20 Books Every Twenty Something Should Read

So you’re finally an adult. No more parents, no more teachers . . . you choose what to do and when to do it!

And that includes what to read. But it can be hard to decide what books to add to your reading list because there are so many out there. So we’ve made a list of brilliant and inspiring books every twenty-something career girl should read, to make sure she’s the most well-rounded career girl she can be. Grab a cup of tea, snuggle down with a blanket, and get cosy for winter with a good book.

life-changing-magic-not-giving-a-fuck1. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*** by Sarah Knight

This book is the perfect intro to adult life – don’t waste any more years forcing yourself to do things that aren’t important to you and don’t add to your happiness. Sort out the f***s you give, Sarah Knight style.


2. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Be inspired and moved by the strength and bravery of this young teenager. Malala’s experience will make you appreciate the privileges of your own life while motivating you to constantly strive for more.


3. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

For all the sisters out there, for all the first time fallers-in-love. Journey along with Elinor and Marianne in this timeless classic that will teach you the careful balance between passion and caution in love and life.


4. How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

You will laugh and cry and resonate with most – if not all – of the things Caitlin Moran recognises as women’s defining experiences and characteristics. Whether it’s periods, having children, or abortions – it’s all there.


5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

A tidy home means a tidy mind – or at the very least, it means a calm mind! Marie Kondo’s book is really life changing. I used her method to organize my home and have not looked back since. Coming home after a long day to a space that is organized and uncluttered is magical. It helps that I now know where absolutely everything is too.


6. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

This lovely, touching, and inspiring book will not only inform you about a major historical moment (the Iranian Revolution) but will also teach you so much about some incredible literary masterpieces like Lolita and The Great Gatsby. It’s also a moving lesson on feminism and women in the Middle East.

7. The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

This novel is for anyone who’s ever been in a relationship – you will definitely pick out moments in this tale of a very typical relationship that resonate. It’s the best how-to guide I’ve read so far. If you’ve not yet been in a relationship, let this book serve as a guide and prep course!

8. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

We may only be twenty-something, but we’re all generally worried about getting older. This classic beautifully follows Mrs. Dalloway’s stream of consciousness – among a few others – as she thinks about time, nostalgia, and ageing.

9. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This inspiring memoir will make you want to eat pasta and travel to Bali. More importantly, though, it will encourage you to make time for yourself in your twenties and really get to know ‘you’.

10. Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks

bell hooks (yes, spelt all lower case) is one of the most influential faces of contemporary feminism and for good reason. This book is one of the best books on feminism, especially because it covers the importance of intersectionality.

11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre was one of my idols as a teenager. She is one of the most famous and memorable heroines of all time – Jane will teach you about the importance of passion but also restraint and wisdom. It’s also one of the greatest love stories ever written.

12. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

This autobiography chronicles Maya Angelou’s life until seventeen raised in the Southern United States, and the way she uses literature as a way to deal with the racism and difficulties she faced there growing up. It’s a devastatingly beautiful book that will make you look at the world with new eyes.

13. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Tragically, Keegan died in a car accident just days after graduating magna cum laude from Yale University, with a job at The New Yorker lined up ahead. This collection of essays published after her death is as inspiring as its writer – passionate, profound, thought-provoking.

14. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Plath’s only novel is semi-autobiographical and many people believe it paralleled Plath’s own mental state and descent into depression. It’s a wonderful insight into the difficulties facing young people trying to find themselves and the pressures they face in society.

15. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

Have you ever liked something and then felt you shouldn’t because it’s anti-feminist? Roxanne Gay talks about this in her book of essays about feminism and how to navigate the sometimes-struggle of being a feminist.

16. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Ansari shares his study of love and dating in the modern world. It cleverly reveals how romance in our day and age works, in ways that we don’t notice ourselves but that completely resonate when pointed out. It’s an interesting cultural study of love today.

17. Why Not Me? by Minda Kaling

This memoir about Kaling’s life and career is an easy and lighthearted read that alludes to various issues she’s confronted. Grab this one for a feel-good laugh on holiday or to distract yourself at the end of a long day.

18. On The Road by Jack Kerouac

A classic tale of travelling and self-discovery, Kerouac captures the vibrant atmosphere of the Jazz and Beat era. It will make you feel young, passionate, wild, and free – and also go on a really spontaneous road trip through America blaring frenetic jazz in the car.

19. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

An inspiring journey of self-discovery, the novel follows young Santiago as he searches for a lost treasure. Often described as an example of magical realism, this is the perfect book to lose yourself in for a thought-provoking few hours.

20. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

This book looks at the process of changing your habits – how long it takes, and the importance of not discounting the small changes. If you want to incorporate some new life habits, start here for a different, more effective approach.

Have you read some of these books? What are your favourites? What do you think should be on the list too?

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Larissa Scotting

English Literature graduate from King's College London turned freelance writer. Lover of books, tea, Dickens, Otis Redding, and her cockapoo puppy Roly!

  • Britt Montgomery

    Loved the aritcle! I’ve read nearly half the books on this list and they’re all definitely a must-read. My favorite is “We should all be feminists” and “Iam Malala”

  • Maria Larsen

    This is such a good list of books, I’ve definitely added a couple to my list of must reads.

  • Makarena

    Such a great list! Thanks for sharing :)


  • Natalie Redman

    Some great reads on this list, loved I am Malala and feel like it should be read by everyone.


  • Tiffany

    I love that so many of these books are what I teach to juniors and seniors!!!

  • Brooke

    I love these books. I just added 7 of them to my Goodreads list. The Bell Jar is one of my all-time favorite books. Thanks for sharing!

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