14 Books to Read in your 20s

Our 20s are a decisive period of time for self-discovery, and they’re pivotal in setting the pace for the rest of our lives. It’s is the 20s that people often look back to and say they either ruined or changed their lives for the better. The personal qualities and habits formed in our early adult years can either maximize or limit the potential we have in our later adult years. The 20s is a decade full of questions and quests as we try to figure out who we want to be and search for the person who is supposed to “complete” us.

Surrounding ourselves with resources and people who support our personal development is key to future success, and any attempt (including self-proclaimed “failures”) should be celebrated. While the 20s is a confusing time, the good news is, we’re all going through more or less the same struggles. Below are 20 of the most influential books to help gain clarity on what you truly want from life, and how to get there. These books provide wisdom, inspiration, and sometimes a little comic relief to help you get through this turbulent decade.

1. The Dragonfly Sea By Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

What's the worth of chasing after the meaning of life? - Nairobi ...This is a vibrant, stunningly global novel about a young woman struggling to find her place. Through this novel, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor poignantly explores fate, mortality, love, and loss all at a go in an expert manner. The book is based on a real occurrence involving a young Kenyan girl who was awarded a scholarship to study in China back in 2005 after DNA tests indicated she was a descendant of the Ming-era Chinese sailors who had made an expedition to the East African coast in the 1400s. This book will make you question your fate and jot you into finding your true purpose in life early enough.



2. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter - GenTwentyWhether you feel like you’re watching life pass you by from your parents’ basement or genuinely acing it, every 20-something-year-old has something to gain from this applicable read. The book is separated into easily digestible chapters that are categorized by work, love & mind/body. Specifically targeted to millennial 20-somethings, Dr. Meg Jay backs her writing with years of research and supplements it with relatable stories that make her work both touching and extremely informational.

3. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

JTO Book Club: Born a Crime - JTO FashionOne of the comedy world’s brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. In Born a Crime, Noah turns his focus inward, giving readers a deeply personal, heartfelt and humorous look at the world that shaped him. The book provides you with an opportunity to examine your identity in a witty manner. Through Noah’s eyes, we witness the life of young South African at the hieght of apartheid and the dangers they faced everyday.


4. All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

Book Club: All the Single Ladies by Rebecca TraisterReal talk: Unless you’re solidly coupled up, questions that will come up time and time again in your 20s are “Are you dating anyone?” and “When are you getting married?” (Usually from a well-meaning—and probably many decades older than you—extended family member.) Traister’s book is an empowering look at the social, economic and political forces that have led to women marrying later or not at all.

5. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong'o's children's book 'Sulwe' takes on colourism and ...From Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colourism, self-esteem and learning that true beauty comes from within. Sulwe’s skin is the colour of midnight. She’s darker than everyone in her family, and everyone at school. All she wants is to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey through the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.


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