20 Books to Read in Your Twenties

Before I dive in today, I just have to share that this post has been sitting in my drafts folder in process for FOUR YEARS. That's insane. Four years later, though, and I still agree with the book choices I made as a young, childless 25-year old.

As I draw closer to my 30th birthday, here are the books I think everyone should read in their 20's:

20 Books to Read in Your 20's

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

This book is about beautiful, heartbreaking, authentic love. And as 20-somethings we've pretty much all had at least one rocky relationship. Sometimes we need to be reminded what real love looks like.

Granted, I don't agree with everything he says, but there's a reason this guy is like the number one financial guru in the country. Chuck and I took his Financial Peace course shortly after we married and it's one of the best decisions we made. Neither of us are particularly great when it comes to finances and we still have our issues, but this course taught us the basics of budgeting and eliminating debt to set us on the right track. I still use his zero-based budgeting spreadsheet for our family's monthly budget!

So you're post-grad, you've left the nest, now what? You need to eat, and you need a go-to cookbook to teach you how to cook food that is actually edible. My favorite cookbook changes monthly, but right now I'm kind of obsessed with this one- it really is fast and easy! (Don't let the fact that it's Whole30 scare you off, these recipes are for everyone!)

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Not only is this guy articulate, hilarious (and super good looking...), but he can write! Most of us were young during South African apartheid so it probably didn't make sense or resonate. But I think it's important to hear a firsthand account of how one of our peers spent his childhood "born a crime" during apartheid. Noah's story is touching, horrifying, and melancholy. It is also full of hope and downright phenomenal.

For some of us twenty-somethings, we've had an unwavering faith in Jesus since the time we were in diapers. For others, we struggle with how to make our parents' faith our own. This provides a humorous and stripped-down tale of the human side of Jesus that we're all longing to know without all the religious bullhonkey. And if this doesn't convince you, this is one of my favorite books of all time. It is both funny, heartfelt and meant for Christians, atheists, and everyone in between. Go read it for that reason alone.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Never has a book made me feel so acutely both the emotional and physical pain of being a black man in this country. This book changed me and gave me an entirely new perspective on race relations in America. If we hope to continue toward social justice and racial reconciliation, I truly believe everyone needs to read this book. Also, this. guy. can. write.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Lest you think every book on this list is heavy, required reading, sike! Rainbow Rowell became possibly my favorite author of my twenties. She writes both adult and young adult, but honestly, I've enjoyed both her YA novels more. Fangirl is the perfect, lighthearted read to satisfy you inner dorky, adolescent fangirl.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Listen, I know this one sounds corny, but it's SO helpful! Chances are you're going to be involved in a serious relationship at some point in your twenties. This is such good insight to have as to how you express your love and how your partner shows/gives their love. Once you know your love languages, it helps you to be the best partner you can be.

Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert

And speaking of love, are you considering getting hitched? If so, learn about the origins of marriage and our reasons for engaging in this long-standing ritual. This book will help any marriage skeptic find peace with the institution of marriage.

The Shack by WM Paul Young

If you've ever asked yourself "Where was God when *insert awful tragedy here* happened?" then this book is for you. Fair warning: It is overtly Christian. However, I think it can help those with and without faith to reconcile why bad things happen in this world and how we move on after traumatic events.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This is another YA, but honestly, every should read it. My description will do the story no justice at all, but the book is about high school student, Starr and her life after she witnesses not one, but two of her unarmed friends die at the hands of a police officer. It gives a face to modern police brutality and is just a damn good book.

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist

Food brings people together. We gather around food in times of celebration, in times of grief, and in the everyday, mundane times of contentedness. I love this book about the meals that bring us closer to our loved ones.

Harry Potter (Books 1-7) by J.K. Rowling

You didn't think there was any way I'd make a book list without including Harry Potter on it, right? If you're a millennial and you haven't read the series, I just don't think we can be friends.

Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle

Because not all relationships last. Some come to a bitter, painful, heart-wrenching end. And it's important to know that not only can we survive, but we can take the journey of the love warrior and persevere. This memoir from my favorite author is so damn brutiful (brutal + beautiful).

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This novel is a wonderfully written glimpse into the life of a Native American teenager in an all-white school. It chronicles his attempts to reconcile his heritage with the culture at school. He is a part of two very different worlds and doesn't quite fit into either. I love this book because I simply don't know enough about the multitude of Native American cultures, and this book provided me with a small snippet of modern life on a reservation.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A book everyone should have read by the time they hit 30. Jane Austen was so ahead of her time, she crafts a suspenseful and thrilling love story in a time when couples couldn't even hold hands. Plus, it kind of helps if you know who Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy are given the multitude of pop culture references.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

And speaking of books everyone should have read...if you never read this in high school, now's the time. This book hold so much truth- in the historic mistreatment of blacks in America and in the coming of age of one young Southern woman named Scout. It implores us all to do the right thing. Even when the outcome is set and we're guaranteed to fail, we must always fight for what is right.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

This is another silly, fluff novel, but I will defend its place on this list. We are not the first generation to be obsessed with the British royal family, and with all of these royal babies being born, I'm sure we won't be the last. This book feels so uniquely ours as twenty-somethings. If you love following the lives and times of the royal family, you will walk away from this book feeling like you know them intimately and personally. It's such a fun read!

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

As twenty-somethings, sometimes we need a reminder of what the heck we're doing on this planet and what our purpose is. This book is that reminder.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This book will haunt you. It's a ghastly look at a dystopian future where infertility has become an epidemic and a theocratic, authoritarian government rules over our country. Women are horribly oppressed and those who are able to bear children are made to be concubines for powerful men. The eeriest thing about this book is how easily the country slid into this oppressive regime and how much it mirrors our current society. It truly makes you think about women's rights and reproductive freedom in a new light.

So tell me, do you agree or disagree? Are there any glaring omissions in my list?

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