35 Books For Women in Their 20s

There are so many great books out there for women in their 20s. It can be hard to decide which ones to read, but here are 35 books that we think are worth checking out. We are the main character in our story, and these 35 titles are sure to help young women through their twenties.

If you are a young woman in your twenties looking for books on personal development, self-help books, fascinating fiction titles, and more, here are 35 of our favorite books to add to your list!

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35 Books For Women In Their 20s

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’ll boost your self-esteem and alter the way you think about yourself, especially when it comes to realizing your goals and finding your dream job!

After you read Jen Sincero’s first book, read You Are a Badass at Making Money. It’s life-changing.

Don’t Wear Shoes You Can’t Walk In: A Field Guide For Your Twenties by Michelle Douglas

This field guide—part advice book, part diary—will assist you in discovering the essential yet often overlooked lessons to be learned in your own life right now. Michelle Douglas took the lessons from her own experience and expanded on them for the rest of us.

Lessons shared include:

  • the weakness isn’t necessarily where the leak is
  • surround yourself with people who are willing to lift while they climb 
  • you can’t change the shape of a piece to force it into your puzzle 
  • don’t go looking for love, go looking for things you love to do
  • it’s what you bring to the table, not how long you’ve been sitting at it

“Brilliantly articulated, perfectly digestible. Don’t Wear Shoes You Can’t Walk In should be required reading for when anyone turns twenty.” — GenTwenty

How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self by Dr. Nicole LePera

In How to Do the Work, Dr. LePera provides readers with the encouragement and resources they need to free themselves from harmful behaviors and reclaim and rebuild their lives. This is a revolution in consciousness that will forever alter how we think about mental wellness and self-care.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Whether you’re looking for a strategy to adopt new habits or build on what you already have, Atomic Habits has a tried-and-true method for succeeding–every day. One of the world’s most experienced habit builders, James Clear, offers simple tactics that will teach you how to establish good behaviors, break undesirable ones, and master the little things. Imagine finally being able. to kick your social media scrolling habit or to wake up refreshed thanks to a better sleep routine.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

We can’t choose what kind of pain enters our life, but we can decide how we are going to deal with it. This fiction book is a classic and a must-read.

By reading The Alchemist, I have learned that it’s the journey, not the destination that matters most as it is in the pain that we come to know joy. It’s not about starting a new life, it is about loving the one you have.

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too)

Gretchen Rubin, in her multibook inquiry into human nature, discovered that asking the seemingly dry question “How do I react to expectations?” gives us tremendous self-knowledge.

She discovered that people fall into one of four Tendencies based on their response: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Every aspect of our behavior is influenced by our Tendency, so using this framework allows us to make better judgments, meet deadlines, endure less stress, and engage more effectively.

A Year of Positive Thinking: Daily Inspiration, Wisdom, and Courage (A Year of Daily Reflections)

Do you want to live each day with more optimism and motivation? Daily doses of digestible quotations, mantras, and prompts will help you change your mindset and promote positive thinking in this book.

Your Twenties: No one ever teaches you how to grow up, you know?  by Jessica Smith

Jessica’s book is a quirky, fun read that is full of advice! The book is set up in micro chapters that cover self-love, healthy mind, body acceptance, relationships, and career.

If you’re feeling a little lost in your 20s, pick up this amazing book!

What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough 

The Slumflower will be your life guru, confidante, and best friend in What A Time To Be Alone. She’ll teach you that being alone is not only acceptable; it’s actually the greatest thing that’s ever happened to you. Whether it’s the first time you’ve felt or been alone or something you’ve sat with for a while, it’s past time you understood this.

Good Vibes, Good Life: How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness

In this book, Vex King will demonstrate how you may alter the world by changing your thoughts, feelings, speech, and behavior.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts

“Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Ignored by New York’s old-money circles and determined to win respect, she designed and built nine mansions, hosted grand balls, and arranged for her daughter to marry a duke. But Alva also defied convention for women of her time, asserting power within her marriage and becoming a leader in the women’s suffrage movement.

With a nod to Jane Austen and Edith Wharton, in A Well-Behaved Woman Therese Anne Fowler paints a glittering world of enormous wealth contrasted against desperate poverty, of social ambition and social scorn, of friendship and betrayal, and an unforgettable story of a remarkable woman. Meet Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, living proof that history is made by those who know the rules—and how to break them.”

The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself

There are a lot of people who believe they’re not allowed to prioritize themselves or pursue their own aspirations because they’re afraid of being selfish or putting others’ needs before their own.

The Self-Love Experiment is an ingenious tool for individuals looking to bring self-love and acceptance into their lives. It’s all about self-love and accepting oneself first, whether you want to lose weight, land your dream job, find your soul mate, or get out of debt. This inspirational book will help you in your early 20s, mid 20s, late 20s and beyond!

The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay

Recently updated, this book challenges the way we think about our 20s. Dr. Jay, clinical psychologist, asserts that 20 is not the new 30 and we could all do a little better by investing in ourselves during our 20s. We interviewed Dr. Jay on the GenTwenty Podcast about this important book.

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

101 Secrets For Your 20s by Paul Angone

Every twenty-something requires a little black book of secrets. The twenties are a time of confusion, repetitive work, burnout, cubicles, breakups, transition periods, quarter-life crises, loneliness, and moderate success sandwiched between extensive failure. We need an old and tattered guide kept nearby to shed some light on this decade.

The Kidult Handbook by Nicole Booz

Adulting is hard! But “kidulting”— engaging in nostalgic childhood activities to relieve stress, like playing with your old favorite toys, participating in games and activities from your youth, and even snacking on the foods you enjoyed as a kid— isn’t. Let this book be your guide to indulging your inner child. Now is the perfect time to get back in touch with your kid-self.

