Top 32 Books I've Read Since Turning 30 (The Obligatory Birthday Post)

This essay was written by Brandon Monk.

Today’s my 32nd Birthday. I feel obligated to make a birthday list post. My philosophy is not to persuade people to read specific works as long as they are reading. So, this is not a prescriptive list. Maybe something will interest you. If so, great. If not, continue to read at “whim.” Meaning, read whatever the hell you feel like at the time. You’re in control of your reading future.

Some are old and some are new, but here’s the list without further ado (thanks Grammar Girl for the tip on ado v. adieu). Please note that these books are linked via the referral system through which means this site will be given, literally, pennies, if you purchase using these links.

Top 32 Books I’ve read since turning 30 in no particular order because that would be way too hard:

1. IQ84, Murakami.

2. The Corrections, Franzen

3. Infinite Jest, Wallace

4. The Iliad, Homer

5. The Odyssey, Homer

6. The Pale King, Wallace

7. Songlines, Chatwain

8. Imagine, Lehrer

9. Jesus’ Son, Johnson

10. The Wasp Factory, Banks

11. Moon Palace, Auster

12. Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography

13. Lincoln’s Melancholy, Shenk

14. The War of Art, Pressfield

15. The Trial (Re-read), Kafka

16. Hero with A Thousand Faces, Campbell

17. Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl

18. Einstein, Issacson

19. Steve Jobs, Issacson

20. The Moviegoer, Percy

21. The Marriage Plot, Eugenides

22. The Art of Fielding, Harbach

23. How to Be Alone, Franzen

24. The Road, McCarthy

25. Sketches from a Hunter’s Album, Turgenev

26. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, Feynman

27. A Moveable Feast, Hemingway

28. How to Read a Book, Adler and Van Doren

29. The Swerve, Greenblatt

30. A Reader on Reading, Manguel

31. Start Something that Matters, Mycoskie

32. War and Peace, Tolstoy

Despite the fact that my birthday is on Friday the 13th I have never read much horror writing. I did particularly like one book that might be loosely classified as horror, Hikikomori by Lawrence Pearce. Consider this your bonus recommendation because my birthday falls on Friday the 13th.

Do you have a favorite this year or last?

Photo by Paul Jarvis.


  1. Yu Darvish

    I’ve only heard of about 5 of these books. And one of them is Infinite Jest which I am afraid to read.

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      That one is a bit intimidating, but brilliant.

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      Thank you!

  2. Angelo B. Ancheta

    Happy, happy birthday !

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      Thank you, Angelo!

  3. Chris

    Happy Birthday! I also love Grammar Girl. So useful. Have you thought about linking up your books with an Amazon affiliate account? Then if someone decides to purchase one of the books, you’ll get a small percentage, but the buyer pays the same as they would anyway. It’s a little thing your readers can do to support your website if they’re interested in reading or buying a book you mention anyway….

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      Good advice! I will look into Amazon affiliate.

  4. Joseph Dante

    Happy birthday, Brandon!

    Murakami is a favorite of mine, but I’m afraid of IQ84. I’ve been reading less than glowing reviews and it seems like such an investment. I adore his short stories though, and many of his other novels. I need to read more Wallace too…I love his essays.

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      It took me a while to finish it, but I loved it.

      Can’t go wrong with anything by Wallace. His take on cruise ships is even brilliant.

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