Waugh
    Notes from walnut farm roger deakin
    2666 Roberts bolano
    Off top of my head

    • I have only read Brideshead Revisited off that list and so will pop off and find out more about the others though 2666 might be a bit of a chunkster for me, but I will have a look as you liked it so much.

  23. I’m afraid you might have made your ‘to read’ list balloon out of control! So, rather than suggests books you should read, I’ll tell you of a few to steer clear of. Firstly Anne Frank’s Diary. It’s not all that. Of course it’s important to learn about the holocaust but I just could not connect with this book at all. It’s a girl’s diary – it’s not meant to be read by everyone. There are better ways of understanding this terrible event.

    Another book I’d say you don’t need to bother with is The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. What a disappointment that book was. Flat characters, soap-opera plot, and no real exploration of the central theme.

    Hopefully that’s shortened your list a bit. Or at least not added to it.

    • I still think I should give Anne a go if I am honest. I think it is an important novel, but that might be because so many people say that it is so. It might be good to see for myself, I nearly said nice but that is so not the right word.

      I lied your reversal approach though. I didn’t mind The Slap, the first time. Loathed it the second.

  24. Happy Birthday for a few weeks time! I turned 40 earlier this year so I have 10 years on you, but no matter how old you are there are still more books to read! It’s difficult for me to recommend my “favourite” book as often my favourite is the last one I read!! However, I will tell you of some that shaped my reading habits, have taught me something, that I have enjoyed reading and have been thought-provoking all at the same time. I will second a couple of suggestions you’ve already had: The Brief and Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao is an incredible book, a modern American classic. Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy is excellent, if you don’t fancy reading 3 books, make sure you at least pick up The Ghost Road. I find Joseph Conrad inspiring. Heart of Darkness or the short stories/novellas Youth and End of the Tether are great, just beautiful writing and story telling (although Youth may make you feel old!!). And then, although you have read some, I will finish by adding Murakami, Murakami, Murakami…

    • I must read more Murakami. I was going to read 1Q84 but it got too hyped, I will at some point but will read some older ones first.

      Oscar Wao might have to be read I think.

      • Louise Trolle

        I just got Oscar Wao today! – Speaking of Murakami, A wild Sheep Chase is a fantastic novel, and really really strange.

        afictionhabit and Simon, have any of you read anything by Amelie Nothomb? Her “Tokyo Fiancee” was different and weird in a nice way – even though she’s nothing like Murakami, the two novels remind me a bit about each other 🙂

      • Another author I haven’t heard of, shame on me. Sounds like she is good though, could be just my cuppa.

  25. The big 3-0, eh?! I will be joining that club in a few months. Can’t say I’m that fussed. It’s only a number on a form and means little to nothing in society today. Anyway, books!

    I don’t often recommend stuff because everyone is so different and recommendations are utterly subjective to time, place and personality. But…

    Read the following:
    The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington (Ridiculously surreal and funny)
    The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (My favourite book)
    The Remains of the Day by Ishiguro (beautiful, engrossing)
    Sum: Tales from the Afterlife by David Eagleman (very short book. Kind of short stories and different version of the afterlife. Inspiring, ponderous and full of imagination!)

    • I’ve read the first two of your recommends, liked Carrington, was a bit ‘meh’ about Fitzgerald. Ishiguro I am a fan of and may read that anyway. Havent heard of the Eagleman will have to find out more about that one.

  26. A few people have already mentioned some of my favorites, but here’s a few more:

    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky – really long, but worth it, investigating motives, guilt, and choices that humans make

    Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim – a semi-autobiographical novel told in diary format of a year in the garden life of an upper class woman

    A Room with a View by E.M. Forster – I only had to read one Forster in college (A Passage to India), and fortunately I liked it. This one read really smoothly for me, and explores changes in classes during the early 20th century.

    The Giver by Lois Lowry – this was dystopian teen fiction before it was cool, and it’s well worth reading as an adult instead of assigned in 6th grade literature.

    The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel – essays exploring libraries both public and personal, which also includes photographs to make one drool. Needless to say, I absolutely loved this.

    • I like the sound of all those apart from A Room With A View which was killed by studying it sadly. The Library at Night sounds particularily brilliant and Crime and Punishment I have always wanted to give a whirl. Thank you for these.

      • Ah, too bad about A Room with a View. College did the same thing for me with Mrs. Dalloway, and I haven’t been able to talk myself into picking up another book by Virginia Woolf. Nathaniel Philbrick wrote, “Coming to a great book on your own after having accumulated essential life experience can make all the difference,” and I think he has a valid point.

      • Isn’t it odd how books that we have to read at school can become the ones we go on to like the least… and yet that it is those lessons and those books which should be making us want to read? I know lots of people who loathe the books they learnt at school. I was very lucky I was the year that missed To Kill a Mockingbird and found that joy in my adulthood.

  27. Hahahaha! It looks like you have plenty to choose from already. 🙂 But I can’t resist putting in my $0.02!

    My longtime favorite author, of course, is Hemingway; I’m sorry I cannot recall right now what your opinion of him is (and I know he is polarizing; if you hate him it’s okay, some people do) but I think everyone should at least try. The Sun Also Rises is my go-to, and For Whom the Bell Tolls my all-time favorites; any collection of his short stories is lovely (in my opinion) too.

    A more recently (re)discovered love is Edward Abbey. By all means start with his breathtaking Desert Solitaire if you haven’t already. I’ve been blogging about several of his books lately (fiction and non) and love his contradictory, prickly, humorous personality and descriptions of nature.

