By Angela Woltman
Are you struggling to understand life as you approach the big 3-0? It’s common to start questioning if you’ve made the right decisions in your career, personal life, and the quest for happiness in your late 20s.
You may be struggling with changing relationships, a career plateau, or even deaths of those close to you: all things that make you wonder if you’re on the right path. While no one has all the answers, these five books can help you regain focus and perspective as you enter your 30s.
Letters From A Stoic By Seneca
The timeless wisdom of Seneca can help you out no matter how old (or young) you are, but his insights are especially powerful as you make your way into “real” adulthood. Letters from a Stoic discusses the fundamental truths in life and focuses on everything from grief and poverty to success and dealing with emotions.
The ethical ideals of Stoicism revolve around mastering the self and developing wisdom as a self-possessed individual. The Stoics believed in the dignity of the individual, courage of the everyday man, and facing challenges with a mindset of personal growth. Seneca’s meditations on friendship, living a simple life, and how to deal with fear will give you clear and reassuring strategies to deal with whatever life has in store for you.
Between The World And Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates
The realities of racism have never been more apparent than they are today. As someone entering a phase that likely includes parenthood, leadership, and community involvement, understanding history and evolving ideals is crucial.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me takes the form of a letter to his young son and attempts to explain to his child, and readers, how he came to discover his place in the world. Among other topics, Coates discusses the American Civil War, his experiences at college, and his childhood while also reimagining history and bravely confronting long-held beliefs of society. This is a powerful book that will change the way you think about race and life in general.
Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion By Robert B. Cialdini, PhD.
While important at every point in your life, the power to persuade is especially crucial at this stage when you likely need to influence children and people you manage at the office. Robert B. Cialdini wrote Influence based on research as well as the techniques he discovered while working as a marketer, fundraiser, and salesperson.
Before you get a bad taste in your mouth, be clear this isn’t a book about manipulating others. It’s about using sound techniques to get the “yes” you want while reducing conflict and improving relationships. The strategies discussed by Cialdini are just as useful when you’re trying to get your 7-year-old to bed on time as they are when asking your boss for a raise. As a bonus, his writing is clear, concise, and a joy to read.
Fates And Furies By Lauren Groff
Non-fiction books can teach you a lot, and every 20-something should gain knowledge as well as enjoyment from a perfectly crafted novel. Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies is just that novel. This one is especially enlightening if you’re in a marriage and wondering if it’s a happy one.
Groff’s book takes a look at both sides of a typical marriage (his side is the ‘Fates’ and hers is the ‘Furies’) and what it really means to know another person. With insight, empathy, and clarity, Groff explores the mystery that is marriage in a way that’s both heartbreaking and incredibly profound.
Anna Karenina By Leo Tolstoy
If you really want to learn from (and enjoy) a novel, you might as well pick up what’s considered by many as the greatest piece of literature ever written. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a stunning achievement featuring a vast cast of well-developed characters.
Their experiences help you explore issues of jealousy, destiny, and what it means to be human. Tolstoy’s story of a rich noblewoman and her affair with a dashing Russian army officer is truly about the enduring themes of love, loss, and the consequences of breaking the rules. At times funny and beautiful and at other times raw and hopeless, you simply can’t enter your 30s without reading this masterpiece of Russian literature.
How Will You Measure Your Life? By Clayton Christensen, James Allworth & Karen Dillon
How Will You Measure Your Life? may appear to be a business book, but it’s actually a philosophical guide on living a meaningful life. If you’ve achieved a lot in your career but are struggling with the purpose of life, this book could be the answer.
A high achiever, Christensen wanted to know why he, and so many of his successful colleagues, were not fulfilled while others appeared to be flourishing. With a blend of research, meditations on life experiences, and personal reflection, questions such as “How can I avoid compromising my integrity?” and “How can I be sure my personal relationships become enduring sources of happiness?” are explored.
These are questions that are important for all of us, but they take on special meaning during this time when you can still turn the tide if you don’t like the answers.
Your 20’s are a time for growth and change as you settle into adulthood. If you need a nudge to get on the right path to a fulfilling life, read these five books for that little extra push.