Best Literary Novels of all Time

Still, some books are best experienced at a certain age, like, say, "Catcher in the Rye." If you pick it up for the first time when you're far beyond puberty, you'll likely wonder what all the hype is about. Likewise, there are certain books you should read in your 20s, due to the age of the characters or the intended audience - books like Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" or Christopher Hitchens' "Letters to a Young Contrarian."

There are also fantastic classics that may not have been assigned to you in school but that you should pick up ASAP simply because you're missing out - books like Doris Lessing's "The Golden Notebook" or "A Collection of Essays" by George Orwell.

Check out the 30 books we think you should read before you're 30:

"The Dream of a Common Language, " by Adrienne Rich
Pivotal to the feminist movement, Rich's poetry collection is one of three books Cheryl Strayed brought with her on the trek she chronicles in her book, "Wild." A wise choice - the "Power" section of the book will inspire you to achieve great things.

"Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, " by Tom Robbins
All of Robbins' books are great reads for 20-somethings, as the author tends to serve up prettily packaged life advice with a lot of moxie. Writes Robbins in "Even Cowgirls, " "There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, and nothing worth killing for."

"The Sun Also Rises, " by Ernest Hemingway
Not only can you get your literary passport stamped twice with Hemingway's romp through Paris and Pamplona, but you can enjoy an immersive mood piece about the highs and lows of drunken, rambling youth.

"The Secret History, " by Donna Tartt
Tartt's contemporary Greek tragedy about an unraveling clan of Classics majors is enchanting but may seem a little overwrought once your college days are decades behind you.

"Anna Karenina, " by Leo Tolstoy
As we revealed on Tolstoy's birthday, this book is a classic for a reason: There's much to be learned from Anna's mistakes, but also the successes of her peers, such as Levin, who, as he gets older, embraces simple living.

"A Collection of Essays, " by George Orwell
You ripped through "Animal Farm" and "1984" in high school. Now it's time to take some of Orwell's insight straight, sans pig metaphors. He discusses British Imperialism, but it's not all political: "Such, Such Were the Joys, " an essay about prep school, is particularly delightful.

"Hamlet, " by William Shakespeare
We strongly advise against entering your 30s without having read (and we mean really read and fully ingested) one of Shakespeare's tragedies. If you have to pick just one, pick "Hamlet." Perhaps it'll help you with that pesky indecision you're likely experiencing if you're a 20-something.

"The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, " by Michael Chabon
Chabon's answer to what happens when childhood dreams meet the sometimes grim realities of adulthood centers around a Jewish refugee. It captures the heartbreak that can come with discovering your sexuality and chasing your dreams.

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