27 Must-Read Books For Your 20s

Top-27-Books-for-Twentysomethings

What are the best books to read in your 20s? 

If you’re looking for a graduation gift or Christmas gift for a 20-year-old. Or you just need some ideas for the best books to read in your 20s, well I’ve got THE list for you.

I’m not going to “officially” put my four books on the list, but I am going to thank every one of you as 101 Secrets For Your Twenties now has 945 Five-Star ratings on Amazon and has sold over 100,000 copies!

Then there’s my follow-up book 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties and my new book that just released March 2, 2021 — 2525 Lies Twentysomethings Need to Stop Believing Lies Twentysomethings Need to Stop Believing. 

I can’t thank the community here at All Groan Up enough for helping launch these books for twentysomethings. None of this happens without the readers here.

And what better way to celebrate than to talk about the 27 books that influenced me on this quest for finding the best questions and answers for our 20s.

(If you’re looking for 35 movies every twentysomething needs to watch in their 20s, check out this list)

Top 27 Books to Read in Your 20s | Books for 20 somethings

Countdown of the 27 Must-Read Books in Your Twenties (and Beyond!)

 

1. Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl – Books to Read in Your 20s

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 – 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 – Books to Read in Your 20s

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. Love Does – Bob Goff

Bob Goff is absolutely one of my favorite people to hear speak in person and he is able to capture that same joy, excitement, and love for life and people in this incredible book. Love Does is incredibly life-giving, joy-filled, while also challenging us to reexamine how we love ourselves and love others. I love what Bob Goff is about and this book will transform your heart.

5. Transitions – William Bridges – Books to Read in Your 20s

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)

Read my full review of Amusing Ourselves to Death.

7. 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)

8. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho – Books to Read in Your 20s

“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)

101-questions-You-Need-to-Ask-in-Your-Twenties---small-cover-image-without-blue

To find important life answers in your 20s, you need to start with good questions.

Check out 101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties.

9. 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)

10. The World is Flat – Thomas Friedman – Books to Read in Your 20s

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)

11. 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)

12. Quiet: The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain – Books to Read in Your 20s

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)

13. 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?)

14. Defining Decade – Meg Jay – Books to Read in Your 20s

The basic premise – your twenties are not a throw-a-way decade. When her Ted talk came out, I had email after email telling me I needed to check it out. (Link to Defining Decade)

15. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

This book is a beautifully written, powerful reminder on how to live the beginning of our story from someone who has lived well until the very end. I cherished every second of this book like I cherished every second with my own grandfather. Such an important read.  (Link to Tuesdays With Morrie)

16. The Hiding Place – Corrie Tenboom – Books to Read in Your 20s

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)

17. Pivot – Jenny Blake

For any mid-twentysomething looking to make a career change, you have to read this book. For any entrepreneur or future solopreneur, you must read this book. An encouraging, insightful read for anyone looking to take their side-hustle to the next level. (Link to Pivot)

18. Blue Ocean Strategy – W. Chan Kim – Books to Read in Your 20s

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)

19. 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).

20. Linchpin – Seth Godin – Books to Read in Your 20s

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)

21. Start with Why – Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek blew up with this Tedx Talk and re-enforces in this book the power of starting with your “Why?” A great book for anyone looking to uncover their Signature Sauce. (Link to Start with Why)

22. The Book of Awesome – Neil Pasricha – Books to Read in Your 20s

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)

23. Capitol Gaines – Chip Gaines

I’m a big Chip Gaines and Fixer Upper fan, so I loved reading the truth and advice from this down-to-earth, wise, relatable and hilarious mentor. (Link to Capitol Gaines)

Find help for your 20s with Paul Angone’s best-selling book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties.

101 Secrets For Your Twenties

“Hilarious, moving, and life changing…” – Amazon Review

Really encouraged me during my own quarter life crisis through entertaining narration and crazy honest scenarios.” – Amazon Review

Check out what other twentysomethings are saying about 101 Secrets For Your Twenties.

24. The War of Art – Steven Pressfied – Books to Read in Your 20s

For any twentysomething trying to create something worth creating, this is your battle guide. (Link to The War of Art)

25. 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)

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 – Books to Read in Your 20s

Because you’re never too old for Dr. Seuss.  (Link to Oh, the Place You’ll Go!)

I’d love to hear from you within the comments on this article: Do you have any favorite books for 20somethings in the list above? Did I miss some books every 20 year old should read?

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!

26 Comments

  1. Nick @ ayoungpro.com

    I have read a bunch of those books, and all of them that I have read are amazing. Thanks for giving me a few more books to add to my reading list!

    Reply
    • admin

      Awesome Nick! Thanks

      Reply
  2. Rebecca Fraser-Thill

    I thought highly of you before, Paul, but you just went up about 15 million notches in my mind because you put “Man’s Search for Meaning” at #1. I assign this book in my upper-level developmental seminar about finding meaning and purpose across the lifespan, and my students tend to be amazed at the impact the book has on them. It truly is a must read.

    And #3, “Into the Wild”, is quite possibly my favorite personal/pleasurable book. The movie version sends me reeling for days afterward, every time.

