The Thirty-Year-Old’s Nightstand

I recently had a great conversation with a bunch of friends about what we’re all reading at the moment. As we kept bringing up more and more of our favourite reads this year, I realized that everything we mentioned could be found in basically two sections of any bookstore: self improvement and spirituality.

Donning my research hat for more information, I asked my friends when and why they thought their tastes had changed. This is the same group that read all the Harry Potters and Twilight Sagas, right?

“This is for your blog thingy, isn’t it?” said one friend. “You think we’re all going to say we turned to self-help books once we turned thirty.”

I shrug and smile slyly.

Yes, unsurprisingly, a need to learn more about spirituality and our true selves starts to bubble up around the big three-oh. My friends all agreed that as they’ve gotten older, they have been interested in more than just the newest fiction fad.

One of my more insightful friends played along with my interview and said she thinks it could be because in our teens we define ourselves by our clique. In our twenties, we are defined by our major. Then we get to thirty and simply don’t want to be defined by our job or our age. We’re looking for something more to define us and we need help to find it. Hmm, I think she’s on to something.

My most literary friend chalks up her desire to read more self-help to her simply needing to read more than one book at time – one self-help on the nightstand and maybe a crime thriller for the commute.

“University really groomed me for reading multiple books at once for different classes. Now I kind of crave that all the time so I read one fiction and one non-fiction at the same time for most of the year.”

I can totally relate to having more than one self improvement book on my nightstand – everything from Deepak Chopra to The Joy of Juicing. I also read a lot about aging and success, and sometimes a trashy thriller for my subway ride; I guess I’ve got the right group of friends.

But another thing that interested me was how we all lumped spirituality in with the genre of self help and self improvement. A couple of my friends (including myself) have been seeking out religious literature out of a desire to get back to the religion of our childhoods. Perhaps this is about looking for the power of faith again but it’s maybe also a search for a key into a deeper part of what makes up who we are now.

Whatever the reason, it’s obvious that the desire to discover more about the self is a spiritual one, perhaps because that’s where a spiritual journey begins. I couldn’t help but be inspired by our similar quests for something beyond ourselves that simply wasn’t even on the radar of our conversation in our twenties. I guess we’re really growing up.

What is it about turning thirty that turns us on ourselves looking for something more? And what’s on your nightstand? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

On my nightstand:

Ageless Body, Timeless Mind– Deepak Chopra

The Joy of Juicing – Gary Null, PhD

Zealot:  The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth – Reza Aslan

Writing is My Drink – Theo Pauline Nestor

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