My 40 Must Reads
Earlier this month, I mentioned my anxiety about turning the big four-oh, which is a mere five days away. The list I made, of books to read in my 40th year, was fun to create and has helped me shift to a more positive view of the next decade of my life.
After lining up important books I want to read in my 40th year, it occurred to me that it’s just as important to honor the books that have made me who I am over my first four decades.
My list spans from my childhood all the way up to this month. These are books that have influenced me in some major way, and I highly recommend all of them. So here they are in no particular order:
40 Must Reads From My First 40 Years
Watership Down – Richard Adams
To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street – Dr Seuss
Naked – David Sedaris
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
All Around the Town – Mary Higgins Clark
Circle of Friends – Maeve Binchy
The Gold Cell – Sharon Olds
Until I Find You – John Irving
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Blunt
The Joy of Appreciative Living – Jacqueline Kelm
The Four Agreements – Miguel Ruiz
The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin
This is How – Augusten Burroughs
The Reader – Bernard Schlink
The Stand – Stephen King
Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
A Time to Kill – John Grisham
The Scarlet Letter – Nathanial Hawthorne
The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
There is No Good Card For This – Emily McDowell
State of Wonder – Ann Patchett
Where the Heart Is – Billie Letts
There’s a Monster at the End of This Book – Grover
Good Morning – Brooke Noel
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson
Love Walked In – Marisa de los Santos
Poetry of Rumi
The Value of Believing in Yourself – Spencer Johnson, MD
An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
The Book of Essie – Meghan MacLean Weir
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Are You There God, it’s me Margaret – Judy Blume
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Sherman Alexie
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
The Dogs of Babel – Carolyn Parkhurst
This list wasn’t as easy to make as I expected. I was super picky about which titles made it. It isn’t only about being a “favorite” book or even an incredibly good book, though a few of each are on here. All forty of these books have stayed with me long after I read them, in some cases years or even decades. If I’ve ever read a book more than once for my own enjoyment, it’s on this list.
Many of these books shaped who I am in a pivotal way. Some crossed my path at an important time in my life to help me process or reflect on traumatic experiences, some simply healed my broken heart.
I made an effort to only include an author once on this list, so it’s safe to say that most of these authors have written other books I’ve enjoyed as well.
I hope you like my list, and I’d love to hear which books have made you who you are!