I love reading, and since graduating from college in 2010, I’ve had more opportunities to read books “for pleasure” than ever before. Ironically, I’ve spent a great deal of that time reading books that I was required to read during my 17 years in school. It’s funny how things work out that way. I could probably title another post “Books I’ve read Since Graduating that I Should Have Read the First Time Around”.
The following five books, however, are resources that I find helpful in navigating life as a twenty-something, young professional, millennial, and newlywed. My hope is that if you check any of them out, they will help you too. In fact, I’d recommend these books to anyone interested in improving their personal finances, use of time, and relationships – no matter how old or young you are.
Imagine if Dave Ramsey had a prodigal son with similar ideas about money but a different delivery approach. Ramit Sethi sets out to renounce the “latte myth,” eliminating the notion that if you want to save money, you should quit going to Starbuck’s every day and put the money you would have spent on that Frappucino in a jar or something. We’ve all heard that before, right? Imagine the thousands of dollars you would save if you stopped drinking that one Frappucino every day for a year! The reality is, why would you do that if you like drinking Frappucinos? Financial peace is much bigger than that latte you’re enjoying and Ramit Sethi teaches you ways to get your personal finances in order and still do the things you like to do. By automating your budget, investing your money, even a little, and negotiating “like an Indian”, you can be well on your way to achieving your financial goals long before you thought you could. If you’ve just graduated and started bringing home a paycheck or if you need a personal finance check-up, I highly recommend reading this book and implementing Sethi’s suggestions.
If you only pick up one of the books on this list, make it the one that has sold more than 15 million copies since it was first released in 1937! Dale Carnegie beautifully illustrates the characteristics to strive for and the actions to take in order to win friends and influence people. I remember when I first started reading this book and didn’t realize it had been around for some time and was very well-known, I felt ridiculous reading something about winning friends and influencing people in public. I mean, shouldn’t I already be able to win friends and influence people by now? I quickly realized that this book has literally taught millions of people how to better leverage their personalities and character traits to influence those around them in a positive way. There is a reason that Dale Carnegie leadership courses live on even though he is no longer with us, and this book is where it all started. If you think self-help books are dumb but you secretly wish you had a better grasp on your relationships at work and in your community, give this book a try.
Number 3: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Likely the most well-known book on this list among millennials and young professionals, Gladwell seeks to show how small things can end up making a big difference. In this relatively short book, you’ll read about interesting relationships between teenage smoking, crime rates and the AIDs epidemic, to name a few. Of particular note to twenty-somethings, Gladwell uses Paul Revere as an example of a “connector,” someone who seems to know everyone and who can get things done quickly. An easy test to see if you’re a connector is to randomly list some surnames from a phone book and name anyone that you know that shares the surnames listed. Connectors can name between 90 and 110 people when challenged with this task, indicating how easy it is for them to have friends and acquaintances compared with others who can only name 20 or 30. If discussions about connectors and causal relationships stimulate your interest, go for the Tipping Point.
Number 4: Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
This book will only interest you if you’re a newlywed or nearlywed, but I put it on this list because I read a number of books about marriage in preparation for my own this past year and this was by far the best. Dr. Eggerichs attempts to make sense of something otherwise thought to be non-sensical: the difference between men and women. In his book, his premise is that a husband communicates with his wife in a different way than the wife communicates with her husband because the two perceive love in vastly different ways. Men crave respect in order to feel loved by their wives, while wives demand unconditional love to build a strong marriage. Failing to understand this simple truth makes for a “crazy cycle” as he defines it, where communication is poor because of a lack of understanding. If you think you’ve got women figured out and you’re a man, stop reading this blog and google “psychiatrist” and go see one. If you’re a woman and you know exactly what men are thinking at all times, do the same. Otherwise, read this book. I guarantee you and your spouse will thank me later.
Number 5: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
This thoughtful book was introduced to me the summer after my senior year of college while I was still finishing up two classes in order to receive my diploma. Gretchen Rubin sets out to do things in her life that simply make her happier and encourages readers to do the same. Examples include cleaning closets she hasn’t touched in years and subscribing to magazines that cover topics she doesn’t know anything about. She has turned her idea into an enterprise, penning a blog/website by the same name and sharing her thoughts as a leader on LinkedIn. She also released a sequel called Happier at Home that I have not read but would like to read in the near future. I appreciate her practical ideas for changing things up in her life and I think this book challenges the reader to think about scripts they’re using to keep them from doing interesting things, starting new hobbies and getting happier.
Have you read any of these books? What did I miss? What books do you recommend for getting a twenty-something off of their parent’s couch, out of debt and networking like a champ?