Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

“By Age 35”: Bookish Edition

Elizabeth Allen

Staff Writer

Lifelong book lover, Elizabeth Allen managed to get a degree in something completely unrelated that she never intends to use. She’s a proud Connecticut native who lives in a picturesque small town with her black olive-obsessed toddler daughter, her prom date-turned-husband, and her two dim-witted cats Penny Lane and Gretchen Wieners. She spends her days trying to find a way to be paid to read while drinking copious amounts of coffee, watching episodes of Gilmore girls until the DVDs fail, waiting for her husband to feed her, and being obnoxiously vain about her hair. Elizabeth’s work can be found at, where she is currently reading and reviewing all of the books referenced in Gilmore girls. She is also the cohost of two podcasts discussing the work of Amy Sherman-Palladino (“Under the Floorboards” and “Stumbling Ballerinas”). Basically, her entire goal in life is to be a bookish Lorelai Gilmore. She clearly dreams big. Twitter: @BWRBooks

Recently, MarketWatch made the mistake of telling millennials that they should’ve saved twice their salary for retirement. After the raucous laughter and the sounds of chomping avocado toast died down, millennials took to Twitter.

Tweets starting with “By  age 35, you should…” started to go viral and it was a glory to behold.  Below are the ones that were the most relatable to my staring-down-the-barrel-of-40 self.

I started to wonder about what the bookish life rules exist for people who have been alive for three-and-a-half decades. So here are some I (and some of my great Book Riot friends) thought of. Enjoy!

  • By age 35, you should have halfheartedly founded and abandoned no fewer than three bookclubs, never getting past the second book.
  • By age 35, you should have at least one book you read four pages of but still tell people that you completed (it’s usually Ulysses or War and Peace).
  • By age 35, you should have your spouse seriously look into shoring up the foundation under whatever room in which the majority of your books reside.
  • By age 35, you should have at least 20 cycles of weeding through and donating books, only to have replaced those books (x2) before the quarter is out.
  • By age 35, you should have an entire shelf of books you know for a fact you’ll never read, but you want people visiting your house to see that you own them.
  • By age 35, you should have realized that Holden Caufield is no hero.
  • By age 35, you should have managed to make at least 50% of your reading women, people of color, and LGBTQ community members.
  • By age 35, you should have started no fewer than 10 doorstop history books about Big Important Historical Figure only to put it aside for something that doesn’t sear your eyeballs.
  • By age 35, you should have learned that Romance is not only a legit genre, but is one of the things keeping the publishing world afloat in the toughest times.
  • By age 35, you should’ve made the mistake of revisiting a childhood favorite, only to realize that it’s super racist and a little piece of you dies.
  • By age 35, you should’ve gotten rid of all of your favorite childhood books, regretted it, and had to repurchase them at full retail price.
  • By age 35, you should have at least one panic attack when you do the math and realize just how many books you’re going to miss.
  • By age 35, you should have learned to stop book shaming people, whether they be non-readers or people who don’t enjoy your preferred genre (I’m looking at you Jimmy Kimmel). LET PEOPLE LIVE!

    What bookish “By age 35″s can you think of?