What are some must read books for people in their 20s?All books, that you may have problems to appreciate later. For example, I have read The Three Musketeers when I was 22 and my reaction was: "WTF? Why so many people found this bunch of hypocrites so fascinating?"
So in my opinion, you should cover all the real gems of YA/children's literature:
- The whimical ones:
Shel Silverstein (you have my permission to skip The Giving Tree),
Donald Bisset - to be able to enjoy fully Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett
- The often referenced ones:
Alexandre Dumas: Alexandre Dumas the father and Alexandre Dumas the son - too many other works reference them.- both father & son (yes, there were two of them, but that's not the reason for the abundance of the works. I think that Dumas the father was first to invent the collaboration: he gave the outlines, somebody fleshed it up, then he polished it and signed his name)
-The ones that later in your life you'd find stupid:
Jack London - especially Burning Daylight and Martin Eden
Russian How the Steel Was Tempered
Both writers have admirable characters, but sometimes they root for the stupid ideas.
-The overly preachy ones:
Narnia books because the moment the Christian message'd sunk in it'd become blah.
Gianni Rodari - if you can find him in your language - communism for kids (blah does not cover it)
-The books that are shelved as "children lit", but worth reading in any age:
Astrid Lindgren, Erich Kästner, P.L. Travers, A. A. Milne - as I said, so you'd not reject them later, because they are shelved under "children lit". These authors worth reading and re-reading no matter how old you are.
-Not politically correct ones:
Mark Twain and Xaviera Hollander - before you'd be brainwashed that they're not politically correct enough. They aren't. Not censoring the reality is the large part of their charm.
Conan Doyle - while Sherlock Holmes reasoning still has its magic. (I found "Dancing Men" useful for crosswords)
"Anna and Mister God" - so you'd know that the word "god" in a title does not turn a book into the religious pamphlet.
Also as many folk tales and legends of as many different countries as you are able to find, before you decided that you are too old for this - those stories were not written for the kids at the time.