Where are my book nerds at? This one’s for you! I know you guys might not have a ton of time in your busy schedule for reading, but seriously, it’s one of the best ways to improve your mind. These are my top picks for anyone who’s currently trying to figure out life in their 20s—or life at any age!
1. Relationship Goals: How to Win at Dating, Marriage, and Sex by Pastor Michael Todd
Hold up—don’t let the title scare you off. This is real, honest, biblical advice from an awesome pastor. Whether you’re already in a relationship or you’re flying solo and don’t want to date or settle down for a while, this book is fire. It’ll help you in the future, and it’s a great way to make sure you’re prepared!
In this book, Pastor Michael breaks down how to pursue your God-given desires for love and intimacy in a healthy way. He helps you steer clear of relationship problems, work through breakups, stay hopeful, and understand God’s purpose for marriage. Pretty dope, right?
2. Relational Intelligence: The People Skills You Need for the Life of Purpose You Want by Pastor Dharius Daniels
Sometimes, you have to take a hard look at the people you’ve let in your life and think about whether they’re tearing you down or helping you get closer to what God has for you. This book will help you look at those relationships in a whole new light. And we’re not just talking about romantic relationships—friends, mentors and anyone else who’s close to you is going to have some kind of influence on you.
Dharius Daniels does an awesome job of giving wisdom and discernment about having the right people in your life and being intentional about the company you keep.
3. Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
Y’all have probably heard me talk about my friend and mentor Dave Ramsey—and yes, I’m part of the team at Ramsey Solutions, but this isn’t a marketing strategy. Dave’s the real deal, and the advice in this book is the real deal. I know because it changed my life and got me out of a lot of financial trouble. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if I hadn’t gone through that.
So, if you want to win with your money and learn the basics of budgeting, saving, investing and staying the heck out of debt, read this book. It’s the best way to get your financial house in order, which is what you definitely want to be doing in your 20s.
4. Destroy Your Student Loan Debt: The Step-by-Step Plan to Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster by Anthony ONeal
What? How’d this one get in here? LOL.
Shameless plug aside, I wrote this book because I was getting so many questions from people who needed serious help paying off their student loans. I wanted to give them something quick and easy to read (which is why this is called a Quick Read) that would help motivate them and give them practical ways to attack their debt. If you feel like you’re drowning in student loan debt, know that you’re not alone. Give the strategies in here a try.
5. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
Do you struggle with forming and keeping good habits? We all do. But James Clear draws from neuroscience, biology, philosophy and psychology to help us improve a little bit at a time, every single day.
This book taught me how to fit new habits into my already jam-packed schedule, stay motivated with all types of goals, and actually change my thought patterns and environment to help me stay on track. It might sound complicated, but the book makes it simple and easy to understand!
6. To Hell With the Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World by Jefferson Bethke
Yes, I know there’s a cussword in the title. But this is actually a super edifying, valuable book about how to stay grounded and sane in our culture’s constant push to hustle and grind. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about working hard and challenging yourself. But if you’ve ever been exhausted and overwhelmed by what seems like a constant push to be better and do more, this book is perfect for you. It really helped me keep things in perspective and reminded me to slow down and breathe every once in a while.
7. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
It’s super easy to get distracted these days. We’ve got our social media, Google Calendar, emails and texts going 24/7. This book gives you some awesome techniques for focusing on the important work that needs to get done instead of the stuff that can wait.
The most surprising piece of advice? He says you should actually practice being bored. I won’t give away too much, but Cal Newport will show you how to do it and why it’s important for your mental focus.
8. Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want by Rachel Cruze
We all struggle with comparison in some way or another. It seems like we always measure ourselves against someone else’s job, relationship, family, Instagram followers, life—and it’s not healthy. My good friend Rachel is a voice of reason in the middle of all the comparison craziness. This book shows you the seven money habits you need to know as a young adult and breaks down how to be content and love your life for real (not just in a social media caption).
9. What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D.
Whether we like it or not, we talk to ourselves. And as it turns out, that inner conversation has a big impact on our mental health. Dr. Helmstetter gives you practical ways to stop the negative self-talk and start talking to yourself in new ways that will actually lift you up instead of making you feel weighed down. It’s cool to learn the science behind this, and reading this book and putting it into practice is a great way to take care of yourself.
10. Why Are We Yelling?: The Art of Productive Disagreement by Buster Benson
Man, I hate conflict. But it’s one of those things you can’t really avoid in life! So instead of trying to escape conflict, I’m learning how to deal with it in a healthy way—and that’s what this book is all about. It’s a huge relief to realize that you can have a disagreement without having a fight, and that differing viewpoints can actually lead to some amazing outcomes.
If you have a fear of conflict, this book will help you learn how to channel those disagreements into something positive that can lead to better relationships, problem-solving and even inspiration. When you take the yelling and slammed doors out of the equation, arguments get a whole lot less scary.
11. The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to a Career You Love by Ken Coleman
This is a must-read for young professionals! My boy Ken Coleman gives some really solid, practical advice on how to find a job you actually like. Because let’s be honest, nobody wants to be working some J-O-B they hate. People want to do work that makes them feel alive and excited, but sometimes it can be really hard to know where to look! This book will show you how to sidestep the typical fake, exhausting networking scene and build real connections that will get you where you want to go.
12. The Bible by God
Y’all knew this one had to be in here! I’m not going to try to write up some paragraph to try to convince you to read the Bible, because A) my own words can’t do it justice and B) you’ll get a lot more out of the Word when you want to read it for yourself—not when somebody else says you should. All I can say is this book (or 66 books, if we’re getting technical) has changed my life more than any other on this list. I would not be who I am today without it.
Listen, you guys: If you want more recommendations on stuff to read, watch and listen to during these crazy times we’re in, rock with me on social media or sign up for my email newsletter. I won’t spam you (for real), but I will drop some encouragement and motivation in your inbox when you need it!
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About Anthony ONeal
Since 2003, Anthony has helped hundreds of thousands of people make smart decisions with their money, relationships, and education. He’s a #1 national bestselling author of Debt-Free Degree and national bestselling author of The Graduate Survival Guide. He recently released Destroy Your Student Loan Debt. He travels the country spreading his encouraging message to help teens and young adults start their lives off right and people of all ages succeed with money. You can follow Anthony on YouTube and Instagram @AnthonyONeal and online at anthonyoneal.com or facebook.com/aoneal.