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Navigating your twenties is a journey, to say the least. From getting your first full-time post-grad job to figuring out how to budget to traversing the ups and downs of living on your own, your twenties will be — and likely already are — a whirlwind of emotions, challenges, and surprises. Just the other day, I nearly set my kitchen on fire while cooking frozen egg rolls, which I think sums up how my twenties are going so far pretty well.

Thankfully, this whole being-a-twentysomething thing doesn’t have to be so scary, though — after all, there are so many resources out there to help you figure out how to just be in your twenties, from podcasts to movies to — you guessed it! — books. A book is the best companion for your twenties and beyond, shedding light on important subjects and lessons and making you feel a little less alone in this big (and often terrifying) world.

Here are 20 books to read in your twenties to help you navigate the ups and downs of adulthood, including a diverse range of self-help books, memoirs, and novels.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks
Amazon

Considered to be one of the greatest feminist icons of all time, bell hooks explores the question of what love is through All About Love: New Visions. In this timeless book, hooks offers radical new ways to think about love in just under 300 pages.

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The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
Amazon

If you Google “20 books to read in your 20s,” The Defining Decade is likely the first book that will pop up. Dr. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist who claims that the popular saying “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” actually trivializes this pivotal point in our lives. This updated version of her original book includes updated research on work, love, technology, and friendship, as well as how to navigate the digital world.

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I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson
Amazon

In this collection of humorous and insightful anecdotes and drawings, Abbi Jacobson shares her experience traveling across the country — alone. As she embarks on her solo journey, she begins to ponder some of life’s biggest questions, including perhaps the most important one of all: “What do I really want?” Co-creator and co-star of Broad City, Jacobson is a witty and thoughtful writer, and her bestselling essay collection I Might Regret This is a must-have for any twentysomething’s bookshelf.

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Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Amazon

Kiley Reid’s debut novel Such a Fun Age explores themes of race, privilege, and adulthood through wit, humor, and empathy. The riveting story follows Emira Tucker, a 25-year-old Black woman who is wrongfully accused of kidnapping the toddler she’s babysitting, and Alix Chamberlain, the woman Emira babysits for — who, as the woman behind her own very successful brand, has everything she’s ever wanted and more. Exploring the complexities of adulthood and more, Such a Fun Age is a book you’ll be recommending to all of your friends.

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The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Amazon

A memoir about tragedy, loss, and renewal, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking is a must-read when entering adulthood. As Didion tries to deal with the grief of her husband’s death and the uncertainty of her daughter’s medical issues, she uncovers important truths about life. 

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101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think by Brianna Weist
Amazon

As suggested by the title, 101 Essays That Will Change the Way You Think by Brianna Weist will change the way you think about both the world and yourself. Exploring both purpose and passion, this collection of insightful essays is something you can read through slowly or all at once.

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Almond by Won-pyung Sohn
Amazon

Yunjae was born with a medical condition that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger — which, unfortunately, makes it difficult for him to make friends. In Almond, author Won-pyung Sohn explores themes of friendship, loss, and hope, making it a perfect read for young adults in their twenties.

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The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
Amazon

With important lessons on greed, wealth, and happiness, The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel is a bestseller, and for good reason. Reading this book will not only change the way you think about money, but will also equip you with a better understanding of how to manage your finances as you navigate your twenties.

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A Hundred Other Girls by Iman Hariri-Kia
Amazon

Iman Hariri-Kia’s debut novel A Hundred Other Girls follows Noora, a twentysomething navigating her first job post-grad as an editorial assistant and writer in New York City. Infused with humor and wit, A Hundred Other Girls is a must-read for any recent graduate newly navigating the workforce, and especially for those looking to enter the vast world of media.

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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Amazon

Named one of the most influential books of the decade by CNN, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the dark history and present of systemic racism and begs the question of how we can move forward. The book is formatted as a letter to his adolescent son, making it a personal and illuminating read.

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Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Amazon

In her bestselling memoir Everything I Know About Love, journalist Dolly Alderton recounts her experiences falling in love, finding a job, and everything in between. Young twentysomethings will not only find this read moving, but also incredibly relatable — and better yet, the book is even getting its own show adaptation on August 25.

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They Said This Would Be Fun by Eternity Martis

In They Said This Would Be Fun, Eternity Martis explores what it means to be a student of color on a predominantly white college campus. As a young Black woman herself, Martis shares her experience attending a predominantly white school, as well as the systemic and personal challenges facing students of color today.

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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Amazon

Part prose, part poetry, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is like no book you’ve ever read before. Structured as a letter to his illiterate mother, Vuong explores themes of sexuality, generational trauma, beauty, and love in his debut novel.

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Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
Amazon

Friendship is arguably one of the most important things in life, but no one ever talks about how difficult navigating long-term friendships can be — but two friends, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, are ready to talk about it. In Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, Sow and Friedman define big friendship as a “strong, significant bond that transcends life phases, geographical locations, and emotional shifts.” Whether you’re learning how to manage your post-grad long-distance friendships or make new friends, this book is a necessary addition to your TBR.

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Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Amazon

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi explores the age-old question: “What if we could travel back in time?” An insightful and thought-provoking read, Before the Coffee Gets Cold is the perfect book to add to your bookshelf in your twenties.

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Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
Amazon

As a twentysomething herself, presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman explores young adulthood through her collection of poems, Call Us What We Carry. While the world can sometimes feel overwhelming and even bleak as you navigate early adulthood, books like Call Us What We Carry serve as a reminder that there is still hope to be found.

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How to Money: Your Ultimate Visual Guide to the Basics of Finance by Jean Chatzky
Amazon

Never took a personal finance class in college? No worries! Jean Chatzky’s How to Money: Your Ultimate Visual Guide to the Basics of Finance teaches you everything you need to know about managing your finances, navigating student loans, and investing — and it’s even illustrated, making it an easy and accessible read.

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Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Amazon

Chanel Miller’s Know My Name is a heartbreaking yet powerful memoir that reclaims Miller’s personhood. Know My Name follows the real-life story of Miller’s sexual assault and the whirlwind of a trial that follows while simultaneously navigating themes of love, loss, power, and hope.

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Stay Inspired: Finding Motivation for Your Creative Work by Brandon Stosuy
Amazon

If you’re a creative or want to maintain some form of creativity in your job and life, Stay Inspired: Finding Motivation For Your Creative Work by Brandon Stosuy is the perfect addition to your TBR. Formatted as an interactive guide, Stay Inspired includes perspectives from a diverse group of creative talent, as well as comprehensive how-tos on staying inspired in a culture that discourages creativity. 

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If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Amazon

A novel about friendship, sexuality, death, and love, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio follows seven drama students and one horrible incident that changes the course of all of their lives. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be stuck in the middle of a murder mystery interrogation yourself, If We Were Villains still includes important life lessons and anecdotes engrained within a story you won’t forget.

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Zoë is an associate editor at Her Campus, where she covers Gen Z pop culture and viral TikTok trends. She is also a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. When she's not writing or editing, Zoë can be found reading, sipping coffee, and exploring Los Angeles.
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