30 Books Millennials Need to Read In Their Lifetime


Jaclyn and I have written about Why Millennials Get a Bad Rap, Why Millennials Need Travel, and Why Millennials Can’t Have it All. So why is this post titled “30 Books Millennials Need to Read in Their Lifetime”? Shouldn’t it be called “Why Millennials Need to Read”?

Sorry, but I’m not going to go into the various reasons why millennials need to read. I’ve got nothing earth-shattering to add to the standard answers. Instead of saying why you need books in your life, we decided to compile a list of the 30 books millennials need to read.

If you are like us, what you really want are book suggestions and book reviews. You want someone to say Read This, Not That. You want to know the best book club books, the most inspirational nonfiction books, and the books you just can’t put down. That’s where we come in.

Both of us are avid readers, so I figured compiling this list of books millennials need to read would be a breeze. It’s just 30 books, right? But we didn’t just pick 30 good books millennials need to read. We wanted to choose books that you absolutely need to read. I’m not saying that these are the 30 best books ever written. But they are the ones that will teach you, inspire you, and touch you.

So take a peek and let us know what you think of our list of books millennials need to read. If you want to see more posts like this, follow us on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Just so you know, our Book Club board on Pinterest has some truly great book options. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter!

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Book covers for Animal Farm by George Orwell, Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery and Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

Animal Farm by George Orwell
A simple story of the animals revolting against the cruel farmer to set up their own government, Animal Farm is the perfect allegory for the danger of giving up our freedoms for the sake of security. If you’ve ever wondered how a dictatorship comes to be, this classic short novel will show you. Best when read with 1984.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Growing up, every girl should be required to read the adventures of orphan Anne Shirley who uses all her imagination and spunk to win the hearts of everyone around her. She’s the girl every girl wishes she could be. A childhood classic that is just as entertaining when you are an adult.

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

In October of 1959, journalist John Howard Griffin spent six weeks traveling across the Deep South with one major change: he medically darkened his skin to look like a black man. His journal of the experience is an incredible read discussing race relations in the United States.

Related: Don’t Buy the Hype: Read This Not That


Book covers for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
As science and technology can do more and more to improve our lives, how much are we willing to give up of our humanity in order to reach utopia? Huxley paints a frightening picture of a world of total uniformity will show you the downside of a world without suffering.

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
W. Somerset Maugham said, “The crown of literature is poetry.” Emily Dickinson’s poetry is the perfect beginning to your journey into literature’s finest. Her beautiful lyrics will touch your soul and leave you in awe at the power of verse.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

At what cost are we willing to sacrifice our children for the greater good? You don’t have to like science fiction to love this book; the story is extremely captivating. However, what gains it a place on our list is the deeper themes: compassion, ruthlessness, and our underlying humanity.

Related: 14 Incredible Books That Make You Think Differently


Book covers for Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Set in a world where printed books are burned by firemen, Ray Bradbury’s novel serves as a warning against the dangers of censorship and the consequences of an addiction to television. In our world of technology, Ray Bradbury’s novel feels prophetic.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
How much does higher intelligence give you a better life? The tale of a mentally disabled man who undergoes an experiment that increases his IQ to an insanely high level will make you ponder the benefits and drawbacks of both high and low intelligence. Keep tissues handy, it’s definitely a book that will make you cry.

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Notice I listed these books alphabetically. If we were to have ranked our 30 books millennials need to read, without a doubt the Harry Potter series would have been our top pick. Your life just isn’t complete until you have read these books. And, no, the movies don’t count.

Related: Best Books of 2018: Last Year’s Most Popular Reads

Book covers for I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Living in Pakistan as the Taliban took over her valley, Malala’s advocacy for women’s education led her to international recognition and to an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Her autobiography will inspire you to stand up for your beliefs because one ordinary girl can change the world.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
How well do you really know your mother? This tale of four Chinese mothers trying to pass on their wisdom to their America-born daughters who don’t truly understand them will make you want to learn more about your own mother.

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

Everyone should read at least one fantasy series in their life, and this is the best one out there. Kvothe, a living legend in the world he lives in, tells how he cultivated his life into a myth of epic proportions to a local biographer. The intricate details of the world Rothfuss creates will captivate your attention for days on end.

Related: 14 Books That Will Make You Cry


Book covers for The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
All of Khaled Hosseini’s books are worth reading, but The Kite Runner is his debut novel. The unforgettable story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, it beautifully describes love, friendship, betrayal and redemption.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
A must-read for any woman embarking on her career, Sheryl Sandberg’s book will inspire you to fully lean in to your profession. She gives great advice on how to combat bias against women in the workplace and manage a career a marriage and family.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

In a world of materialism and overconsumption, we could all use a bit more minimalism in our lives. Marie Kondo’s how-to guide on decluttering your home is a bit silly at times, but her KonMari method does work. Warning: you will have the irresistible urge to attack the clutter in your house as you read this book.