    Great list!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Rebecca. I knew we were friends for a reason.

      Man’s Search for Meaning definitely met me at a rough time and gave me a good shot of perspective on what it really means to persevere through the all-time worst situations.

      And I thought Into the Wild the movie was extremely well done and has a powerful message/warning. Tough for me to watch in some ways.

      Reply
  3. Katie (@AsktheYoPro)

    I read #10, The Defining Decade, and loved it! I wrote a bunch of posts on the lessons from that book. I see lessons pop up from it all the time!

    I’ve been looking for a few new good books I will definitely puts these on the list!

    Thanks, Paul!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Katie! Yep Defining Decade is taking the world by storm. Awesome to see the importance of our 20s get so much attention. Pumped for Dr. Jay and her work!

      Reply
  4. Sarah Noonan

    One of the most helpful for me (and I suspect many others in the blogging community) has been Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. I found adjusting the adult world, where you have to represent yourself professionally and socially by speaking up, to be difficult. Susan provides some assurance that we introverts aren’t alone and we have just as much to offer as extroverts do.

    Right now I’m reading Going Solo by Eric Klinenberg, which is all about making the most of living on your own whether you plan to marry in the future or have realized you prefer living alone. I’d recommend both these books.

    Reply
    • admin

      Great suggestions Sarah! I’ve heard Susan Cain speak and she is amazing.

      Reply
  5. Katie Cross

    What a great list! I’m going to have to transpose some of those onto my own. I’ve read some of them, but heard of most of them.

    Thanks for the extra motivation!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Kaite! Glad to add some powerful books to the mix. Hope you like them as much as I have

      Reply
  6. Ester

    Paul, your like the older brother I always wanted but never had (physically impossible cuz I’m the eldest)… Thanks for being so awesome, thanks for working so hard to inspire us to be more creative, proactive, open minded, less judgmental-on our selves… And so much more!
    It’s incredibly refreshing for someone to encourage open and free conversations about the daily life/struggles/successes/and all around kerfuffle our generation deals with.
    I’m currently in optometry school and when the going gets tough all I need is a little pep talk from my all time favorite website allgraonup.com- it does the trick every time!!

    Can’t wait to get ahold of your new book!
    All the best, EK 🙂

    Reply
    • admin

      Ester — seriously one of the best comments, best pick me ups, I could’ve asked for today. Thank you very much for this.

      Comments like this is what keeps me doing what I’m doing…

      Reply
  7. Caroline

    thanks!
    I am older than twenty-something, but wrote down five of your suggestions to put on my list!!!

    Reply
    • admin

      Great! Thanks Caroline.

      Reply
  8. Hannah

    I STRONGLY second the suggestion for Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It’s estimated that one third to half of the human population are introverts. I think this book is incredibly important especially for countries like America where our culture is heavily in favor of extroverted behavior, making the rest of us feel like outcasts, or that something is wrong with us.

    Since you listed Dale Carnegie’s book (which puts a heavy emphasis on extroversion and the importance of personality rather than character), I think it’s important to balance it with a book like Cain’s, which embraces quieter, more intuitive thinkers (and explains why they are essential to society).

    Otherwise I think your list is excellent! But really…you MUST read Quiet, whether you’re an introvert or not. It’s a fantastic book. 🙂

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Hannah. You’re the second person to recommend on these comments so definitely it keeps moving up the ranks of “must read”.

      Reply
  9. Daniël

    Thanks Paul!
    I think I’ll need the rest of my twenties to read the list except for #1 and #7. I’d like to add Scott Peck’s Road Less Travelled, working my way through chapter #1 thanks to my late most inspiring friend and it’s full of life lessons deserved to learn sooner the better.
    Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Daniel. Great suggestion. I’ve heard amazing things about Road Less Traveled.

      Reply
  10. Faith Forester

    I found your website through Donald Miller’s page. I’m really excited to have found it, because I am a recent college grad who is making her way through the quarter-life crisis and I could use all the guidance and inspiration I can get. Fully plan on getting your book when it releases, as well as read through all the books on this list!
    Thanks and God Bless 🙂

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Faith! Awesome for me to hear. All Groan Up is definitely the place for help in handling that quarter-life crisis.

      Can’t believe my book releases in a few days!

      Thanks for the support.

      Reply
  11. Brian

    These are all great, and I would commend “The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, as well.

    Reply
  12. Nathan

    I would suggest anything by Bill Bryson. The guy’s hilarious and really encourages travelling the world in a variety of ways like long-distance hikes, public transit only, rediscovering the places of your youth, etc. Books I might suggest would include “In a Sunburned Country,” “Notes from a Small Island,” or “A Walk in the Woods.”

    Reply
  13. Kent

    This is a really excellence list, not only for people in their 20’s, but for pretty much everyone. Thanks for posting this!

    Reply
  14. Neil Bruinsma

    Great video Paul!! Funny, informative, and relevant! I hope to see some more!

    Reply
  15. Jess

    I see that there is a book for introverts on this list, and I completely agree that there needs to be advice to them! I was wondering, though, if you had any advice (book, article, anything!) to extroverts and how to use extroversion effectively and professionally. I know it’s a weird request. Thank you!

    Reply

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