50 Must-Read Books for 20-Somethings

As 20-somethings, we are figuring EVERYTHING out—how am I supposed to pay those bills? Am I really in love with them? What am I doing with my life? What do I want my career to look like?

In my 20s, I’ve lost true loves, found better ones, unexpectedly lost a parent, realized how much my childhood has affected me, been confused about what kind of career I wanted, figured out how I’ve wanted to use my talents and skills doing something I like, and learned to appreciate my body (not necessarily in that order, and sometimes repeating certain stages more than once…or twice). This must-read book list covers a wide variety of topics that have helped me understand and develop my personal and professional life.

The books are grouped in sections for various aspects of your 20s: Intersectional Feminism, Love, Career, Social Life, Big Decisions, Loss and Grieving, Travel, Perspective, and Curveballs.

50 Must Read Books for 20-Somethings

Intersectional Feminism

Many of us are figuring out how to put intersectional feminism into practice as we navigate the challenges of dating and being a woman in the workplace. (Or, if you identify as a man, how to act as an ally.) The following books taught me new concepts and techniques and served as a good reminder and summary of what I already knew about feminism.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“With humor and levity, Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.”

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

“In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture. Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.”

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.”

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

“Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.”

Love

I imagine 20-somethings on average probably have the least stable love lives compared to those in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. And when I say love, I mean romantic and platonic friendships. It’s often the first time we’re going through adult relationships or ending the ones we established as teenagers. I’ve had my fair share of online dating mishaps and passionate long-distance flames and am now lucky to be with the most amazing person that is perfect for me. I’ve also pruned the friends I make the effort to keep up with while developing new and really rewarding adult friendships (with people significantly older and younger than me). The books below helped me get through some of the harder times in my dating life and laugh at myself and modern dating.

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

“milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.”

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, translated by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson

“In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.”

Career

This section is focused on the responsible kind of grinding, the kind that builds our reputation and the foundation of our career. Some books that provide a framework on how to measure success, how to find and maintain work-life balance, and a book on understanding unusual success in others.

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

“Our “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” culture tells us that the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. But thirty is not the new twenty. In this enlightening book, Dr. Meg Jay reveals how many twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation that has trivialized what are actually the most defining years of adulthood. Drawing from more than ten years of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, Dr. Jay weaves the science of the twentysomething years with compelling, behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. Our twenties are a time when the things we do–and the things we don’t do–will have an enormous effect across years and even generations to come.”

Becoming cover imageBecoming by Michelle Obama

“Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.  Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

“Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of ‘outliers’–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.”

Quiet by Susan Cain

“In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.”

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life. How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others? Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world famous author addresses some of life’s most important questions with acuity and emotional force.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

“In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.”

Educated Tara Westover CoverEducated by Tara Westover

“Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.”

Social Life

Twenty-somethings are setting up the foundation of lifelong friends. We’re cultivating new relationships, pruning our old ones, and learning the importance of healthy friendships. It’s hard to find good friends in the workplace (which is why there are now apps for platonic friendships). At the same time, getting a good night’s sleep becomes more critical. The following books have helped me move towards a more balanced and sustainable social life.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

“In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.”

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

“Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep? What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us and can they do long-term damage? Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses.”

Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

“Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.”

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

“Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.”

The Doctors is In by Ruth Westheimer

“Through intimate and funny stories, Dr. Ruth sheds light on how she’s learned to live a life filled with joie de vivre. And she shows listeners how they too can learn to deal with tragedy and loss, challenges and successes, all while nourishing an intellectual and emotional spark and, above all, having fun! Hilarious, inspiring, and profound, The Doctor Is In will change the way you think about life and love, in all its limitless possibilities.”

Making Big Decisions

SOOOO many big decisions in your 20s. Well-meaning family and friends hounding us on who, what, and where we want to commit the rest of our lives. External pressure aside, many 20-somethings are struggling with seriousness and pressure of these decisions. I’ve included books ranging from personal finance to the application of computer science concepts to dating and apartment-hunting to memoirs on what it means to live in the face of death and tragedy.

Algorithms to Live by Brian Christian

“All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show how the algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one’s inbox to understanding the workings of memory, Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.”

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

“In this groundbreaking book, Christensen puts forth a series of questions: How can I be sure that I’ll find satisfaction in my career? How can I be sure that my personal relationships become enduring sources of happiness? How can I avoid compromising my integrity—and stay out of jail? Using lessons from some of the world’s greatest businesses, he provides incredible insights into these challenging questions. How Will You Measure Your Life? is full of inspiration and wisdom, and will help students, midcareer professionals, and parents alike forge their own paths to fulfillment.”

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

“In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the nation’s leading expert on violent behavior, shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger—before it’s too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including how to act when approached by a stranger, when you should fear someone close to you, what to do if you are being stalked, how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls, the biggest mistake you can make with a threatening person, and more.”

