The Best Books to Read in Your Twenty-somethings

Good morning, Savvy Readers!

I have some big questions for your brain as it fuels up on coffee. Do you contemplate life a lot? Do you spend a lot of time stressing about what books to read? Do you feel like you need some guidance through your twenties? Well, know that The Savvy Reader is on your side, ready and willing to help you get through those crucial ten years! Here are some of the best books to read in your twenty-somethings, tailored to moods and situations that you’ll probably face at least once.

When you like to reminisce about rocking out:

Hell Bent

Hell Bent for Leather: Confessions of a Heavy Metal Addict by Seb Hunter

If you left your head-banging days in your teen years or if you’re still going hardcore, Seb Hunter’s memoir will take you on a loud musical journey full of reminiscing and life lessons, like how to handle egos, girlfriends and haircuts. If you like your nostalgia with a side of song, this will be a fun read.

When you’re feeling low:

Reasons to Stay Alive

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This Sunday Times bestseller is a wonderfully moving and upbeat account of how Matt Haig – also the author of The Radleys, The Humans and the upcoming A Boy Called Christmas – survived depression and anxiety as well as a down-to-earth guide for handling mental illness. Matt shows us how to live better, love better and feel more.

When you’re feeling adventurous:

Ice Cube

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman

If you want to feel adventurous (or old), Blair Braverman’s memoir about her adventures in Norway and Alaska will hook you in. It’s a coming-of-age story where the protagonist has to face her fears of being attacked by a polar bear, being buried in an ice cave and driving dogs through a blizzard to escape police. All pretty standard stuff for us twenty-somethings, right? Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube is part adventure writing, part journalism and part honest uncovering of identity.

When you want to talk about feminism:

Sex Object

Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

While there are so many amazing books out about feminism these days, Jessica Valenti’s recent addition, Sex Object, pinpoints tackling objectification of women from the every day to the existential, from subway groping and impostor syndrome to sexual awakenings and motherhood. In the tradition of writers such as Joan Didion and Mary Karr, Sex Object is a profoundly moving tour de force that will shock, enthrall and educate.

When you need a good cry:

Ok to Laugh

It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort

The twenty-somethings is a time when most of us realize that there’s a real world out there and it holds a lot of icky and sad things. This book serves as a good reminder of that and also that we can make good things happen out of the bad. Nora McInerny Purmort met her to-be husband Aaron when she was 27. Soon after, Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Instead of seeing all doom and gloom, they got married and had a child all while he was trying to fight the disease. They packed 50 years of marriage into three before Aaron passed away. Nora gives her readers a true gift—permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth and know that everything will be okay. It’s Okay to Laugh is a love letter to life, in all its messy glory; it reads like a conversation with a close friend, and leaves a trail of glitter in its wake.

When you just want to be silly with your friends like you used to:

Singalong Society

The Singalong Society for Singletons by Katey Lovell

The Singalong Society for Singletons is a charming, feel-good novel about the healing powers of friendship… and Frozen, which is still totally cool to love in your twenties! Monique and Issy are teachers, housemates and lovers of musicals. They spend their Friday nights with snacks, wine and the Frozen DVD, like the rest of us. So when Monique’s boyfriend moves to America for a year and her sister moves in because of relationship woes, Friday nights become … The Singalong Society for Singletons, which is about to get much bigger. This book is literally about singing songs from musicals in order to forget the worries of work and relationships that are so frequent in our twenties. It’s an optimistic, adorable and comforting read.

When you want to enjoy the classics:


Emma by Jane Austen

It’s hard to balance a TBR list of all the amazing new books that come out every week along with the timeless classics. If you’ve ever felt like you want to take another crack at the classics you were forced to read in high school (trust me, they’re always better later), Emma would be a good choice. There are countless retellings of this story in modern day books and movies, and having some Jane Austen under your belt will give you some cred. The beautiful, rich, self-assured and witty (something all of us twenty-somethings would love to be described as) Emma loves to play matchmaker with no care of her own romantic life. When Emma helps a young woman named Harriet, she starts to pursue her own love interests and the hidden depths of her own heart. It’s a classic love story and social comedy that we should all make time for!

When you want to feel glamourous:

Sarong Party Girls

Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Like mentioned above, there are loads of modern retellings these days, making the classics more accessible to the 21st century. Sarong Party Girls is basically Emma but in modern Asia, where a young woman rises is Singapore, a glitzy city where old traditions clash with heady modern materialism. Jazzy and her three friends in their late twenties decide that by the end of the year they are all going to have spectacular weddings to rich Western expat husbands with Chanel babies to follow. Jazzy’s quest to find a white husband reveals the contentious gender politics and class tensions thrumming beneath the shiny exterior and grubby interior of Singapore.

When you want to read something more diverse:


The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal has been a giant hit! It made many best of 2015 lists and won CBC’s Canada Reads 2016. In The Illegal, the young Keita Ali of Zantoroland is on the run. In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect. Running also means riches, until Keita is targeted for his father’s outspoken political views and discovers he has to run for so much more—for his family’s survival. Fast-moving and compelling, The Illegal casts a satirical eye on people who have turned their backs on undocumented refugees struggling to survive in a nation that does not want them. Hill’s depiction of life on the borderlands of society urges us to consider the plight of the unseen and the forgotten who live among us.

When you need that confidence boost from your fictional BFF:

Yes Please

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

If you’re in your twenty-somethings, you probably know who Amy Poehler is – whether it was from her portrayal of Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Life, her role as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation or as the yin to Tina Fay’s yang. Amy has always been a bright face in comedy and a great role model – in Yes Please, she shows how she’s worked her career up from the bottom and lets us in on her confidence-boosting secrets. Toting Yes Please around will make you feel like your fun and supportive best friend is always with you.

Have any suggestions to add to this list? What books particularly left a mark on your twenties? Share them in the comments below or tweet them to us @SavvyReader!


You can follow me on Twitter: @papertraildiary

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