Five books to read before you turn 30.

It would seem our lives are dictated by the times we have birthdays that end zeros.

20. 30. 40. 50.

Things to do, see, watch, read. We’re told we need check lists, bucket lists, other lists. It’s stressful, annoying and there are too many rules.

So although this is a list, and a list of things you should read before 30, consider it a very gentle guide of books that may not be the ones to read before you die, but rather ones that have generated equal parts conversation, criticism, and accolades.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

If you were never forced to read Life of Pi while at school, it’s probably just one of those books to get into your system.

Telling the story of a young man who survives a terrifying shipwreck and months in a lifeboat with a large Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, Life of Pi won the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and was turned into a film in 2012.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

Narrated by nine-year-old Oskar Schell, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close tells the story of a young boy whose father died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A couple of years later, he discovers a vase in a closet that holds a key that belonged to his father. It sparks a search, New York City-wide, to find out where the key leads to.

The book itself has received mixed reviews. Some believed it to be a masterpiece. Others, too sentimental. But if one thing’s for sure – it’s popular. In 2012, it came to life in a film on the big screen starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock no less, growing to become a sound conversation starter.

Or maybe some self-help books will help? Post continues after gallery…

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

When Cheryl Strayed was 22, her mother had died, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed.

As stated on her website, four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision hiking more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State alone. The book details her journey.


According to Dwight Garner of The New York Times, “It’s uplifting, but not in the way of many memoirs, where the uplift makes you feel that you’re committing mental suicide.

“This book is as loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound.”

Listen: What about Liane Moriarty? Mamamia Book Club discusses her best-seller, Big Little Lies. Post continues after audio. 

My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell

My Family and Other Animals is an autobiographical book by Gerald Durrell, centering on the years he lived he lived as a child with his siblings and widowed mother on the island of Corfu between the the late 1930s. As told through the eyes of a young Durrell, the book follows a multitude of different family members of different ages and personalities as he tries to find his place in the world.

According to The Guardian writer Alison Flood, “It is also a heart-warmingly affectionate portrait of Corfu and its inhabitants and, for me at least, utterly evocative of sun-soaked summer holidays.”

NW, Zadie Smith

NW is the story of four characters: Leah, Felix, Keisha – renamed Natalie – and Nathan, who grew up in the same impoverished part of northwest London, postcode NW.

TIME included NW in its list of the top 10 fiction books of 2012, writing, “Smith, who has built a solid reputation as a critic, wins points for tackling the big topics—race and class, friendship and romance, childhood and parenthood—in finely honed scenes that feel honest and human, even when humanity seems in short supply.