21 Books You Have To Read Before You Turn 21

Regardless of how hopelessly nerdy this is going to sound imma say it anyways; books are great. Books are like long ass films in your head that may take you hours to finish but never seem to bore you. They’re creative, inspirational and can have a massive impact on a person’s life. I mean take a second to think about how fucking amazing that is. Sequences of letters form words, these words then go on to form sentences and those then turn into paragraphs that can change a person’s life. That is FUCKING awesome! So without any further nerdy ramblings on my part, here is a list of 21 books you have to read before you turn 21.

1) Bossypants – Tina Fey

Every single person in the world should read Bossypants. Tina Fey was head writer on SNL for years so we already knew she could write, but somehow she manages to decant all of her nuggets of wisdom into these short stories with wit and irreverence that is irresistible.

2) Skulduggery Pleasant Series – Derek Landy

Irish author Derek Landy crushes it with this Dublin based fantasy epic. The series follows a young girl known as Stephanie who stumbles upon the world of sorcerers and other generally awesome shit. Think Harry Potter, but more realistic and funnier, and better. YEAH I said it.

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3) The Brethren – John Grisham

John Grisham (a.k.a the man who makes books for old people) cooks up a pretty sophisticated, yet entertaining piece of literature with this one. Sex, conspiracies, politics, corruption. It’s the kind of book that as you’re reading it you feel old AF, but in a good way.

4) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is nothing short of a masterpiece. I know lads will say that ‘it’s too girly,’ but don’t be put off by the period drama vibe. As with pretty much every novel from the Bronte sisters, this is disturbing as fuck. A crazy lady that’s been locked away? A forced love affair that’s pretty creepy when you actually think about it? Jane Eyre has it all!

5) Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

Say what you want about this one, but you have to acknowledge that it’s a classic for a reason and is arguably one of the greatest love stories ever told. None of that I’m in love with a vampire type shit, but instead just two very dysfunctional people who manage to find peace in one another.

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6) Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry – Mildred D. Taylor

If you’re not ready to be hit right in the feels then I would strongly suggest avoiding this novel because it packs quite a punch. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry, but it also opened up my eyes to a lot of the things wrong with our world; it is a truly revolutionary book.

7) 1984 – George Orwell

The original Big Brother tale, 1984 will change the way you look at the world. George Orwell imagined a world where every single detail of people’s lives were monitored, and he did so in 1949. The fact that he predicted the trajectory of modern technology and surveillance state that we now live in decades ago, is only as eerie as the novel itself.

8) Looking For Alaska – John Green

John Green perfectly manages to capture the experience of growing up in this novel, all the while encapsulating themes of love and loss within its short length. As you follow Pudge’s journey from a friendless outcast to a girl kissing, slightly less awkward outcast you can’t help but cheer him on.

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9) American Gods – Neil Gaiman

Now this isn’t what you would describe as a thrill ride of a book. American Gods is a slow burn that deeply delves into a variety of themes and topics such as the afterlife and mankind’s growing dependence on technology. I’ll be honest, the first time I read it I hated the book, but the second time I was in love.

10) The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

This tale of a lonely teen, struggling with his own mind, will change your life. Charlie’s oddball tendencies and incredible intelligence have left him isolated from his peers. Perks follows him as he discovers the beauty of friendship and love for the first time, all the while struggling with his inner demons. A story that anyone who has ever felt alone can relate to.

11) Sherlock Holmes Series – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Another classic that is well deserving of its title. This series of books has inspired everything from award winning tv shows like ‘House’ or ‘Sherlock’ to the advancements and new techniques being developed in the area of detective work. Honestly they’re all worth the read.

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12) Yes Please – Amy Poehler

You knew she could act, but I bet you didn’t know that she was a kickass author. Amy Poehler takes all her humour, wit and wisdom and condenses all her spectacular-ness into book form. It truly is an unique experience to share the thoughts of such a legendary woman. If you’re ever feeling down, read Yes Please and you’ll genuinely feel a thousand times better. Poehler just has a great perspective on life.

13) The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

Eugenides’ novel follows a group of sisters who are disturbed beyond belief. Told through the eyes of neighbouring boys who had a lifelong fascination with them, they watch the girls in an obsessive fashion. The boys try to put together clues as to what the girls are thinking and piece together the lives they never really led. All at once heartbreaking and eerie, The Virgin Suicides is the kind of book you read once and never forget.

14) The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾- Sue Townsend

This book is perfect if you’re looking for a healthy dose of pure, unadulterated nostalgia. Townsend takes you directly into the mind of a manic 13 (.75) year old and perfectly captures how manic and wonderfully ignorant the mind of a child can be.

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15) How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran

An interesting insight into a young woman’s view on feminism and the world…and before all the men in the audience groan in unison, just trust me and give it a chance. Miss Moran and I both guarantee that you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s hilarious, cringeworthy and an altogether wonderful read for anyone who has ever felt awkward and weird in themselves…so basically all of us.

16) Not That Kind Of Girl – Lena Dunham

As if we could have a list of books you have to read while growing up and not include the queen of being an awkward human. Dunham is an oddball for sure, but her original viewpoint on every aspect of life is fascinating. If there was ever a book to read that will encourage you to be yourself and not care what anyone thinks, it’s this.

17) The Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling

How could I make any list on must read books without including one of the most influential series of our generation, and damn gotta give credit where credit is due, the accolades are much deserved. Like Harry Potter isn’t just a book, it’s a way of life.

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18) The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

If you’ve seen the movie adaptation of The Lovely Bones, you need to discount it immediately. Sebold’s novel is truly heart wrenching as it traces the afterlife of a young girl who was brutally murdered. Susie, the protagonist, watched from the afterlife as her family are torn apart by what happened to her. You won’t be able to out this book down, but full disclosure, you will need a huge hug after reading it.

19) The Catcher In The Rye

Ah Holden Caulfield, the hero of every disenfranchised youth. An odd, broken young man, Holden became the poster boy for anyone who has ever felt alienated from their peers. The Catcher In The Rye strikes a cord with adolescents because let’s be honest, who hasn’t felt lonely at some point in their lives? Who hasn’t felt like no one really understand them?

20) Just Kids – Patti Smith

If you don’t know who Patti Smith is, you need to get yourself educated. She’s a hero to all women and ridiculously talented in basically every area of creativity that exists. Just Kids is her autobiography, and it’s a story that depicts the struggle of finding her creative voice and falling in love for the first time whilst living on the streets of New York. Patti grew up in a time when Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were at their peak; she lost those dear friends and made it through one of the most tumultuous times in rock and roll history. Never has a book spoken to me as much as this incredible wrk of non-fiction. A must-read for any music lovers in the world.

21) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling

If you’ve ever watched The US Office or The Mindy Project, you’ll know that Mindy Kaling has an entirely original perspective on just about everything. She is without a doubt one of the funniest people on the planet and this collection of anecdotes from her very awkward years on the planet will undoubtedly make you laugh out loud.