In preparation for my golden birthday on Nov. 27, I’m being That Girl and expounding my questionable knowledge upon you. Twenty seven years is a long time to live and learn – at least it feels like a long time – and so, without further blabbing, here are 27 of the books I think every girl should read before 27.
1. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion — Along with her essay “Goodbye to All That,” this is the Joan Didion every girl should read. It’s smart. It’s sad. It’s introspective. It’s sharp as a knife.
2. Yes Please by Amy Poehler — Bless.
3. The Liars Club by Mary Karr — Mary Karr is my favorite memoirist forever; even though some truly terrible things happened to her as a child, she managed to create this beautiful, heartbreaking, intense little wonder of a book.
4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath — There would be riots if I didn’t include this.
5. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren — Pippi inspired generations of little girls to be as silly and imaginative as possible.
6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery — Oh, Anne. I still retain the dreamy, starry-eyed wonder I learned from you.
7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott — Because DUH.
8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne — You could watch “Easy A,” sure, but you COULD pick up the book it was loosely based on – and often references.
9. The Paper Bag Princess — I’m convinced that this book, about a very smart, self-sufficient princess, planted the seeds of feminism in my child brain.
10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins — I’ll forever love this YA book for making the badass female heroine trendy in teen lit.
11. Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger — At almost-27, I’ve grown out of this now, but at one time I really identified with edge-of-a-nervous-breakdown Franny.
12. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block — This novella and its many companions taught me that magic really does exist; sometimes you have to create it for yourself.
13. The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe — Before there was “Sex and the City” or “Girls,” there was this classic book about four girlfriends making it in New York. Sure, it’s old, but it still feels modern.
14. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford — I much prefer Nancy Mitford’s witty tale of batty upper-class Brits looking for love to “Pride & Prejudice.”
15. Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc — I encourage all my friends to read this engrossing tale of a real-life inner-city family and the struggles they go through. It’s so beautiful, gritty and heartbreaking, but hopeful at the same time.
16. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold — A teenage girl is raped and murdered and spends the entirety of this beautiful book watching her family grieve and move on after her death.
17. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard — Quoth my friend Sarah: “It changed the way I looked at the world and what writing could be.”
18. White Oleander by Janet Fitch — It’s a coming-of-age novel written like a gorgeous, lush poem.
19. Heartburn by Nora Ephron — Any and all Nora Ephron is perfect, but her novel loosely based on the breakup of her own marriage is one of my favorites.
20. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood — Imagine a world not too different from our own where a certain sect of women are kept by powerful men and their wives to use as breeding tools, with no freedom of their own. So compelling and a little scary – could that happen?
21. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn — Love it or hate it, you should read it. It’s a female protagonist who dares you to like her.
22. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin — Because erotica, real erotica, is so much better than “50 Shades of Grey.”
23. How to Make Love Like a Porn Star by Jenna Jameson — Want to feel incredibly a) square and b) normal? Read Jenna’s crazy, up-and-down autobiography. Rumor has it she’s working on a sequel. PS. The blowjob tips are not to be missed.
24. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore — One of the greatest short story writers. It’s essential.
25. Making Faces/Face Forward by Kevyn Aucoin — Want to learn how to do makeup like a pro? Start with these two guides by the master of makeup himself. RIP, Kevyn.
26. The Portable Dorothy Parker — Whenever you need a witty comeback, consult Dorothy.
27. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce — Alanna inspired a generation of little girls to be knights. Even if it was the ‘90s, and knights weren’t a real thing. We pretended, anyway.
Bonus: If you’re a new mom or dad, here’s a list of the best baby books for you to read aloud to your little one.