6 Books To Read In Your 20s

In this episode of The GenTwenty Podcast, Nicole and Marina discuss six books to read in your 20s!

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The books:

Nicole Booz: Welcome back to the GenTwenty podcast I’m Nicole…

Marina Crouse: And I’m Marina! Today we’re talking about 6 books worth reading in your twenties. As you know, Nicole and I are both huge readers and now that we’re not in our twenties anymore, we’ve had some time to think about which books we read then that helped, and which books we’ve read recently that we wish we had read then.

So our first book we’ve talked about a lot on the podcast and on the website It’s The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay we even interviewed her and had a really thoughtful conversation about our twenties and why this decade matters and isn’t a throwaway one.

I remember reading it in my 20s, before we ever came into contact with Dr. Jay and then I reread it at 29 and remember thinking “wow, I wish I had read this more than once throughout my 20s.”

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah I think it’s a really good book I definitely read it I think around the time I started GenTwenty around 2013-2014. I don’t remember the exact time it came out but it was sometime around then and the biggest concept in there that I was really inspired by is called “identity capital.” I see that as an investment in yourself.

That’s what I’ve kind of call it sort of calling self-development is self-investment. You probably see that kind of different places around the website and our emails and things that but I think building identity capital is kind of about how you do the things that you do and what you do and how you spend your time.

I hope that makes sense, I’ll link to a couple blog posts that we’ve done that talk about ways to build identity capital but I almost see it as all the experiences that you have all of the programs you’ve done learning. The ways you spend your time and invest in yourself I think that that the concept of that was just really inspiring to me in my early 20s and I still find it really fascinating as well. Now I’m a 30-something. But yeah I just I think it’s worth reading, especially just for that point. What about you?

Marina Crouse: Yeah, the identity capital was one that I really appreciated revisiting when I was 29 because I think for so long it was hard to spend money on myself when it came to self-development. Because I just felt “oh I don’t have enough money to incorporate this in my routine” or whatever but you don’t sell identity capital. It is not something you have to pay for and for me, the big takeaway was that you know you’re not too late.

Our twenties—that decade is so important because we’re figuring out how to be an adult who we are and that’s really valuable and we have to do it. We can’t just wait until we wake up and know who we are because that’s not how it works So the more you can experience and explore and learn in your twenties, the happier you’ll be. I loved that because for so long I felt “oh I’m I’m not where I thought I’d be when I was 30 so I’ve missed out.”

I look back I have all these experiences that brought me to where I am now and I’m pretty happy where I am now. So definitely read the defining decade.

Nicole Booz: The next book I’m gonna jump to is called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It’s by the novelist Haruki Mirakami and he talks a lot about running as you might expect. So if you’re not a runner and never have been, those parts might feel a little glossy to you.

You’ll just gloss right over them. It’s a really short read. It’s a very small book. I listened to it while I read it back in 2016 or 2015 somewhere around there and then I listened to it again this week actually and the biggest takeaway for that book for me is to dedicate yourself to something that you love and make it part of your daily life.

I think it’s so important to commit yourself to something and to work towards something and to have goals and even if they don’t mean anything to anyone else. His goal for running marathons is to never walk and then in the book he says “and on my gravestone they’re going to put at least he never walked” and I thought that was so funny. I don’t know I thought it was a real commitment to a goal. He had that matters nothing to anyone else and I think it’s really important that we have goals that and the way we dedicate ourselves to things that we do.

I’ve run a half marathon before it’s actually been 9 years since I’ve done that which is kind of a long crazy time. But I I always really loved running and I’m hoping to get back more into it this year but I also in my mind I also dedicate myself a lot to reading it’s really important for me to be. Well-read and to read lots of things and that’s just something that I have committed myself to through my twenties and hopefully I will for the rest of my life.

Marina Crouse: Yeah I don’t have much to say about this book because I have not read it but from what Nicole told me about before we started recording I would say it’s a good reminder that you’re allowed to have hobbies that aren’t monetized. You’re allowed to have interests that are just because you’re interested in them.

And you’re allowed to work at things that may not quote unquote payoff in any tangible form other than you enjoy time spending doing that I know for myself because I’m multi passionate very creative to learn things almost every hobby I’ve started I’ve had a moment where I think “should I start a business doing this, should I sell this” and it’s I think it’s very common for our our age group and also just you know in this economy.

