What are the most influential, inspiring, and important books every twentysomething and Millennial needs to read?
If you’re looking for a gift for your twentysomething friends, or for yourself–a gift that just might change someone’s life for about $10, I’ve got 27 great ideas for you.
Now I’m not going to “officially” put my two books on the list, but I am going to thank every one of you because 101 Secrets For Your Twenties currently has 166 Five-Star reviews on Amazon and is on its
fifth print! It still all feels surreal. Thank you!
And Candace Cameron Bure, AKA – co-host on The View and DJ Tanner on Full House, shared 101 Secrets on her Instagram and Facebook page to her millions of followers. As my friend Todd Foley so aptly put it —“HAAAAVE MERCY!”
Then thank you as well for supporting my newest book All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! If your twenties could use a good pick me up, or a shoulder to cry on, All Groan Up might be for you.
It’s been a wild few years! I’m incredibly blessed and thankful. And what better way to celebrate the release of these two books and the All Groan Up community that helped make them happen, than to talk about the 27 books that influenced me on this quest for finding the twentysomething secrets.
The list below is entirely non-fiction. Some I’ve just recently been introduced to. Others have been with me for the entire decade. I often get asked what books I’d recommend for twentysomethings. Now here are 27 of the best books every person in their twenties needs to read…
1. Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
Writing about his survival of concentration camps, Vicktor Frankl’s powerful book shows twentysomethings the power of hope and belief to get us through any situation. (Link to Man’s Search for Meaning)
2. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation – Parker Palmer
If your grandpa, who just happened to be an incredibly wise, well-spoken educator who is 100% authentic and honest, just took a day and talked you through how to truly find what you love by looking at your life, this would be that book. (Link to Let Your Life Speak)
3. The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown
I’d eat inspiring, historical books for breakfast if my budget and body would allow it. Boys in the Boat is one my newest favorites because it’s packed with so much life-wisdom, specifically for emerging adults struggling to find their place. Through the true story of Joe Rantz struggling to survive during the Great Depression era and persevering through great odds to make the University of Washington crew team, his story of triumph as his team embarked on a miraculous journey to the Olympics, is definitely a book worth reading. (Link to The Boys in the Boat)
4. Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild is a powerful and provocative warning that we need to know, and be known. So much so, that in 101 Secrets For Your Twenties it became Secret #14 — “Don’t go Into the Wild all by yourself.” (Link to Into the Wild)
5. Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes – William Bridges
Life after college is one of the most significant transitions we will ever go through. William Bridges provides a stellar framework for how to handle transitions and not freak out! (well at least not too much). (Link to Transitions)
6. Amusing Ourselves to Death – Neil Postman
We are obese on information and entertainment – useless facts that are high in fat and sugar, and that require us to do absolutely nothing. This is an incredibly timely and needed book for plugged-in twentysomethings. And it was written in the 1980’s. (Link to Amusing Ourselves to Death)
7. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
This is one of those classic fables that captures you with the story and then peppers you with life wisdom on what it means to pursue a dream and find where your treasure is. (Link to The Alchemist)
8. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Donald Miller
Encouraging book for twentysomethings looking to take an active role in their own life story. (Link to A Million Miles)
9. The World is Flat – Thomas Friedman
“On such a flat earth, the most important attribute you can have is creative imagination.” – Thomas Friedman.
In the infancy stages of All Groan Up, I did a video review of the World is Flat – full of stop-motion, phrases like “Wii me please“, and the like. If you want to have a 300 page book given to you in three minutes, check it out. (Link to The World is Flat)
10. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
It released way back in 1936 and continues to stay a bestseller. There’s a reason for that. It’s one of those classics that stays current. (Link to How to Win Friends)
11. Quiet: The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain
Recommended numerous times in the comments below, it was time this book officially made the list. If you’re an introvert, this book will quickly become your favorite. (Link to Quiet)
12. Wait, How Do I Write This Email? – Danny Rubin
What Danny Rubin has created should be THE required career manual for every college graduate, young professional, savvy professional and basically anyone who communicates. Seriously, it’s jammed-packed with career wisdom and how-to’s. (Link to Wait, How Do I Write This Email?)
13. Defining Decade – Meg Jay
14. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
The book is a beautiful reminder on how to live the beginning of our story from someone at his end. (Link to Tuesdays With Morrie)
15. The Hiding Place – Corrie Tenboom
If life feels difficult right now and you’re struggling to find hope and meaning, please read this book. This one rocked my perspective on the power of being thankful. A true story of two sisters harboring Jewish refugees and struggling to survive Holocaust camp, this book will literally change your life. (Link to The Hiding Place)
16. Life After College – Jenny Blake
Presents practical and insightful “tips & resources for life, work, money, happiness, personal growth & productivity”. (Link to Life After College).
17. Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim
For anyone who has a deep yearning to create, innovate, and find a way to do your own thing, this business book really blew my mind years ago. The authors talk through strategies, business concepts, and case studies on how you make competition obsolete and create opportunities where none seem to exist. (Link to Blue Ocean Strategy)
18. No Man is an Island – Thomas Merton
Written by a Catholic monk, this book is packed with so much wisdom on spirituality and living life well, that you could sit with this book for a year and just scratch the surface. (Link to No Man is an Island).
19. Linchpin – Seth Godin
Love me some Seth Godin. Really this whole list could just be books from him. Linchpin might be the most encouraging, challenging, and thought-provoking kick-in-the-pants you’ll ever read. Be challenged to take chances, fail, and become indispensable. (Link to Linchpin)
20. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
21. The Book of Awesome – Neil Pasricha
One. This book is hilarious and insightful.
Two. There was a lot of heartbreak that lead to so much awesome. As author Neil Pasricha described on Huffington Post:
“My best friend took his own life and my wife and I went separate ways. We sold our house, I moved to a tiny apartment, and I tried to get things back on track by talking about one simple, universal little joy every single day — like snow days, bakery air, or watching The Price Is Right when you’re at home sick.”
When life is tough you just have to laugh at the small sweet goodness that weaves through the details. (Link to The Book of Awesome)
22. Do-Over – Jon Acuff
I love Jon’s wisdom and wit on how to create a Career Savings Account for life’s unexpected changes and transitions. I had the privilege of interviewing Jon Acuff about Do-Over and the secrets for handling transitions well in your twenties, which you can check out here. (Link to Do-Over)
23. The War of Art – Steven Pressfied
For any twentysomething trying to create something worth creating, this is your battle guide. (Link to The War of Art)
24. Mindset – Carol Dweck
The difference between a “growth mindset” and a “fixed mindset” might be the biggest difference you can make in your twenties.
(Link to Mindset)
25. The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch
A small, powerful book of a dying man sharing his secrets of success as he nears the finish line. (Link to the Last Lecture)
26. Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale – Frederick Buechner
As I struggled with my own faith in my 20s this book was paramount in helping me wrestle with the questions in an authentic and honest way. (Link to Telling the Truth)
27. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss
Because you’re never too old for Dr. Seuss. (Link to Oh, the Place You’ll Go!)
I’d love to hear from you in the comments on this article: Do you have any favorite books in the list above or did I miss one?
If you buy any of these amazing books through the links above, you’re also helping support the work here at All Groan Up as well! Double-win!