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes in Books About Finding Yourself | BookRiot.comYear of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

“With three hit shows on television and three children at home, Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say no when invitations arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No. And to an introvert like Shonda, who describes herself as ‘hugging the walls’ at social events and experiencing panic attacks before press interviews, there was a particular benefit to saying no: nothing new to fear. Then came Thanksgiving 2013, when Shonda’s sister Delorse muttered six little words at her: You never say yes to anything. Shonda Rhimes reveals how saying YES changed – and saved – her life.”

The Simple Path to Wealth by J.L. Collins

“This book grew out of a series of letters to [the author’s] daughter concerning various things—mostly about money and investing—she was not yet quite ready to hear. Since money is the single most powerful tool we have for navigating this complex world we’ve created, understanding it is critical. Here’s an important truth: Complex investments exist only to profit those who create and sell them. Not only are they more costly to the investor, they are less effective.”

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

“Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results.”

Loss and Grieving

Because loss is not common for 20-somethings, it can be critical to have books to turn to when family and friends can’t relate to what’s happening. Some of these books also cover depression and mental health.

Modern Loss by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner

“Let’s face it: most of us have always had a difficult time talking about death and sharing our grief. Enter Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner, who can help us do better. Each having lost parents as young adults, they co-founded Modern Loss, responding to a need to change the dialogue around the messy experience of grief. Now, in this wise and often funny book, they offer the insights of the Modern Loss community to help us cry, laugh, grieve, identify, and—above all—empathize.”

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg

“After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void, ‘” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build. Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war.”

when breath becomes air kalanithiWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

“At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.”

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy—and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?”

Travel

Our twenties are the perfect time to take solo trips, travel with friends, and take in parts of the world that are so different from our everyday experience.

wild cheryl strayedWild by Cheryl Strayed

“At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.”

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be. To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world—all alone.”

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

Kristin Newman spent much of her twenties and thirties buying dresses to wear to her friends’ weddings and baby showers. Not ready to settle down and in need of an escape from her fast-paced job as a sitcom writer, Kristin instead traveled the world, often alone, for several weeks each year. In addition to falling madly in love with the planet, Kristin fell for many attractive locals, men who could provide the emotional connection she wanted without costing her the freedom she desperately needed. Equal parts laugh-out-loud storytelling, candid reflection, and wanderlust-inspiring travel tales, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding is a compelling debut that will have readers rushing to renew their passports.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.”

The Beach by Alex Garland

“After discovering a seemingly Edenic paradise on an island in a Thai national park, Richard soon finds that since civilized behavior tends to dissolve without external restraints, the utopia is hard to maintain.”

Perspective

The following are primarily nonfiction books that have given me a broad perspective on the challenges and obstacles I’ve faced as a 20-something. Some give an overview on where the world presently stands, others have changed how I think about modern life and the ways we are blessed and cursed by modern technology. Our 20s are the first decade we experience as adults, and it’s been incredibly helpful for me to understand how much can change decade-to-decade.

Sapiens by Yuval Harari

“In Sapiens, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?”

Homo Deus by Yuval Harari

“What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.”

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

“In Factfulness, Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens. They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective—from our tendency to divide the world into two camps to the way we consume media to how we perceive progress. Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases. It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think.”

Angels of Our Better Nature by Steven Pinker

“Believe it or not, today we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species’ existence. Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Exploding myths about humankind’s inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious book continues Pinker’s exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly enlightened world.”

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

“Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw away the maps. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.”

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

“A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that “suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.” He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more–including Krakauer’s–in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer’s epic account of the May 1996 disaster.”

All the Single Ladies CoverAll the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister

“Today, only twenty percent of Americans are wed by age twenty-nine, compared to nearly sixty percent in 1960. The Population Reference Bureau calls it a “dramatic reversal.” All the Single Ladies is a remarkable portrait of contemporary American life and how we got here, through the lens of the single American woman. Covering class, race, sexual orientation, and filled with vivid anecdotes from fascinating contemporary and historical figures, All the Single Ladies is destined to be a classic work of social history and journalism.”

In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero

“In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman’s extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven’t been told.”

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

“In In Order to Live, Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. Still in her early twenties, Yeonmi Park has lived through experiences that few people of any age will ever know—and most people would never recover from.”

I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong

“The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people. Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery.”

Curveballs

These recommendations are primarily fiction books that touched on experiences that I think many 20-somethings will connect with.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

“Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.”

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . the only way to survive is to open your heart.”

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.”

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

“Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the image. Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.”

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.”

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

“When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry.”

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.”


What books changed your perspective in your 20s? What would you personally recommend to the 20-something in your life?

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