Your twenties are time for exploration and growth, and for most of us, a time that we use to 'set the stage' for the rest of our lives. I firmly believe that reading is very important for this process, and should be encouraged when children are young to instill a habit that will benefit them greatly. I've always believed that if you don't read, you can't grow, and I know many others do, too.
Because of this, I made a list of books that are (almost) vital reading for those of us who're looking to learn and grow and find out more about themselves. Of course, they can be read and enjoyed by people of most ages, but I think many of them have greater impact when read while in transitionary phases, like the early twenties are for most people.
Disclaimer: I haven't read some of the books on the list, but they come highly recommended, and I plan to get my hands on them soon!
So go ahead, grab one of these, make yourself a cup of tea (or grab a glass of wine), settle down in a comfortable spot, and enjoy!
1) Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
In a world where women are now being seen as equal to men, they still face many disadvantages that can get in the way of them having satisfying careers. Many times, women are made to feel that they have to choose between their careers and their families, and should they choose the latter exclusively, the former usually suffers if they go back to it. An ambitious woman is still a bitch, while an ambitious man is praised. Written by the COO of Facebook, Lean In talks about all these issues and more in a way that's funny, thoughtful, and that stays with you after you've put the book down.
I definitely think that this is a book that should be read by everyone, not just women, and especially so leaders who need to know how to really bring equality into the workplace.
2) Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
In a culture that celebrates unlikely, rags-to-riches kinds of success stories, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on a journey to understand where success really comes from, and talks about the little things that worked in favour of those outliers we look up to; people like Bill Gates and the Beatles, for example. Most of the time, when looking at their success, we tend to ignore their backstories; where they're from, and the experiences they have had that set them ahead of the rest.
3) The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
This is an absolutely wonderful philosophical book that can be savoured in parts, devoured whole, and returned to time and time again. Gibran talks about everything from marriage to children to friends to work, and his simple truths are definitely ones that we can all relate to.
One of my favourite quotes from the book:
Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.
4) Discover Your Destiny by Robin Sharma
A powerful fable that encourages us to reach within our depths and discover our true destinies. There's no doubt about the fact that Robin Sharma is one of the greatest minds of our time, and he's definitely an author none of us should skip. In this book, Sharma shows us how to live up to our potential and get to know ourselves in an inspirational and not at all aggressive manner. No matter who you are and where you are, I can guarantee that you will walk away from this book feeling inspired.
Often his writing contains simple truths like the one below that remind us to dig deep and do better:
Things are never as bad as they seem. The situations that cause us sorrow are the same ones that introduce us to the strength, power and wisdom that we truly are.
5) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Our culture celebrates the extravert, at the expense of a large segment of the population. For example, 'open-plan' offices definitely don't work in favour of those who're more introverted. Most, if not all of us, are not all the way introverted or extraverted, but rather, fall somewhere in between. While I'm an extravert, most people would be surprised by how much introversion is in me, and I never had a chance to fully appreciate that part of myself before I read this book.
I've written about Cain's work before, and it's still something I would highly recommend for everyone; whether you're trying to understand part of yourself that you haven't really explored before, whether you're an introvert who's trying to learn to make the best out of a society that doesn't celebrate introversion or whether you're the friend, teacher, parent or employer of an introvert.
6) What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles
This isn't really a book to read as much as it is a book to work through, but I think it's definitely the most comprehensive manual out there for people who're trying to figure out their career. A new edition is published every year, and I first learnt about it on the recommendation of my career counsellor and a dear friend, who worked through this book when SHE graduated from college.
The book is filled with practical advice and exercises that encourage us to get to know ourselves better and figure out what, exactly, we want to do and would be best at, and how to get there. Are you about to graduate (or recently graduated) and trying to figure out where you want to work? Or someone who's already working but not quite satisfied with what you're doing? Are you looking to change your career and try something new? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is definitely for you.
7) Thrive by Arianna Huffington
This is ones of those that I haven't yet read, but it comes recommended by Dana Brillante-Peller, who wrote about it on her blog, Pellerini. Another blogger, Carly Ferguson, who blogs over at FitLiving, includes it in her list of 5 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List. Please go check out both these posts; they definitely convinced me!
8) Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson is one of those names that practically EVERYBODY knows. He has reached such stunning heights of success that most of us do not even dare dream about. Luckily for us, he gifted the world with an autobiography that allows us to dig deeper into his life and his philosophy, and serves as a guide to those of us who need one. Especially for those of us with more entrepreneurial tendencies than most, Branson's autobiography is a must read.
Side note: I would ABSOLUTELY love to meet him in person. You know those interview questions that ask which living or dead person we would have to dinner if we could? Richard Branson is probably at the top of my list.
This is a self-help book that remains as relevant today as it was more than 20 years ago. The title is pretty self-explanatory, so I can only add that this book is definitely very helpful if you want to learn how to better control your life and achieve more out of it.
10) Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht
This is another one that I haven't read yet, recommended by Ana Luiza Douthwaite who blogs at Northwest Blonde. Targeted mostly toward a female audience who're starting off their careers (or looking to improve it), it does a great job in teaching you to leave your mark.
Do you have any other recommendations? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!