20 Books People in their 20s Must Read

Published by Chavi Maheshwari on

pile of assorted novel books

Have you ever wondered how it would feel to become a simple feather? To feel as light as a feather. I believe reading is like a gush of cool wind on a sunny day. But reading a good book is like becoming a feather in that cool wind. And your 20s is the one decade that brings about many heatwaves and rainy days metaphorically. To deal with those, reading books can be a good choice as books provide insights and help you feel connected with the world around you.

We have listed 20 books that will help you sail through your 20s successfully. 

The Alchemist 

The cover page of the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Written by the renowned Brazillian Author Paolo Coelho, “The Alchemist” will take you on a journey with a beautiful story of devotion, betrayal, love, and self-belief. It shows how the universe’s various omens can only be understood by those who seek their passion wholeheartedly, like the shepherd Santiago. Santiago’s life goes from worrying about finding food for the herd to realising his true purpose, of finding the treasure and setting forth for a journey across the world. 

Santiago comes across different people who play significant roles in his life during his voyage. He learns how a strange land can feel familiar when you believe in yourself and how love can travel through desserts to leave a mark on the heart. More importantly, he understands the language of the universe. The book is sure to fill you with energy and a better understanding of the self, and the captivating storytelling will keep you hooked till the end. 

Fates and Furies 

The cover page of the book Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff has perfectly penned a story that depicts the perspectives of two partners about their relationship. “Lotto”, the man in the relationship, was considered a prodigy when he was born. His aunts and mother took pride in his reciting skills and were sure about how sincere the child was. However, Lotto wouldn’t fit under the standards set by his mother or relatives in the later years of his life. He proved to be a careless teenager and continued down that path even during his adult years. His fate changed when he met “Mathilde”, his future wife.

These people were poles apart, yet Lotto and Mathilde carried their marriage for 24 long years despite these differences. As the name suggests, Fates and Furies is written into two storylines. It is a book that highlights human imperfections and how people can never really know one another in spite of living under the same roof. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray 

The cover page of the book The picture of Dorian gray by Oscar Wilde

As a child, we wish to grow older to do things we aren’t allowed to, and as an adult, we want to return to our youthful days to look and feel young. If there was a way to look young forever, would you choose it? Well, Dorian Gray sure did. Dorian has always been boastful and obsessed with his appearance. Basil Hallward, an artist charmed by his beauty, decided to paint a portrait of Dorian.

During one such painting session, Dorian meets Lord Henry, who reminds him of the impermanence of his beauty and charm. A sudden shift occurs in Dorian’s personality, and he decides to let the portrait age instead of him, only to realise that the portrait could illustrate his evilness. Oscar Wilde has never disappointed his readers through his writings, and The Picture of Dorian Gray is the proof of that. 


The cover page of the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed

“Wild” is one of the most genuine and captivating memoirs ever written. At the young age of 22, Cheryl Strayed lost her mother to lung cancer. Her mother’s absence took a toll on her mental health, and Cheryl knew no means of ending the darkness. 

With her memoir, Cheryl takes us on her hike of 1100 miles across the Pacific Crest Trail. The book highlights the strength a young person needs to overcome a heavy loss. But more than that, it focuses on building the notion that this strength lies within oneself, like Cheryl, who broke down and found herself through this adventure. 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear 

The cover page of the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Our 20s should be the years to accomplish many goals. To accomplish so much; one needs inspiration from time to time. All of us have a finite pool of motivation within ourselves. But what shall we do if the pool gets exhausted? Elizabeth Gilbert has laid down various techniques for when our inspiration takes a hit and fear kicks in. 

As humans, it is natural to feel doubtful and overwhelmed by the thought of setting the track of our life. However, one should remember that these feelings shouldn’t be shunned but embraced. Elizabeth talks about an individual’s habits and attitudes to overcome fear and fulfil their best potential. The easy to do techniques are small steps towards a brighter and calmer future.

Appetites: A Cookbook

The cover page of the cookbook Appetites by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever

There comes a time in life when we have to leave our home, build our career, or take up an adventure, and for most people, this phase happens when they are in their 20s. While there are many lessons to be learnt from experiences, there are specific skills one should have to make things easier when they live away from the comfort of their home. One such skill is cooking. The reason why a cookbook is among the must-read lists is that cooking is often an undervalued skill by young minds. 

Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever have abridged their experience of over forty years into this book. Their methodological and straightforward recipes are suitable for beginners in their 20s looking for precise instructions. The simple and easy techniques to approach cooking is what makes it one of the best books to refer. The book will help you level up your cooking game by providing efficient tricks regarding cookery. Be ready to impress your guests with your home-cooked delicious food! 

How to Hug a Porcupine: Easy Ways to Love Difficult People in Your Life 

The cover page of the book How to Hug a Porcupine by June Eding and Debbie Joffe

How to Hug a Porcupine is a very explicit book that teaches readers the techniques to hug a porcupine, not a literal one, though! We all have our shortcomings, and sometimes we may be unaware of their impact. The 20s are when we explore the world and meet people with varying personalities and mindsets. It is also when we understand what kind of people we are comfortable with and with whom we should maintain a safe distance. 

