Here bellow are  some essential books we think everyone should read before their thirtieth birthday. We chose the books below on a variety of criteria, selecting enduring classics that have been informing new literature since their first printing, stories that speak specifically or most powerfully to younger readers, and books we simply couldn’t imagine reaching thirty without having read. Of course, we hope that you read more than thirty books by the time you hit your fourth decade, so this list is incomplete — but we had to stop somewhere. Click through to read the books . ( 5elected from from )

– The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer ( Two of the oldest existing works of Western literature, these stories have in some way informed almost every quest and adventure tale written in the last thirteen centuries or so. Plus they’re frankly rollicking good tales. Especially if you read them in Greek.)

– The Secret History, Donna Tartt ( Tartt’s obscenely beloved first novel — pagan rituals, elusive love affairs, youths murderous and studious in equal measure — should be read freshman year of college, during the winter )

– Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson ( A ferocious collection of short stories told from the perspective of a strange young addict in a small Iowa town. It will knock you down, no matter how old you are )

– The Complete Stories, Flannery O’Connor ( The master of Southern gothic’s sharply spun tales whirr with comedy, grotesquerie, and insight )

– Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare ( We expect that by the time you’re 30 you’ll have read several Shakespeare plays — we recommend one per year at least, starting at age 12 )

– The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway ( Think of him what you will, but everyone should read at least one Hemingway novel. In our experience, this one gets better the more you think about it, so we recommend reading it as early as possible )

– The Road, Cormac McCarthy ( The modern classic of post-apocalyptic novels, it’s also one of the best in a genre that’s only going to keep on exploding )

– Maus, Art Spiegelman ( A more perfect and affecting Holocaust book has never been written. And this one has pictures )

– Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card ( One of the best science fiction novels of all time, recommended even for staunch realists. Serious, complicated and impossible to put down. Plus, Card’s masterpiece trusts in the power of children, something we all need to be reminded of once in a while )

– Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

– Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides ( Eugenides’s family epic of love, belonging and otherness is a must read for anyone who has ever had a family or felt like an outcast. So that’s pretty much everyone, we’d wager )

– Ghost World, Daniel Clowes ( Clowes writes some of the most essentially realistic teenagers we’ve ever come across, which is important when you are  a realistic teenager yourself )

– On the Road, Jack Kerouac ( Kerouac’s famous scroll must be read when it’s still likely to inspire exploration. Plus, then you’ll have ample time to develop your scorn towards it )

– Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston ( A seminal work in both African American and women’s literature — not to mention a riveting, electrifying and deeply moving read )

– Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut ( Vonnegut’s hilarious, satirical fourth novel that earned him a Master’s in anthropology from the University of Chicago )

– Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov ( One of the most beautifully written books in the English language, Nabokov will teach you a host of new words, not to mention new ways to think )

– The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien ( The best large-scale fantasy epic out there, period. Required reading even for those who typically don’t go in for broadswords and beasts )

– 1984, George Orwell ( After all, Big Brother is watching you )

– The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger ( We vastly prefer Franny and Zooey, but we still think everyone should read Catcher as a teen. We know he’s obnoxious, but push on — you’ll miss a lot of cultural references if you don’t. And hey, you might be one of those people who’ll love Holden for life )

– The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald ( The Great American Novel is still beautiful, heartbreaking and incredibly relevant in the 21st century )

– Beloved, Toni Morrison ( Possibly the best book in the Western canon — horrifying, deeply strange, and epically wonderful )

– Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace ( Yes. Read it now. Once you read it, you’ll have to read it again at least twice, and you know it’s more than a thousand pages, so you’d better get started )

– Lord of the Flies, William Golding ( You need to know what your classmates are capable of when their childish veneer begins to wear )

– Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes ( One of the earliest canonical novels, it remains one of the greatest )

– The Trial, Franz Kafka ( Better to read a lot of Kafka before your life becomes too Kafkaesque. It’s always good to be prepared )

– To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf  ( An artful and introspective study of time and family, this book is one of the pillars of modernism and a gorgeous read besides )

– Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury ( Bradbury’s classic dystopian future is one where books are not allowed. Not only will it captivate you, it will make you want to read everything in sight — while you can )

– Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison ( Called “the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century,” Ellison’s bildungsroman spreads beyond race and class to a mediation on humanity itself )

– To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee ( Complex and satisfying, read this book to settle into Scout’s curious worldview and experience Atticus Finch, one of the greatest literary characters of all time )

– Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson ( To infuse all of your future adventures with a little extra literary joy )