13 Books to Read Before You're 25

by Catherine Kovach
Side view of young female in casual clothes sitting on sofa and reading book
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So you’re turning 25. Trust me, it’s no big deal! There are a lot of things you don’t need to accomplish before you turn 25. That doesn’t stop it from being a strange age, perfectly situated between the wild 20s and the strange slowing down that is expected to happen when you turn 30. It’s the in-between stage, the Wartortle to your 20’s Squirtle and your 30’s Blastoise. Not a girl and yet not a woman…sort of. You’re a couple years out of the sweet oasis of freedom that was college. There a ton of things you should certainly own now, there are even more things you should probably think about now, but more importantly, there are a few books you should definitely read now.

These aren’t all how-to guides (although there are a few in there). Instead, these books are a distillation of all the mixed up feelings and fears of being the strange age of 25. Some of these books will make you nostalgic, will inspire you, and remind you of another time, but all of them put together will invoke the insane rainbow of feeling that comes with being at that age. Take a look at these 13 books and see if you feel the same.

1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

That place between 20 and 30 is a pretty awkward place, where the irrationality of one's teens and early twenties starts to fade as your brain settles down. The Bell Jar captures weird feelings of possibility, or choice, of being an adult, and wraps it all up in a tale of a talented woman who seems to have everything going for her, but ends up descending into madness instead.

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2. Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies by Hadley Freeman

College is over, and now it's time to start figuring out how to be a lady in a world that's no longer defined by what grade you are in. Covering topics like body image, dating, sexy, and feminism, this book will teach you a thing or two about how to be awesome as a modern lady.

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3. Bossypants by Tina Fey

At 25, you're going to be solidifying your dreams and goals, but at the same time they could feel so far away. What better way to find your inspiration for what to do than by reading this book from Liz Lemon herself, Tina Fey? Full of hilarious witticisms, this will be just what you need to light that fire in your belly.

4. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is a must read for anyone in their twenties. This series of hilarious essays focuses on anything from attempting to learn French to portraits of his family. Your mid-twenties are a time where you're striking out and really finding roots from outside your family, and these essays will remind you that it's still important.

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5. The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

Depending on how your life goes, you're going to probably feel a little nostalgic for the easier days of college (when all you had to worry about were finals!). If you read this dark and twisted story about a group of twenty-somethings attending a liberal arts college, you probably won't miss it that much anymore.

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6. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The concept of being a twenty-something has definitely started to shift, leaving the space between age 25 and 35 as a sort of "Lost Decade". If you're the kind of person who is considering taking a year abroad, you should check out this tale of drifting people and a love story that will never be.

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7. Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut

This was one of the most influential books on my mid-twenties. On February 13, 2001, a timequake occurred in New York City. In one horrible flash, the clock rewinds back to 1991, forcing people to relive the last ten years of their lives full of deja-vu and even less free will. If the same thing happened to you, how would you feel?

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8. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

This tale of four mothers and four daughters whose histories change depending on who is telling the story is a deep and tender study of the complication relationships that mothers and daughters often have. As you get older, the relationship between you and your mother will change, and this novel is a great way to put that in perspective.

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9. Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt

This memoir written by comedian Patton Oswalt is set between 1995 and 1999, and centers on his unshakable addiction to B-movies. It also follows his rise to fame from the underground comedy industry. The reason why this is an important book to read at the age of 25 is the fact that Oswalt discusses the concept of finding that unshakable sea change in your every day life, whether it's a movie that inspires you, a career path you find yourself on, or a special relationship.

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10. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

At the age of 25, we're all blossoming into the women we're supposed to be, but that also comes with a bit of responsibility. With these series of essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the culture of the last few years with a focus on feminism in culture. This call-to-arms will inspire you to do better, while also reminding you that the culture you consume influences who you are.

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11. The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis

This coming-of-age tale is about a pretentious and over-articulate man about to turn twenty named Charlie Highway, who on the night before his birthday looks back on the last three months where he's been romancing a woman named Rachel. The reason why this is an interesting novel to read before the age of 25 is the fact that Amis actually wrote it when it was 24. That in of itself is a bit of inspiration!

12. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kahling

In this first book written by Mindy Kahling, she takes us on a tour of her life and gives her own advice on various topics, such as what's the perfect amount of fame, what makes a great guy, and also what makes a best friend. Mindy is kind of like the girlfriends you'll at this age, the sort of girl you can dish with over brunch.

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13. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

If Mindy Kahling is your brunch friend, then Amy Poehler is your cool older sister, ready to guide you through the toughness of being in your mid-twenties. Amy presents a series of personal essays on sex, love, friendship, and parenthood. It's more than that though, this is a book that will give you the tools you need to properly navigate your mid-twenties and beyond.

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