8 Best books to read in your 20s

These 8 chosen books will change the way you think and help you expand your mind, understand life better, and motivate you to grow on your own.

All of these books contain in them messages that could teach you lessons to increase your knowledge and widen your horizon; most people spend their entire lives searching and learning such life-changing wisdom offered in these books.

They are not some jumble of words tied up together in a form of a book but rather an inner journey that one can go through, feel what the characters feel, and learn as if they’ve experienced it under one’s own steam. All of these books are diverse in nature and offer multiple morally important lessons.

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (A book about Dreams and Destinations)

The Alchemist

Written by a Brazilian author and lyricist Paulo Coelho de Souza who as a teenager knew he wanted to be a writer but was frown upon by his parents at his choice of career.

Now, fast forward to present he has written over 22 books and sold world widely. His most popular book that gained him his fame and name was ‘The Alchemist’ that was published in 1998, has been translated in 80 languages and sold over 65 million copies.

Although The Alchemist is based on 200 pages maximum, it contains everything a person needs to read before pursuing a career or stepping into a practical life.

It tells the story of a young Andalusian shepherd boy who sees a dream and believes that it is a prophecy that will lead him to his destined treasure; he then decides to follow his dream and find his destiny but it isn’t just about the treasure or the destiny he is trying to reach but the lessons he learns along the way that’ll change his perspective towards dreams, destiny, faith and universe all together.

The journey is as important as the destiny; in fact it’s the journey a person goes through that makes him worth his treasure at the end. In 200 words only, Paulo has given our youth to think about their dreams that they feel passionate about and want to follow till the end of the world.

2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (A book about Life and Death)

When breath becomes air

Paul Sudhir Arul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon, who wrote this memoir about brawl between life and death while he was battling with stage IV metastatic lung cancer.

His story continued even after he lost his fight with cancer and left his book incomplete in 2015; it was later on completed by his wife Lucy Goddard and was published in 2016.

Paul was always curious about the string of life and death on which we humans juggle so he chose to become a surgeon. In his book he tells about the journey that has been his life and how everything changed the day he came across the fact that he had a terminal disease; how he had to reconsider about every decision he has ever made because now he didn’t have entire life, he and his family were left with rather a small time period and they had to make the best out of it.

In his last months, he decided to address his desire of writing a book and wrote about how your life and priorities change when death is staring at you from far end. The message he left for whole humanity while he was on his death bed is worth a read. Stepping into your adult life you ought to have some kind of curiosity about death that can be satisfied with this book.

3. The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson (A book about priorities and posteriorities)

Mark Manson is an American author who writes self-helping books; but his self helping books are different than others in a way that they tell you the harsh realities of the world and life, he doesn’t sugarcoat bitter truths or give you false hope, he doesn’t give you a tutorial for how to live but instead shows you a path where you can walk on your own and discover yourself.  

His book ‘the subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck’ has big ideas and life-changing advices that doesn’t suck. This book has been categorized as a contemporary genre of self-help. Based on rock-hard science, a little old fashioned ‘go f*ck yourself’ idea and more realistic applications.

This book will set you free to look for yourself, realize your mistakes, wrong decisions and their consequences, aftermaths of life-changing events and either your life is going in the right direction or not. It’ll give a clear vision about the things you should give a fuck about and the things that aren’t fuck-worthy.

4. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (A Book about Universe and Law of Attraction)

Rhonda Byrne is an Australian television writer and producer. The Secret is based on a movie with the same name that came out in 2016 and the book came later that year.

The Secret became a best seller soon after; it is considered a self-helping book that holds in itself the secrets of the universe and how the universe reacts to the thinking of us humans.

The Secret claims that thoughts; either positive or negative have a tendency to change a person’s life directly. The whole idea of this book revolves around the law of attraction. It sold over 30 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 52 languages.

It has two more books as sequels, ‘The Power’ and ‘The Magic’ both categorized as self-helping and spirituality books.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (A book about reading and writing)

Markus is an Australian writer of German Origin, he is author of six well-known books and two of them are international best sellers.

The Book Thief was translated into 63 languages and sold 16 million copies. In 2013 it was adapted into a movie of the same name.

