19 of the Best Books to Read in Your 20s

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This post is a comprehensive list of the best books for young adults to read right now. Each book was thoughtfully selected and is an awesome read!

It’s easy to graduate high school or even college and never pick up a book for leisurely reading. Yet, there are so many amazing books that can greatly impact your life.

In this list of the 19 best books to read in your 20s, I offer my opinions for books that I have personally read that I have had a huge impact on me in my 20s. I chose this list thoughtfully and carefully because I want to make sure everything I suggest to you is valid, worth your time, and memorable. I believe that these 19 books will do just that for you.


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1. The Alchemist

I don’t recall being touched by a book the way The Alchemist affected me. In fact, upon finishing the book for the first, time I immediately read it again.

What makes this book so captivating and relevant for anyone in their 20s is the amazing journey the main character goes on. This book is not simply a quest or an adventure, rather it’s a call to action of self-discovery.

The book’s theme span the topics of destiny, fate, and self-discovery. These universal themes make The Alchemist my favorite book on the list and the only book I’ve read more than twice (three times to be exact!).

I’ve even had the experience of listening to it read to me on Audible, which beautifully dropped me in the middle of the Egypt with the main character.

Adding this book to your collection is an enriching opportunity I hope you take advantage of! It’s one of the best books to read right now, or to listen to on Audible.

2. Make It Happen

I 100% believe in manifestation.

However, before reading this book I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing. I knew that there were certain ways that we are supposed to go about manifesting our future, but oftentimes I felt like I was just making things up.

Make It Happen is a great book that focuses on how to manifest your goals and desires. While Make It Happen does address the ‘woo woo’ side of manifestation, it also addresses is the science behind the concept.

This is an excellent read for anyone who wants to get into manifestation, and it is accompanied by enjoyable stories from the author.

3. Mother Tongue

I have nothing but the utmost praise for the book Mother Tongue. I read this entire book in one sitting because I could hardly put it down.

While Mother Tongue is not a well-known or even popular book, I believe this is a book that everyone should read in their 20s because it addresses love, loss, and heartbreak. Those themes are all too common for people, no matter what age, but it especially seems relevant for young people. That is the main reason I chose this as one of the best books for young adults.

What I loved the most about Mother Tongue was the unique way the story was told. It brought in real-life tragedies to a fictional story which gave it a very authentic feel that is both memorable and satisfying.

Do yourself a favor and read this short book. The words on the pages will stay with you for a lifetime.

4. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

The reason the book Blink is on this list is because of the concepts that the author addresses.

He is essentially saying that everyone makes decisions within a blink of an eye, even if they don’t know it yet. If you like books that have plenty of data and research that goes into proving a theory, you’ll love Blink.

This book will challenge you to think differently and encourage you to view the way people make decisions. Since decision making is such an important factor for anyone in their 20s, I think it’s important to have Blink on your must-read list.

5. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Regardless if you are a writer or not, Stephen King’s story is inspirational and memorable.

Although this book touches on theories of how to be a writer, the primary focus is on the life of Stephen King. As one of the best authors of our time, Stephen King talks about his childhood leading all the way up to his success as an author.

Anyone who knows what it’s like to work hard to achieve a goal can appreciate the journey Stephen King has been through. I recommend On Writing as a book to read in your 20s because there is so much to relate to with the struggle of working so hard for so long and finally achieving your dreams.

Also, the extra bonus is all the lessons he gives for anyone who wants to be a writer or anyone who wants to improve her writing skills. As someone who is both a writer and working towards big dreams, I highly recommend this book.

6. What I Know For Sure

What I know For Sure is one of the few books that I’ve read it twice. I didn’t read this book back to back like I did with the Alchemist, but I did read it twice within the same month.

Oprah Winfrey is clearly one of the most successful women of all time. On top of that, she is a minority. Her book touches not only on her success as a female minority, but she addresses various hardships and trials she experienced throughout her life.

While most people think of Oprah as being the richest woman in the world, many forget that she started from absolutely nothing. What I Know For Sure tells those stories from when she had nothing and how she continued to persevere through her struggles.

A perk to reading this book is the fun list Oprah provides of the ‘things she absolutely knows for sure’. I highly recommend this book for anyone in their 20s and anyone who wants to read a good rags-to-riches story.

