30 Favorite Books for my 30th Birthday!

Over this past weekend I had my 30th Birthday! I had a wonderful weekend filled with friends and family as we spent the day on the beach Saugatuck Dunes State Park! If you have not had a chance to adventure to Lake Michigan’s beaches I would recommend a trip due to the beaches is on par with the top beaches in the United States. And if I’m allowed a moment to thoroughly geek out, Luke surprised me with a first edition/first printing of A Game of Thrones! Words can hardly express how excited I was to add this book to my ever-growing collection! Now I need to somehow track down Mr. Martin and ask him to pretty please sign my new book!

On a more serious note, upon hitting this milestone I couldn’t help but reflect back to my naïve, 16 year old self’s opinion on 30 year olds and where my life would be when I eventually hit this ‘old’ age. While, I may not have lived up to my youthful ideal regarding procreating, I’ve far surpassed her dreams regarding traveling, education and life experiences, thereby alleviating any dread I might have held regarding turning a stereotypically troublesome age. One character aspect that has carried through the years just a fervently is my love of books, and as such I thought I’d construct a list of 30 books/series (*) that I have found impactful during my first 30 years! Please take note, I will probably overlook a few books that deserve to be on this list and the ranking will be in no such order of importance. Also please note, these books span a wide range of ages, styles and genres. My Birthday, my opinion!


Sarah’s Top 30 Books over the Ages

  1. The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings* by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. A Song of Ice and Fire* by George R.R. Martin
  3. Maze Runner* by James Dashner
  4. Outlander* by Diana Gabaldon
  5. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  7. Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  11. The Chronicles of Narnia* by C.S. Lewis
  12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  13. 1984 by George Orwell
  14. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  15. The Martian by Andy Weir
  16. The Oval Portrait, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe
  17. It by Stephen King
  18. Red Rising* by Pierce Brown
  19. Harry Potter* by J.K. Rowling
  20. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  21. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  22. The Odyssey by Homer
  23. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  24. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  25. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  26. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  27. I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
  28. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  29. Just After Sunset by Stephen King
  30. Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I enjoyed making it! What books do you think I missed?

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102 comments

  1. Happy belated birthday! Sounds like you had a great one.

    I like your list and see at least one book I haven’t read that I will add to my TBR pile.

    For me, my list would include Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Both of those books have been favorites of mine since I read them at a young age.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Happy Birthday! and thanks for the list. I’m curious about the inclusion of I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe. Have you read other books by Wolfe and this is your favorite or was this book your introduction to his work?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I actually haven’t read any of his other books. I picked up ‘I am Charlotte Simmons’ both before and after college, with each time having the book significantly impact me from different perspectives. Have you read this other works?

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      • I have read two other novels which both also feature people who are blinded by their own sense of entitlement. Bonfire of the Vanities was (I think) his first work of fiction and probably his most critically acclaimed. It is incredible. Much later he wrote A Man in Full. Also amazing. These books are big undertakings both in terms of time and emotional investment, so if you are only going to read one, my recommendation would be Bonfire. It is an unflinching look at race and class. It was written in the late 80’s, but so little has changed in this country that it could have been written yesterday.

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    • Thank you! I haven’t read PoBaW yet but have heard wonderful things. I liked the FioS, however it didn’t make my top 30. I do feel as though I’ve become disenchanted by any of Green’s books because they all seem relatively the same. You’re the second person in this post to tell me about The Alchemist! I need to read it! It has been on my bookshelf for years.

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  3. Happy Belated Birthday!! Great list but I would have included The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. It’s one of those that you re-read every few years though I am waaay overdue for a reread. I guess that’s the downside of going back to school…very little time to read for fun!

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  4. I’ve been eyeing “a wrinkle in time” for the longest time but can never check it out of the library because someone else has borrowed it. I’ve stopped myself from buying books cos my bookshelves are far too burdened to incur anymore weight! Have you written a review on the wrinkle in time? Would love to read it!

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  5. Belated happy birthday, Sarah – your cake looked awesome!

    Well, there are quite a few in your list (an idea which I am very taken with, by the way) that I would include on mine. Other titles you’ve listed are on my TBR list (among the thousand or so!) and might be included once I’ve got to read them! And still others (Marion Zimmer Bradley) I haven’t read for so long that I really don’t remember them.

    I credit The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy with encouraging me to let loose my love of fantasy on the written page, so I always feel enthusiastic about those! 🙂

    Will you add another 10 to your list when you reach 40….? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh I love love love The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit! J.R.R Tolkien is one of my go to writer! It feels so nice knowing that someone shares my love for LOTR. I know it’s one week late, but happy birthday!! Wish you all the best for this year and next and next and next 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Happy Birthday, Sarah! It sounds like you had a great celebration, as you should for your 30th. Two thumbs up to your thoughtful husband for a present that he was sure you would like. I love the way you reflect on books via lists. I am a list person as well, but haven’t published any on my blog. As you can tell from the comments, this was a very popular post that appealed to a lot of book lovers. Have a great year!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi! Glad you like the PKD book. I enjoyed reading about your love of reading. I too am so glad I was able, as you were, to acquire at an early age the ability to enjoy reading. All through my early youth and teens I always had a book handy to take out and read, on the bus, waiting somewhere and at home and in school as an easy escape into a more interest time, place, and space than I happen to find myself. Now that I am a retired, at 65, and have lots of time on my hands the ‘gift’ of reading is something I treasure as it still is able to provide me with knowledge, entertainment for that time. Sure I still expose myself to other activities, sports, exercise, movies, dining etc. But these days a good read is like the difference between a fine meal a fine restaurant and ‘’fast food’. “Fast food” being action movies, internets rumors, Facebook chat and so on. So glad for access to affordable, reliable, access to high-speed internet due to its ability to get more to read and learn about. I enjoyed your list of books at age 30. I would also recommend Issac Asimov Foundation Trilogy to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eddy! I’m so glad you enjoyed my post! It does sound like we had similar experiences growing up regarding our love of books! You bring up such a good point regarding the ‘fast food’ mentality! With that being said, sometimes it is nice to slum to a mindless movie or cheesy book. 😀 Thanks for the recommendation! I will need to look up that trilogy!

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  9. I can’t imagine creating such a list. I’d be forever changing the order and moving titles on and off. It will be interesting to see you make a list for your 35th birthday and, without referencing this one, see how closely they match. I’ll bet my top two remain, but 3-30 would probably be noticeably different. Great fun reading your list, thanks for posting it.

    Oh, and happy (although VERY belated) birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That’s a good list. Many of those would be on my list of favorites, especially Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, and the Count of Monte Cristo. Happy belated birthday, and thanks for liking my post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would definitely add “Animal Farm”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, “Gone with the Wind”, and “Many Moons” (a children’s book) to the mix. But maybe you have already read these! Even though “Black Beauty” isn’t a great book, everyone should read it at least once.

    Liked by 1 person

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