Well, everyone. The day has finally come. As of 12:01 am yesterday, I officially turned 29 years old. While this might not seem that old, I am feeling a mix of emotions. 28 was not exactly my favorite year, but I’m so close to 30 that I’m very confused how my 20s just happened to zip by.
But the biggest constant that has been with me for all of my 29 years has been books. I’ve loved books my entire life and can vividly remember crawling into my parents’ bed at night before I was able to read on my own and listening to my mom read Charlotte’s Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out loud to us. Then, I would wait until Sundays which meant I could get a new book. Then my book problem got out of hand and my mom eventually said, “Figure out a way to fund this. I’m tapped.”
So, to celebrate my lifelong bond with literature, here are 29 of my favorite books to celebrate all 29 years of my life!
Ask the Passengers-A.S. King
This is the first book I tell people they need to read when they come to me for suggestions. Not only is Astrid’s story of figuring out who she is and how to be comfortable in her sexuality amazing, but what I love about A.S. King’s work is the element of magical realism (and in the case of I Crawl Through It, insane surrealism). I could see myself sending messages to passengers in planes overhead the way Astrid does. And we can all see ourselves in her struggles. I just can’t praise this book enough. Read it. NOW.
Into Thin Air-Jon Krakauer
To say that I am obsessed with this book is an understatement. I became obsessed with Mount Everest and the lottery those who climb it play with their lives three or four years ago and this was the perfect addition to that. It not only gives you the story of the disaster that took place in 1996, but it also gives you the history of the mountain, how long it took for someone to summit and other tragedies that have happened up in the thin air. It’s one of the most gripping books and I just need everyone to read it so we can talk the insanity of Mount Everest.
Usually when speaking Austen, people are most inclined to say Pride & Prejudice is their favorite. But not me. I love Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth and they’re enduring love story. Ugh. It’s just lovely.
Flipped-Wendelin Van Draanen
This is the perfect love story and I will not be told any different. It’s that simple. The movie is one of those flawless adaptations with full chunks of the book plucked out. “Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss…but every once in a while, you find someone who is iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.”
La’s Orchestra Saves the World-Alexander McCall Smith
This is a less difficult look at WWII. Of course, the sadness is there and it’s hard to read about, but the story of La’s orchestra coming together at a base to give the community music during this difficult time was so uplifting and I didn’t want it to end. Ever.
Harry Potter-J.K. Rowling
I’m putting the series as a whole because what she did was truly spectacular, but my favorites are definitely Prisoner of Azkaban for the single most insane twist of all time with Scabbers actually being Peter Pettigrew, the man who gave the Potters up to Voldemort, but also The Half-Blood Prince because without it, we would never have been able to get through any of The Deathly Hallows. #NevilleLongbottomForever
This was one of the first real chapter books that I loved and read on repeat when I was in elementary school. I’m currently re-reading it and it’s still just as fantastic.
Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth-Sheila O’Connor
This is a 2018 release, but it was absolutely incredible. I even blogged about it! I didn’t want it to end!
Welcome to the Monkey House-Kurt Vonnegut
I read this back in high school for summer reading and thought it was meh. But, like most books you are forced to read in high school, you go back to it and try again and you’re like, “OH MY GOD. THIS IS AMAZING.” It’s really great short story collection for wanting to take a step into the science fiction world, but not wanting to dive in fully.
This part graphic novel, part cookbook through her life is one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. It will make you hungry, but give you the recipes to make all of the delicious goods! Could not recommend this one more.
Unwind Dystology-Neal Shusterman
I don’t even know how Neal Shusterman’s mind works, but this is one of the most gripping series of books I have ever read. I got an advanced copy of the third one however many years ago and read it in a night. That’s how good and amazing this futuristic look at what society does with unruly children. You’ll be waiting for the next page…on every page. Also, Challenger Deep is one of the best works of fiction regarding mental health.
The Sun is Also a Star-Nicola Yoon
This love story of two strangers meeting that takes place over the course of a day is so addicting. You want everything to work out, but you don’t know how it’s going to. You just want to get to the end and find out, but then again, you can’t possibly imagine it ending! (This will also soon be a movie. Read it now!)
Scar Tissue-Anthony Keidis
If you want a truly wild memoir, this is the one. The Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer did more in the first ten years of his life than I’ve done in almost all of my 29. That’s how wild his life has always been. It’s on the thicker side, but it’s beyond incredible. You don’t even have to be a fan of his music to devour this one.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before-Jenny Han
I bought all three of these on the days they were released. Full hardcover price. That is how much I love these books and Lara Jean Covey. That’s all that needs to be said, to be honest.
Bridge to Terabithia-Katherine Paterson
Have you ever wanted to have your soul ripped in half? No? Then don’t read this tale of friendship that changes Jess’s life forever in ways he didn’t realize were possible.
