Great literature grows out of periods of change, and there are few transitions more more, well, transitional than the end of your twenties and the onset of the whole rest of your life. Whether it’s Edith Wharton in The House of Mirth or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Americanah, authors have made narrative hay of that period in life. Here are 30 favorites from an informal poll of TIME staffers.
Americanah, Chimemanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)
Ifemelu leaves her native Nigeria to study in the U.S.; through her relationship with a white man, her Princeton fellowship and her work writing a blog about race in America through the eyes of an outsider, she never stops thinking about her high school boyfriend. But when they reunite in Lagos 15 years later, everything has changed.
In a 2013 review, TIME wrote, “to the extent that this is a novel of ideas—and it teems with enough thoughts on race, class and gender to stock a yearlong graduate seminar—Adichie is smart about placing them in the context of resonant contemporary history.”