I don’t know about you, but I’m a giant bookworm. It’s not abnormal for me to be in the middle of three or four or seven books at a time. Reading is just SO much fun!! Am I right or am I right? Anyway, I regularly receive requests from friends for good books to read. My list could go on and on and on for hours, but for today, I have managed to narrow it down to seven books that I think you should read at least once in your twenties. These works, both fiction and nonfiction, are insightful, inspiring, and informative–aspects I find extremely important when searching for new books to read.
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Marina Keegan, a brilliant 22-year-old, died in a tragic car accident shortly after her gradation from Yale University several years ago. A high-achiever, she interned in Manhattan during the school year, wrote plays, short stories, essays, and she was working on a novel. The Opposite of Loneliness is a compilation of her fiction and nonfiction short stories put together by her parents and close professors. Her writing voice is so real and so raw. The book is named after an essay she wrote in the Yale Daily News for her fellow graduating seniors about navigating the confusing paths of adulthood and the real world and which memories she’ll hang onto after she leaves the halls of Yale.
1984 by George Orwell
In a post WWII world, the countries have divided into three supercontinents, Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. The government programs the citizens of Oceania into stupidity and ignorance. No one is trustworthy. This dystopian or negative utopian novel, is a disturbing, strong political essay. Don’t let the words “political” or “essay” turn you away from picking this book up. It’s so remarkable that I may need to read it again this year.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Leo Gursky is a lonely survivor of the Holocaust and a writer. Alma Singer is a 14-year-old girl trying to find love for her mother. The characters find themselves connected to one another in incomprehensible ways and through a book published after the war. Though many may believe that the concept of endless love has been discussed to its death, The History of Love weaves a beautiful narrative about a unique love that I can hardly put into words.
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Initially, Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 through the journal entries of Brian Ewing who contracts a rare illness aboard a ship from the Chatham Islands to California. It jumps to 1931 Belgium, where Robert Frobisher writes letters from the house of a renowned composer while attempting to be taken under his wing. In the 1970s, Luisa Rey is a journalist risking her life to unfold the story of corporate corruption. Next, Mitchell takes you to modern England where an aging man is betrayed by his brother and then onward to post-modern Korea where capitalism has reached its finest heights of dehumanization. The sixth story brings the narrative to Hawaii in a post-apocalyptic world. Mitchell weaves back through time to Brian Ewing, exposing the connection between the fates of his characters and their souls across time.
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
Santiago is shepherd in Spain with a severe case of wanderlust. The Alchemist tells the story of his journey from his homeland to Egyptian pyramids in search of treasure. Santiago embarks on a physical and spiritual journey to discover his Personal Legend. The characters he meets along the way teach him lessons and help him in his journey. Surprisingly simple, yet incredibly powerful, The Alchemist encourages everyone to pursue one’s innermost dreams.
No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering by Clara Bensen
After dipping her toes in the pond of online dating, Clara Bensen meets Jeff, a divorced college professor with no desire for boundaries and far-off obligations. He invites her on an adventure into Europe with him for three weeks shortly after they begin spending time together. There’s a catch though. They cannot bring any luggage. Clara and Jeff set off with their phones, wallets, and the clothes on their back with zero plans. They navigate the difficulties of modern dating and dealing with the question: Can you really travel without baggage?
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben
One day Gretchen asks herself a very important, and often ignored, question, “Am I happy?” Realizing the difference between feeling happy and content, she sets out to be a happier person. She embarks on a 12 month project, which she entitles, The Happiness Project. She focuses each month on a certain aspect of her life that she hopes to improve and throws herself wholeheartedly into her endeavor. This book made me want to do everything. I felt so inspired to start working toward all of the goals I let fall by the wayside on a daily basis.