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  • Writer's pictureHannah Neese

Must Read Books in your 20s

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

Fact: I never ever liked reading.

Truthfully, it was probably because I have such a hard time sitting in the same spot for longer than 10 minutes. That, or it was "trendy" to not read growing up.

However once I reached college, I found myself diving into books, spending hours at used bookstores, and googling books based on topics I was interested in. I believe this is because during this season of life, we are all a little bit confused. Early twenties hold a lot of unanswered questions. And while some of those questions can only be answered by living, some can be answered by reading books by those who have gone before us.

Some of my favorite places to purchase books:

1. Thriftbooks (DEALS)

Let's be real, Cheryl Strayed basically hiked 1,100 miles in order to escape her life struggles and figure out her next steps. Now I don't know about you, but a good shower and a nice wallow in self-pity under my covers will do just fine for me. But at 26, Cheryl had gone through a lot. She lost her mother, was living in a studio apartment, newly divorced, and had turned to drugs and men to cope. For three months she hiked alone on a trail facing wild animals, extraneous terrain and temperatures. During this journey she found her strength, ways to overcome fear, and many more lessons that can be applied to life. She can't shower though, so maybe don't apply that one to your life.

Although mostly written for writers, I found this book to be a huge inspiration for any creative. It's so easy to say that someone else is already doing this, why should I? Someone else can take photos or hold a pen, what will make me any different as a photographer or writer? Anne talks about her journey in overcoming comparison and how she overcomes the many battles in fulfilling your dreams. For anyone wanting anything in this life, she makes it clear that the only option is to stay committed to the process. Through the pain, through the setbacks, total dedication is the entire point. She doesn't sugar coat it, so if you want a book that says "take more naps"...scroll on.

If you want to see a 21 year old girl in a coffee shop ZOOM through a book, taking notes, and highlighting like a crazy woman, feel free to time travel back to the June of 2017. It is me. Big fan of this book. Big fan big fan. Sophia Amoruso is the founder of the billion dollar company, Nasty Gal. And she did the ripe age of 22...on eBay. Her book talks about her journey from a girl working the front desk of an art institute with a hernia (DUMPSTER DIVING), to a girl running a world renowned company. Sophia speaks about her struggles to figure out who she wanted to be, and ultimately how she got what she wanted. Mostly, the girl just dang asked for things and never quit. Hey, you don't get what you don't ask for.

I was drawn to this book solely because the words coffee and insightful stories landed on the same cover. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. Megan graduated from college in 2011 and, like many of us, couldn't handle the thought of working a 9-5 job. She still felt like there was more lessons to learn about life first, and challenged herself to a cup of coffee with someone new each week. The book has 52 cups of inspirational tips found in coffee conversations from the co founder of Apple to a first grader's recess views.

I LOVE LENA DUNHAM AND I WISH THAT WAS ALL YOU NEEDED TO READ BUY THIS BOOK. But, since I'm a cool blogger, I'll do the whole "mini review" thing. The theme of her book is full of humor filled life lessons. Basically, Lena takes the role of "learn from every bad and embarrassing decision I made". The book is laid out in essay formats, bullet points, emails and chapters. In this easy, relatable, and addictive read, Lena talks about what we all struggle with: Feeling alone, overly body conscious, finding true love, etc. Ya girl did lots of highlighting in this book as well.


You may know her from the office as the self- absorbed Kelly, or you may know her from her highly followed twitter account. The girl can throw down some jokes within 160 characters. If you enjoy following her twitter, you will absolutely love this book. Written in a conversational style, Mindy makes it feel like your both chatting over coffee about life and its struggles. She talks about her struggles with body image growing up and how she's turned it into something humorous now. The readers get a look at what life was like behind the scenes of "The Office". I also love reading stories by people who didn't achieve their dream right away. Upon graduating college, it actually took Mindy quite some time to get to where she is now. Life isn't perfect, there is no one way to live, and Mindy knows that is what makes it all the better.

My sweet boyfriend gave me this book a little over three years ago. One of my biggest weaknesses is feeling the need to please people. I never want to disappoint someone, but it usually comes at the cost of my happiness. I had a hard time finding the balancing of "being who God wanted me to be", but still finding time for myself. This book by Lysa Terkeurst dives right in to each and everything I struggled with regarding the topic. One of her points that stuck out to me most was finding the difference in saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. I'm not even gonna lie, every page of this book is a lovely fluorescent yellow thanks to my highlighter...again. I learned that if I give and give to everyone, I can't give my full self to anyone. It's okay to say no, and take care of yourself.

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