Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ― Charles William Eliot
Our 20s is the time when we need all of these three characters in our lives the most, and together. This is the time we make the transition from being a student to being an adult, with worldly responsibilities suddenly thrust on our shoulders. And being the essentially egoistic creatures that we are, we refuse to ask for help, even when it is needed badly. You wouldn’t mind asking a complete stranger to help you with your kid on a crowded bus in your 30s, or a friend to help with that difficult math problem in your teens; but you would rather die than ask, how to make friends in a new city you’ve moved to in your 20s, right? Well, that’s precisely where books come to our rescue.
And you should most definitely read these books during your 20s, whether you are a bibliophile or not.
1. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
You don’t have to be an economist to enjoy this gem of a book. A perfect blend of economics, criminology, and sociology, reading this one is both fun and interesting, not to mention immensely knowledgeable.
2. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Comedy queen Tina Fey struck gold with this book, and I do not mean monetarily. This autobiographical book has to be there in your reading bucket list during your 20s.
3. Tuesdays with Morrie By Mitch Albom
Each one of us is grateful to one or more mentors in our lives, even if we don’t always acknowledge them. It is because of mentors like Morrie Schwartz, Mitch Albom’s college professor, in our lives that we become what we are. And unlike Albom, many of us do not get a second chance to meet our once mentors, to ask the questions we didn’t get to ask the last time. Read this book if just to reminisce.
4. Heat by George Monbiot
We know that the Earth is slowly dying, (I am not quoting Interstellar). We are aware of the global warming just as we are about what to have for lunch, and yet the latter concern takes a bigger priority in our lives. We go by our daily lives thinking, ‘yes it is bad that our world is in a bad condition, but what can we do anyway’! Well, Monbiot shows us what we can indeed do to try to save our planet.
5. The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
The title alone should instigate you enough to want to read the book. If not, listen to the ted talk given by Jay, a psychologist. She knows the single most important concern that us twenty-somethings have – that we are not adult enough to carry out all our responsibilities properly, and she perfectly restores our faith in ourselves.
6. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Truth be told, all of us are fascinated by science – the professional fields notwithstanding, and all of us are equally bored with the regular science textbooks and long boring jargon-filled journals. So was Bryson, so he decided to write a book on science that is perfect for you, for me and for the bored young man analyzing the stock of his company, who just wants to read something good after going home in the evening.
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7. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This eternal gem is a must read for every person in his or her 20s. Because 20s is the time you venture out in the world, all on your own, with all the burden of the world on your shoulders. This is the time you meet new people, make new friends who’d continue to be your friend till the end, and this is your ‘hitchhikers guide to the galaxy’.
8. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
A friend of mine gifted me this book, and since then I have made almost all my close ones read it. Kahneman makes you think about your thinking and teaches us to differentiate between the quick and instinctive thinking and the slow and more logical one. Plus, it’s not every day that tips from an economist help you to know yourself better.
9. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
Like the subtitle says, Roach’s book makes a curious coupling of sex and all things scientific related to it. On behalf of you, this book both asks questions and finds the answers. Why in 20s, you ask? Well, isn’t that the time you venture out to know your sexuality most closely?
10. Wings of fire by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari
Dr. Abdul Kalam’s autobiography is a must read for every Indian, age no bar. But in your 20s, it is probably the most helpful.
11. Night by Elie Wiesel
We have all been there, especially in our 20s, in a situation where our faith in humanity and divinity slowly ebbs away into nothingness. Night is a chilling autobiographical tale of Wiesel when he was a prisoner at a Nazi concentration camp as a young boy. This is one of the books that captures both the high and low of humanity in its rawest nature.
12. The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
This perfectly beautiful book is a heaven between pages for utter cynics like me. This book teaches us to ask questions and encourages us to do more critical and skeptical thinking. Because, as Sagan puts it, science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.
Happy reading folks. Also, don’t forget to mention your favourite non-fiction books in the comments please, I’d love to read them. 🙂