An added perk with this book is that the audible version is narrated by Oprah herself.

When I had my headphones in listening to her words, I felt as if Oprah was personally talking to me. This is why I highly recommend getting Audible.

7. You Are a Badass

I was probably 22 or 23 when I first read You Are a BadAss. I’ll be honest, what attracted me to this book was a title. I honestly didn’t even know you could put a curse word on a book cover.

After reading a few chapters I was absolutely hooked. This book is unapologetically encouraging and motivating. We all want to live an awesome life but aren’t exactly sure how. That is why this book is so great because in a way it instructs you on how to get out of your own way and pursue the life that you deserve.

When you start this book, if you aren’t confident in the beginning, you’ll end the book feeling like a total badass ready to conquer the world.

8. You Are a Badass at Making Money

This book is a clever follow up to the success of You Are a Badass. However, like the title suggests, this book focuses on making money. The author, Jen Sincero talks about her struggles from living in a one-bedroom garage to her extremely successful career.

What I love about this book is that she addresses a bunch of taboo money topics that people are taught to believe. She faces negative money mantra’s head-on and challenges readers to change their mindset to believe that they deserve all the money that they make.

By the end of this book you will be equipped with the knowledge of how to not only make more money but how to feel confident with the money you have and the success that is going to come to you.

9. Good to Great

I’ll be honest. At first, I didn’t like this book. But, since I spent money buying it I figured that I needed to read the entire thing. I’m so glad I did it!

Good to Great has a lot of statistics and data and research mainly from the late 90s to the early 2000’s. This can make the book filled dated but the information Jim Collins is teaching is timeless.

According to him, there are plenty of good leaders in the world but there are not a lot of great leaders. By the end of this book you will know exactly what it takes to be a great leader. Trust me, you will be super surprised by the outcome. I know I was.

I have already added this to the list of books I need to read again.

10. Becoming

Before I talk about Becoming, I want to address the idea that most politicians and people in the spotlight write some sort of memoir. As someone who is an avid reader, I’ll be the first to say that not everybody needs to write a memoir on their lives.

With that said, I feel as though we are absolutely blessed to have a memoir by Michelle Obama. Regardless of your take on politics, Michelle Obama’s memoir is inspirational and emotional for anyone who reads it.

Obviously, it’s easy to attach her to her political background, but Becoming reminds us that she was once in a poor neighborhood in Chicago working as hard as she could to succeed in life. Besides, who doesn’t love a great success story?

This book is another great one to get on Audible because it is narrated by Michelle Obama herself. How cool is that!

11. Girl, Stop Apologizing

If you are in the need of some straight forward encouragement, this is one of the best books to read in your 20s.

Rachel Hollis does not hold back. If you’re familiar with her or her story, you know that she tells it like it is and can be rather ruthless about it. That’s what makes this book so great.

We live in a society where we are always saying sorry, even if we don’t need to apologize for anything. Obviously, the premise of this book is not about when to apologize, but it does force you to look at your goals and to decide if you are the reason why you’re holding yourself back. This is a good read, trust me.

12. When Breath Becomes Air

Sometimes when I’m on Audible, I select a book purely based off its title. I purchased When Breath Becomes Air without knowing anything about it. I was so pleasantly surprised.

When Breath Becomes Air is the true story of a neurosurgeon diagnosed with fatal cancer. He approaches the book talking about time, the lack of time, and how we use the time we currently have.

If you like a book that brings out the right emotions, you’ll love this one. I felt happy and incredibly sad at the same time and I have recommended this book to more people than I can count.

A big plus to read in this book is if you are in the medical field in any sort of. Although you do not need to be in the medical field to understand the universal theme of time, it might be extra impactful if you or a loved one is in the medical field.

13. Bossypants

I have been a huge fan of Tina Fey since the Mean Girls era. When I found out she had a book, I had to read it. I was so glad I did.

This memoir is laugh-out-loud funny and also extremely memorable. It’s been almost 8 years since I first read this book and I can still vividly remember specific scenes and chapters in detail.

Tina Fey is an amazing woman and her story is even better. I highly recommend this book to anyone in their 20s as it will give you encouragement and motivation as you kickstart your career.

14. Born a Crime

I don’t want to pick favorites because I love every single book on this list, but I have a special place in my heart for Trevor Noah’s is Born a Crime.

