No One Tells Me What To Read


My birthday cake last year


I’m turning 39 later this month, and have been reflecting on this decade of my life as it’s winding down. When I saw this article on 40 Books to Read Before You Turn 40, I couldn’t help but click!

I consider myself well-read, so I was curious about the list. Initially I was disappointed to discover I’ve only read six of them. There are several on my never ending TBR list, and a couple I’ve tried and couldn’t do (Lolita, ugh…)

When I examined the list more closely, I became a bit annoyed by the concept of a list of books that everyone should read by a specific age.

The preface to the list, on Penguin Random House‘s website states “The books below cover nonfiction, fiction, and poetry to help navigate life in career, in family, or in loss. There are also a few classics that you should have read by now regardless!”

It’s a fine list, and I understand it’s suggestion, but I still scoff at the idea that anyone should read a book simply because “you should have read it by now.” What does that even mean?

Stag’s Leap, a book of poetry by Sharon Olds (my favorite poet) is phenomenal. However, if you haven’t been divorced, it isn’t going to resonate with you. I’m not saying you can’t read it, but there’s probably something else out that which would serve you better right now.

So I’m curious, what do you think of such lists? 


  1. Doree Weller

    August 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    I hate all the lists that tell me what I should do by a certain age. 10 Things Women Over 30 Shouldn’t Wear! (But I like Converse sneakers and ripped jeans…) 10 Books Everyone Should Read (Who made you the expert on my life?) I’m with you; these lists resonate with me more if they relate to who I am, not just my age and/ or gender. As I’ve gotten older, the one thing I don’t need is more people placing limits on me.

  2. Lea Christensen

    August 8, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I think it’s quite pompous to assume certain literary adventures MUST be taken at all, let alone by a certain age…and Reg calls us snobs, hahahaha.

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