Happy Monday, fellow book lovers! I hope you had a great weekend.
Today, I’m giving some recommendations on books with 20-something year-old protagonists! I often see people talking about how this is an age group not published about, which is false. These books are not as popular as YA, but they exist and they’re not really that hard to find.
But, if you are struggling to find some, here is a fairly long list of books with 20-ish year-old protagonists, in many different genres! I’ve given short little descriptions of the books and a few thoughts on them, but I’ve talked about most of these books at length, so I’ve also linked my reviews if you want more thoughts!
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya (contemporary): a cover artist covers and indie artist’s song, which goes viral. They become good friends, until one of them subtweets someone. This is such a fun and interesting book about friendship and online relationships and social media. It’s so good and so well-written, and I highly recommend it.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (contemporary, hints of romance but not really): a woman, Francis, has an affair with the husband of her friend. Francis and the other characters are so interesting and frustrating, but I was really rooting for them.
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (romance): this is pitched as a Muslim Pride and Prejudice, and while that isn’t a completely accurate description, it’s pretty good. I loved the characters and story in this book, and it’s so much fun and so funny.
Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo (romance): a Nigerian woman promises her dying father she’ll marry a Nigerian man, and as an adult, has a one-night-stand with a white man. It’s really sweet and fun, and just an all around good time. Definitely recommend if you’re a romance fan but you’re looking for something with a little more substance.
Kindred by Octavia Butler (sci-fi/historical fiction): a Black woman keeps getting pulled back into slave-era America. Definitely a lot of trigger warnings for racism and slavery etc. with this one, but if it seems like something you’d enjoy, I cannot recommend it enough. Butler’s writing is fantastic.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (classic): this book is about a depressed bitch being depressed. If you don’t like classics, I’d definitely recommend this one. The writing is really great, and Plath makes some really great points about women that still hold up today.
Bunny by Mona Awad (dark academia-esque): this book follows a Masters writing group and their odd rituals and friendship. It’s really weird and dark and twisty, so if you like those things, you’d like this.
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton (contemporary): a prime example of a Disaster Girl book, it follows two best friends, one of which is insanely wealthy and veery jealous and the other who is very poor and wants to stay on her friend’s good side. It is so good, I stayed up late the night before 8 job interviews to read it.
Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak (thriller): this is similar to Social Creature, but also looks at careers and career jealousy. If you want a book about friends trying to navigate a workplace, this is it. It’s super fun, dark, fast-paced, and action-packed. Highly recommend.
The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao (contemporary and thriller): this book follows two sisters, one of whom has just poisoned their entire family and the other who is the sole survivor and re-examining their relationship. It has so many turns and twists, and looks at family dynamics and pressures.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (fantastical short stories): this short story collection has several stories about women in their 20s, navigating early careers and new marriages and new familial pressures. It’s so good and the writing is incredible.
Hear the Wind Sing, and Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami (contemporary): these two books follow an unnamed narrator and his friend, the Rat, both of whom are struggling to find their identities as 18-20-somethings. Pinball, 1984 especially has the theme of not being able to find yourself, and it’s really fantastic.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (historical fiction): this is a fictional memoir-like book about a young Jewish woman living in Boston in the earlier 1900s. While it takes place over most of her life, the vast majority is focused on her later teenage and early adulthood years. I think this book is highly underrated in the online book community, and think more people should read it.
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (historical fiction): this book follows two sisters, Pearl and May, as they flee China and come to the US pre-WW2. It looks at sister dynamics and family and Chinese culture and being in America at that time, and it’s so good.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo (contemporary): this book documents Kim Jiyoung, a new mother, as she struggles with post-partum psychosis. It talks about sexism in Korea and the pressures on young women in the workforce, and balancing families and careers and dreams. I highly recommend it.
If you need more recommendations, here are some lists I found:
- Popsugar 2020 – Characters in Their 20s
- Best Characters Who Are In Their 20’s
- Books for the Twenty-Somethings
- New Adult/Books to read in College
- Books with Characters in Early 20s
Now go forth and read books about 20-somethings!
Thanks for reading!