GenTwenty’s Guide To College Success

Following our college graduations we have collectively experienced the tumultuously dynamic employment landscape over the past few years as millennials in the workforce. Here, we are sharing the tips and tricks we learned to get the most out of your college years. We place a heavy emphasis on how your choices during your college years affect you post-grad and into the early stages of your career. We want students who are in college today to know what we didn’t and to be more prepared than we were for building the foundation for a satisfying and fulfilling career.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

A memoir of Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100-mile journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. Her spontaneous journey challenged her, strengthened her, and healed her.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic is about embracing creativity, learning to trust yourself, and doing it all without fear by your side. A must-read for anyone who considers themselves creative. You can’t be afraid to try new things, especially when it comes to your creativity.

The Daily Stoic

Why have the world’s greatest minds—from George Washington to Frederick the Great to Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as contemporary leading lights from Super Bowl-winning football coaches to CEOs and celebrities—agreed with the Stoics’ teachings? Because they recognize that “valuable wisdom is timeless and that philosophy is for living a better life, not a classroom exercise.”

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

In Rising Strong, Brené Brown takes us on a journey to understand and master the hardest emotion we experience: shame. She draws on her own research as well as stories from her readers and clients, all of whom have navigated their way back from disappointment, heartbreak, betrayal, failure, and even personal tragedy.

It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way

Real life frequently turns out to be much different than we had imagined or anticipated. Some occurrences may just surprise us for a moment, while others completely shatter us. We become disappointed and disillusioned, and we begin to question God’s goodness in our hearts quietly.

Good Morning Monster

“Good Morning Monster offers an almost novelistic, behind-the-scenes look into the therapist’s office, illustrating how the process can heal even the most unimaginable wounds.”

The Codebreakers

At Bletchley Park, some of the UK’s best mathematicians, linguists, and intellectuals were brought together to crack Nazi ciphers. We now recognize the essential function that these codebreakers performed in Allied victory in World War II, having been kept secret for nearly thirty years.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies 

Elizebeth Smith, a world-famous Shakespeare expert, accepted employment on an estate outside Chicago in 1916, during the height of World War I.

Elizebeth was intrigued. The tycoon had extensive connections to the US government, and he urged her to utilize her language abilities on a daring new project: codebreaking.

Elizebeth met William Friedman, who would become her husband when she was 15 years old. Though she and Friedman are often compared to “Adam and Eve” at the NSA, Elizebeth’s tale has never been revealed before.

The Coffee Bean: A Simple Lesson to Create Positive Change by Jon Gordon

Life is frequently difficult. It may be demanding, stressful, and feel like a caldron of boiling hot water.

The situations in which we find ourselves can alter, weaken, or strengthen us, and they may do so in unanticipated ways. We may be the carrot that becomes weaker in the pot or the egg that hardens.

101 Questions You Need to Ask in Your Twenties: (And Let’s Be Honest, Your Thirties Too) by Paul Angone

If you’re drowning your anxieties in Netflix and ice cream, are afraid you’re failing, going crazy, or both, or are just longing for a little guidance to get past “just getting by,” grab this book and start thriving in the most “defining decade” of your life. 

Blink is the must-read book for better decision-making. It’s not about having the most information; it’s all about knowing what to pay attention to.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Did you know you have the power to change your habits? It’s true! We’re obsessed with habits here at GenTwenty. And if you are hoping to make a change in your life, this book should be on your to-read list. You have to understand how habits work before moving forward. It may feel like tough love but the good news is that you can make even small steps to make a bigger change in your life.

 Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vee shares how to turn your passion into your income. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a good complement to this book as well.

Unleashing the Power of Respect

Human beings all want the same thing: to feel valued by another human being. Sometimes we don’t feel very valuable at all, and this can make us angry, anxious, or sad. Those of us seeking mental health services may especially perceive ourselves as less valuable—as having a disorder. Often, we worry that those around us—our family, friends, and colleagues—see us the same way, depriving us of a supportive community when we need it most.

Stupidity in Action by Clark Huff

Those who knew Clark Huff as a child believed he would either be in jail or dead before he graduated high school. They had good reason to think that. He paid little attention to authority and never considered the risk of his actions. Surprisingly, Clark not only lives to graduate high school but goes on to earn a degree in metallurgical engineering. During his professional career, he becomes a world traveler and immerses himself in other cultures with much hilarity and humility. 

These stories are not only entertaining but will provide you with examples of how not to handle a situation. An illustration of what we are all capable of no matter our mistakes along the way. It is always better to learn from someone else’s stupidity.

The Body Keeps The Score

One of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, has spent over three decades working with survivors.

In The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk draws on recent scientific discoveries to illustrate how trauma changes both the body and brain, impairing victims’ abilities for pleasure, involvement, self-control, and trust. This is a great book for understanding thought patterns and how one can heal from past trauma.

Raising Critical Thinkers

If you plan to have children, I suggest reading this book.

Understanding how and why we believe what we do is at the heart of education.

At a time when the internet has flooded children with an ocean of information and opinions, parents and educators are concerned how they will evaluate what they read and view.

It has grown more essential to examine various viewpoints with both a sense of inquiry and discernment. But how can parents instill these abilities in their children?

We hope you find this reading list of inspirational books help you love yourself, strive to be the best version of yourself, and feel less alone and more supported on your 20s journey.

In Summary: Books For Women In Their 20s

These books for women in their 20s will challenge the way you think and possibly even change your life!

Whether you’re reading non-fiction or fiction, there’s something to be learned from these authors. Which book are you picking up first?

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.

Website: genthirty.com