Leaving high school as a young adult and entering your twenties is a daunting prospect. As you’ll see throughout this list, your twenties are considered to be some of your most transformative years, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly!
From mental health to personal finance to making new friends, we’ve put together this list of 20 books all 20-something year olds should read. This is an assortment of self-help, memoir and fiction books to give you a well-rounded list of books it’s worth reading in your twenties.
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 30 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
Why Read? This classic self-help read is one of the best books to help you with interpersonal skills and social influence.
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear
No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving—every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
Learn how to:
– Make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
– Overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
– Design your environment to make success easier;
– Get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.
Why Read? This book revolutionises how we see our habits and daily routines and teaches you more about yourself than you ever thought you needed to know.
Note: This book is especially great if it’s your first time reading self-improvement books!
“The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay
Our “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” culture tells us that the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. But thirty is not the new twenty. In this enlightening book, Dr. Meg Jay reveals how many twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation that has trivialized what are actually the most defining years of adulthood.
Why Read? This book shows you, with scientific data and evidence, how important the decisions are that you make in your 20s.
“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.
Why Read? It will teach you to appreciate the people around you for their uniqueness.
Read more from our bookshelf…
“Wild” by Cheryl Strayed
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Why Read? This book is an incredible real world memoir about self-discovery and personal growth during a solo adventure.
“Becoming” by Michelle Obama
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.
Why Read? This book covers Michelle Obama’s journey through discovering what she wants out of her life, who she wants to be, and how she finds her own voice as a black woman standing beside such a successful husband.
“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck
After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.
Why Read? This book helps you to understand the concept of a growth mindset and its impact on success.
“The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.
Why Read? This great book is a classic novel depicting a woman’s struggles with mental health in her 20s. The main characters are real, gritty and relatable.
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.
Why Read? Written by a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, this book might change the way you think.
Read more from our bookshelf…
“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead.
Why Read? This heart-wrenching novel will change your opinion on resilience and joy in your personal life.
“The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey
By now, you’ve heard all the nutty get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that leave you with a lot of kooky ideas but not a penny in your pocket. Hey, if you’re tired of the lies and sick of the false promises, take a look at this–it’s the simplest, most straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits. And it’s based on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies.
Why Read? Provides practical advice on managing personal finances and getting out of debt.
Note, this is not a get-rich-quick scheme (we don’t promote those)
“The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom
At one time Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that there would ever be a story to tell. For the first fifty years of her life nothing at all out of the ordinary had ever happened to her. She was an old-maid watchmaker living contentedly with her spinster sister and their elderly father in the tiny Dutch house over their shop. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. However, with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, a story did ensue.
Why Read? This is an incredible true story of resilience and resistance.
“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari
From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?
Why Read? This book offers a broad perspective on human history and society.
“Normal People” by Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation—awkward but electrifying—something life changing begins.
Why Read? This book explores the complexities of relationships and personal growth in young adults.
“Deep Work” by Cal Newport
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.
Why Read? This book will teach you how to focus deeply and transform your mind to support the skill of deep concentration.
“Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell
In this stunning book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”—the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.
Why Read? This book examines the factors that contribute to success and a successful career.
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, following our dreams.
Why Read? A philosophical novel about pursuing your dreams and chasing your destiny. Your early 20s is the perfect time for this read.
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz
In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.
Why Read? A short, thought-provoking read that help you to make the best of your own self.
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins
To find the keys to greatness, Collins’s 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. The findings will surprise many readers and, quite frankly, upset others. Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.
Why Read? An absolute must-read for anyone who wants to thrive in business at any stage of their life.