I’ve had to actively think about my hobbies this year and one of them is cooking because you know, girls got to eat I’m going to eat every day but I find that the time I spend unplugged just chopping vegetables thinking about how to season them and how they’re going to pair with the other textures of whatever I’m making is really meditative and I don’t know what they’ll put on my gravestone. But at least I can cook vegetables.

Nicole Booz: Her vegetables mesh well together something that.

Marina Crouse: Haha maybe! The next book we want to talk about is Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. I actually just listened to this on audio. I’m 31 so I thought a lot about how I wish I had read it when I was in my twenties, especially when I was working in a corporate environment because my last big corporate job. Well, we’ve talked about it.

But my experience in the corporate world has always been kind of not great and a lot of it has come has had to do with leadership and in listening to Brene Brown’s book Dare To Lead. She talked a lot about how she approaches conflict and support and I wish I had known how to ask for more help. Or I wish I had known how to communicate this isn’t working when I was 22 or 23 especially.

It’s a trait that while helpful in your workplace is something we can learn for our personal relationships.Recently I had a family event and there was some drama going on and I just looked at the person and said “what does support look for you from me. How can I help you?”

They said, “Can you just sit with me while I compose this answer because I don’t want anyone else to come up with me and come up to me and start talking because I’m trying to send this email.” Yeah I could totally do that. But I would never have thought to ask it that way I would normally just be well let me fix it for you. Everything’s gonna be okay which is. There’s a time and place for that but leadership looks a lot different than it used to and I think that’s a good thing.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah, I actually have not read that book. But I really the way you phrase that. So maybe that’ll be my next audio book. Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve read anything by her. So maybe it’s time to pick something back up because.I Think conflict resolution is important.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, this this is my first read. I’ve listened to her podcast and I read articles by her but this was my first Brene Brown book. So I’m gonna dive more into her too.

Nicole Booz: Wow. Yeah I think that’s a great idea. Okay so pivoting to our third book we will talk about is by our friend Michelle Douglass, Don’t Wear Shoes You can’t walk In. We interviewed her on the podcast last season and it was really awesome. She basically wrote this book from her journal entries at on point in her life. I believe she had just started writing down something she learned every day in her journal as part of her journaling practice and that’s eventually what became her book.

It’s just all of these ah lessons from her twenties and it’s a pretty quick easily digestible read. But it’s just something there’s some things that just hang with you in the back of your mind and I don’t know I really loved her book. What do you think?

Marina Crouse: I Loved it I Also really loved the conversation we had with her on our podcast. So go listen, but it yeah it was just such a good reminder that we can constantly be learning from ourselves and our experiences no matter how young or old we are and it’s genuinely good advice because if you’re wearing shoes you can’t walk in, you’re just going to have a real bad day metaphorically and literally so we yeah, we’re big Michelle Douglas fans and so we can’t recommend her book enough.

Book Number 5 on on our list is called Attached. It’s by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller it’s about attachment theory and I read this pretty recently probably a year ago…no, not that long ago… it doesn’t matter. I read it recently in my 30s through the recommendation of a therapist and it’s all about how the way you related to your caregivers when you’re a child forms how you relate to people romantically or otherwise as adults.

And so I found it really interesting to think about because I didn’t know my attachment style is not secure which is you know you’re looking for a secure attachment which that just means you are feeling confident who you are and how the people around you perceive you and you’re not worried that they’re going to leave you or abuse you so I don’t have that attachment style I’m actively working on building it.

But I didn’t know that other people didn’t think the way I thought and it just opened my eyes when it came to dating and I could look back on the last 2 or 3 relationships and realize that’s where it went wrong. So I think because in our twenties we’re meeting so many people we’re often dating. We’re often dating for the whole decade. It’s ah it’s worth to read because you you deserve to be with someone who makes you feel safe and you deserve to be able to communicate your needs whether it’s in a romantic relationship or in a friendship or even at work. So I loved this book and I can’t recommend it enough.

Nicole Booz: Yeah I’ll have to look into that actually because again I have not read this one but as a my degree is in Psychology. So this is something I’m quite familiar with and it’s interesting to me because it’s just not something I would have thought of that you didn’t know about I don’t know I feel . To me. It’s I don’t I’ve been learning about these things for decades. , and it’s just it’s fascinating. But yeah I should read that and rebrush up on it.

Marina Crouse: Yeah I did not know. Yeah, thanks to reading it now anytime I think “Wow this person hates me and they’re going to leave me” I remind myself that’s not a true fact because of this book which is helpful.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, wow, I love that. So the last book on our list is my contribution and it’s called Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin and it’s about habits and reading books about habits I habits I learning how they’re formed Why we do what we do all that kind of stuff. But this is one book that always sticks out in my head about just forming habits even more so than other books Atomic habits I read that recently and I personally don’t think it’s worth reading.

