It was my birthday this past weekend!! I’m officially 19 years old! This is probably the least big birthday I’ve had in a bit (even 17 seems somehow more important than this one), but it’s still a birthday and I love celebrating so I’m excited. This weekend was awesome because I got to see my family for the first time in a while (#college), went out to dinner, and had four (4!) whole days off from school. Overall a huge dub. Shout-out Christopher Columbus for being trash enough that we celebrate you.

When I was thinking about posts to write for this week, I started thinking about book lists, and ended up googling “books you should have read before you’re 19” and inevitably didn’t get much because nobody talks about books related to 19 year olds. so instead i’m going to read some lists about books to read before you turn 20, and let you all know just how far behind I am on the TBR of books i MUST read in the next year.

so here we go.

Penguin Random House 20 Books to Read Before You’re 20

(read it here)

  1. The House on Mange Street
  2. The Picture of Dorian Grey
  3. Never Let me Go
  4. The Road ✔
  5. Norwegian Wood
  6. March: Book One
  7. The Hobbit✔
  8. Pride and Prejudice✔
  9. A Tale of Two Cities
  10. Crime and Punishment✔
  11. We should All be Feminists
  12. Persepolis
  13. The Grapes of Wrath
  14. Hamlet
  15. Rebecca
  16. 1984✔
  17. On the Road
  18. Beloved
  19. The Secret Life of Bees
  20. This Side of Paradise

Total Read: 5/20– The majority of these books I’ve heard of, but a few (like We Should All be Feminists and This Side of Paradise) I’ve never even heard the names of, so I’m going to have to go look them up. I think most of this list is classics and other “boring” books that to be honest I’d rather not read, so I’m not exceptionally concerned. If we’re telling all teenagers to read all of these books, it’s no wonder so many kids grow up not liking reading.

The Odyssey Online 20 Books You Should Read Before Turning 20

(read here)

  1. Charlotte’s Web✔
  2. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
  3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven
  4. Girl, Interrupted
  5. The Giver✔
  6. The Giving Tree✔
  7. Harry Potter (series)✔
  8. If I stay✔
  9. Midsummer Night’s Dream
  10. 1984✔
  11. The Old Man and the Sea
  12. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  13. Pride and Prejudice✔
  14. Spring Awakening
  15. The Secret Garden
  16. The Shining✔
  17. To Kill a Mockingbird✔
  18. Tuesdays with Morrie
  19. Where the Red Fern Grows
  20. Where the Sidewalk Ends✔

Total: 10/20– I did far better on this one, mostly (I assume) because I took it off of Odyssey, a site which cares a little more about what people will actually enjoy. Plus, I killed it when it came to the kids books. It also helped that Where the Sidewalk Ends is the only coffee table book I’ve ever owned, and probably one of the very first books I’ve read. I want to read Girl, Interrupted, but not 100% sure if I can handle it mentally, so we’ll see if I ever end up getting to it.

HerCampus 20 Books to Read Before Turning 20: YA Edition

(read here)

  1. All the Bright Places
  2. Long Way Down
  3. I’ll Give You the Sun✔
  4. The Hate U Give✔
  5. All American Boys
  6. The Librarian of Auschwitz
  7. The Border
  8. The Probability of Miracles
  9. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
  10. Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
  11. Speak✔
  12. The Female of the Species
  13. Everything, Everything
  14. Fangirl
  15. Eliza and Her Monsters
  16. The Outsiders✔
  17. 13 Reasons Why✔
  18. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
  19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  20. The Book Thief✔

Total: 6/20– I honestly thought I would do the best on this one but apparently I haven’t read enough YA lately, which is mildly disappointing. I’m super embarrassed about never having read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I want to get to Simon vs and Bright Places, but other than that I probably won’t read any of the others on this list.

So basically I’ve read next to none of the most important books to read before I’m 20, so I better take the next year to get ready. And because of the fact that there are zero book lists for people turning 19, I bring to you my very own book list– 9 books to read before you turn 19 (yes, only 9, because i’m weak and can’t think).

  1. The Hate U Give– This will be such a strong piece of our culture for so long that it’s crucial
  2. Memoirs of a Geisha– Amazing writing and also just a great story
  3. The Shining– Terrifying, and also just makes you feel better about your own life. and you need to read at least one Stephen King, so this one should be it
  4. The Kite Runner– This was freaking amazing and I’m a little confused how it wasn’t on any of the other lists I read. I feel like it has become a classic and needs to be read
  5. The Book Thief– Another powerful book, and stood out even for someone who has read dozens of WWII novels
  6. Harry Potter (series)– These books were so formative to me growing up that I sometimes forget that everyone hasn’t read them
  7. Lord of the Flies– Say what you want about it being a dumb book assigned for school, but I read it first without the school assignment, and then again in English class, and I think it’s a great story with a lot to say about humanity.
  8. Freakonomics– Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the way this book was clearly very liberal in everything it wrote, I still think it gave an amazing perspective on the way everything interlocks, and certainly broadened my viewpoint about economics (#econminorhereicome)
  9. Game of Thrones– and finally, my personal favorite book series of all times, because if you haven’t at least tried to read it by now you’re missing out on a literary masterpiece and I feel bad for you.

let's talk

How many of these books have you read? What book do you think everyone should read before they turn 20? What’s your opinion on “Must read” books?