5 of the Most Influential Books You Should Read in Your 20s

Our 20s are a critical period of time for self-discovery, and they're pivotal in setting the pace for the rest of our lives. While 80% of life’s most defining moments happen by age 35, perhaps more importantly, 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. 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. Below are five of the most influential books to help gain clarity on what you truly want from life, and how to get there.


  1. What You’ll Gain: Clarity on the importance of, and what to prioritize in, your 20s

    Whether 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, separated into easily digestible chapters 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.

  2. What You’ll Gain: Tools for living out your personal values & mission

    Known as being one of America’s top leadership authorities, author John Maxwell shares 15 key personal growth strategies for exponential success. Perhaps most importantly, he highlights the importance of how and why lifestyle choices need to align with one’s own personal mission and values. By focusing on investing one’s energy in personal growth rather than specific goals, Maxwell helps readers live more autonomous and purposeful lives.

  3. What You’ll Gain: Freedom from deeply rooted limiting beliefs

    Based on ancient teachings of the Toltec, this transformational read offers wisdom on four key mindset shifts, or personal “agreements” that one can make to free themselves of fear and self-imposed limiting beliefs. This relatively short spiritual read offers philosophical insight and takes a more right-brained approach to self-development to open readers’ minds and direct them into living a more empowered life.

  4. What You’ll Gain: In-depth insight on universal foundations for self-improvement

    First published in 1989, there is a reason this timeless classic still frequently tops the charts of most influential books. Author Stephen Covey provides universal principles on how to live a more fulfilling, purposeful and satisfying life, by guiding readers on how to prioritize their energy to focus on the things that truly matter. Best read in small chunks (it requires personal reflection), this 432-page piece may appear daunting to some readers, but it's an investment of time your future self will thank you for.

  5. What You’ll Gain: Courage to embrace authenticity and dissolve feelings of isolation

    Combining heartfelt stories of human suffering with years of research on topics such as shame, embracing vulnerability and authenticity, Brené Brown’s work opens readers’ eyes to the universality of our human experience, and how we can use our self-proclaimed insecurities to relate to others and show up as courageous leaders in our everyday lives.