10 Self-Development Books You Should Read In Your Twenties

A few of my favorite methods of self care: a nice walk around Lady Bird lake, a 90-minute massage at milk + honey, and a looooong binge reading session on the couch.  Call me a self-help junkie, but I just can’t get enough of these books! I pour through several self-development books every month, so my list of recommendations has gotten pretty long! The ten that I’m sharing with you here are books that have profoundly changed my life for the better. Many of them I’ve read more than once.

Of course, these books could be read during any decade of life; learning is a life-long endeavor. But I’m in my late twenties while I’m writing this, and I’m reflecting on the many, many changes I’ve noticed since I first left my teenage years. Thank GOD that we don’t leave our twenties in the same state that we started them!

Care to add to this list? Share your favorite self-development book below! I’d love to hear how it’s changed your life.

1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

This is one of my recent reads, but I’ve already gifted this book to my friends and family. Essentialism is the idea of doing less, but better. Do you often feel that you’re spinning your wheels, stressed and spread too thin, but not actually accomplishing anything? If so, this book is perfect for you. It’s about learning to define the absolute necessary things to do, and letting the rest go. It’s about doing less, but better.

This book has changed the way I’ve approached blogging. Instead of trying to do absolutely everything, I’m learning to focus on the few things I want to do well; the rest I delegate, defer, and just say “no.”

 2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Oh, how I want to find Susan Cain and give her a big hug for writing this book! Through reading it, I’ve recognized that being an introvert isn’t a weakness or anything that I have to fix. My desire to re-charge by being alone, the chaos I feel in my brain when I’m around too many people for too long, and my love of one-on-one coffee dates (and hatred of big group discussions) are all powerful, beautiful things that allow me to make my own contribution to society.

Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or don’t completely know yet, this book is a beautiful way to appreciate and understand the introverts in your life.

3. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder

Arianna Huffington calls money and power, which are the two main motivating factors in our current work force, “two legs on a three-legged stool.” They will sustain you to a certain extent, but eventually you’ll topple over without the third leg. In Thrive, she spends the book defining that third metric, the thing that will truly bring you success, longevity, and fulfillment.

This book is especially practical for millennials, as we are stuggling with always being “on,” rarely disconnecting from our devices, our society, and our minds. Learning to sleep, meditate, be alone, play, and ponder are all key components to this third metric of success. A must read!!

4. You Are A Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life

If you’ve walked into any bookstore since 2013, you’ve no doubt seen this bright yellow book with its screaming words on a front display table. I avoided it for many years because it seemed, well, fluffy. “I don’t want to read a book that just makes me feel good about myself. I want depth.”

Turns out, You Are A Badass is actually pretty intense and woo-woo, and I can totally get down with that! This book pairs well with Ask And It Is Given (which I’m mentioning next), but it’s the modern, in-your-face, cuss-word-friendly-zone that kind of feels like you’re having a chat with your best girlfriend….who totally believes that you can do anything in this life if you tell yourself you can.

5. Ask And It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires

I found out about this book from reading Jen Sincero’s recommended reads at the end of “You Are A Badass.” Jen warns us by saying that “the freak factor is pretty high” in Ask And It Is Given, but if you can tap into your spirituality and read it with an open mind, this book has the potential to help you.

Here’s the main idea: the universe is buzzing with vibrational energy. For every thought you think, you’ll receive a matching vibration. So, if you’re thinking about how strong, fit, and thin you are, you’ll start to become just that. But if you’re giving all your thought to thinking about how sluggish, tired, fat, and ugly you are, you’ll continue to receive those things.

Regardless of whether you agree Law of Attraction 100%, I feel that we can all recognize that when we put our attention on something, that becomes our reality. Our minds are strong, and we get to shape our truth. If you truly believe that you’re a moron who fails at everything she tries, that will probably happen. And if you believe you’re a successful business person who will eventually run a multimillion dollar company and donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to your favorite charities every year, that will be your reality.

6. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

This is a must-read for every artist….which, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, is all of us! Big Magic is about learning to tap into your creativity to find a life-long love for mystery, curiosity, and learning to tackle your biggest fears.

If you do something creative, like writing a blog, making art, playing music, or cooking, you’ll love this book. One of my favorite things about Big Magic is how Elizabeth emphasizes protecting the art by not asking too much of it. She didn’t quit her day job until she had written three books, and she encourages us to nurture, love, and protect our art by allowing it to be art and not necessarily our full time income. A thought-provoking book (that would be perfect for a book club discussion!)

7. Getting Things Done: The Art Of Stress-Free Productivity

Without a doubt, this is the best book I’ve ever read about practicing productivity. There’s nothing else like it! David Allen has captured the best, most reliable method of getting ideas out of our heads, on to paper, and organized in a systematic method that will help us figure out what we should be doing, for how long, and at what time of day.

I’ve read this book twice (because sometimes I fall off the band wagon and need to remind myself how to organize my to-do list). I also enjoy listening to the podcast, Getting Things Done.

8. Year of Yes: How To Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun, and Be Your Own Person

Beyond being a smart, hilarious, snarky, clever writer (Shonda Rhimes is one of the writers behind Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, and she’s the executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder), she has an incredibly deep, potent message: say YES. Say yes to the things that scare you, say yes to the unknown, and say yes to respecting yourself and believing that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Year of Yes isn’t telling you to go out there and try every little thing until you’re spinning in circles and burned out. Instead, it’s Shonda’s encouraging story of finding things that things that are meaningful (family time, weight loss, big scary speaking engagements), and screaming YES to them with all her magnificent gusto.

I appreciated her take on body image and weight loss. Shonda has been a large woman her whole life, and she decided she could either say YES to getting rid of the weight, or she would say YES to embracing who she is a a big, curvy woman, and live that as whole-heartedly as she could. But she had to say YES to something.

9. Rising Strong: How The Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Perhaps I should mention that this book is most beneficial after first reading Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown’s book about first learning to step into the vulnerability arena. Regardless of the order in which you read them, Rising Strong contains a powerful message about getting back up after you’ve allowed yourself to become vulnerable and fall.

I have quotes from this booked tucked into little corners of my life everywhere – my journal, my iPhone, and all over my Pinterest page. Whenever I feel hurt by someone else’s words, by my own shame, or by a voice in my head, I turn to this book for reminders. One of my favorite quotes:

“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

10. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

This is a particularly useful book for anyone who is seeking her “true calling.” What is it that makes you work for hours on end, never checking the clock, and focusing so intently that you accidentally miss dinner but you don’t even mind? Whatever it is, that’s your state of what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “Flow.” It’s when you feel deep creativity, complete focus, and total enjoyment of life.

According to his years of research, Csikszentmihalyi says that finding your state of flow doesn’t have to be left up to chance! Your most positive, optimal experience can be reached be reached intentionally. I found this book incredibly helpful when thinking through career options and what it was that made me reach my own personal state of “flow.”





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6 years ago

Your book recommendations are always the best! I just added a bunch to my “wish list” at the library. I love self-help books, but surprisingly, the only two I’ve read on your list are Shonda Rhimes’ and Big Magic (both fantastic!). I’ve been meaning to read Quiet for years.

5 years ago

[…] Also see: 10 self-development books you should read in your twenties […]

3 years ago

[…] Check out: 10 Self-Development Books You Should Read In Your 20s […]

2 years ago

Have just added these to my wish list! Really appreciate the time you’ve put in to selecting and writing about these.

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