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3 Books That Will Change the Way You Think About Your 20s

There’s no denying that your 20s are some of the most formative years of your life, and are often considered by society as perhaps the most defining decade of them all. A time during which crossroads will come, dreams will manifest, and both heartaches and failures will play a crucial part of life, your 20s will shape and contour your character, harness your resilience and have an immeasurable effect on the way in which your future will unfold.

That being said, there is no wrong – or right – way to do your 20s. Some will marry; others will divorce, many will choose to travel the world and live beyond the constraints of what was once considered the norm.

Whichever path you chose to take, be it a dazzling career, a life lived out of a backpack, or the sort of domestic bliss many of us only ever dream of, there will be knocks and blows to navigate along the meandering way.

From a subtle yet memorable collection of essays about one woman’s thirteen years in the Big Apple, to a manifesto on the importance of failure, to a vibrant chorus of a book on living beyond the bounds of creative fear, here are 3 books that will change the way you think about your 20s.

Places I Stopped on the Way Home by Meg Fee

Whether you’re currently trying to negotiate the many trials of your 20s, or have now reached the age at which you might be looking back on them with a sense of nostalgia, Meg Fee’s beautiful memoir, Place I Stopped on the Way Home, is the book for you.

A love letter to New York, and an ode to the mess and grace of growing up, Places I Stopped on the Way Home is a prose-rich collection of essays that chart the ups and downs of Fee’s life in the city that never sleeps, from a bed-bug infested apartment shared with a friend who becomes a foe, to finding unexpected friendships and a real home in the heart of Harlem. She writes candidly about love, relationships and men, and her memoir is peppered with beautiful vignettes of failed romances that all readers will relate to.

Fee’s essays are beautifully written, rich with memorable prose, and wonderfully evocative. A book to savour and come back to time and time again, it's perfect for both reading in a single sitting, and dipping in and out of when the mood takes your fancy.

A tale about unsuitable apartments, unattainable men and menial jobs, Places I Stopped on the Way Home is the ultimate read for anyone who has ever felt alone.

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day

A poignant, powerful, and utterly readable manifesto on failure, How to Fail by Elizabeth Day is an unputdownable book inspired by Day’s much-loved podcast, How to Fail. Written with Day’s signature wit, warmth and honesty, How to Fail looks at everything from relationships, to career-defining moments, to university, having babies and much more besides, and is a much-needed memoir for anyone who has ever felt like a failure.

Full of inspiring anecdotes and actionable advice, How to Fail is a must-read for absolutely everyone, whatever their stage of life, and is both life-affirming, uplifting, rich with courage and filled with hope.

A brilliant book that I recommend to everyone, I love the wisdom she imparts from her father, who said: ‘Adventures do by definition involve risk, but not having an adventure means missing out on life, a far greater risk.’

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

A modern-day guru to readers all over the world, Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir, Eat Pray Love, is deemed by many as the sole reason for the influx of travellers looking for spiritual enlightenment descending in their droves on Bali’s rugged streets. And while it was her tale of travelling the world to heal her broken heart in the wake of the breakdown of her marriage that made her name so synonymous with accomplishment, it was Big Magic - her 2015 manifesto on living a creative life beyond the bounds of fear - that spoke to big dreamers everywhere.

Proof of a life that she’s dedicated to her vocation; in Big Magic Gilbert writes about the vows she took to write, the sacrifices she made to do so; and the endless rejections she received before being published. She offers advice and encouragement to would-be creatives – whatever their passion – and explores ways in which we should treat, hone and nurture our artistry.

Gilbert writes openly about fear; a notion many of us experience in our 20s and well beyond, and talks to it being the biggest obstacle to overcome in order to get where we want in life. Rather than living in fear of not finishing; in fear of not being perfect, in fear of never ‘making it’, Gilbert instructs her reader to set free the fear and simply do, a lesson many of us need to take heed of, whichever decade we’re in.

Enjoyed this? Here are 21 uplifting page-turners to add to your must-read list.

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