The Most Life-Affirming Books For Women in Their 20s

Little Black Book
Little Black Book

It's been said that your 20s are both the best and hardest years of your life. As a now 26-year-old woman, I can confirm that to be true. Whether it's the university experience that has you questioning everything, the graduate job search that gets you down, or the struggle to figure out how on earth you're meant to balance your friendships, romantic relationships, social life, career ladder, and finances whilst also looking after yourself, your 20s are a decade full of questions — and in many cases, not a lot of answers.

Thankfully, we have the gift of women authors who have come before us and lived to tell the tale of their 20s. Women like Shonda Rhimes, who speak about the experience of Black women in the television and film industry, or Elizabeth Day, who remind women that it's OK to fail, and that sometimes it's actually your perceived failures that make you stronger.

Women like Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené have a place here too, as through their book Slay in Your Lane they explore the struggles of Black people through the ages, whether it be in the education system, the workplace, or the dating world — the struggles are real, and there are far too many. And that's not all; women like Sharan Dhaliwal who helps South Asian women to find themselves and Stefanie Sword-Williams too, who exist to remind us that being humble is not all that it's cut out to be, and that self-promotion can be a gateway to our success.

Read ahead for our picks of the top books for women in their 20s.

Burning My Roti by Sharan Dhaliwal
Sharan Dhaliwal

Burning My Roti by Sharan Dhaliwal

"Burning My Roti" comes from "Burnt Roti" magazine founder, Sharan Dhaliwal, who aims to dissect the pressures of South Asian culture on women, in relation to her own experiences. The book is a part memoir, part guide which covers issues around sexual and cultural identity, body hair and the suffocating beauty standards that surround it, alongside colourism, and mental health.

"Burning My Roti" is available from Blackwells.

What Would The Aunties Say by Anchal Seda
Anchal Seda

What Would The Aunties Say by Anchal Seda

"What Would The Aunties Say" is written by beauty influencer and content creator Anchal Seda, who also hosts a podcast of the same name. The book aims to delve into the South Asian experience of young women, and encourage readers to live their best lives regardless of the judgement they may face from family members.

"What Would The Aunties Say" is available from Waterstones.

What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri
Emma Dabiri

What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri

"What White People Can Do Next" is the follow-up book to "Don't Touch My Hair" by Emma Dabiri. The book draws on on years of Dabiri's research and personal experience in order to challenge the reader to create meaningful, lasting change.

"What White People Can Do Next" is available from World of Books.

F*ck Being Humble by Stefanie Sword-Williams
Stefanie Sword-Williams

F*ck Being Humble by Stefanie Sword-Williams

Self-promotion is not a dirty word. That's something that author Stefanie Sword-Williams believes so firmly, and as a result, she hopes to spread the word through her book, "F*ck Being Humble". Starting off as a platform where she runs workshops, courses, and training sessions, the book combines all her stellar advice into one perfect package, complete with extracts from Nicole Crentsil (founder of Black Girl Festival), Leyya Sattar and Roshni Goyate (founders of The Other Box), and Sereena Abbassi (head of culture and inclusion at M&C Saatchi).

F*ck Being Humble is available from Amazon

How to Break Up With Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo
Lauren Bravo

How to Break Up With Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo

For those of us struggling to break up with unnecessary clothes shopping, journalist Lauren Bravo has the answer. Her latest book, "How to Break Up With Fast Fashion", tells the story of how she quit buying fast fashion for an entire year, and how one lonely New Year's Eve with her ASOS app was the catalyst she needed to change her outlook for good. It's got great insight into the clothing and textile industry, inspired advice for how to keep old clothes feeling new, and a list of coping mechanisms for those times when you just can't help yourself.

"How to Break Up With Fast Fashion" is available from Waterstones.

Almost Adulting by Arden Rose
Arden Rose

Almost Adulting by Arden Rose

Another perfect coming-of-age read, this time from social media influencer and lifestyle vlogger Arden Rose. Exploring topics such as making friends on the internet who aren't going to harm you, flirting with someone in a way that makes them think you're cool, and being in healthy relationships in which you talk about your feelings, "Almost Adulting" is the perfect almost guide to your 20s.