As someone who is of mixed races, I really related to the stories that Trevor told. Obviously, Trevor grew up in a situation many of us are not familiar with, as he was born during the Apartheid in South Africa.

However, what makes his book so great is that Trevor is able to take such a heavy topic and make it funny, memorable, and teach you a lesson from it. He really does have a talent for writing and storytelling. I know a lot of people who have read this book and every single person has high praise for it. I highly highly recommend this book.

Something else that’s unique about this book is Trevor speaks in different accents and languages as he is describing his family from South Africa. His narration through Audible is laugh-out-loud funny.

This book is guaranteed to put you in a great mood and to teach you a little bit about the world that you probably didn’t know before.

15. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I read this book five years before it became a hit show on Netflix. I feel like I’ve had a headstart on how to be a tidy person because of this book.

I took all the methods Marie Kondo teachers and applied them to my own room at the time. It completely changed me. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but this book is life-changing.

Now that the show is out, this is an extremely popular book and it might seem like it’s a fad. While this might be super popular right now, it is extremely beneficial. Her methods work better than anything else I’ve tried for my cleaning habits.

I love to be clean and I hate to be in a dirty environment, so I am eternally grateful for how this book taught me everything from how to fold my clothes to knowing when to donate something. Also, this is a very quick read and it’s not overwhelming at all.

Recommended: How to Organize Your Home with the KonMari Method Checklist

16. The Glass Castle

I just recently read this book and it immediately entered the category of being one of my favorites.

This memoir is a compilation of unbelievable stories from author Jeannette Walls. Most of the stories seem too unbelievable to be true, but they are all true.

The reason I suggest this as one of the best books to read in your 20s is because a lot of book focuses on her childhood. When you’re entering your 20s, your childhood still carries vast importance to you as you are learning how to maneuver from a child to an adult.

I personally like reading other people’s stories about how they made that transition so that I can apply their concepts to my own life. Although Jeannette Walls had a tough childhood growing up, the love for her family and is why I put it on this list.

17. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Technically, these are three books (four if you include The Hobbit). Since you need to read all of them in order for the story to make sense, I had to list all three.

The Lord of the Rings is by far my favorite fantasy story of all time. Of course, it helps that the major motion pictures are my favorite movies of all time. But, sometimes movies cannot translate what a book can. That’s why I recommend that everyone read this trilogy.

I’ll be honest this is not the easiest read. It is rather dense and long drawn out. I have read the books and I have listened to them an audible and I would recommend that you listen to all three of these books on Audible rather than read them.

The narration is superb and it’s so easy to get lost in the journey of Frodo and Sam. While Lord of the Rings is probably on most peoples lists to read at some time in their life, I would argue that this is one of the best books to read in your 20s.

There’s nothing quite like an amazing adventure and that is exactly what you will get this J. R. R Tolkien trilogy.

18. The Catcher in the Rye

I first read this book when I was 14. I remember liking it and that’s about it. I reread this book when I was in my 20s and I loved it.

The themes of The Catcher in the Rye are so prominent for anyone in a transition stage or who feels like they are still growing up. The reason why this is one of the best books to read in your 20s is because the main character is a teenage boy who is trying to be an adult.

Often times in our 20s we feel like all we’re doing is pretending at adulting while still feeling like a child. Even if you read Catcher in the Rye as a requirement for your high school, I recommend re-reading it with your new adult lens.

I guarantee you that you will take some amazing things from this book and that it will be far more memorable now that you can understand the experiences of the main character.

19. Animal Farm

Just like The Catcher in the Rye, many people read Animal Farm in high school. I was one of the few who did not read this in high school. Instead, I read this when I was about 26. Wow! This book is absolutely fantastic.

I honestly don’t think I would’ve understood all of the themes and undertones of the book if I had read it in high school. However, as an adult, this book felt extremely relevant. The topic is a bit heavier than most of the books on this list, however, I think that it’s important for adults to use fiction as a way of remembering that bad things happen in this world.

By the end of this book, you’ll probably want to go do some good in the world. Any book that inspires you to be better and to do better and should absolutely be read in your 20s.

I hope you enjoy this list of the best books to read in your 20s. I have read all these books while I was in my 20s and they’ve had a lasting impact on me. I hope they are impactful for you too.

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