Related: Fierce Female Reads: Nonfiction Books with Strong Female Leads


Book Covers for Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, and Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s inspiring autobiography of his life as he evolved from a freedom fighter to a political prisoner to a great leader testifies of the refining power of transformation through struggle and gives hope that our struggles are not in vain.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
What happens when a group of English school boys are marooned on a deserted island? As the boys attempt to rule themselves, the dark side of human nature comes out in all its ugliness. Even if our society isn’t perfect, this book makes you glad that at least you live in a civilized society.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

How do you find meaning in your suffering? If anyone can find the answer, it’s psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. A memoir of his and others’ experiences in Nazi concentration camps, Frankl will help you cope with, find meaning in, and move past the trials in your life.

Related: The Top 10 World War 2 Books of All Time


Book covers for Marley & Me by John Grogan, Night by Elie Wiesel, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Marley &Me by John Grogan
I don’t even like dogs, and I loved this book. The antics of Marley, the world’s worst dog, are simply hilarious. Even more, the love that springs up between Marley and his owner despite Marley’s many flaws is so touching. A great reminder for you to be grateful for the love of four-legged friends in your life.

Night by Elie Wiesel
I was debating putting two Holocaust stories on this list, but I think you should read both. While Viktor Frankl’s account is about finding the meaning inside his trial, Elie Wiesel’s story is heart-wrenching account of his life. While I love a good World War II novel, we must understand the true horror of these events to ensure they don’t happen again.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

What makes extremely successful people different from others? Gladwell uses statistics and interesting real-life examples to show how closely success is tied to not only natural ability and hard work but also opportunity and timing.

Related: The Best World War II Novels of the Last Decade


Book covers for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Quiet by Susan Cain, and A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen the BBC miniseries or the Keira Knightley movie, you still need to read the book. Jane Austen’s witty novel is a fun reminder of the importance of marrying for love and not lust or security.

Quiet by Susan Cain
In today’s society, we seem to idolize the extrovert. Well-researched and though-provoking, Cain not only shows the power of introverts, but also addresses the struggles introverts face and how to overcome them. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, this will make you see people in a different light.

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf believes that in order for a woman to truly write, she needs two things: money and a room to herself. While you may not agree with everything she says, this short essay covers the interesting topics of intellectual freedom and the process of creating.

Related: 43 Short Classics You Actually Have Time to Read


Book covers of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So begins Charles Dickens’ novel set amid the violence of the French Revolution. His classic tale reminds you that violence only begets violence, and that it is never too late to find redemption.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
There’s a good reason that practically every school makes you read this book. The story of young Scout and Jem watching their father Atticus Finch defend an innocent black man will make you want to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. A timeless classic that everyone should read.

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

If you really want to be a savvy millennial, you need to make your money work for you. Dave Ramsey’s book is the best starting point to get you thinking about finances. His book clearly explains the dangers of debt – especially credit card debt – and is a great how-to guide to get you out of debt and ready to be financially free.

Related: 33 Children’s Classics Your Kids Will Love


Book covers for Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne and Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Sometimes it takes doing something crazy, like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, for you to truly put your life in order. So if your life, your job, or your friends are not what they ought to be, you’ll be inspired to reset your life to find your focus.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
The adventures of Christopher Robin’s beloved bear of very little brain is one that every child should have read to them and that every adult should read again. With his smart humor, A. A. Milne reminds you of the pure joy of a child’s imagination.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
This story of a boy with a severely deformed face entering public middle school for the first time will make you ponder how you react to people who look differently. I know many of my choices have talked about the dark side of human nature, but this book will leave you with hope for mankind.

What would you say are the top books millennials need to read? Let us know in the comments!

30 Books Millennials Need to Read in Their Liftime

Check out our list of the 30 books every millennial needs to read and let us know how many you have read. book club | book recommendations | |book reviews | book lists | books | millennials
Check out our list of the 30 books every millennial needs to read and let us know how many you have read. book club | book recommendations | |book reviews | book lists | books | millennials
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  • Reply Diana March 5, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    Thank you for making this list! I will add some to my reading list for this year. And I felt pretty good that I have read a few of these!

    • Reply Rachael March 5, 2018 at 11:35 pm

      You’re welcome. My goal is to keep everyone’s to-read lists overflowing with great books.

  • Reply Julie Anna April 9, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    This is a great list – so far I’ve read 11 but the rest sound fantastic. I got to see Susan Cain do a talk at a women’s tech conference and she brought up a lot of really great points from her book. I’m glad it was on your list because I’ve been meaning to read it – it’s going on my list now!

  • Reply Raina April 17, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    I love love love this list!! Some of my favorites are on here and now I have a few to buy as well! Great list and I love how it covers classics through modern.

    • Reply Rachael April 24, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      I use to exclusively read classics, but have shifted to reading more modern fiction in recent years. Glad you found some good books to add to your list!

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