"Almost Adulting" is available from Waterstones.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

"Year of Yes" is a novel from television producer and Shondaland creator Shonda Rhimes (you know, the powerhouse producer behind Bridgerton). It explores the concept of saying yes, especially when you really want to say no, and showcases the powerful opportunities that can come from doing so. Complete with heartwarming anecdotes and relatable stories, it's a hilarious read, and one that will undoubtedly inspire you to say yes to a little bit more in life.

"Year of Yes" is available from Amazon.

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Ren Eddo-Lodge

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

"Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race" is the debut novel from journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge. Described as "a charged and necessary wake-up call to pervasive, institutionalised racism" by Waterstones, the book is a result of the countless frustrations felt by Black people everywhere about the discussions surrounding race and racism in the UK. The book initially started off as a post on Eddo-Lodge's blog, but it quickly became one of the most talked-about releases of 2018.

"Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race" is available from Waterstones.

Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba
Otegha Uwagba

Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba

"Little Black Book" is the career toolkit for any woman in the working world, ever. A Sunday Times bestseller, the A5-size manual tells you everything you need to know about public speaking, maximising productivity, and even finding the best workspaces in and around London. Aside from nine super succinct chapters on finances, building your brand, and finding a healthy work-life balance, the book also features a very handy Q&A section, complete with quotes from Pandora Sykes, Piera Gelardi (cofounder of Refinery29), and Linsey Young (curator at Tate Britain).

"Little Black Book" is available from Waterstones.

The Skin Nerd by Jennifer Rock
Jennifer Rock

The Skin Nerd by Jennifer Rock

There comes a time in every woman's life when skin care becomes an incredibly important part of their daily routine. Whenever the time comes, this is the book to have on hand. A refreshingly simple explainer of all the factors that affect your skin — internal and external — Rock's guide to healthy skin tells you all you need to know about acids, exfoliators, and the differences between chemical and mineral SPF, whilst acting as a skin-care myth-buster in the process.

"The Skin Nerd" is available from Amazon.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Dolly Alderton

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Whether it's from listening to The High Low with Pandora Sykes or from reading this novel, most women in their 20s will have heard of the award-winning journalist Dolly Alderton. Her first book, "Everything I Know About Love", is a sneak peek into Alderton's life during her 20s and 30s. Full of embarrassing stories, hilarious anecdotes, and ways to cope during difficult times, it's a comforting read and a reminder that, no matter what it is you're going through, someone out there knows exactly how it feels.

"Everything I Know About Love" is available from Waterstones.

Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené
Yomi Adegoke

Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

"Slay in Your Lane"was one of the most powerful books of 2018. A revolutionary guide to what it means to be a Black woman in the United Kingdom — and self-described as the "Black Girl Bible" — it takes you through chapters on education, work, health, and dating with all the research and facts to back it up. Featuring quotes from the likes of Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, and Nicki Minaj and references from shows like "Dear White People" and "Chewing Gum", it's both a necessary and relevant read.

"Slay in Your Lane" is available from Waterstones.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Bernadine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

"Girl, Woman, Other" is Bernardine Evaristo's eighth novel and it follows the lives of 12 characters, mostly Black and British females, from varying generations and social classes. It explores themes like love, joy, and friendship from different perspectives through 12 chapters, which could each be short stories in their own right. A powerful read described by Waterstones as "a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood", it's definitely one to add to the list.

"Girl, Woman, Other" is available from Waterstones.

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
Elizabeth Day

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day

"How to Fail" is without a doubt one of the most brilliantly heartwarming books I have ever read. It's witty, it's relatable, it's happy, and it's sad, and there really is a chapter for everyone. From failing at school and work to failing at marriage, having babies, and being Gwyneth Paltrow, the book explores all aspects of our lives in which we could possibly experience failure, and then goes on to tell you all about why that is perfectly OK and that it's happened to everyone else too.

"How To Fail" is available from Amazon

The Insecure Girl's Handbook by Olivia Purvis
Olivia Purvis

The Insecure Girl's Handbook by Olivia Purvis

The Insecure Girl's Club was started by blogger Olivia Purvis as a way to empower and encourage women to talk openly about their insecurities. She then took extracts of stories from fellow club members from Instagram and, coupled with her own, released "The Insecure Girl's Handbook". The book takes you through six chapters about inner critics, body image, toxic friendships, imposter syndrome, and comparison, with each featuring an extract from an expert. It's a comforting read, and one that provides useful coping mechanisms for difficult thoughts, particularly through its "what we say versus what we should say" pages.

"The Insecure Girl's Handbook" is available from Amazon.