The Quarter-Life Crisis Reading List

The Quarter-Life Crisis Reading List - Reading recommendations for twenty-something women who need to get out of a funk or just want to feel better about life |

1 // Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Mindy Kaling’s collection of essays combines humor with heart and is the perfect read for any twenty-something. I finished this book a devout Mindy Kaling fan and have not missed an episode of The Mindy Project since. Chapters include “Failing at Everything in the Greatest City on Earth”, “Someone Explain One Night Stands to Me”, and “Revenge Fantasies While Jogging”. Don’t miss this book. You’ll read it in one sitting.

2 // He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

A lot of dating happens in your twenties (usually). Sure, this book might be a little cheesy but if you’ve just dumped or been dumped, you need to read this. I picked it up at a thrift store in college at a time when I really needed to read it. The advice is practical and straightforward and written in a non-preachy, fun way. The format is also very different and makes it easy to pick up and put down, reading only a few pages at a time.

3 // Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps: How We’re Different and What to Do About It

I read this in my Gender Differences in Communication class in college. Much of your twenties seems to be about figuring out the opposite sex. The author, a body language expert, and his wife, delve in to the differences between men and women. Don’t take anything too seriously, as the book abounds with some sweeping generalizations. It’s an easy, fun read and it does have some solid research behind the differences between men and women.

4 // Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”

Oh, Lena Dunham. I wish Girls had been on air right when I graduated from college. I would have felt mildly better about moving home, sharing a room with my then 9-year-old sister, and feeling I completely lacked direction and drive.

This book is up next on my reading list and I’m certain it won’t disappoint.

5 // Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood

Author Alida Nugent is the blogger behind the popular blog The Frenemy. She is incredibly snarky and relatable. I’d suggest this book to ladies in their earlier twenties. I read it and enjoyed it but am certain I would have enjoyed it more had I read it about 2 years earlier. Something about feeling like you’re falling on your face and having someone to relate to.

6 // MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend

For anyone who has every moved to a new city where they have zero friends, this book is a great starting point. I found that I got lots of ideas about ways to put myself out there and make new friends in a new city. At the very least, it will make you feel less bad about feeling like you don’t have enough friends. Other people feel that way too!

7 // Yes Please

Amy Poehler didn’t get on SNL until she was 30. I’ll just put that out there from the get-go. It’s inspiring to read about someone who knew what she wanted and went after it, with little hesitation or concern for failure. I admire Amy and she’ll definitely make you laugh out loud with this hilarious, open memoir.

As an aside, if you are a Kindle person, I would not buy this book on Kindle. The book is super high quality with notes, photos, and color. It’s worth it to own the hardcopy.

8 // I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

A great reminder from Nora Ephron (writer of half of your favorite romantic comedies), that the feelings you’re feeling right now might fade but many of those insecurities and quirks will stick with you. And that’s okay.

9 // 20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction

This book is much more of a self-help/workbook style. It addresses the “twenties triangle” of “Who am I? What do I want? How do I get what I want?” This book is a great option if you want to actively work on yourself. You’ll find lots of stories about women in their twenties who are just like you, as well as lots of sound advice.

A few to add that I do not own/have not read:

Bossypants – Read it. Loved it. Borrowed it from a friend so it is not pictured.

Girls in White Dresses – I’ve heard this is a great read for ladies who are in that “everyone is getting engaged” period of their lives.

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps – One that Amazon constantly recommends to me based on my purchase of all of the above.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now – I watched Meg Jay’s TED Talk and found it incredibly inspiring. I’m certain her book does not disappoint.

Reading is such an essential part of life and has helped me through my toughest times. Reading can be the perfect distraction and the greatest learning tool. Books can take you on adventures, inspire you, and make you feel alive. Isn’t that exactly what you want in your twenties? And in life? What books would you add to this list?

  • SUCH a great list! I’ve read (well, listened to the audio version) of Bossy Pants and still LOL on every long road trip. I’ve also read He’s Just Not That Into You and found myself nodding to every.single.point. Great job!

    • I want to listen to Bossypants because I know Tina Fey herself reads it and I feel like it would be a totally different experience to listen to the author read the book, you know?

