5 Books to Read in Your Twenties to Understand Life Better

Timeless books you have to pick up today.

5 Books to Read in Your Twenties to Understand Life Better
Image: Nicole Boekestijn/Unsplash

Timeless books you have to pick up today.

Are you in your twenties and it already feels like your mid-life crisis?

Do you think it’s becoming too hard to maneuver around tricky situations?

Have you ever wished there was something you could do to make yourself feel better?

Here’s a list of the five best books I read in my twenties that helped me navigate through life more easily. Packed with valuable lessons, each of these books will help you understand life better and make you feel more in control of everything that’s changing around you.

(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)

1. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Image from Goodreads

The book is full of many wonderful ideas, yet written in such a heartwarming style that it will make anyone fall in love with the narrative.

It’s in the form of a collection of 26 prose-poetry essays that tell the story of the prophet Almustafa who is about to board a ship that will take him home after having spent twelve years in a foreign city. He meets with a group of people on the way, with whom he discusses deep philosophical ideas about life and the human condition.

One of the many quotes that stand out from the book is:

“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than Sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”

Purchase this book here.

2. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca the Younger

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It is only recently that I came across this book, and I’m overwhelmed by the subtle wisdom of the author. The letters in this book deal with everything that we have to face in our lives:

Failure, success, poverty, wealth, joy, and grief. The philosophy of Seneca is not preachy, but very practical.

Reading this book is a must for all 20-somethings because not only will this help them communicate better with others, but also equip them for whatever ups and downs life has in store in the future.

A few memorable excerpts:

“If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.”
“Of this one thing make sure against your dying day — that your faults die before you.”
“Philosophy calls for simple living, not for doing penance, and the simple way of life need not be a crude one.”

Purchase this book here.

3. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Image from Goodreads

There’s a lot to learn from this rags-to-riches story of one of the most respected figures in history. Franklin was a polymath, who could easily boast of being a statesman, inventor, scientist, author, political philosopher, businessman, and publisher.

The book tells us about how he developed a list of virtues at the age of 20 and believed that following those would shape his personality and character. It makes the reader gape in wonder how Franklin managed to practice these for the rest of his life.

In the author’s own words, following a part of the list of the virtues that is bound to make one a better person:

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself, i.e., waste nothing.
  5. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Purchase this book here.

4. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? By Seth Godin

Image from Goodreads

A book that is occasionally repetitive, over the top, and sometimes disjointed, but the core message is sound and delivered with such passion that it leaves the reader feeling inspired to try and break free of the norms, and become what Godin calls a “Linchpin.”

The premise of the book is “The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.”
An excerpt:

“The job is what you do when you are told what to do. The job is showing up at the factory, following instructions, meeting spec, and being managed.Someone can always do your job a little better or faster or cheaper than you can.The job might be difficult; it might require skill, but it’s a job.
Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and challenging people.I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s possible to have a job and do the work too. In fact, that is how you become a linchpin.
The job is not the work.”

A highly inspirational book recommended for anyone who believes they are stuck in a rut or scared of losing their job.

Purchase this book here.

5. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

Image from Goodreads

The inspiring story of the chronically forgetful science journalist who wanted to write a piece about memory champions, but ended up becoming one himself.

Joshua Foer, who won the USA Memory Championship in 2006 (and also managed to set a record in the “Speed Cart” event) writes about how it’s possible to learn just about anything; all one needs to do is set one’s heart to it.

A few memorable excerpts:

“When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend.”
“To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.”
“There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you.”

Purchase this book here.

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