In my early twenties I was very worried about how I fitted into the world. It felt like everyone had everything sorted out and I was lost. After reflecting on this time and speaking with friends of mine about their own experiences, I realise that most of us were in the same boat. We were all just as scared and confused as each other. I am a strong advocate for the power of books and how they can help shape your mind throughout your life. Books can give you comfort, help you understand things about yourself you didn’t even know you didn’t know, and give you the courage to be you.
I thought it would be great to share some of the most influential books I have been reading in my twenties and why they were/are important to me. I think there are just some books that you should read at certain stages of your life because that is when you need the book’s wisdom most. Here are my top five (in no particular order).
1. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
I read Wuthering Heights when I was twenty whilst travelling in Bulgaria. It taught me that love is complicated, painful, and never simple. Heathcliff has stayed with me as an extremely powerful character that represents the fine line between love and madness. My early twenties were filled with turbulent loves and betrayals like many early twenties are. Thanks to Emily, I got by.
2. Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
This was the first book I read in German, so it has double sentimental value. It is a book about thinking beyond yourself and looking out at the world, the nature, and the people around you. Sometimes people say that early twenty-somethings are often a bit egocentric. However, I don’t think this is always because we are self-absorbed, rather, I think we can feel so lonely. Siddhartha helped me realise that it is okay to be alone and that it is actually important to love the people we are when no one is around.
3. Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is one of my favourite books of all time. When I was recently in Helsinki, I saw a man mulling over whether he should buy the book or not. I spoke to him about the book and I like to think that I had something to do with convincing him to get it. This book is important for young people because it deals with so many important issues that effect twenty-somethings today. More and more people are moving around the world, study abroad is a right of passage for many university students, young international love is no longer a faint dream for many people. This is a book to teach you about the hardships and the great heights that these experiences can bring you. It is a must read!
4. The Global Soul – Pico Iyer
I was reading this book the first time I went to the U.S.A. There is a section of the book set in LAX airport and it just so happened that I was reading that section when I was waiting in LAX for my flight to Kansas City. This book is about the global world that we have inherited from our parents. We are the most mobile generation, we are the most connected and yet disconnected. If you have ever wondered how to understand or navigate the global world, then this book is a great starting point.
5. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
This is a short novel, but gosh does it hit you in the feels. This book made me cry. It shows the power of love, friendship, hardship, poverty, and bias. Steinbeck will literally rip your heart out of your chest and hand it back to you in tiny pieces.
Do you agree with my list? What is a book that you would recommend for people in their twenties? As always, remember the share the reading love.