  • Love your book list! I’ve read Mindy’s book. She’s one of my all time favorite people in the world. She so fabulous! I live by ‘He’s Just Not That Into You.’ It taught me a lot about my past relationships and why they didn’t work. Greg Behrendt is constantly in my head. I’m currently reading ‘Yes Please’ for book club. I’m only just past the preface, but I’m really looking forward to the rest of it! Thanks so much for the list ~ *erica*

    • I’ve read Mindy Kaling’s book twice. I want her to write another book so bad! I’m on the last few pages of Yes Please and it just makes me love Amy Poehler so much. I’ve never watched Parks & Rec and now I really want to give it a chance.

  • Ha Amazon always recommends Adulting to me too. I really enjoyed so many of these books. I’m interested to see what you think of I’m Not That Kind of Girl. I like Lena Dunham a lot and thought Girls was entertaining… but didn’t like her book at all. Definitely going to check out Twenty-Something Twenty-Everything.

    • Interesting. I’ll do a recently read post after I read Lena Dunham’s book and let you know what I think. It seems like it will be a quick read. I love Girls so I’ll be sad if I don’t love the book.

  • I’m almost done with Not That Kind of Girl and it is fantastic! Definitely won’t disappoint, especially if you are a fan of Girls – her writing style in the book is just as entertaining as it is on the show. I would also add #GIRLBOSS to the list. Nasty Gal marketing tool or not it’s an interesting story that’s well written and has a lot of lessons most young women can benefit from – especially for those who are recent college graduates.

    • I’ve heard good things about #GIRLBOSS but I don’t know if it’s my style. It seems really kind of aggressive. I should give it a shot though, I might just be judging it because I’m not sure how I feel about any brand called “nasty gal”.

      • Sophia Amoruso is definitely a very sarcastic person who likes to push buttons, which is ultimately why she named her brand Nasty Gal in the first place. That absolutely comes through in her book (like, a lot, she wrote it) so if that’s not your thing you may not enjoy it, but I think it’s a great story highlighting that there’s more than one route from A to B, and the road less traveled can often be even more rewarding. I found it really empowering, but I also really enjoy her sense of humor (which may not be the case for everyone).

  • I love your list! I also loved Bossypants, but I haven’t read any of the others you mentioned, so I’ll definitely be updating my Goodreads list soon. I loved Adulting, and I think Kelly Williams Brown is hysterical. Highly recommend it!

    • If you loved Bossypants, definitely read Mindy Kaling’s book next. They are the most similar but I feel like Mindy’s book is written for a slightly younger audience (though both would be hilarious to anyone at any age).

  • I loved Meg Jay’s TED talk so I’m guessing her book is amazing. Another great TED talk along the same lines is Mel Robbins ‘How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over’. I recently finished GirlBoss. It’s a quick, easy read and while I don’t really relate to her story on a personal level (her life as a 20-something was very different than mine), I do think she has some great advice about what it means to be driven and fearless. At the very least it is interesting to see how she went from being a bit of a mess to the CEO of a sucessful company.

    • Thanks for the TED talk recommendation. I’ve heard a lot of people recommend #GirlBoss so maybe I need to give it a shot.

  • EVERY woman should read the trifecta: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey & Mindy Kaling’s book. These ladies are a huge inspiration to me (and my blog/writing!) and their memoirs are just so so good. I love strong, empowering & hilarious women. (Oh, and He’s Just Not That Into You = woman bible.)

    • I got tons of ideas and felt like I was a better writer after reading the trifecta. All three books are kind of short essays made into books and you can totally see them being blog posts, in some way (especially Mindy’s book).

  • Kate

    Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Minday Kalling- read all, loved all.
    I’ve been seeing a lot of bloggers post pictures of #GirlBoss so I decided to give it a try. Finished it in a day. It was great reading about her journey and at the end of the book she get’s brutally honest about cover letters, interviews, and how to keep a job/get promoted/how to ask for a raise. Definitely felt more motivated after that read and it gave so much useful knowledge.

    • I feel like if I was in a place where I wanted to change careers or climb the corporate ladder, GirlBoss would be super useful. I’m just not in that place (i.e. I’m really really happy where I am) so I wonder if I would be as interested.

