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7 Books To Help You Figure Out Your 20s

Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

Sponsored by TarcherPerigee, publisher of Broke Millenial by Erin Lowry and Rich20Something by Daniel DiPiazza

Master your 20s with these savvy guidebooks from the founders of and

BROKE MILLENNIAL is an essential roadmap for Millennials who want to transition from in debt and overwhelmed to financially informed and empowered—all while navigating tricky money issues like how to split the check when friends make (and drink) more and when to get “financially naked” with a significant other.

RICH20SOMETHING, written by “Millennial business guru” (Ebony) Daniel DiPiazza, offers hard-earned advice and step-by-step techniques to take you from overstressed, overworked and underpaid to personal, professional and financial freedom.

It’s time to take your career—and life—to the next level.

Your 20s are about learning how to adult (yes, it’s a verb in this context). How to find a job you don’t hate (or survive one you do), pay your bills on time, spot-clean stains in your laundry. How to get it together and attack life like the mother-effin’ shark you are. Here are a few books that will help:

Adulting by Kelly Williams BrownAdulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 478 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

A basic guide for the fresh-out-of-college/their-parents’-house. Learn what you need to think about when you rent your first place, how to find a mechanic who won’t shaft you, easy ways to fix your toilet, how to navigate common adult social settings. If you’re brand new to Competent Grown-Uping, this is a great place to start.


Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

People in their 20s now have more options than even I did when I was in my 20s just a few years ago, but that isn’t always a helpful thing. Dating apps have opened up a whole new and potentially fraught world of love and lust, and it can feel daunting to navigate. What does that emoji mean? How am I supposed to tell if someone is a good match based on a 150 character bio? Aziz Ansari addresses the perils of modern love in his typical hilarious way.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

“Follow your passion” is very bad career advice that will keep you living with your parents way past the point you want to or should, and it also assumes you’re privileged enough to slowly meander your way into a career without really considering the financial implications. Newport instead argues that passion develops after you become excellent at something and devote time and effort to being extremely good at it–this, in turn, gives you the freedom to pursue passions outside your workplace. If you’re confused about your career path, start with this book.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

As you enter the workforce, this is a thing you’re going to encounter more and more: mansplaining. Solnit coined the term for that specific situation in which men explain things to women based on the assumption that women don’t know what they’re talking about, even if that woman is an expert in the field. Women: read this book so you know you’re not making up your irritation when that happens. Men: read this book so you don’t do it. Seriously. It’s the worst, and makes you look like very, very silly.

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum

People are going to start asking you when you plan to have kids, if they haven’t already–especially if you’re in a long-term relationship. Some of you want them, some of you don’t, some of you don’t know–all of you should read this. Becoming a parent isn’t the only path adults have, but people will often feel like it is the only acceptable one, especially if you’ve already decided you never want children. These authors will offer solace, acceptance, and a new perspective.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Because adults who don’t believe that men and women should have equal rights under the law aren’t actual adults. This is a very short and basic intro to the idea that gender discrimination is a problem–if you haven’t considered that yet, now is the time.



How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

If you’ve been living on take-out or cooking on a hot plate and have just gotten your first real adult kitchen, it’s time to learn how to cook! Bittman’s book is a very simple introduction to how to cook, well, whatever you want. It assumes you know basically nothing about food preparation, but never talks down to you.