12 Books to Read in Your 30s (They're Life-Changing)

Updated 06/20/18
Books to read in your 30s
Fashion Me Now

Some books are particularly poignant at certain moments in our lives. They're the coming-of-age stories we turn to for insights on life, love, and loss at pivotal moments. While the phrase "coming-of-age" probably conjures up images of rebellious teenagers, contrary to popular belief, the genre isn't limited to readers under 30. Just as Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird are timeless tomes for teens, and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and Mary Gaitskill's Bad Behavior are must-reads for 20-somethings, these are the books that belong on every 30-something's bookshelf.

From Nora Ephron's hilarious musings on motherhood to Jenny Offill's heart-wrenchingly beautiful thoughts on marriage to Toni Morrison's masterful portrayal of friendship's complexities, the books on this list lend a particular perspective to womanhood that all 30-somethings can appreciate at this moment in their lives. Ranging from timeless classics to enlightening memoirs and works of contemporary fiction, here are 12 life-changing books to read in your 30s.

Nora Ephron I Feel Bad About My Neck $8 $15

Reading Nora Ephron's laugh-out-loud funny, tell-it-like-it-is honest, surprisingly moving book should be considered a rite of passage for every woman in her thirties.

Ariel Levy The Rules Do Not Apply $27 $16

Ariel Levy's profound memoir about love, loss, and finding your path in life will have you laughing, crying, and nodding in agreement.

Roxane Gay Bad Feminist $16 $11

Roxane Gay's collection of honest, insightful essays belongs on every 30-something's reading list.

Zadie Smith Swing Time $17 $12

Zadie Smith's latest novel depicts complex friendships that are so absorbing you're not going to want to put it down until you've turned the last page.

Jenny Offill Dept. of Speculation $15 $7

You're going to want to devour this beautiful, moving novel about a marriage in distress in a single sitting.

Lucia Berlin A Manual for Cleaning Women $16 $9

This collection of nuanced, incredibly crafted short stories tells stories of women from all walks of life, from mothers to nurses to cleaning women.

Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale $16 $11

Made popular by Hulu's recent adaptation, this dystopian novel is particularly poignant given today's political climate.

Toni Morrison Sula $15 $10

This novel follows two friends as they grow up and drift apart as their fierce devotion to each other ends in unforgivable betrayal.

Charolette Bronte Jane Eyre $6

Featuring one of literature's most compelling protagonists, this classic is the definition of essential reading.

Ivelisse Rodriguez Love War Stories $17

This collection of stories about love, heartache, and betrayal from a new poignant voice in literature, Ivelisse Rodriguez, is a must-read.

Terese Marie Mailhot Heart Berries $16

Mailhot's heart-breakingly honest memoir about love and loss belongs on every woman's bookshelf, regardless of age. 

Sayaka Murata Convenience Store Woman $17

In Murata's novel, a 36-year-old woman who's worked in the same convenience store for 18 years contemplates life, love, and what it means to be "normal."

Looking for more reading recommendations? These are the most-anticipated books of summer 2018 that are actually worth your time.

This story was originally published on September 13, 2017, and has since been updated.

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