21 Books You Should Certainly Read Before Turning 30

The 20s are a dynamic age. It’s the time when you are having fun, exploring the world and trying to establish a place for yourself in the world.  It’s thought that the 20s are fun and exciting.  However, in the present times, a majority of adults approaching 30 report being highly stressed and suffering from quarter-life crisis. Studies show that the pressure faced by young adults has been gradually shooting up.

With the current scenario of our economy and the society at large, the present era makes a baffling time to step into adulthood. So, what can the 20-somethings do? Well, they can start by READING.

Of course, books aren’t a magic wand that solves all your problems. However, reading books is suggested by about every smart person out there as the best foundation to build a smart, successful, and prosperous living.


If you are turning 30 soon and feel as if your life is more towards a mess than a perfectly settled one, below are some books that can equip you with the wisdom and tools for a prosperous and happier future. These books include how-to guides for getting solutions to the practical adulthood problems, thought provoking examination of social issues, and impactful novels.

1. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

   Author: Robert Cialdini

Robert Cialdini, a psychologist, introduces the principles of influence in this book – consensus, liking, commitment, authority, scarcity, and reciprocation. Thinking why you need to learn these? Well, one can avoid a trap well if he knows how to set up one.

Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion

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2.  Between the World and Me

   Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates

It’s acceptable to have obliviousness as an adolescent; however, it’s quite dangerous when one is old enough to shoulder the responsibilities of a boss, citizen, and voter.


As stated by NYPL librarians, this winner of the National Book Award would help you deal with realities related to racism in America. In case you avoided this topic when you were young, this book would push you to feel empathized with fellow Americans.

Between the world and me

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3. Tiny Beautiful Things

  Author: Cheryl Strayed

If you are looking for some solid knowledge on the basic yet essential life skills, you’ll find it packed inside this book, according to the NYPL librarians. However, you shouldn’t expect to get etiquette trivia in it like which fork should you use for what course.

According to the librarians, this book holds the most compassionate and best advice on becoming an empathic and fully realized human being in this world. The book reminds us that life is full of uncertainty. The condition of “quarter-life crises” may be the first among many opportunities to seek help.

Tiny Beautiful Things

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4.  A Little Life

    Author: Hanya Yanagihara

Empathy is an often ignored, yet highly important trait to have in a human being. If you wish to expand this trait in yourself, “A Little Life” is the book to read.

The story is about four friends graduating college and staying in New York City. This seems a simple and innocent premise; nevertheless, the reality that lurks behind the surface is quite devastating. The book tries to expand readers’ ability of understanding depression and grief, pushing them to be more empathetic. The time of the 20s is better than any for honing the quality of empathy.

A little life

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5.  Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life

   Author: John Townsend and Henry Cloud

Here is an impactful book addressing one of the most common issues – the struggle of saying no. Whether you seek help mentally, physically, or emotionally, this is the book you should read. In this book, you will find the blueprint to set clear boundaries in all facets of life.


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6.  So Good They Can’t Ignore You

   Author: Cal Newport

In this book, the basic premise is “skills win over passion”. It says that it might not be best to follow your bliss, quit your job, and do work that you were destined to do. Newport has argued that instead of finding work you are passionate of, we should try developing valuable skills that result in “career capital” that will help us build dream careers and jobs.

They cant ignore you

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7.   Give and Take

    Author: Adam Grant

Our present culture tells that a person needs to be backstabbing and barbaric so as to attain professional growth. However, in this book, Adam Grant (Wharton organizational psychologist) states that how such an outlook is quite wrong. According to research, the more value people create for others, the more successful they will be in their fields.

give and take

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8.   Flow

    Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

All around us we can hear about the pursuit of happiness. However, it’s quite weird that little research has been carried out to uncover the mechanics of happiness. “Flow” is the consolidation of long years of research of how happiness works actually. According to Csikszentmihalyi, when life is lived aligned to its frontiers, in which a person is exploring and expanding his/her sense of self constantly, happiness comes as a product.



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9. How Will You Measure Your Life?

   Author: Clayton Christensen

This is a business book on the surface and a philosophical meditation beneath the surface.

The story has a mystery at its center – In 1979, when Christensen completed his graduation from the Harvard Business School, he as well as his classmates were highly successful. However, by their 25th year reunion, several of his friends were facing crisis, whether a private one or a public one.

This book examines why some extremely privileged people are ruined in life whereas others prosper.

Measure your life


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10. Eat, Pray, Love

    Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert touched the whole world and made a difference in thousands of lives. The book inspired and empowered countless readers to go in a quest to find their best selves.

