Fresh shoots tentatively probe the air while their roots have yet to find purchase. The more firmly they are rooted, the more boldly they stretch their new leaves toward the sun. So it is with the intellect of youth. As yet unburdened by the life-weary prejudices of their seniors, their powerful imaginations and desire for knowledge are unguided by the wisdom which can only be attained with experience. Books are a shortcut to experience. Books merge centuries together, granting the wisdom of ages to those with the strength of will to grasp it. People in their twenties can bring meaning and direction to their lives by learning through literature how others have coped with this difficult time of life.
These 15 books will help you transcend your experiences and gain a deeper understanding of human nature – and who you want to be.
1. Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Don’t be put off by the fact that this is Shakespeare’s longest play. For hundreds of years, actors, writers and critics have celebrated this as one of the greatest works in human history. Four centuries years after it was written and Hamlet remains as relevant to young people as it ever was. By setting the play in Denmark about 1000 years before he was born, Shakespeare ensured that it remains eternal, belonging to the ages.
2. The Odyssey by Homer: Like Hamlet, The Odyssey depicts a noble young man missing his Father and lamenting the fact that he is too young to defend his family’s honour. The young Telemachus laments the death of his heroic father Odysseus, who is in fact living in captivity on a faraway island.
3. Patriotism by Yukio Mishima: This short but powerful Japanese story presents a dramatically different attitude to love and death than most people in their twenties are accustomed to. Lieutenant Shinji Takeyama and his 23-year-old wife, Reiko, both commit ritualistic suicide in response to a mutiny against the Imperial Army.
4. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole: This hilarious, insightful but tragic novel wasn’t published until 11 years after the author, who was convinced he was a failure, had committed suicide. The plot revolves around Ignatius J Reilly; a highly articulate and intelligent man at the end of his twenties who, due to his slothful disposition and awkward social habits, is unemployed and living with his Mother in New Orleans.
5. The Queen of Spades by Alexander Pushkin: If ever you have felt socially awkward, introverted, or unable to properly assert yourself, then you will sympathize with the protagonist of this famous Russian novella. The existentialist theme and the unnamed protagonist’s inability to act are reminiscent of Hamlet.
6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess: The streets in the dystopian future of this prophetic novel are ruled by gangs of youths for whom rape and theft are a form of entertainment. Time magazine listed it as one of the top 100 novels in the English language.
7. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche: Reading Nietzsche is one of the best ways that people in their twenties can have their views challenged because he deliberately opposes and attacks all the most deeply held moral convictions of Western society.
8. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson: The famously hedonistic journalist, Hunter Thompson, wrote The Rum Diary when he was only 22. Despite his youth, the novel shows his concern with growing old. Semi-autobiographical, the narrative follows a writer named Paul Kemp as he moves from New York to Puerto Rico to work for an expat sports paper.
9. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: Like The Rum Diary, this novel is about alcoholic expats and was written while the author was in his twenties. Set in Paris and Spain during the roaring twenties, it is regarded as one of the first modernist novels and a classic of American literature.
10. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: This novel is a coming-of-age story that addresses universal teenage concerns of identity, belonging, and alienation. The protagonist Holden Caulfield is a rebel who finds himself at odds with the adult world and the various authorities that surround him.
11. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: Cette autobiographique roman suit l’histoire d’une jeune femme appelée Esther Greenwood, qui est aux prises avec sa santé mentale et son éducation universitaire. Ce livre peut aider ceux qui se sentent perdus après l’université et ont du mal à se faire une place dans le monde.
12. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse: Cet ouvrage est une critique de Carl Jung et Freud, et propose une alternative à leur psychanalyse. Siddhartha est un fils de noble qui abandonne sa famille pour chercher la spiritualité. Le livre explore les thèmes de l’individualité, de la sagesse et de la nature de l’univers.
13. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: This novel is about a young man named Dorian Gray who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. As he lives a life of excess and indulgence, his portrait ages while he remains youthful. The novel explores the themes of morality and the destructive power of beauty.
14. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera: This philosophical novel explores the themes of love, sex, and freedom in the context of the Prague Spring of 1968. The story follows four characters as they navigate their personal and political lives during this tumultuous time in Czechoslovakia.
15. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky: This novel is about Raskolnikov, a young man who murders an unscrupulous pawnbroker and her sister in order to prove his own greatness. The story explores the psychological consequences of his crime and his eventual redemption through confession and suffering.
In conclusion, these 15 books offer insight into the human condition and can help people in their twenties navigate the challenges of the transition to adulthood. From Hamlet to A Clockwork Orange, these classics offer universal themes and characters that continue to resonate with readers of all ages. By reading these books, the youth of today can learn from the wisdom of the past and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.