Books I have loved in my 20’s and 40’s…a list

On My Nightstand

There are certain books that stand out to me in different decades of my life. Here are some books that I loved when I was in my twenties.

Their Eyes Were Watching God-Zora Neale Hurston

Beloved-Toni Morrison

Bastard out of Carolina-Dorothy Allison

The Woman WarriorMaxine Hong Kingston

The Unbearable Lightness of Being-Milan Kundera

The Shipping NewsE. Annie Proulx

Friend of my Youth-Alice Munro

The Bird Artist-Howard Norman

Jane Eyre-Charlotte Bronte

Cowboys Are My Weakness-Pam Houston

Anything by Laurie Colwin or Ellen Gilchrist

Cold Mountain-Charles Frazier

RefugeTerry Tempest Williams

All of the Best American Short Stories collections

Complete set of the seven books of the Harry P...
Complete set of the seven books of the Harry Potter series. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During my thirties, I got my masters’ degree, got married, and had two kids within twenty-one months of each other. I read a lot and met with my Book Club when I could, but honestly, when I made this list, I drew a total blank. I KNOW I read books during that ten-year stretch, but which ones? I did read a lot of  “New Yorker” and “Us Magazines” as well as the whole Harry Potter series. I did love Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and Nobody’s Fool, by Richard Russo. Maybe some other books will occur to me, but right now it feels like a black hole.

Books I have loved in my forties.

I am back to reading voraciously, beginning with getting pregnant with my third child at age forty and sleeping terribly. Luckily, I had a Kindle and could download books at two in the morning when I just could not sleep. Here are some favorites a few years into my forties..

Cover of "A Visit from the Goon Squad"
Cover of A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad-Jennifer Egan

The Marriage Plot-Jeffrey Eugenides

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk-Ben Fountain. I do not usually like books about war, but this one haunted me for days. I loved it.

Skippy Dies-Paul Murray

Beautiful Ruins-Jess Walter

True Grit-Charles Portis

The Magician King-Lev Grossman

On Beauty-Zadie Smith

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I read the whole series but loved this one the best.


Wild:From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail-Cheryl Strayed

Blood, Bones, and Butter:The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef-Gabrielle Hamilton

Quiet-The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking-Susan Cain

Unbroken-Laura Hillenbrand. Another book about war that I loved.