In 7 ½ months, I'm turning 30. It's a milestone I look forward to. I'm still working on a wild and crazy way to celebrate my new decade of life, but on the way, I'll be making sure I'm a better-read 30-something.
That means reading 30 books by the time I turn 30 on Feb. 19 — that's more than 10,000 pages in the next 226 days. It's about 45 pages a day.
I have inspiration. I saw a list from Flavorwire on Twitter listing 30 books everyone must read by age 30. It was inspired by another from Divine Caroline. I perused each list, checking off the few I'd read and thinking I should tackle them.
So I decided to choose my own.
The lists had all the classics: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen. And I'm ashamed to say I've read none of them. So they went on the list.
I'm no stranger to classics. I love D.H. Lawrence, Oscar Wilde and “The Lord of the Flies.” I'm familiar with Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare. And I've read much from more modern writers such as Raymond Chandler and Alice Walker.
I spent a lot of my time in high school reading poets because I was a morose teenager and playwrights because I thought drama would be my career. I also spent a lot of energy trying to get out of reading the assigned literature so I could run off to rehearsal or my newfound social life.
But I've lived to regret skipping most of the “required reading list” every time someone says, “What? You haven't read that?”
I consulted my colleagues, friends and the Internet. I wanted to mix the modern masters and award-winning classics with a few books I simply wanted to read but haven't.
So I added Jane Austen but not the standard “Pride and Prejudice” and Stephen King but not “The Stand,” which a lot of people called his best.
Everyone had a different 30, but eventually I came to this particular set. I'm sure I'm missing something important, but I hope to get another 60 years or so to tackle those.
Now all I have to do is read the whole list and report back on my self-imposed homework.
The 30 Books
2. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
3. “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
4. “Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway
5. “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell
6. “Less Than Zero” By Brett Easton Ellis
7. “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. “The Catcher in the Rye” J.D. Salinger
9. “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
10. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy
11. “The Grapes of Wrath” John Steinbeck
12. “Persuasion” by Jane Austen
13. “Middlesex” by Jeffery Eugenides
14. “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
15. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
16. “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse
17. “To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf
18. “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell
19. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell
20. “The Complete Stories” by Flannery O'Connor
21. “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole
22. “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
23. “Naked Lunch” by William S. Burroughs
24. “The Handmaid's Tale” by Margaret Atwood
25. “The Education of Little Tree” by Forrest Carter
26. “Different Seasons” by Stephen King
27. “Dune” by Frank Herbert
28. “The Last Picture Show” by Larry McMurtry
29. “Brave New World” by Adolphus Huxley
30. “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller