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Books To Read When You’re Feeling Lost in Your Twenties

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at West Chester chapter.

Your twenties are certainly an interesting decade. You’re out in the real world navigating yourself while your brain is still developing, figuring out your wants and needs. Juggling responsibilities like school, a career, maybe a few side gigs (because we all know sometimes one job is not able to afford rent at times). But also feeling like you are somewhat lost in the world, away from adolescence but not really immersed into adulthood. A weird in between that makes all the movies you watched as kid where adults where cool and hip, seem unrealistic after you are living it. But as someone who is also navigating my 20s, books have been one of the greatest tools for me to learn more about myself and the people around me. Even giving some of the best advice that I have passed on to my loved ones as well! Here are some books that will get you through when you’re feeling lost in your twenties. :)

All About Love by bell hooks

  • Best known for social justice musings on race and feminism, social activist and author, bell hooks released “All About Love”. A book which explored the context of love and how our society has shaped it to be something we all need to have to be happy, but hooks bring a entirely different spin to that narrative. She explains that people do not know the real meaning of love even when we hopelessly search for it because that is what we have been trained to do, which is a problem. I recommend this book for twenty somethings because this book transforms the meaning of the love we have been taught our whole lives. That love is not chasing after the guy who ghosted you, or even putting your energy into unfulfiling friendships, but rather finding love without yourself instead of another person. 10/10 recommend for people who struggle with boundaries and relationships in their twenties.

10/10 recommend for people who struggle with boundaries and relationships in their twenties.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

  • We all know that there has been a recent trend for setting boundaries, whether its friendships or relationships. Setting boundaries is so crucial in your 20s as you are an emerging adult thrown into the real-world, but starting this book is the perfect guide if you have no idea how to set boundaries when needed. The book talks about the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries within friendships, how it affects mental health, and what kind of boundaries to set even when you receive negative reactions because of it. A must have book for sure!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

  • (trigger warning: mentions of s*icide) The first fictional book on the list, Midnight Library is a book that can definitely keep you up at night. It’s main character Nora, a thirty something woman who has many regrets about her life and feels alone in the world. A common dilemma for lots of twenty somethings. In the prologue, Nora quit her job due to her father’s dismay, but he laters die a short while later. 19 years later Nora is still in her hometown, where she attempts to commit to suicide. She wakes up in the whimsical place called The Midnight Library, a quantum state that allows her to explore the possibilities she could’ve taken all throughout her life, with each book volume she opens. She sees the possibilities of what would’ve happened if she stayed with her ex-fiance or dead end job and comes to realizations that are heartbreaking, but needs to get back to Earth to survive her suicide attempt and apply all the lessons she has lived into her life. 

The Empathy Exams By Elsie Jamison

  • The Empathy Exams is a series of essays made by Jamison that ask the important questions revolving around empathy and kindness. The enlightening yet essential questions are asked within the mini essays, with questions like “How can we care about one another?’”How can we feel each other’s pain?”. Jamison uses example of her own life experiences and others to give answers, all while remaining an optimistic tone for the future fo humanity. A great read if you are looking to learn more about human nature and how we all can actively help one another!

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderman

  • Dolly Alderton is usually known for her straight-to-the-point tone with a quite of bit of humor, and this book encapsulates her personality perfectly. “Everything I Know About Love” is a collection of Alderton’s life musings ranging from her childhood first kisses to navigating her adult life in Canada. It is a both comedic and strikingly relatable, the kind of book I would read if I wanted to hear about terrible dates while also finding humor within it!

What My Mother & I Don’t Talk About by Michele Filgate

  • The top tier book for the people with mommy issues! “What My Mother & I Don’t Talk About” is another collection of essays that feature short stories of people who have complex relationships with their mothers. The stories are lyrical, with a tone of melancholy over the lessons each person has learned throughout their time with their mothers. One story talks about how a daughter is estranged from her mother because of her choice to not have children, another is cannot express how much resentment she has for her own. But there are more stories that talk about feelings of lack of empathy, resentment, anger from their mothers. I would consider it to be a bit of a taboo book because not often to do you hear people talk negatively about their mothers, but the lessons within the book are astronomical. It shows the difference between how loving someone and loving the way they make you feel as two separate subjects, even in motherly relationships. 

A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu

  • Jena Lin is a violin player, once a child prodigy but now uses sex to fill the void of the fame that has seemingly disappeared from her. Her personal life is her strict parents and creative friends, and hooking up of course. When she is awarded an internship with the New York Philaharmonic, she is elated until Trump gets elected into office. And with that, New York changes and so does she. I will say, this book has many graphic scenes with very unfiltered thoughts that do make the book relatable to readers. An eloquent, yet fierce tone from the author Tu, who is forthcoming and honest with her character’s story.  It explores the consequences of wanting too much and never receiving it in return. Female desire and the need to be desired. My favorite quote from the book is: “It feels more powerful to be desired than to desire. There’s safety in being wanted. No risk in being desired. The last time I wanted something, I blew up the lives of two people”. 

Overall, your twenties can be a harrowing yet exciting time in your life. Even though you got the stressful things like balancing bills and jobs, sometimes nothing going on at all, it is such an experimental time in your life. I’d definitely compare it to a wild roller-coaster ride. It’s like you have the power to do anything you want but where do you start? You can feel lost within it all, looking at people who are further progressing and feeling like you are left behind, but rest assured, you are far from that. Sometimes waking up and doing dishes is more than enough to succeed. I think it is magical to know you wake up not knowing what’s next but having the hope that everything will turn out in your favor. I truly think that is the magic of your twenties, and I hope these books help you realize that magic as well! 

Nikita Chin

West Chester '24

Hi! My name is Nikita, and I’m a senior who is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. When I'm not writing articles for HER Campus, you can find me writing, traveling, drawing, painting, or fangirling over anything that involves romance books or Harry Styles.