I’m 25 years old. Here are 25 books to change your life in your 20s.

First, a pet peeve: A lot of bloggers will tell you that reading alone won’t change your life. They say things like, “You have to apply what you read!”

That sounds kinda preachy. I bet most of those hawking that advice aren’t very good at applying books either.

I argue that it’s okay not to apply most of what you read.

James Altucher (his Choose Yourself is a great book for the list) recently interviewed Stephen Dubner (his Freakonomics is a good book for the list) and asked him how much of a book he remembers after reading it. Dubner does a ton of research, and he wrote the Freakonomics books, so he should be pretty good at remembering stuff right?

Know what he said? 1–2%. He only remembers and uses 1–2% of any book he reads.

You’re not gonna be much different, and that’s ok.

If you only learn one thing from a book, then it was worthwhile to read it.

So when I give you my list of books, you don’t need to “apply everything you learn in order to change your life!” That’s a good way to get disappointed when you fail.

Instead, focus on getting one key takeaway from a book and letting the changes in your life gradually add up. Keep reading enough, and you’ll have new thoughts. New thoughts lead to a few new habits and new habits change lives.

These books have been important to me. I like them, maybe you will too. If not, that’s okay. Just read something.

My favorite book is: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Here are some other good books that I like and recommend.

  • A Farewell to Arms — Ernest Hemingway
  • A Walk in the Woods — Bill Bryson
  • The Four Hour Workweek — Tim Ferriss
  • Bird by Bird — Anne Lamott
  • The Prince — Machiavelli
  • The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao — Junot Diaz
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich — Ramit Sethi
  • Invisible Man — Ralph Ellison
  • High Fidelity — Nick Hornby
  • Cutting for Stone — Abraham Verghese
  • Ready Player One — Ernest Cline
  • Linchpin — Seth Godin
  • What Makes Sammy Run — Budd Schulberg
  • The War With the Newts — Karel Capek
  • The Things They Carried — Tim O’Brien
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay — Michael Chabon
  • Awaken the Giant Within — Tony Robbins
  • Kafka on the Shore — Haruki Murakami
  • Born Standing Up — Steve Martin
  • Open — Andre Agassi
  • Biography of Benjamin Franklin — Walter Isaacson
  • The Checklist Manifesto — Atul Gawande
  • Antifragile — Nassim Taleb
  • Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History — Ted Sorensen
  • Biography of Benjamin Franklin — Walter Isaacson

There’s more, but I’ll leave you with those.

You’ll notice a lot of fiction. I’m of the — somewhat unpopular — opinion that fiction can teach us as much as nonfiction, in addition to being more fun to read.

I hope one of these books helps you.

Mostly just read anything, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Join my insider’s list for the young and ambitious — I only email once a month.

Read my essays on What important things does a 20-year-old need to know about money and finance? and How to Get Your Dream Job.

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Top writer in Technology | Backend Web Developer | bennettgarner.com

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