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Reinvent Your Life: 12 Must-Read Books to Read in Your 20s

books to read in your 20s

If your idea of reading is your Facebook newsfeed, it’s time to put down the phone and grab a book. Here are some must-read books to read in your 20s.

Sometimes, the advice from our parents or friends isn’t going to cut it. Your 20s is a great time to make mistakes and experience things without much backlash. Drink a little too much, eat the greasy burger, make out with a random person – we’ve all been there.

12 books to read your 20s

When you read a book that really speaks to you, it changes your perspective, and you become a little wiser – not a lot, just a little. And during your 20s, you’ll want all the wisdom you can get *this is coming from experience*. So, here are some of the must-read books to read your 20s.

#1 Wild by Cheryl Strayed – “I’m a free spirit who never had the balls to be free.”

Maybe you’ve seen the movie starring Reese Witherspoon. But if not, read the book first if you haven’t seen the film. The book illustrates the journey of Cheryl Strayed who decides to walk the Pacific Crest Trail after experiencing a series of dramatic events. It goes through the feelings of loss and the process of healing. Let’s just say, I wanted to walk 1000 miles after reading it.

#2 The Myths of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.”

In your 20s, you’re at a turning point – you’re transitioning from your teen years to adulthood. It’s not that scary *unless you’re hungover and late for work*.

The Myths of Happiness touches on the topics of success and failure, and the misconceptions of how success and failure impact your life. I mean, when you fail in your 20s, it’s really not anything you can’t get out of. You’re still in your 20s! [Read: Books that will teach you lessons about your love life]

#3 How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

When I graduated high school, I was given this book as a gift. Was I happy about it? No. I wanted a new car. But, I read it. It’s one of the most bought self-help books on the market.

Why? Because it actually is really helpful in understanding relationships and personal development. Plus, the book is really easy to follow since it’s in bullet point form. What I’m trying to say is, this is one of the necessary books to read in your 20s.

#4 Catcher and the Rye by J.D. Salinger – “That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they’re not much to look at, or even if they’re sort of stupid, you fall in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.”

This book is a classic. I read it in the 11th grade, and I haven’t moved on from this book. It’s about a teenage boy, Holden, and his issues with identity, alienation, teenage angst, and loss. This is one of my favorite books to read in your 20s. Just read this book. Period. [Read: Romantic love quotes from books and literature]

#5 Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham – “When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself.”

If you’ve seen the series Girls, then you know how blunt and jaw-dropping Lena Dunham’s humor is. You want to laugh while reading her book.

I mean, it’s refreshing to finally hear the opinion of someone who is in their 20s, speaking to other people in their 20s, but in a relaxed and relatable tone. It’s like getting advice from your hungover sister. So, this is another one of the most important books to read in your 20s.

#6 White Teeth by Zadie Smith – “In the end, your past is not my past, and your truth is not my truth, and your solution – is not my solution.”

Alhough it’s set in 1975 London, it looks at the relationship between two wartime friends, Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and Englishman Archie Jones. It covers everything from self-identity, immigration, race, and fundamentalism.

The beautiful part about this book is that after meeting all the characters, you notice one thing – they all have white teeth. I hope you get that metaphor.

#7 Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling – “As my mom has said, when one person is unhappy, it usually means two people are unhappy, but that one has not come to terms with it yet.”

Another well-known Hollywood comedian, Mindy Kaling, has come out with thoughts on love, friendship, and Hollywood. She uses her experiences and hilarious personality to give thought-provoking advice that your parents wouldn’t give you. [Read: Memorable life lessons to perfect your life]

#8 Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins – “There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, and nothing worth killing for.”

Okay, first of all, the title of this book is great. Second of all, read the book before watching the movie. As you have probably guessed, this book is about a woman who was born with abnormally large thumbs, seeing them as a gift. Didn’t see that coming, eh?

Well, she decides to hitchhike to New York, and through her journey, the book touches upon drug use, body odor, free love and animal rights – although not in that order. Yep, another one of those awesome books to read in your 20s.

#9 The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides – “Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind. You just got to be careful not to touch it where it hurts. It’s always there, though.”

It may be set in the 1980s, however, The Marriage Plot can relate to anyone of any time period. This book is about a girl, Madeleine, a college student and English major, who gets herself into a love triangle.

Throughout the book, you see how all three people deal with being in love, out of love, and moving on. We’ve all been in situations where we are falling in love and not receiving that love back. It touches really close to home, and I know the stinging pain. However, it’s a read that must happen.

#10 Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – “I’ve always wanted not to give a fuck. While crying helplessly into my pillow for no good reason, I would often fantasize that maybe someday I could be one of those stoic bad-asses whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things.”

If you’re looking for a lighter read and a good laugh, then pick up the Hyperbole and a Half. Originally, this was a web comic off of Brosh’s blog, but because it because so popular, she decided to write a book.

Her stories are based on her childhood, and challenges she experienced throughout life. However, it’s not a heavy read that makes you want to sleep for three days after reading it. [Read: Life-altering lessons you can learn from regret]

#11 Bossypants by Tina Fey – “Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry.’ I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”

Tina Fey is hilarious, there’s no doubting that. So, of course, you can imagine her book to be just as funny. But before we saw her on SNL, Tina Fey was just a girl doing her thing.

Her book illustrates her personal struggles while growing up, and talks about things that we all experience – especially if you’re a lady, but men can read this book too.

#12 The Art of Imperfection by Brene Brown – “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.”

This book personally changed my life. Before reading this book, I was so scared to be vulnerable and express my actual feelings. I mean, who wants to be judged? Every time I would want to like a guy, I would clam up and be worried that they wouldn’t like me back.

But if you don’t try, you don’t know. Read this book – Brene knows her stuff.  This is one of the most essential books to read in your 20s. Or your teenage years. Or if you’re 80. [Read: Things women wish they knew in their 20s]

When you’re in your 20s your motto is always go, go, go. Listen, chill out. Take some time for yourself and crack open one of these books. You won’t be able to put it down, trust me. Someday you’ll thank me for recommending these awesome books to read in your 20s.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic
A serial dater, Natasha Ivanovic knows a thing or two about men and the dating scene. Much of her writing is inspired by her encounters with men - and for good ...
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