1. Read During a Big Life Change (Good or Bad)
Suggested Book: Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes — William Bridges
Transitions is a book I found as required reading in one of my graduate classes. I’m glad I was able to discover this book because it’s probably the most powerful one on the list. There are so many transitions going on at this stage; from leaving our parent’s houses, to graduations, to babies, to marriages, to loss of jobs and friends ,and even death and divorce. This book makes sense of those transitions, good or bad. Something about change makes us uneasy, even the good changes.
The book explains three major steps of transition; Endings, Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings. First is the Ending. Endings might sound negative, but they are really just beginnings in disguise. Everyone in a transition has the commonality that they are all ending something. If you get fired, it’s the end of your job. If you get married, it’s the end of your single life. Endings are new beginnings.
Next is the Neutral Zone where you are seeking solace and alone time to process your thoughts. The length of this step differs for each person, but it’s a very important step. The book makes note that you must at some point move on from the Neutral Zone to enter the New Beginning.
New Beginnings. This is the final step of your transition where you may begin to realize that new doors are opening up for you and most of the time for the better. You might have not reached this New Beginning had you never had your Ending.
This book is about embracing life for better or worse, and it lets you know that if you work through the steps of transition (whether you realize them or not), there is also going to be a New Beginning to look forward to. I found that idea to be quite comforting, and I’ll probably need to read this book again at some point.
The criticism of the book is that it may be a bit stuffy in some sections, and it talks a lot about divorce. Some of the content might be more for people a little later in their lives, but these are all things that are great to be aware of now.
2. Read to Get Over a Relationship that no Longer Works
Book Suggestion: It’s Called a Breakup because it’s Broken — Greg Behrendt & Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt
This book is similar to Transitions in the sense that it shows you how to understand and let go of something — but as the title suggests, it’s more specific to breakups. Breakups suck, but of course they are necessary in some instances. This book will help you get over every loser guy/girl that you are sticking around with because you don’t quite know how to let go.
This book is from the same writers, a married team, that wrote He’s Just Not That Into You. I like this book because it’s not some mushy archaic bullshit advice on how you should be living your life. The writer is a comedian and the book is funny. I don’t have any criticisms about this book. It will just make you feel better, even if you are the one doing the breaking up!
3. Read for a Cult Classic Kind of Mood
Book Suggestion: The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar isn’t a how to on anything, and some of you may wonder why I’m even encouraging you to read such a depressing book. It’s a semi-autobiographical book by a great, world-renowned poet. If you haven’t discovered this book in your angsty teen years, it’s time to read it now.
Published in the 60’s, the main character, Esther, is a writer moving to the big city who discovers she doesn’t want her life to be mundane. She feels like everyone in her life is pushing her towards this domestic lifestyle that she doesn’t want for herself, a very pertinent take on female empowerment for that time.
The book also delves into the mind of someone with emotional issues as the author, Sylvia Plath, was famously known for ending her own life. And there are a couple of shocking scenes in there that may scare virgins away from their first time. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t read it. The criticism I’d give is that it is quite depressing, but I will say that even though I first read this book years ago, something keeps drawing me back. Another good book this made me think of is Valley of the Dolls.
4. Read for Career Empowerment as a Female
Suggested Book: Lean In — Sheryl Sandberg
This is another book that was required reading in one of my graduate classes — my favorite book out of all of the required readings. Mostly because it’s such a good and fast read. As you may know, this book is really popular right now — especially within the blog community, as Sheryl does a lot of conferences.
Sheryl is the COO of Facebook, so it’s safe to say she knows what she’s talking about. This is a full blown guide on women empowerment in the workplace, focusing how the inequality between women and men needs to end. One of the points that stuck with me were when she talks about how women undervalue themselves, especially when negotiating. Men tend to over-negotiate and women tend to under-negotiate if they are negotiating at all.
She also isn’t just saying every homemaker or new mother should leave their children. She says that no one should pass judgement on another woman’s decision to stay home, but that having a successful career and children is possible, and that you just need to figure out how to make it work for you.
The criticisms I have are that Lean In is very much a brand instead of a movement. A lot of people love this book, but just as many people have given the book flac because Sheryl didn’t start from the bottom and she was a hell of a lot more “privileged” than many of the people trying to “Lean In”. Though I understand where people are coming from, I don’t believe you have to start from the bottom to be inspiring. I really like her message and I agree with so many of the points she makes about women needing to stop holding themselves back. Read it and make your own decision.
5. Read for Healthy Eating Tips (Not Dieting)
Suggested Book: Naturally Thin — Bethenny Frankel
This book is great for those not looking for a diet or quick fix. I can’t tell you how many times I see people on Facebook talking about their diets knowing damn well that diets don’t work. A healthy lifestyle is what works. I’m not a fan of The Real Housewives shows, but I can identify with Bethenny’s no nonsense and candid personality. She’s a healthy cook and she knows what she’s talking about.
One of the most popular healthy eating books is Skinny Bitch. I wanted to like that book, really, I did. But I had no idea that it was a vegan guide book in disguise. I didn’t like the fact that the authors were judging me and yelling at me to become vegan.
Whatever type of eater you are, Bethenny isn’t judging you, she’s telling you how to live a healthy lifestyle. She makes a lot of great points like eat natural, not low fat and you don’t have to deprive yourself, just don’t go overboard. Pretty common sense stuff actually.
My only criticism is that sometimes you just want to throw the book out of a window and eat a friggen brownie, like a whole brownie, not a few bites which she would suggest.
I’d like to know your thoughts if you’ve read any of these books. And if you care to chime in, what other books do you think should be read in your 20s?