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8 Books You Need To Read In Your Twenties

Eight women in their twenties recommend eight brilliant books.


Your twenties are pretty tough. Between carving a career path, dating, saving money and trying to socialise at the same time, life can feel pretty busy. Each seemingly colossal decision you make feels like it will determine the rest of your life; travel or move to the city and work? Save for a house and live at home or forget the idea and rent forever? And then there’s the expectations that inevitably come with being this age; network, have a good social profile (but don’t go on social media too much), volunteer, make new friends, take career risks (but don’t fuck up), find a partner, manage your time, meditate (?!) and have somewhat of a plan because everyone will ask “what’s your plan then?” like, a lot.

There’s plenty of advice online for people who feel like their twenties are full of turmoil and uncertainty, but not enough people tell you how therapeutic, helpful and potentially life-changing reading a great book can be. A brilliant novel or self-help book can inspire the reader to see things differently, to open their mind, alter their perspective and if nothing else, they can just be hella relaxing.

Here are 8 books you need to read in your twenties.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton: My pick

Journalist Dolly Alderton wrote her memoir at 28. In it she recounts how her teens and twenties were full of fun, friendship, heartbreak and house parties. The book includes not just personal stories and observation, it also includes a series of listicles, email threads and easy-peasy recipes that break up chapters and provide delightful respite. It’s witty, insightful and oh-so-relatable, (especially if you’ve been to university and had a group of girlfriends.)

Why you should read it in your 20s: Though it strikes a chord with women of all ages, the anecdotes of messy nights and messier relationships are so relatable and remind you that we all go through rough times (and often come out laughing).

Shop here for $14,40 here.

Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

In this book, Haig writes about his very personal battle with depression and anxiety. He tells his story in a honest way, through digestible chapters that allow you to understand and reflect on his illness. Without preaching, Haig discusses his experiences and shares things that have helped him in the past- things that will most likely help the reader too.

Why you should read it in your 20s: “This book is incredibly moving, I cry every few pages! But it’s not as sad as it sounds, it’s really helped me understand anxiety and depression better. I would say it’s essential reading for anyone who struggles with mental health or knows someone who does. A life changer, for real.” Bella, 24

Shop here for $27,40.

So Sad Today by Melissa Broder

Melissa’s collection of personal essays tackle everything from love and sex to addiction and childhood trauma; nothing is left untouched in this book that is equal parts devastating and hilarious.

Why you should read it in your 20s: “This book is such a page turner! Melissa writes about all the things you are often thinking, but never dare admit out loud. It’s fairly challenging to read in that respect, but at the same time cathartic because you realise that we’re all just as fucked up as each other. It’s also very funny…in an existential kinda way.” Sophie, 25

Shop here for $8,79.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Much loved author, Elizabeth Gilbert, shares her unique perspective on creativity in this piece of non-fiction. In an incredibly empathetic way, Gilbert offers lessons on unleashing your creativity and embracing your own curiosity. She observes the creative process from inspiration, to concrete idea, to success (or failure) in a cyclical way that highlights the unique troubles creatives experience in their process.

Why you should read it in your 20s: “Basically, Elizabeth says that readers and people who express creatively can sense when writers are writing to show off or whether they are producing creative work to pursue a genuine interest. When you are trying to process a problem of your own, others can identify with you and it’s way more powerful. This shifted my mindset completely and I find it to be true.” Ida, 26

Shop here for $12.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

In Laing’s novel, The Lonely City, she investigates what it means to be lonely and looks at the famously hard art of being alone. Set in New York, this book answers such questions plenty of twenty-somethings probably wonder; How do we connect with one another? Does technology bring us closer? And what does it mean to feel lonely?

Why you should read it in your 20s: “I’d recommend reading this in your twenties as it evaluates lifestyle and considers what it is about spending time alone that is so valuable. Perhaps I’m having a bit of an introverted twenties, but it definitely makes you reflect.” Freya, 24

Shop here for $12,23.

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

Animals is a story of two best friends who are partying, raving and laughing through their late twenties. As they recklessly drink and limp from one hangover to the next, they learn that even the best of friendships can be rocky. Though it’s outrageously funny (and a bit gross), it still has emotional depth and characters that you genuinely feel for.

Why you should read it in your 20s: “The partying, career failures and complex friendships in this book are relatable for probably a lot of twenty-somethings. The women in the book are destructive, toxic, funny, spontaneous and very real. It’s the kind of book that makes you immediately want to open a bottle of wine with your best pal.” Rachel, 27

Shop here for $10,54.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends, this classic novel depicts a series of journeys they take  from New York to San Francisco and beyond. It’s about the spirit of adventure, travel and restlessness.

Why you should read it in your 20s: “Simply put, it makes you realise how big the world is, and how much there is to see still.” Lilly, 28

Shop here for $10,83.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

In one of Plath’s most critically acclaimed works, The Bell Jar, she depicts an account of how life-altering mental illness can be. Through her character, Esther, Plath writes of a woman who struggles with her identity when faced with social pressures. This modern classic is about emotions, madness, social scrutiny and mature identity.

Why you should read it in your 20s: “The analogy of the fig tree in The Bell Jar is so important for people in their twenties to understand; with each fig tree representing a different path she could take in her life, she sits in front of the fig tree contemplating and starving because she doesn’t know what to choose. Meanwhile the tree withers and she is left with nothing. It’s all about indecision  (the classic dilemma of a young person), as well as circumstance and being happy with what you have.” Laura, 29

Buy here for $14,37.

Next up, body positive instagram accounts you should be following.