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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

I have always loved reading. Books are my security blanket, making me feel safe and taking me away to different worlds where I’m allowed to forget my troubles. But as I’ve gotten older, I have started to realize I don’t solely want to utilize books to forget about the worries of reality. Instead, I also want to learn lessons I can apply to my real life. I have read some amazing books whose messages have stuck with me long after I turned the last page and shut the cover. Books that can make you feel for and connect with another character, while also imparting wisdom the reader can apply to their daily life, are special. Here are five amazing books I think you should read in your twenties — a time when you are looking for answers and to feel connected with others.

“Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” by Cheryl Strayed

I’m currently about 50 pages into this book, and I really like it. The book, which is nonfiction, is a compilation of columns from Strayed’s former online advice column. Strayed used to anonymously give advice as Sugar through the online website The Rumpus. This book includes a number of the submissions she received over time and her very insightful responses. What makes Sugar’s responses so appealing is the honesty, bluntness and realness Strayed infuses in her responses. A lot of the columns in this book deal with subject matters that we all deal with, such as love, heartbreak, loss and so much more. Through the book, I can see in black and white how other people have gone through the same things I have and survived them. Even in the columns one might not be able to personally relate to, there are still a thing or two they can teach you.

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney

I read this book over quarantine, and it’s one of the few books that has ever made me cry. Normal People has one of the most honest depictions of falling in love. Many times, books make love look like this effortless thing where two people overcome a singular problem and then live happily ever after. But this book shows how messy love and people can be. The writing in this book is beautiful. I found myself highlighting multiple lines throughout the book. If you want to gain a new perspective on life and love (and also just read a well-written book with complex characters), I suggest reading this book.

“The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls

This is the only book on the list I actually haven’t read myself. The Glass Castle is the go to self-reflection read of fellow Her Campus UFL member, Delaney Sullivan. Sullivan, a 21-year-old UF English junior, loves this memoir because it reminds her to not take for granted the things in her life. Sullivan said the book is about a woman who is now a MSNBC contributor and a novelist.  

“Her childhood was essentially the least ideal situation and how she overcame it with absolutely no self-pity,” Sullivan said.

I think as we grow up, we stop taking things for granted like we once did. I remember being so embarrassed by my parents at times when I was younger, especially my dad’s endless photo taking. But as I’ve gotten older, I have learned to love and cherish my time with my family (even if it involves posing for a million pictures when I’m not in the mood). This book has been so impactful that Sullivan has reread it and included it in her own Her Campus article about her favorite books to revisit. Check out her article for more thoughts on The Glass Castle.

“Queenie” by Candice Carty-Williams

This book is an homage to being in your twenties. It discusses so many things that weigh on us and worry us in our twenties: love (or lack of it at times), dating, what we do, who we want to be and if we’re on the right track in our lives. This book shows us that setbacks and life not going according to the plan we have in our heads is okay, and it will end up happening. Life will never go exactly according to plan, but that’s okay. It’s during these detours where we have the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and what we really want out of life. Queenie has a relatable main character who embodies what it means to be unsure of yourself even at an age when you feel like you should be a real adult. This novel also eloquently discusses the main character’s Jamaican and British heritage and how she deals with living in both of these worlds with her family and friends. This book will captivate you and make you feel connected to the story and characters in a way that many other books can’t.

“One Day” by David Nicholls

The movie One Day starring Anne Hathaway is based on this book by the same name. The movie is my go-to comfort movie, so when I found out it was based on a novel, I knew I had to read the book. I’m so glad I did. I read this book in a few days and could not put it down. This is an amazing story about love and friendship. The book chronicles the lives of two friends, Emma and Dexter, every year on the same day. I personally obsess and stress about the future constantly. This book reminded me to enjoy the present moment because if I don’t, I’m going to miss the opportunities right in front of me. The characters in this book feel real, and if you choose to give this book a chance, I know you’ll fall in love with the characters and their story just as I did.

Books are great escapes from the real world, but they can also teach you so many things you can apply to your real life. All of the books on this list remind us that connecting with others and being in touch with ourselves are such important things. Your twenties can beat you down, but there is such a beauty and freedom to be found in this messy, chaotic and possibility-filled time in our lives. These books will remind you that even though things might not be working out the way you planned, that doesn’t mean they won’t work out in your favor in the end.

Caroline is a fourth-year sociology major at the University of Florida. She is from south Florida and loves to travel, cook, read, and listen to true crime podcasts.
UF Class of 2021. Journalism & women's studies. Viviana Moreno is a writer and online creative dedicated to exuding warmth and promoting inclusivity. She creates content that fuels truth and curiosity through her contributions to publications that seek to empower and inform primarily college-aged individuals.