In Gilbert’s early 30s, she had almost everything any modern American woman would want – a successful career, country home, and husband. Yet rather than being fulfilled and happy, she faced utter confusion and panic. This book narrates the story of how Gilbert left all the outward marks of a successful life behind, and headed for exploring three of her nature’s aspects amidst three different cultures – a balance of divine transcendence and worldly enjoyment in Bali, devotion in India, and pleasure in Italy.

Eat, pray and love

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11.  War and Peace

   Author: Leo Tolstoy

Many of you may have read this book during school. However, young adults should take the time to read it. An unrivalled masterpiece, “War and Peace” features drama, history, and the lives of people intertwined in a significant time.

war and peace


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12. David Copperfield

   Author: Charles Dickens

“David Copperfield” is a famous novel teaching readers of all ages how to exercise morality, emotion, and discipline to achieve success and goals

David copperfield

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13.  The Miracle of Mindfulness

  Author: Thich Nhat Hanh

Research in cognitive science shows that mindfulness meditation, an ancient practice, has several benefits including boosted working memory, enhanced cognitive flexibility, and stress reduction. This book is perhaps the most effective introduction to this practice. You need a single afternoon only to complete reading the book.

The miracle of mindfullness.

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14.  Pride and Prejudice

     Author: Jane Austen

This classic love story features Elizabeth Bennet along with her four sisters, with all being unmarried. Charles Bingley, a wealthy young gentleman, arrives in Netherfield Park. In a ball, the Bennet family meets Charles Bingley along with his friend, Mr. Darcy. The elder sister of Elizabeth, Jane, and Mr. Bingley make a friendship quite quickly. On the contrary, Mr. Darcy seems to be little interested in Elizabeth and he refuses to dance with her. Nevertheless, Mr. Darcy is increasingly attracted towards Elizabeth. With the progress of the story, the readers would wonder whether the two will find romance or not. Read the book and discover for yourself!

Pride and Prejudice

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15. Confessions of a Terrible Husband: Lessons Learned From a Lumpy Couch

  Author: Nick Pavlidis

If you are someone ready to leave behind the relationship drama associated with your 20s and find out how to create an adult partnership that actually functions, this is the book for you. The book narrates the journey of Pavlidis from a self-absorbed person to one who makes a loving husband. Perhaps, you may take lessons from his mistakes!

Confessions of a Terrible Husband

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16.  The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Author: Oscar Wilde

This is classic English literature with a dark, yet intriguing plot. The book is centered at Doran Gray, a young man, and how he is obsessed with his portrait. Subsequently, a forbidden deal is made by Dorian that grants him eternal youth accompanied by many hedonistic pleasures. However, with time, the tables start turning on Dorian.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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17.  Anna Karenina

   Author: Leo Tolstoy

Although an excruciatingly long novel, this evocative story by Tolstoy keeps readers hooked to the intricate portrayal of the matters related to love and relationships. As you read it, you would experience a deep involvement in the minds and worlds of the tale’s complex characters. The success of this novel lies not only in the heartbreaking and flawless illustration of the protagonist by Tolstoy and her fate’s stark drama, but also in its exploration of how to get fulfillment in life.

Anna Karenina

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18.  One Hundred Years of Solitude

   Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This amazing piece of literature narrates the story of Buendia family and its six generations, staying in the magical and fictional town of Macondo. The quirks, family secrets, ancient mysteries, and strange contradictions make this novel one of the best works of Marquez. Every page unfolds vivid imagery, making you realize that this novel is one of the finest pieces of magic realism.

One hundred years of soltitude

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19.  To Kill A Mockingbird

    Author: Harper Lee

“To Kill A Mockingbird”, said to be ‘The American Novel’, shares a message about being brave enough to stand firmly by your convictions. The novel has been narrated by a child, and explores the significance of duty and integrity in the face of injustice and intolerance. With the core message of anti-racism, the author breaks stereotypes impeccably and teaches us to be respectful towards fellow human beings.

kill a mocking bird

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20.  The Color Purple

   Author: Alice Walker

Winner of National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, this is a perspective-shifting novel about a courageous and resilient woman. The protagonist, Celie, is a woman who grew up in rural Georgia under conditions of poverty. She has faced abuse from her own family and disdain from the society. She tries hard to save Nettie, her sister, from similar conditions.

As life seems too difficult to bear, Celie writes letters to God. These letters narrate her journey of empowerment and self-discovery with the guidance of some strong women.

the color purple

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21.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

   Author: Maya Angelou

The first among the series of autobiographies by Maya Angelou, this book is the record of the life of a young, black woman who grew up in America around the 1930s. It’s a powerful and raw story set against the backdrop of violence against women, identity problems, and racism.

Why the cage bird sings

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The world of books has many more gems than the ones above that you can read before turning 30. The more you read the works of great authors of all times, the more wisdom you will gain that will help you build a good life. So, start reading today!

And if you know other books that will be helpful for the 20-somethings, please share them with our readers in the comments section below.



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