Not sure what to read next? Well, you’re in the right place! Let’s talk about some of my long-time favorite top 10 personal development books to read in your 20s and beyond!
Your twenties are the best times of your life, but some may argue they’re also the hardest. Ten years of self-realization, searching for your passion, chasing after adventure, facing “adulthood” head-on, all while paying the bills and having a little fun. It’s a decade that can be the most formative time of your life. So while you let the good times roll, soak up all the information you can find. To make this process easier for you, this blog post is dedicated to recommending my top 10 personal development books that you should read in your 20s. Not that you should stop there! If you’re reading this past your 20s, I still highly recommend them because they are just that good.
Here’s a quick anecdote — The day I graduated college, our commencement speaker told us that our education was formally over, but our learning had just begun. My 21-year-old self didn’t think much about her statement, but boy was she right.
The more time that passes, the more hunger I have to learn new ideas from various perspectives. From online courses, to webinars, to grad school, the desire to learn and continue learning is something I always recommend and encourage.
So here’s a confession… I’m a totally personal development junkie. I love it! I love new ideas, inspirational quotes, podcasts, the whole works! I see these top 10 personal development books to read in your 20s lists all over the internet and I’ve gotten so many great recommendations!
My family makes fun of me because my bedside table is filled with personal development books. They said when they were growing up the only books they read were romantic comedies, romantic dramas, and romantic thrillers… you get the picture!
While our reading material is very different, I love the idea of continual growth in both my personal and professional life. I’ve come across several gems with so much incredible information. Here are my top 10 personal development books to read in your 20s!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy (link)
The compound effect is described as the strategy of reaping huge rewards from seemingly small actions. Hardy expands on this idea in his book aptly named The Compound Effect. He boasts this book is “no gimmicks, no hyperbole” and will take you along the principle of life that everyday decisions can either take you to the life you desire or to disaster by default. The Compound Effect is a compilation of foundational principles that can guide the most phenomenal achievements in all aspects of life which has been in effect for centuries. If you are looking for an easy to follow, step-by-step operating guide that can be used to make success abundant you’ll want to pick this book up.
Nice Girls Still Don’t Get The Corner Office by Lois Frankel (link)
Lois Frankel revised and republished Nice Girls Still Don’t Get The Corner Office (the world still was added) because she felt the progress for women has been “relatively flat” since the 1976 edition was debuted. Frankel tackles the idea of “nice-girl syndrome” to achieve the corner office — a metaphor for career success. It is composed as a list of “do’s” for women instead of “don’ts”. She envelopes readers with her entertaining writing style and a general list of advice for women both in and out of the workforce. “Nice is necessary for success, but simply not sufficient,” she writes, as she tackles common themes like diminishing thanks or praise. “When someone compliments you,” writes Frankel, “don’t say, ‘Oh, it was nothing’, say a simple thank you.” She touches on everything from pregnancy to workplace idea theft in this all-encompassing narrative.
The Success Principles by Jack Canfield (link)
From the best-selling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Jack Canfield reveals a simple set of rules for success in The Success Principles. Canfield argues that a greater level of performance and achievement is attainable by everyone. This book outlines the self-empowerment tools needed for success and how to break through adversity for results. The Ten-Step Action Plan will guide you step by step to set goals, manage, time, take responsibility, develop core skills, stay motivated, and face up to what isn’t working in your life. In presenting these new habits to develop, they can be applied everywhere in your life from your career to your relationships.