    And the book that changed my life in the last year, and that I will push on anyone who will listen, is Fire Season by Philip Connors. You can read my review here.

    Can’t wait to read what you come up with!

    • PS Happy Birthday to come! I’ll be 30 in May and am not dealing well with that news.

    • I haven’t read any Hemingway and that is someone I really should give a whirl as I have heard many, many good things about his work. I don’t know if I should start with For Whom The Bell Tolls, isnt that meant to be his best? It could be downhill from there.

      I havent heard of Edward Abbey or Philip Connors, I shall look them up.

      • Ohhh do check out Abbey & Connors, my most recent reading obsessions.

        As for Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls is up there with The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms as probably his top three accepted best novels; different people will give you different #1 slot-holders, naturally. I go with FWTBT followed by TSAR with AFTA a distant third, but many sources will give you AFTA in that first slot, so go figure. None of the three, I think, would be a poor choice. Or like I said, his short stories would make an easier (less time investment) introduction, and he was certainly a master of that format, too. You should be able to safely go with a best-of collection. And finally, A Moveable Feast, his memoir of his years in Paris with his first wife and eventually baby, is very well-respected and enjoyable, too. I could continue this conversation ad nauseum 🙂 but will release you for now. If you need more Hem geekiness, come to me!

        Oh – avoid The Dangerous Summer and Death in the Afternoon. One is a reworking of the other – lengthy nonfiction ramblings on bullfighting – only for the Hemingway-obsessed, bullfight-obsessed, or gluttons for punishment.

      • Thanks Julia for the speedy reply. I think what I might do is simply see which one of his crosses my reading path first… let the fates decide, I will report back.

  28. Brenda (from Dublin)

    Some books I love :
    Stoner by John Williams
    Wildlife by Richard Ford
    Ethan Frome
    At Mrs Lippincotes Elizabeth Taylor (and all her others)
    Seven types of Ambiguity E.Perlman
    Jamrachs menagerie
    Gillespie and I

    • Elizabeth Taylor… I must, must read more of her work. I didn’t know if I would like her but oh I so did.

      You probably know I love Gillespie and I and Jamrach’s Menagerie. I would like to read more Carol Birch actually.

  29. simon – happy early birthday! my list (many of which have already been mentioned) includes: oscar wao, crime and punishment, 100 years of solitude, midnight’s children, the human stain, their eyes were watching god, and the poisonwood bible. and lastly – for pure fun – mark haddon’s ‘spot of bother (which i adored).

    • Oscar Wao has to be a definite read I think, seems that everyone loves that book. The Poisonwood Bible is one that I hadn’t thought of actually and that could be a very good choice.

      I like Mark Haddon a lot anyway, I am awaiting his new one. He has done the most amazing essay in ‘Stop What You’re Doing And Read This’ its brilliant.

  30. I’ll commence by my usual statement that in old(er) age, I’m over 50 now, I no longer subscribe to the view that there are “books which it simply is a crime not to have read by then in your opinion.” Having got that out of the way I’ll suggest a couple of my very favourite books:

    Any of the “great” works of Colette, by which I mean the ones she wrote after escaping from the dreadfully “Willy” her husband. One of the very best is La Ble en Herbe (Ripening Seed) which is a “coming of age story” and knocks any others with that theme (that I have read) into a cocked hat. I would also recommend “The Cat” which is a stunning study of jealous love and “The Pure and the Impure”.

    For something completely different, Murakami (anything so far I have read I have enjoyed), but his original “hit” “Norwegian Wood” a story of nostalgia, loss and sexuality takes some beating and I’d also strongly recommend “Kafka on the Shore”. Murakami has a number of recurring themes (cats is one) and if you don’t warm to his style of magical realism, surrealism and alienation then you won’t love him as I do.

    • Kafka on the Shore is my favourite Murakami yet I have to say. I have enjoyed his others but something about that one, maybe as it was the first of his I read, stayed with me more than the books of his I have read subsequently.

      Colette I definitely should read. Thanks DP.

  31. Yes, the only thing that bothered me about turning 30 was that whole life goals not achieved thing. Otherwise it’s not so bad. The book that had the biggest effect on me (and that may not be the same thing as my favourite book) was Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. If you don’t know anything about it, I suggest staying that way. Don’t Google it! It’s amazingly well written and constructed.

    I support the reading of Anne Frank. I loved that book as a teenager.

  32. Liz

    OMG! I am thirty tommorow I know there is nothing I can do about it but I know I will be scared of being 40 more..

  33. Pingback: Do We Ever Know The Reader We Are aka The Mad Ramblings of a Book Lover | Savidge Reads

  34. Books I loved around the time I turned thirty and they’ve stayed with me since then:

    The Magus by John Fowles
    Tender is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald
    Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
    A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh

  35. Alex in Leeds

    Hmmm. I immediately thought of a dozen books but they’re really books I’d recommend regardless of the occasion. If it’s to be books to read now you’ve fledged as a reader but before you are jaded though it has to be:

    The Master and Margarita. On the surface it’s a story of the Devil coming down to Moscow as a giant cat and causing mayhem but underneath it is a biting satire of Soviet Russia. The translations vary quite a bit but the most accurate and readable is the one with the ISBN 0330351346.

    Zola. L’Assommoir for preference but anything, anything. I don’t think Zola makes any sense until you hit your late twenties/thirties. His work is brilliant but dark, sort of like Dickens without the mania for Christmas and happy families.

  36. Pingback: Before I am 30; a Reading Goal | of books

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