I love Tristan Thorn. I love Yvaine and the witches and the dueling sons of the king beyond the wall. I love everything about this story. It’s perfect and I love it so much. If you love adventure and fantasy, this is the one for you.
The Jane Austen Book Club-Karen Joy Fowler
What happens when a group of friends gets together, adds in someone new and they read the works of Jane Austen? So much. Literally so much happens. Love, loss, friendship and so much more fill these pages. It’s such a joy to read and has a fantastic movie adaptation!
The Scorpio Races-Maggie Stiefvater
The whole premise of this book was a bit weird to me (beach town gets jazzed every year for water horse races) and the beginning is a bit slow when it comes to world building, but oh my GOD does it all pay off. I tried my hardest to stretch this one out for as long as I could, but I simply had to finish it as quickly as possible. It’s so, so good. And I need a sequel like, three years ago.
Sloppy Firsts-Megan McCafferty
I was gifted this book when I was a teenager and became psychotically obsessed with the world of Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie. The five book series spans Jessica’s life from the beginning of high school all the way until she’s got a job after college. It’s one of the best series about growing up and figuring out life as we go through the biggest transitional periods of our lives. She also created a prequel series that is also super good. Everything she does is great.
The Chris Farley Show-Tom Farley Jr.
This is a different sort of biography in the sense that comedian Chris Farley’s life is told through the eyes of everyone in his life. Each chapter has a brief bit of writing before his family, friends, colleagues and so forth tell you his life’s story. It’s so different, but so well done that you don’t even notice. He lived a full, yet tragic life and this book will make you laugh, cry like an idiot and get angry that his life was cut so short.
Ben Wolf discovers during a routine checkup that he’s dying. Literally. But because he’s 18, he doesn’t have to tell anyone that this is happening. He forgoes treatment and instead takes chances he never thought he’d take. Instead of cross country, he goes out for the football team. Instead of being scared of asking out his crush Dallas Suzuki, he goes for it instead. In short, he wants to spend the last year of his life doing the most so he can know he lived fully. It’s one of the most incredible YA books I’ve ever read. Point blank.
Me Talk Pretty One Day-David Sedaris
It’s really, really hard for me to choose a favorite Sedaris collection because to me, they’re pretty much all incredible, but this one is my favorite because it has the story of the differences in Santa Claus around the world and how one country warns kids that Santa could either give them a gift or stuff them in a sack, beat them and kidnap them. Every time I have read that story, I don’t know why, but I roll with laughter. Close runner up: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe-Benjamin Alire Saenz
This is truly one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever come across. Aristotle and Dante are best friends, but Dante has never hidden who he was or his sexuality. Aristotle isn’t like that. He doesn’t even have very many friends besides Dante. But when Dante’s news shifts Aristotle’s world off of its axis, will he finally discover the secrets of the universe? It will make you cry so hard. I warned you.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower-Stephen Chbosky
I have read this book every year since I was 13 or 14 and every year, I relate to something different in the story. It has a way of giving you exactly what you need when you’re reading it and I just love that. Charlie is just out here trying to make sense of his life now, his life before and his life from here on out through his letters. That’s all any of us are trying to do, you know?
The Geography of You and Me-Jennifer E. Smith
It’s really hard to choose a favorite of Jennifer E. Smith’s because they’re all so freaking good, but this one inspired a lot of wanderlust and created this idea that sometimes chance meetings happen and sometimes we’re torn apart, but that doesn’t mean that the connection has to break. I thought it was just a really lovely read. Also, Windfall made me cry last year, so. There’s that.
We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story-Josh Sundquist
It’s like An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, my favorite JG, but in real life. It’s hilarious and clever, relatable and wonderful.
Ella Enchanted-Gail Carson Levine
This was on heavy rotation with Holes when I was younger. This retelling of Cinderella with a twist has always held a special place in my heart….even if the movie was a tragic adaptation that neither Anne Hathaway nor Hugh Dancy could have saved.
The Sun and Her Flowers-Rupi Kaur
I think I screenshot at least half of this book’s poems. I loved Milk & Honey so much, but ended up loving this one even more. It’s so stupid good.
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life-Annie Spence
This is a must read for anyone who loves books. I have never laughed so hard reading a book about books in my life. It was hilarious and had me saying, “Oh my god, I thought I was alone in that!” more than once. It’s just perfect.
Bonus for good luck:
The Hate U Give-Angie Thomas
This is such a timely and important read. Starr is present when her best friend is killed by a police officer and it sets her life on a course that she never anticipated to find herself on. She has to learn how to merge both versions of herself, the Starr at home and the star at her prestigious private school, to be the best version of herself and stand up for what’s right. It’s the only way change is going to happen.
While there are some others that I would love to include, these are just SOME of the books that I’ve loved over the course of my 29 years. I only hope you’ll find one that intrigues you!
Here’s to seeing what books I’ll find and love over the next 29!
What are some of your favorite books of all time? Let us know!