The Defining Decade by Meg Jay (link)
For those 20 somethings that are looking to make a difference in both yourself and your life, The Defining Decade is for you. In it, clinical psychologist Meg Jay, argues against the popular saying “30 is the new 20.” After more than ten years of work with this age group, she asserts that they have been caught in a “swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most transformative period of our adult lives.” Jay uses the latest science in addition to stories from twentysomethings themselves to create a provocative read that will help you make the most of this decade of your life. It outlines how relationships, social networking, work, and identity can change now more than any other time in your adulthood — and how to make the most of this transformation.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (link)
Gretchen Rubin takes on a year-long experiment to discover how to create true happiness in the aptly titled The Happiness Project. She mixes classic philosophy, real-life examples, and cutting-edge science to deliver this book of true transformation. The story that ensues is both engaging and relatable. The idea for this began one day on a bus where Rubin realized she wasn’t focusing enough on the things that really matter and decided to dedicate a year on a happiness project. Rubin chronicles all the ups and downs of assessing how to be happier in these twelve months. In this laugh-out-loud read along, she finds a few key takeaways like novelty and challenge are strong sources of happiness and money can in fact help buy happiness — if spent wisely.
Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis (link)
In Girl Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis explores what often plagues women — allowing something to pass them by for fear of embarrassment, failure, or veering from the status quo. If you’ve followed Hollis in the past or are familiar with this book, you’ll understand why you can feel her passion and energy jumping from the pages. In it, she narrates her own words and encourages women to live up to their full potential. As a best-selling book, she’ll tackle how women often choose to define themselves through others — like mother, wife, daughter, employee — and how to start learning more about who they are and what they want in life. If you are looking for an empowered woman empowering others through the pages of a book, you won’t be disappointed by Girl Stop Apologizing.
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero (link)
“YOU ARE A BADASS IS THE SELF-HELP BOOK FOR PEOPLE WHO DESPERATELY WANT TO IMPROVE THEIR LIVES BUT DON’T WANT TO GET BUSTED DOING IT.”
This is the sentiment of Jen Sincero’s book You are a Badass. She has a refreshing take on self-help books, dividing the book into 27 chapters that feel easy (and fun) to digest. The author and success coach serves up advice, inspiring stories, and exercises to help you change self-sabotaging behaviors and start getting what you want. By the end of this inspirational book, you’ll have completed enough self-awareness exercises to love the way you are — the things you can’t change and finding the ability to change the things you don’t love. Mixing in the occasional swear word, Sincero feels like a bada** best friend helping you reach your full potential. You can also read a summary of it here.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling (link)
Mindy Kaling is known for her time on The Office (as an actor, writer, director, and producer) and this book feels like an extension of the witty comedian we have come to know and love. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me takes readers on a tour of her life and all the different sides of Mindy. We get to follow alongside her as she works through her unabridged opinions on Hollywood, friendship, and romance. With her unwavering (and often comedic) approaches, she ponders life questions like “what makes a great guy”, “what is the perfect amount of fame”, and “essential qualities to seek in a best friend”. If you are looking for comedic relief alongside personal development, this book is for you.
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie (link)
How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best selling books of all time — and for good reason. This self-help book by Dale Carnegie has a list of things like techniques in handling people, how to win people over, how to be a leader, how to handle criticism, and on the secrets of success — which he ponders, if there is one, “it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as fro your own.” Overall, a few key takeaways we can all benefit from is the topic of handling other people. Clear and concise, he suggests:
- Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain
- Give honest and sincere appreciation
- Arouse in the other person an eager want.
I, for one, think everyone from all walks of like can find something in the advice he gives above.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (link)
This book was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century but this book reshaped culture beyond the lives of readers. It has also been said that it’s the most inspiring and impactful book ever written and rightfully so because it has captivated readers for 25 years. In a recent Forbes article, a writer boils down this personal development classic into one of the most important aspects of the book — the two by two theory. At the beginning of every week, write out a two-by-two matrix where one side is marked “urgent” and “not urgent” and the other side is marked “important” and “not important” then list out all the things you want to do that week. You will end up categorizing tasks into 4 quadrants, urgent-important, not urgent-important, urgent-not important, not-urgent- not important. This can help weed out those time wasters and help maximize productivity. While you may not adopt all 7 of these habits into daily life, this book will definitely have you assessing your everyday habits and the outcome from them.
I hope you enjoyed my picks for the top 10 personal development books to read in your 20s. Leave you favorites in the comments below!