Marina Crouse: Oh hot take because it’s been on my to read list.

Nicole Booz: Reading? yeah I mean I think there’s some good takeaways in there but honestly it’s not anything. You don’t already know I mean I guess maybe it is but to me I was just this is just very top level basic habit stuff that is it’s not life changing to me whereas when I read better than before I was wow these are some really hot methods that I never thought thought of about before.

I’ll link the blog post that I wrote about it in the show notes, but for example, one rule that she talks about because very I think habit rules are very. Effective. For example, we don’t keep a lot of sweets in our house because our rule is that we get dessert out and whether that means we go out for ice cream as a family or we just order dessert at restaurants, we don’t pack our house with chocolate and sugar and candy and sweets and stuff.

Because if we have that here. We’ll just eat them we don’t we don’t have a ah moderation level is eat them. Yeah, so that’s our rule right?

Marina Crouse: It’s true. I don’t keep things in the house except dark chocolate because I can’t be tamed.

Nicole Booz: Yeah and I mean I’m the same way. So I don’t know just when you kind of reframe things that rules in your life I think it just makes way more sense when I want a soda I will drink a soda sometimes but I only drink soda out That’s I don’t buy it to have at my house I don’t get it at a gas station or something. It’s a restaurant or something that you know in only very specific circumstances because otherwise if you don’t have these rules in your life.

Even if they don’t make sense to other people. They should make sense for you your habits and your goals and if they don’t then make sense to other people that’s fine. But I think that the only way this book just made me think that the only way I was going to reach my goals was by setting my habits for myself and that another thing she talks about for example is abstinence is a more effective habit former than moderation and that’s I think that’s true for so many people where they try to let themselves do things Sometimes. We’re in reality while you’re trying to form a habit. It’s better just not to do that thing.

Marina Crouse: That’s so interesting. As you’re speaking I thought what what rules do I have? and I was oh it’s just hell fire over here I have no rules “I want this, great. Oh I should do this great?” One of the habits I’ve been trying to change for probably the last 5 years, definitely the last year is scrolling on my phone.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, that’s immediately what I thought about when you said “I had this thought.”

Marina Crouse: I’ve started and I’ll let myself scroll but I give myself a timer on my phone where I’m all right this is this is going to interrupt me and then I have to read before I have to if I want to scroll I have to put my phone down and read first and then a lot of times I don’t want to scroll.

Nicole Booz: I Mean yeah, that’s your rule. What’s your rule.

Marina Crouse: Because I’m oh this book is good I want to keep reading and then it’s time to go to bed.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah, and it’s yeah yeah, it’s this that this is kind of getting a little bit off topic. But there’s this idea of I think it’s called Dopamine dominance I have to. Refresh up on it. But it’s whenever you’re picking up your phone. You’re getting this hit of Dopamine. You’re oh my gosh. That’s so exciting. But when you think about it when I’m away from my phone I do not miss it we went on a family vacation recently and I was barely on my phone so much so that some people text me to ask me if I was okay and I was yeah I’m fine I’m just little.

Marina Crouse: I was not one of those people sorry well I knew you were on vacation.

Nicole Booz: Not Fine. You’re busy literally living in my best life yeah I knew you were you were doing stuff too. So I was she’s fine. Someone will reach out to me. Otherwise if she’s not but I don’t know it’s just when you I think when you’re away from it. You just forget how enticing it is. Because I mean social media and all of these things they are made to keep you scrolling. They want you to be on their apps because they want you to buy things they’re making money from you being on there and I mean I get it. But at the same time protect your peace people you have to do that? yeah.

Marina Crouse: Ah, yeah, protect your peace that is a good rule for your twenties that I am just coming into now. But it’s a good one.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah, just tell yourself this is not worth it for me and walk away. You don’t have to be part of it.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, so these are our 6 books that we think you should read in your twenties if you’re already out of your twenties they’re still worth reading and if you’re in your twenties and feeling any kind of way that’s not positive just know that you’re going to be okay, you’re going to get through it. And you’re going to look back and realize you have done more than you realized you are smarter than you thought you’re more resilient than you thought and you’re pretty pretty great.

Nicole Booz: Yes, you are.

Marina Crouse: This has been another episode of the GenTwenty podcast. We’d love for you to rate and review please subscribe as well and we’ll see you next time, bye.

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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