Books to Read by the Time You’re 30

What to read when you're learning to adult.

Tap the book covers to learn more

There’s a reason that quarter-life crises are an actual thing now. It’s because your 20s are rough. They’ve probably always been difficult to an extent (because science has things to say about hormones and stuff) but in our times, at least in much of the Western world, there’s the pressure of trying to figure out how to adult, as it were. On the upside, your 20s are basically the prime time to screw up left and right—and to learn from it. To figure out what you want and don’t want. And during that time, there are some books that can speak to you, can make you feel more welcome in the world or more secure in your experimentation. The book list we’ve compiled for you here is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a start.

What books did you try to read before you turned 30? What books do you wish you’d read earlier? What books are you reading now?


Featured image: Ms.Too/Twenty20

Get recommendations for the greatest books around straight to your inbox every week.

About Ilana Masad

Ilana Masad

ILANA MASAD is an Israeli-American writer living in New York. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Printer’s Row, The Toast, The Butter, The Rumpus, Hypertext Magazine, and more. She is the founder of, a podcast for new, emerging, and struggling writers. She is (way too) active on Twitter @ilanaslightly.