This historical fiction novel is based in age of Nazi Germany during World War II, it tells the story about a girl who is fascinated by the surrealism of literature; books became her escapism while the whole country is being torn by the war and poverty.

She finds sanctuary in fictional stories and when her heart becomes too heavy to read anymore, she finds solace in writing and how all her pain bleeds out as words. This book offers an insight on how a book can be your best friend in times of dire need. Also it is narrated by death itself and when death tells you a story, you have to listen.

6. Quiet by Susan Cain (A book about Introverts and Extroverts)

Susan Horowitz Cain is an American writer, lecturer and motivational speaker. She is an author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking which is an international best seller.

Susan was passionate for writing about introversion that basically came from her very own difficulties with speaking publicly, which made Harvard Law School “a trial” for her.

Her book Quiet talks about both personality traits; introverts and extroverts but mainly how introverts are crushed due to lack of understanding and how being silent in the world of noise is considered somewhat a crime or a sign of psychological disability.

The book further discusses that no matter to what category a person belongs both personality traits have their own unique characteristics but the question is to first identify yourself or others accurately and treat them as they should be. If an introvert asks for privacy he/she must be given some to be able to function and is an extrovert likes to go out, he/she cannot be trapped in a house, that’ll affect their mental ability.

In the end, no matter who you’re, you are worth loving and all the appreciation. After the success of Quiet, Susan Cain also wrote Quiet Power; an adaptation for children and teens, and for their educators and parents.

7. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (A book about Guilt and Innocence)

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was a Russian short story writer, novelist, journalist and essayist. Dostoevsky’s written works traverse psychology of human beings regarding the complications of political, social, and spiritual emanation of 19th century Russia, mostly engaging in diversity of philosophical and religious attributes.

The oeuvre of Dostoevsky consists of 12 novels, four novellas, 16 short stories, and numerous other works. Crime and punishment was released in 1866 and is believed to be the first great piece of “mature” period of writing.

Crime and Punishment targets the anguish mentality and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, a penniless ex-student in Saint Petersburg who develops a plan to murder an unethical pawnbroker for her riches.

Raskolnikov convinces himself that with the money he would be able to liberate himself from pits of poverty and will perform great deeds. But, after he stains his hands with blood, he finds himself trapped with confusion, paranoia, and disgust for what he has done. His rationalized conscious crumbles completely as he struggles with guilt and horror.

This book might sound boring but it takes a person deeper into the subconscious mind of a criminal and forces the reader to see that no justification would be enough for heinous crimes and even if a person gets what his wants through the wrong means, the conscious mind will always be filled with guilt leading to a miserable life.

8. Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak (A book about Love and Spirituality)

Elif Shafak is a Turkish-British storyteller, academic, motivational speaker, women’s rights activist, essayist and writer.

Elif writes both in Turkish and English, and has published 17 books, 11 of which are novels such as The Bastard of Istanbul, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World, Three Daughters of Eve and The Forty Rules of Love.

These books have been translated into 51 languages and sold over a million copies. Elif’s first novel, Pinhan (The Hidden), has received the Rumi Prize in 1998 which is considered an honor for the best work in mystical literature in Turkey.

The forty rules of love was chosen by the BBC among 100 books that shaped our world and is recognized as a master piece in today’s world. This book tells two stories, one story within another one, placed in different timelines and different locations but connected by just one feeling that is spirituality and love.

Ella Rubensteinn who is a mother of three kids and has reached at the age of 40 confronts her deeply rooted fears and disputes that she has been ignoring and suppressing all her life, but now they want to come out making her question all the decisions that she has ever made for the sake of having proper risk-free life.

When wealth and other riches start to lose meaning and she starts realizing if she ever did something that made her happy and content, no matter the cost or was she always afraid of stepping out of her comfort zone.

On the other hand is another story written in a book that Ella reads based in the 13th century Konya, revolving around Shams of Tabriz and Rumi. That love goes much deeper than just mere affections and is fabricated in the layers of the universe; how each of the forty rules teaches you a lesson that’ll leave you speechless and in awe!


If you’re in your early 20s or have passed it, these books will take you on an unforgettable journey and help you expand your knowledge and widen your horizon.

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