Though not perhaps as much of a second adolescence as they’re advertised, your twenties do tend to provide fuel for hilarious sketches and Venn diagrams. Whether yours are (or were?) fascinating, exhilarating, excruciating, or simply cliché, you may wish to turn to these 20 books for guidance. Because asking your parents wouldn’t exactly count as “adulting.”
The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay
We’ve all heard some version of why our twenties are a throwaway decade in which nothing is obligatory and everything is possible. Clinical psychologist Meg Jay is here to say it ain’t so. The Defining Decade is a sobering kick in the pants for twenty-somethings putting their life on hold and an essential guide on how to turn them into the years that will get you where you want to be.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
F*ck! I’m in My Twenties by Emma Koenig
One such twenty-something staring sudden adulthood in the face is Emma Koenig. How does she cope? Composing a booklet of hilarious and painfully accurate illustrations, checklists and Venn diagrams that will make your peers turn every page with increasing incredulity at the self-recognition is not a bad start. “I’m volunteering at a Tamagotchi Pet Shelter,” is clearly the best answer anyone could give when asked why they’re not living “the dream” yet.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Record store owner Rob might be in his mid-thirties instead of his twenties, but his love life’s arrested development is timeless. Nick Hornby’s mid-nineties debut novel, and the male perspective romantic comedy it sprouted, remain a touchstone for the unmarried twenty-something… even if Tinder was back then still light years away.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
In 2012 Cheryl Strayed revealed she was Sugar, the frank and wise advice columnist drawing a loyal following to The Rumpus Web site every week. Her collection of columns Tiny Beautiful Things is a twenty-something’s bible: a book you’ll want to keep in the car for whenever you’re faced with life’s biggest quandaries. A deluge of “sweet peas” and “huneybuns” aside, Strayed employs radical honesty and full-hearted openness about her personal experiences to help you deal with the rough patches ahead.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Sugar also was – and is – Cheryl Strayed, the memoirist who’d sent droves of women up the Pacific Crest Trail to reflect on their lives after reading Wild. Skyrocketing sales of hiking boots in the tiny town of Campo, California are a testament to the inspirational power of Strayed’s healing journey. Read it for the revelations, even if you’re not planning on strapping on weather-beaten boots anytime soon.
The Circle by Dave Eggers
Most of us are intimately aware of the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook, Instagram and the like. In his riveting 2013 novel The Circle, Dave Eggers paints a less-than-rosy picture of what our collective obsession with likes could one day turn into. Hint: it’s not exactly positive… at all.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
There’s a long road ahead, and mulling over how in god’s name you’re supposed to go through it all could prompt a “crippling wave of existential dread” to kick in, something only the most cocky twenty-somethings aren’t familiar with. Long-time editor Anne Lamott recommends taking it “bird by bird,” or one step at a time, both in writing and in the general business of being human.
The Harry Potter booksby J.K. Rowling
Yes, we’re being serious. Honestly: it’s the series that made a generation of twenty-somethings into the readers they are today. If you’re one of those rare muggles who have been scratching their head at that word for years, it’s time to hop to it.
Stoner by John Williams
“Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.” Or so John Williams’ Stoner, half a century after it was first published, became a bestseller by letting younglings know that love is an act, rather than a privileged state of being.
Quiet by Susan Cain
If you’re an introverted twenty-something – there’s a handy quiz in the beginning of the book if you’re not sure – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking is required reading. With scientific arguments and a steady hand, Susan Cain swims upstream to point out how your natural inclination towards seriousness and quiet creativity can lead you to be more valuable than the loudest person in the room.
This is Water by David Foster Wallace
Written on the occasion of the only commencement speech he ever gave, David Foster Wallace’s This is Water makes crystal clear that the most important decision we all make is how to think about our world. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all make it a conscious one.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Not so much concerned with plot but all the more with mood and character, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road has become the most famed example of the Beat Generation’s literary style. Over four extended journeys, Kerouac’s alter-ego Sal goes on the nomadic soul-search every ticklish person in their twenties contemplates at one point or other, whether or not that includes psychedelic trips to the Mexican desert.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
In the same camp of the Lost Boy travel narrative we find Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Published in 1926 and fiercely emblematic of the roaring twenties, the roman à clef follows the exploits of wounded war vet Jake Barnes and his group of American and British expat friends in Paris and Spain.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Allie Brosh’s cartoon-illustrated memoir is about as witty, chaotic and honest as its full title suggests – Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. Inspired by the writer’s Paint-rich blog, it’s a read you can easily finish in one sitting and start riffling back through, not just for the laughs and the poorly drawn figures, but for the surprisingly poignant passages on depression.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Memory is a tricky thing, as the retired Tony Webster is forced to concede when the appearance of an old friend’s diary shakes his sense of self to the core. Low-key yet suspenseful, the Man Booker-awarded The Sense of an Ending impresses upon us the feeling that by our sixties, the story of our life might not be quite the one we tell ourselves near the end. Better start taking notes now.
How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture and the Art of Drinking Well by Eric Felten
Because if you’re going to make it through your first grown-up decade, you better get into its upsides as well. Eric Felten mixes up essential cocktail recipes with exciting historic tidbits about booze — did you know that Teddy Roosevelt enjoyed the occasional fresh mint julep?
Lean in for Graduates by Cheryl Sandberg
If there’s ever a time to learn how to lean in at work Cheryl Sandberg-style, it’s in your early and mid-twenties. A year after she published the book that sparked a national dialogue about how women can get ahead in the workplace, the Facebook COO came back with Lean in for Graduates—six extra chapters by experts and a revised text detailing how to get that first job, how to negotiate your salary, and how to listen to your inner voice at the office.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
One to read in college or when those years of expanding views still come fresh to mind, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History combines the best of the murder mystery and the campus novel. Pervaded with Greek myths, philosophy, and classic linguistics in both content and form, Tartt takes her readers into the bubble of an elite clique of young intellectuals about to take their Hellenophilia a tad too far.
Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
In Birds of America, Lorrie Moore offers the reader vignettes of domesticated lives caught up in crisis. Stringing together twelve short stories with sharp-witted female protagonists, Moore has been a guiding light for aspiring young writers since the 90s. People Like That Are the Only People Here is an especially heart-wrenching, meta-hammer of a story.
Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens
Who better to talk to young nonconformists about their purpose than literary contrarian granddaddy Christopher Hitchens. Written as a response to a challenge from his New School students, the outspoken essayist uses Letters to a Young Contrarian to delve into behaviors that all mavericks could stand to adopt. Consider seeking “argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.