The 20s-30s is a very interesting age group. You are not technically an experienced adult but you are not a naïve child as well. This is a learning phase of life where you get yourself ready to be a responsible adult. People in this age group have mostly started a career path for themselves, are in serious relationships, and learning about the workings of the world firsthand.
During this transition phase of your life, I have listed down some of the books that reflect the same and are must-read in your 20s-30s.
- THE NAMESAKE – JHUMPA LAHIRI
This story follows the Ganguli family as they relocate from Calcutta to Cambridge, where they struggle to blend into American culture while remaining true to their heritage. Lahiri explores the complexities of being torn between two civilizations, each with its own religious, social, and ideological distinctions. As the narrative travels between timelines, you’ll recognize yourself in both generations of the family, regardless of your cultural background.
- JANE EYRE – CHARLOTTE BRONTE
This novel shows a great deal of force and intrigue. It depicts a woman’s quest for freedom. Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor after growing up as an orphan in her cruel aunt’s home and at a harsh charity school, qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. She grows more and more attracted to Mr. Rochester, her boss until she discovers the skeleton in his closet.
- FATES AND FURIES – LAUREN GROFF
The author dazzles with breathtaking prose, smart wit, and sensuality, and a close look at the devastating consequences of little white lies, touching on marriage, family, art, and drama. Groff’s work chronicles the couple’s 25-year marriage, capturing their joys and sorrows, failures and successes. This couple got married at the age of 22 after just a few weeks of dating, which none believed would last.
- HOW SHOULD A PERSON BE? – SHEILA HETI
In pursuit of enlightenment, the protagonist of the book journeys from Toronto to New York to Atlantic City. How Should a Person Be? is a visceral, urgent description of female friendship and the nature of our lives now, part literary fiction, half self-help manual, and part vivid investigation of the artistic and sexual drive.
- WILD – CHERYL STRAYED
Strayed, then 22 years old, was grieving the loss of her mother and the breakup of her marriage when she chose to recover by trekking the length of the Pacific Crest Trail. Her memoir recounts the amazing, terrifying, and unforgettable voyage, which was marked by female fortitude and shattered hiking boots. And it just could motivate you to try something new.
- GIOVANNI’S ROOM – JAMES BALDWIN
This story centers on David, a 20-year-old American living in Paris, and his sentiments and disappointments with his connections with other men, notably an Italian bartender named Giovanni whom he meets at a gay club in Paris. Social isolation, gender and sexual identity issues, and masculinity difficulties are all addressed in the book.
- THE OPPOSITE OF LONELINESS – MARINA KEEGAN
Keegan had a promising literary future ahead of her when she graduated from Yale, and a position waiting for her at The New Yorker. Marina died in an automobile accident five days after graduation. This posthumous collection of essays and tales expresses the struggle we all experience as we try to figure out who we want to be and how to use our skills to make a difference in the world.
- BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY – HELEN FIELDING
Bridget Jones’ Diary is the ideal cure to the notion that we’re not quite good enough at some time in our lives. Bridget turns to her four vital friends for help as she navigates the social minefield of her thirties and attempts to evaluate the everlasting issue. She exploits the disconnect between how people believe they should seem on the surface and how they truly feel on the inside.
- THE GREAT GATSBY – F SCOTT FITZGERALD
New York City is the place to be in the Roaring Twenties. As more and more people succumb to the allure of money, the only person who stays untouched is Jay Gatsby, the mysterious host of the most lavish parties. Fitzgerald balances a chaste dream against the corrupting temptations of riches in this seminal work on American society.
- THE ALCHEMIST – PAULO COELHO
Paulo Coelho’s narrative of a shepherd’s journey to the Egyptian pyramids in pursuit of riches is told in this book. Following your dreams, finding happiness, and not succumbing to fear are just a few of the things you’ll take away from this story of self-discovery and personal progress. This book has a lot of motivational quotes.
- A LITTLE LIFE – HANYA YANAGIHARA
When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college travel to New York to create a name for themselves, they’re broke, adrift, and relying on their friendship and drive to get by. Their connections develop and darken throughout the decades, tainted by addiction, achievement, and pride. This book depicts the challenges they face and how their choices affect their lives.
- ANIMALS – EMMA JANE UNSWORTH
This book is about two young 30-something buddies who live for a 3 a.m. bender — a story of half-remembered parties, drug dealer feuds, and hangovers. However, when one decides to marry, the issue arises: is it time to cut back on the partying in your 30s, or can it go on until the victorious (or bitter) end?
- QUICKSAND – NELLA LARSEN
This book chronicles the historical reality of Harlem in the 1920s and gives insight into the black bourgeoisie’s social milieu. Helga Crane, a mixed-race lady, travels between Harlem, Copenhagen, and the Deep South in search of her place in the world. Even though she has no shortage of suitors, she finds it difficult to choose amongst them.
- ON CHESIL BEACH – IAN MCEWAN
A fascinating story of sexual discovery in a young marriage, the fragility of youthful love, and finally, the arduous journey from childhood to maturity is told in this novel. A couple of newlyweds, ages 22 and 23, come to Dorset for their honeymoon. While he is apprehensive about the marriage being consummated, she is afraid. Their acts that night have reverberations throughout their lives.
- NEVER LET ME GO – KAZUO ISHIGURO
This tale is about a mysterious fate and keeping sane in a world that bans us from pursuing our dreams. A 31-year-old recalls her time at a British boarding school, where she and her classmates were educated for an unknown future defined by sacrifice, namely organ harvesting to preserve elder generations.