Last week Flavorwire had an interesting article about the “15 Books You Should Definitely Not Read in Your 20s.” Some of the books included themes about falling out of love, taking romantic road-trips, or the horrors afflicted upon or by children.
Others, like Gossip Girl and Fifty Shades of Grey, were not so much presented as a slight against all young adult fiction or erotica, just that these series are not worthy enough representatives of their genres.
However, as an avid reader, I must say that this list was pretty disappointing. Blowing off Plutarch because, “The Romans aren’t going anywhere?” Seriously? Most of the reasons for avoiding these books were superficial and weren’t even limited to people in their 20s.
By all means, read Terry Pratchett even though Discworld has 39 installments (not to be morbid, but wouldn’t reading the series while you’re young mean that you still have plenty of time to finish it?).
The only legitimate type of stories on the list that might be affected by age are the ones that deal with life’s transitions. You can certainly enjoy Eat, Pray, Love in your 20s, but I can see how reading about the struggles after divorce would better impact people who are old enough to experience the same challenges.
And even then, that’s only assuming that everyone lives on the same timeline. Some people will never marry, divorce, have children or pets, go to college, move across country or abroad, or even live to see old age. That doesn’t mean that their lives are less rich or fulfilling.
So yes, I felt that I was too young to appreciate a troubled marriage tale like Wife 22. In school, there’s also many classics that we fail to recognize their significance because we’re too wrapped up in teenage self-absorption.
But after taking another look at my “Books I’ve Read” list, most of the stories are enjoyable at any age. Granted, it helps that one of the biggest reasons that I read is to escape from the daily grind. I’ve never dated a vampire, been on trial, lived in Paris, time-traveled, or possessed magical powers, so it really doesn’t matter how old I am when reading about people who have.
So are there any books that you feel you should have read sooner or later in life? Why or why not? Let’s get a lively debate going!
UPDATE 10:40AM PST: Thanks to Grace over at the wonderful blog, A Confederacy of Spinsters, I stumbled upon Buzzfeed’s “65 Books You Need to Read in Your 20s.” My opinion? Another superficial list of mostly modern American novels that should by no means be limited to only 20-somethings. Lots of disappointed commenters. Skim with a grain of salt!