The authors, June Eding and Debbie Joffe, wonderfully explain various approaches for the young readers to analyse the quills in other people. It teaches different techniques to handle them with grace without jeopardising any relationships. The books will take you on a journey of self-introspection to understand and calm your quills to live a happy life. The book aims at developing an understanding and compassionate mindset of the people in their 20s. 

The Defining Decade

The cover page of the book the defining decade by Meg Jay

If you’re in your 20s and looking for a book that will help you gain clarity, Meg Jay has written the perfect book for you. The defining decade is a comprehensive guide by Jay, a clinical psychologist who helps young minds to build a solid foundation in their 20s. Most of us find it challenging to develop a vision for our thirties and forties because we lack clarity about our skills and who we are as an individual. 

The book showcases different techniques for building an increasing identity capital. Meg provides insights about cultivating a mindset that helps in enhancing self-belief. It is the best book to grasp the concept of growth mindset and its implementations in real life. Another important lesson the book teaches the readers in their 20s is to focus on building real-life instead of reel life. The book also provides research-based insights about constructing different kinds of relationships in your 20s. 

Atomic Habits

The cover page of the book Atomic Habits by James Clear

Every individual’s goal in their 20s is to re-introduce themselves to the world; it is to understand themselves better so as to live life to its fullest. The question that remains in hand is, how can one do these things? The answer is simple, through discipline. And how does one build discipline? Through habits. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear has defined the art of forming habits that will get you closer to your best self. 

The book covers the laws of habit formation that break down the habit-building process into smaller chunks for the reader’s convenience. It is a one-stop solution for anyone looking to improve their lives through the power of habits. The best part of the book is it isn’t a shortcut summary of different techniques to live better, it is a comprehensive guide. All of us want to build healthier habits and a life filled with freedom; through the insights provided in this book, all of us can do what we desire. 

And The Mountains Echoed 

The cover page of the book And the mountains echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini has a gift to write stories that touch people’s hearts. The story unravels with childhood memories of a brother and sister: the little sister, the only dear one of the brothers whose fate was no less than brutal. The story depicts how a love that strong can make you feel helpless yet hopeful at the same time. How once someone who took care, turned into someone who had to be taken care of. How unpredictable life can be yet how destiny can bring you together. The book wonderfully portrays the characters’ unique relationships with one another.

The novel depicts people’s lives in Afghanistan, the celebrations, the captivity, the heartache, and the betrayal. It takes you to different continents, too, sort of like a mini reading trip! The writer has done justice to every character, and each character had its share of light, darkness, and growth. The realities of the lives that people must have faced during those times in Afghanistan is heart-wrenching.

Deep Work

The cover page of the book Deep Work by Cal Newport

From university studies to working in different jobs or starting something of your own, working with focus is the one characteristic that defines the success rate of the task at hand. With the recent technological advancements, our minds have reduced attention spans; we hear one ‘ding’ and all our attention from work shifts to our devices. Long intervals of time with a lack of focus can negatively affect productivity. Hence it is the need of the hour to implement the concept of Deep Work.

In his book, Cal Newport differentiates between deep work and shallow work. He provides detailed techniques to identify critical tasks and prioritise them accordingly. Over the years of his experiences, he aims to teach the readers to cultivate a deep focus zone in their schedules. Another reason one should read this book is that it teaches you to learn tough things quickly, a skill highly valued in today’s dynamic world. 

The Power of Now

The cover page of the book The power of now by Eckhart Tolle

Our childhood impacts our personality in our teenage years, but in our twenties, we gain a perspective about the good and bad parts of ourselves. While gaining perspective is highly crucial, most of us are clueless about how to make ourselves better. More often than not, such confusion and lack of answers create an endless loop of worry and stress in our lives. We tend to associate our worth with unrealistic standards, making us feel like our future is doomed when not achieved. 

Eckhart Tolle has written a valuable guide with different techniques that will help the reader to discover themselves. It is among the best books to understand trauma. The reader would be able to understand the pain and sufferings that they have been enduring over the years. The book focuses on teaching people in their 20s to focus more on the present moment. The book also instructs the readers to be self-compassionate and accept emotions for what they are without associating any connotation to them. 

The Body Keeps the Score

The cover page of the book The body keeps the score by Bessel A van der Kolk

As a kid and a teenager, we were protected by our elders. Their love, support and guidance helped us make sense of what we are supposed to do, but entering into the 20s meant making sense of life on our own. In our lives, our relationships with others play a crucial role. Many of us face situations that strongly impact our minds and bodies while dealing with different relationships. Some of these situations leave emotional scars and cause pain, which often people forget to acknowledge.

Bessel A. van der Kolk has used the concepts of psychology to assist readers in identifying and understanding their traumas. The book concentrates on processes that lead to recovery from the trauma. It also provides in-depth information about the effect trauma has on our minds and how our body remembers the details, from something that happened over the years. The twenties can be a challenging time as most of us face new situations that shape our personalities. The body keeps the score is a book that one can read through all the years of life. 

