Ten Books for Every Twenty Something to Read

If you know anything about me, then you’ll know that I absolutely love books. Not e-books or the kind you read off your iPad although I have many of those too. I’m talking of the pure hand-to-paper kind of books, the ones in which the pages are musky and creak as you flip them over in anticipation. The kind which you can snuggle in with and fall asleep. There’s something about the sight and smell of a slightly tattered book that tells you about where it’s been and what it’s going to do to you. So if you’re looking for some reading inspiration, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s 10 books for every twenty something to read.

  1. JANE EYRE – CHARLOTTE BRONTE

There’s something so refreshing about Victorian style novels, the way they create a sense of purpose, depth and feeling all strewn across the lines in front of you. It changes the way you see the world and sometimes, even the way you see yourself. I’ve learnt the mark of a sophisticated woman is one who can still have a glass of wine and quote Bronte or Austen in the wee hours of the morning.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”

 

  1. LOVE LETTERS OF GREAT MEN

I had the most wonderful conversation last night with a remarkable young man and it somewhat reminded me of a book that’s been on my to-read list for ages. Love Letters of Great Men is an anthology of letters written by some of the greatest men of all time. Twain, Beethoven, Mozart, Darwin… the list is endless. For the modern woman who heard Carrie Bradshaw mention this book in Sex and The City, it’s quite disappointing to realize that at the time, this book was actually not real. This however, sent a flurry of publishers scrambling to compose the book. The good news is the letters she referred to are very real indeed.

If I knew words enough, I could write the longest love letter in the world and never get tired – F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

  1. SOMETHING SHAKESPEARE

Shakespeare reminds me that there still may be some magic left in the world even if it mingles among the words on a page in front of you. My favorite has always been A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

If we shadows have offended,
Know but this and all is mended.
That you have but slumbered here,
While these visions did appear,
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding, but a dream

 

How could you not fall in love with such a sweet language?

 

  1. THE DIVINE COMEDY – DANTE ALIGEHERI

Regarded as one of the greatest pieces of Italian literature, The Divine Comedy describes Dante’s travels through hell, purgatory and heaven while he searches for salvation. It tells of the experiences he encounters and the lessons he learns about the true meaning of evil, sin, damnation and forgiveness.

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in great moral crises maintain their neutrality…”

 

  1. A CHRISTMAS CAROL – CHARLES DICKENS

Imagine Christmas pudding, a warm fire place and the posh upper class; then imagine orphaned children, vagabonds, misers and murderers. Dickens was pretty much 19th century London personified and he created some of the best English Literature this world has seen.

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that, while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”

 

  1. SILENT SPRING – RACHEL CARSON

Published over 50 years ago, this book pretty much revolutionized the environmental movement and forced the banning of DDT in certain countries. The story centers around nature and the idea that if man intends on poisoning nature then nature will in turn poison man too.

“It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray.”

 

  1. A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS – KHALED HOSSEINI

Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini writes some of the most beautiful heart wrenching stories. In this book he tells the tale of two Afghanistan women and their subjection to some of the worst emotional and physical brutalities.

Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”

 

  1. LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE – LAURA ESQUIVEL

Esquivel tells the story of a round about kind of love. In this book a young couple, Tita and Pedro are forbidden to be married. As they suppress their feelings, it ignites another kind of magic around them that Tita manifests in her kitchen and cooking which ultimately affects everyone in her path.

It was as if a strange alchemical process had dissolved her entire being in the rose petal sauce, in the tender flesh of the quails, in the wine, in every one of the meal’s aromas.

 

  1. THE RULES OF LIFE – RICHARD TEMPLAR

Ah! If only life had a hand book. Well, now it does. I bought this book at an airport on my trip home from The Seychelles. This is for those nights when you sit and contemplate your place in the universe and wonder if you have been making the right decisions thus far. Templar takes you through the basic rules of life for family, friends, relationships, society and most importantly, you.

Rule 19: Don’t expect to be perfect.

You are the sum total of everything that has happened in your life. The successes and the failures, the achievements and the failures. If you were to take any of the imperfect bits out of that equation, you wouldn’t be you.” 

 

  1. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA – ARTHUR GOLDEN

I want you to imagine yourself in Kyoto, 1929. Meet Nitta Sayuri. She was sold into a geisha house at the young age of nine. In a time where a young girl’s virginity is auctioned off and men are enticed by women, this is a really captivating story manifesting itself around love and World War II.

“She paints her face to hide her face. Her eyes are deep water. It is not for Geisha to want. It is not for geisha to feel. Geisha is an artist of the floating world. She dances, she sings. She entertains you, whatever you want. The rest is shadows, the rest is secret.”

 

Go and make a cup of tea, sit down with a good book and get lost in another world for the next few hours. Do you have any must read recommendations? Leave them in a comment below!

 

 

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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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