As we grow older, our life experiences change our perspective on many things. From the foods we like, music we listen to and books we read, our 20s are all about finding out new sides of ourselves. But let’s take a walk down memory lane and re-read some school-assigned novels, classic favorites, and maybe even some books you thought you hated.
1. “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
Religious allegory aside, there are a lot of layers to this series that aren’t immediately apparent when you first read them at 10 years old, it’s well worth the re-read to see how much your own perspective has changed.
2. “Lines Written A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth
If you studied this in school—or even if you didn’t—it’s time to read it again. A beautiful, lyrical piece about solitude and living in the moment.
3. “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rowling
Let’s be honest, you never need an excuse to re-read these.
4. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood
A phenomenal, but depressing, dystopian novel.
5. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte
Beautifully written book that needs to be re-read during your 20s to truly appreciate the subtle depths mixed with the ongoing soap opera plot.
6. “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
“Read me,” she called out.
7. “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8. “A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce
If you’re feeling brave, give this another shot. Like many other books assigned to us in our teens, this book is so complex that it begs to be re-read over and over again.
9. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
It’s a classic, beckons us back to remember our childhood, and is truly a wicked trippy book. Enjoy.
10. “Native Son” by Richard Wright
For many kids, Richard Wright was one of our first introductions to analytical race discussions in literature. “Native Son” poses a beautifully woven explanation of the racial and social divide that we see playing out in our country to this day.
11. “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham
Your twenties is a period of rediscovering and reassessing who you are and this book is a perfect companion to that journey, helping you figure out love, relationships, and where you fit in life.
12. “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg
“Howl” is the poem that first introduced you to the concept of social rage. In your younger years, reading it may have given you some street cred, but in your twenties, it will settle inside you as a comfortable friend.
13. “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf
Questions of male power, wealth, fame, the future, etc. A good read during a time when we are figuring ourselves out and finding our own paths.
14. “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
Similar to Woolf, as countless others have made that connection. But still a good read asking the same questions of what it means and feels like to find our own way in high school, or college, or post college. And since it’s finally making its film debut soon, it’s a good time to brush up on it.
15. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
“There are more lessons in this book to be discovered in your 20s than probably any other time. I read this for the first time in the 4th grade, and many times after that, but have never truly understood the issues of loss, love or genderism until I re-read it last year at age 24. Pro-tip: Check out Sadie Stein’s in-depth examinations of one of Little Women’s most controversial character’s, Professor Bhaer, at the Paris Review.
16. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
Revisit this classic, about to be dramatized, tale of utopian dissatisfaction with Literally Darling’s book club in August.
17. “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle
Essentially, a story about a daughter trying to save her father while battling malevolent forces of the universe.
18. “The Inferno” by Dante Alighieri
Kind of hard to believe they even put this on a high school syllabus. Dark, existential and thought-provoking, there is always something new to take away from Dante’s epic poem.
19. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
You’ll be hard pressed to look around society today or watch another reality TV show after reading this book and not think twice about where the world is going. It’s a phenomenal societal commentary that predicted the future in many ways and warns of the dangers of ignorance, gluttony, and greed.
20. “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
Chances are you read this years ago and found it to be a bit slow and a drag. But read it again and realize just how many melodramatic Marianne’s you know and how Elinor’s constant responsibility and sacrifice feels all too real these days.
What books did you re-read and take a new perspective on? Comment below or tweet us @LitDarling!
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Oh my gosh! You’ve listed some of my most favorite books here! Beauty by Robin Mckinley is one of my all time faves! I never get tired of reading it. AND you mentioned Anne McCaffrey. I love that you have a lot of fantasy novels listed here! You’re never too old! :D