Man’s Search For Meaning

The cover page of the book Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor E. Frankl has written more than just a book about finding meaning. The devastating tales of Nazi concentration camps that he narrates as experiences give us a glimpse of the suffering he endured during those years. Back then, Frankl was a renowned psychologist, and with this knowledge, he introduced the concept of “Logotherapy” to the world. The book emphasises that no matter what life throws at you, your attitude towards those situations defines your freedom. 

Learning from his inmates, Viktor observed that our most serious desire is to find purpose in life. If that purpose is not identified, people tend to face other mental issues that need serious attention. The book can be a light source for people in their twenties who face troubles as it teaches that one can find meaning even in the most distressing situations.

The Five Love Languages

The cover page of the book The five love languages by Gary Chapman

While our twenties is the decade we build our careers and personalities, we also meet many people with whom we connect and feel comfortable. It is the decade where we form relationships with people who are different from us. Twenties could be tricky without having the support of a loved one, but it can be more challenging without realising how you want to be supported. Gary Chapman highlights that every individual uses one of the five ways to express and receive love. The key to maintaining healthy relationships with others is to understand the love language.

The belief surrounding love is that it will solely carry the weight of a relationship; however, that’s not true. Understanding different love languages will help reduce unnecessary emotional pain as individuals could analyse and build relationships with people who share a similar language or understand each other’s language. In the world of rapid digital connections let us not forget to build some old-school relationships.


The cover page of the book  Limitless by Jim Kwik

Next on the list is another bestseller written by Jim Kwik. Limitless begins with the childhood years of Jim and his head injury that impacted his learning abilities. At five years of age, his head injury slowed down his learning in comparison with other children of his generation. Jim recalls the different techniques he used to gain his abilities back and take them to a much higher level. This book’s explanation would be valuable for readers from different age groups. 

Limitless provides techniques for developing stronger memory and faster reading habits. It focuses on three concepts Mindset, Motivation and Methods that a reader has. Over the years, we are involved with so many activities that it becomes difficult to retain every bit of information from one activity. With the help of the techniques present in the book, anyone could learn things faster and recall them as and when needed. 

The Autobiography of a Yogi

The cover page of the book The autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda’s memoir is one of the most well-received books out there. The book takes the reader on a journey through the author’s life, from his childhood memories to searching for a guru and using his experience to build a foundation for Kriya Yoga Meditation. It discusses his meetings with spiritual figures from the Eastern and Western world. The young mind can come under the influence of many things. The youthful years of our lives can either be the building blocks or the beginning of a deteriorating relationship with ourselves. The book helps the reader to get connected with their higher selves. 

The Autobiography of a Yogi is a tale filled with emotions, humour and wisdom that an individual seeks in their twenties. A reader will understand spirituality better through the experiences of Paramahansa Yogananda. It is the story of a young boy who knows his abilities and is seeking the guidance of a guru to guide him to use his capabilities in the best manner possible. 

Rich Dad Poor Dad

The cover page of the book Rich dad poor dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Finances are the arena in life that becomes tricky to handle in the early stages of our careers. That’s when a book like Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki comes to the rescue. Robert had the chance to observe two different men in his life and their ideologies about investing and making money. His real dad, the Poor dad in the book, believed in traditional education and working to earn money. On the other hand, his best friend’s dad, the rich dad, believed more in modern techniques. 

The book emphasises the fact that rich people make money work for them instead of running behind money themselves. After reading this book, the reader is sure to have a shift in their mindset. The book is the best fit for people ambitious about becoming and staying wealthy. It isn’t a set of different techniques that will make you rich faster, it is a book that will help you understand how money works.

The Psychology of Money

The cover page of the book The psychology of money by Morgan Housel

For most of us, we receive our first-ever paycheck in our twenties. Along with that fantastic feeling comes the responsibility to handle our finances for the first time in life. One crucial element for dealing with finances is to understand our relationship with money. Morgan Housel helps the readers understand the impact of our years-old beliefs on our money decisions.

The author describes the various factors that influence money-related decisions. The book also throws light on how one can protect themselves from the factors. He takes the example of Warren Buffet’s life and how beneficial early investing can be. Another crucial concept the book covers is mitigating risks by predicting trends in the market. It throws light on different techniques through which readers can comprehend the relationship between money and happiness.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

The cover page of the book Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

One of the most in-demand biographies written is that of Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. Every young mind should read this book for one primary reason: to learn to fight against all adversities. The author Ashlee Vance has wonderfully compiled Musk’s experiences — experiences that have shaped him to be one of the most admired entrepreneurs out there. The book covers aspects from his childhood that have created an impact on him while growing up.

Like every individual in their twenties, Elon has faced different circumstances that have broken him down. From problems in different relationships to failing techniques in business models, his story is an inspiring one. His strength and the desire to do something extraordinary is what keep him going. The book carries valuable insights that have accumulated over the many years of building successful companies like PayPal and Tesla. The biography inspires young minds to keep striving for their dreams no matter what. 

1 Comment

Avadhut More · March 11, 2022 at 6:56 pm

Thank you for taking efforts to give us top 20 books that need to read in 20s. Summarising a book in short is difficult task and author of this article Chavi Maheshwari did it very well. I will definitely try to read maximum books from list 😊.

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