  • Thank you for this list!!! I have wanted to snag so many of these BUT was thinking of doing the audio downloads since I have a solid 30+ minutes drive to work! Great list girlfriend 🙂

    • I know Tina Fey’s Bossypants is read aloud by Tina Fey and I’ve heard she is phenomenal. I would not suggest the audiobook for Amy Poehlers book since it’s kind of visual and has some lists/pictures etc.

  • I’ve read a lot of these but I’ll have to check out the others! 20-Something 2–Everything: A Quarter-Life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction sounds good. A couple of books along these lines that I like are The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything & The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now.

    • The Defining Decade sounds super familiar to me and I’m not sure why. I’ll definitely have to check it out. Thanks!

  • I’ve read a few of these but I’ll have to check out the others! 20-Something 20-Everything: A Quarter-Life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction sounds good. A couple of books along these lines that I liked a lot are The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything & The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now.

  • Saving this post for later because I need more “real-life” books to read! I read all the time but it’s always fiction and honestly, usually of the young adult variety. But I really want to branch out. I’m particularly curious about Lena Dunham’s book because I’ve heard such wonderful things about it.

    • I’m usually such a fiction reader. Reading Mindy Kaling’s book got me in to reading the others that are more like a collection of essays about the authors life. I usually alternate between books like these and historical fiction. I can’t do hard core non-fiction though. It’s just not for me.

  • Love and have read many of these! Definitely want to add Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps to my must-read list though!

    • I remember when I got my reading list for that college class, being completely shocked. It wound up being the most entertaining, non-traditional reading I did in all of college.

  • Moe

    Thanks for your list! I love all of your book recommendations! I haven’t read any of the books on this list but I noticed that some of them are on my list of books to read.

    • Start with Mindy Kaling’s book. It might be my favorite book I’ve read in the last five years. Honestly, I laughed out loud while reading it and it’s such a quick read (because you can’t put it down).

  • Heading over to Amazon to download samples of most of these right now! I read Kaling’s book and absolutely laugh-out-loud loved it, and I’m reading Yes Please right now. Great list!

    • I hope you find a couple you enjoy!

  • Great list of books. I need to read a lot of these. I see them everywhere and everyone is raving so they must be a good thing. Thanks for sharing!


    • I usually feel like if there is a book that everyone is reading and raving about, that I’ll love them too. I hope you find a few books you love on this list!

  • I’m actually reading Yes Please right now and after every couple of pages, I’ll quote a sentence or two out loud to my roommate or just exclaim “SHE GETS IT! SHE REALLY DOES!” I love Amy twenty times more for this book, and I already thought I couldn’t love her any more!

    • I love her really big, fun pages with the bright colors (you know the ones I’m talking about). Every time I get to one I’m like, yup, well that one is my new life motto.

  • OMG! Yes! I need a reading list like this in my life! I’ve been wanting to know what books (that weren’t contemporary YA) I should read next, and this is just want I needed! THANKS HEAPS!!

  • Thanks for this list, So many books on this list are definitely on my list and the few that aren’t are definitely being written down. I’d totally add in Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, though. I’m in the midst of reading it and it’s as powerful as her Ted talk. And that Ted talk has made me tear up every time I’ve watched it.

  • SO , SO , SO happy you posted this. I just wrote all of these down and cannot wait to start reading – ESPECIALLY because I’m in my early twenties and need some serious quarter-life crisis advice asap. Thanks so much!


  • Thanks for this list 🙂 I read some of them and I am definately going to read the rest 🙂 🙂
    Lovely post 🙂


  • Bossypants is one of my all time favorite books. I listened to the audio tape which was recorded by her and it was hilarious!! I need to add #9 to my list. Thanks for the great list!

  • This post is fab! I’m turning 25 this year and I’m going through a quarter life reading crisis myself. I’ve joined good reads and have my kindle app open at every spare moment I can. I’ll be adding some of these fab recommendations to my reading list. Thanks for sharing!

    Jess X

  • Always looking for great read thank you.

  • Awesome list. I’ve read Megan Jay’s book and I think every 20 something should read it. Off to find the others on your list!

  • That is officially the best name for this type of book I’ve ever heard, good work. Also, I’m pretty sure that I can read maps and don’t listen, so I’m not sure where that leaves me…

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  • I want to add Listen To Your Mother:What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now by Ann Imig. I loved it so much and I think its a good read for moms who are twenty something.

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  • I’ve read a few of these books and this list is pretty spot on.

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