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What are some essential books you recommend reading before the age of 20

Hi all,

I'm seeking books that will help me grow as a person and provide a different perspective to thinking about today's contentious issues.
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6 answers

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Dana’s Answer

Hi there! Here are some of my favourite books I've read so far (I am 22) that helped me grow:

📖 Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by by Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund
➡️ This book reshaped the way I view and understand the world.

📖 Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
➡️ Helped me understand why sleep is so important and how to sleep better

📖 Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
➡️ Awesome advice on how to build habits and stick to them

📖 How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
➡️ A classic self-development book, which contains helpful advice on how to maintain relationships, for example

Hope this helps and good luck! 💞

Dana recommends the following next steps:

If you enjoy reading, you can create a Goodreads account and have a to-read list and your read books list there. You can easily find similar books to read there!
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Malisa’s Answer

Hi Wei - What an amazing question! I would recommend (in no specific order).

- Dare to Lead by: Brenee Brown
- Girl, Wash Your Face by: Rachel Hollis
- Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by: Stephen Covey (the on-line content is easier to me than the book, but the foundations are key)
- Lean In by: Sheryl Sandberg
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by: Dale Carnegie
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by: James Clear
- The Greatest You by: Trent Shelton
- Boundaries by: Henry Cloud
The bulk of these are personal base focus for how to develop your skill sets. These will serve you as you grow in your life and career.
All the best.
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Lucie’s Answer

My favorite being The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho!
Talks about adventure and life choices. About the journey rather than the destination.

I also liked Why is everyone hanging out without me? ; My year with Eleanor ; Lean In ; Quiet.

Hope this helps,
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Miranda N.’s Answer

It is AMAZING that you are reading with this kind of intention at your age! The good news is, there are tons of books that will expand your worldview that are not:
- classics that are difficult to stand
- self-help books that are intended for people twice your age
- boring memoirs presenting ideas your generation knows inherently in ways that the generations before you did not

There are a few books, targeted at teens/young adult readers, that have shifted my worldview. These are books that I wish were around when I was your age, but I read them now and am just glad you and your peers will get to enjoy them. I think they'll be not only enjoyable for you, but exactly the mind-expanders you're looking for:
- FELIX EVER AFTER by Kacen Callender
- THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
- THE MAGIC FISH by Trung Le Nguyen (technically a graphic novel, but it's still reading!)

If you really want to challenge yourself, here are some books geared towards adults I recommend for widening your perspective. These are heavier--I highly encourage looking at content warnings ahead of time, as a few of these cover very difficult topics in more graphic detail.
- THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin
- MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- THE DEEP by Rivers Solomon
- BLACKFISH CITY by Sam J. Miller
- THE POPPY WAR by R.F. Kuang

Now, all that said...there are books in every genre that are "must-read" and will broaden your worldview. Don't limit yourself to just what the adults in your life recommend! If you know you like sci-fi, or romance, or westerns, seek out the must-reads in there, and look specifically for newer works, as these are more influenced by modern events. Most importantly, if you're looking for fresh perspectives, look for authors that aren't like you--authors of a different racial background, gender, generation, worldview. These books will push you outside of your comfort zone in the familiar territory of genres you enjoy.

Happy reading!
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Joshua’s Answer

Brenee Brown's book 'Dare to Lead'. We did it as leaders and it provided a good perspective on leadership and challenging you with growth.
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Nancy’s Answer

Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales - The author provides perspective on why some people survive difficult events and why some people don't.

Educated by Tara Westover - This is a memoir about a women who did not go to formal school until she was a teenager and then eventually graduated from Harvard University.

I second EDUCATED! A riveting narrative and some important truths about the vast dichotomies between rural and urban America. Miranda N. Benson