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A Deep Exploration Into The 30 Best Books To Read In Your 30s

I have always been a big reader. From my childhood, to high school, to my twenties and thirties, I often read 50+ books per year hitting up to 100 one year! And, there are many more on my to-read list.

Reading for me is a way to relax but also a way to expand my knowledge, focus on personal growth, and improve myself. I love reading fiction but also find significant value in non-fiction.

One way I read more books every year is to do a mix of audio and physical books. Audiobooks are great for me while on walks or long car rides and I find non-fiction to be much more engaging this way. I also enjoy annotating paperback copies and revisiting impactful titles every few years or so to gain new insight and knowledge.

Here is a list of books which are classic favorites and newly published titles to help us as we go through this new decade in life. Even if you’re in your early 20s or your late 20s, these must-read books can also be a spring-board to other incredible books. Each description below is not just amazon’s synopsis but reflective summaries and personal notes.

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30 Books To Read In Your 30s

1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle

“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle is a true story and a self-help book that explores the author’s journey to self-discovery and liberation. Doyle shares her experiences of breaking free from societal expectations, embracing authenticity, and finding empowerment. This great book encourages readers to untame themselves, reject conformity, and live courageously true to their genuine selves.

I personally loved that she focused on self-empowerment, encouraging us all to stop listening to what others expect of us and trust the voices within us. I loved that this book reminded me to live my life for me and listen to my intuition.

2. You Are a Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero

two women holding up a Jen Sincero book

Jen Sincero shares her own unique perspective and hilarious anecdotes to help you uncover why you aren’t making the money you want to be making, and help you unlock your earning potential.

What I love about this book is that it’s a reminder that we are all the main characters in our own stories. I read this one every couple of years, especially when I feel uninspired financially.

3. Atomic Habits by James Clear

best books to read in your 30s

James Clear offers a framework for habit formation with practical strategies that teach you exactly how to form good habits, how you can break bad ones, and different ways you can master the tiny behaviors that will lead you to remarkable results for better success.

This book is extremely popular and I think it is worth reading. I found it most enjoyable on audiobook and took away a couple of nuggets of information that have helped my build better habits.

4. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle

“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual guide that emphasizes living in the present moment. Tolle explores the concept of ego, the importance of mindfulness, and the transformative impact of being fully present. The book advocates for finding inner peace and enlightenment by letting go of past regrets and future anxieties.

This book felt like a spiritual guide to living in the present moment and finding peace amidst the chaos of modern life.

5. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama is a compelling memoir that chronicles the everyday life of the former First Lady. Following the long way from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her experiences in the White House, Obama shares personal reflections, triumphs, and challenges. The book is a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and advocacy.

6. “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman

This book is a groundbreaking exploration of the two systems that shape human thought processes. Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, introduces System 1 and System 2—the fast, intuitive, and the slow, deliberate modes of thinking.

The book delves into cognitive biases, heuristics, and the different ways in which decision-making is influenced by these systems. Kahneman explores the psychology of judgment, decision-making, and behavioral economics, shedding light on the often irrational and systematic errors that affect human reasoning.

It has had a significant impact on understanding human cognition and decision-making processes in various fields, including economics and psychology. One can gain a lot of insight on the human identity and experience with this on their reading list.

7. How to Kill a City by P. E. Moskowitz

Independent journalist Peter Moskowitz explores gentrification and how it affects us as a neighborhood, city and a people. This is American history in the making and we are part of it.

This nonfiction book uncovers the systemic forces behind gentrification in four major cities in the U.S and how gentrification leads to the heart of America’s crises of race and inequality.

8. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Dr. Gary Chapman’s long-time best-seller The Five Love Languages is a guide to understanding how you and your loved ones show and receive love, helping to improve communication and all relationships throughout your adult life.

As far as nonfiction books go, I think this is one of those must-read books. It also helps lead to a happy marriage to know your love language.

9. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The real-life story of a 26-year old woman who treks the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail—all on her own. Her more than a thousand mile journey leads her to self-discovery, growth, and healing through physical pain and mental pain.

10. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

best books to read in your 30s

The term “ikigai” translates to “a reason for being” in English, and the book explores the concept of finding purpose, joy, and fulfillment in one’s life.

Drawing inspiration from the principles of longevity observed in the Japanese culture of Okinawa, the authors delve into the intersection of passion, vocation, profession, and mission—the elements that contribute to a meaningful and satisfying life. The book provides insights, anecdotes, and practical advice on discovering and aligning with one’s ikigai for overall well-being.

11. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Therapist Lori Gottlieb shares her experiences as a therapist who sees patients and her own therapist, and why talking to someone helps us examine the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others.

12. How to Listen and How to Be Heard: Inclusive Conversations at Work by Alissa Carpenter

best books to read in your 30s

“How to Listen and How to Be Heard” by Alissa Carpenter is a communication guide that offers practical strategies for improving listening skills and effective communication in various settings, including the workplace. Carpenter explores the importance of active listening, empathy, and understanding in fostering better relationships and collaborations.

The book addresses challenges in communication, provides actionable tips for navigating conversations, and emphasizes the significance of being heard in professional and personal interactions. Aimed at enhancing both listening and speaking abilities, Carpenter’s work serves as a resource for individuals seeking to build stronger connections and communicate more effectively.

13. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson

Written by a young man in his 30s, this is a counterintuitive guide to living a good life by focusing on what truly matters and letting go of societal expectations. Whether in the early years or later years of life this text applies to everyone.

14. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown challenges our beliefs about vulnerability and encourages her readers to embrace vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness. Dr. Brown has done some profound work in vulnerability and this is the perfect book for someone seeking their inner strength.

15. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo’s detailed guide to letting go of items that clutter your home and your life helps us find the calm and serenity that comes with releasing what is not yours to keep. You may find the best way to ask yourself some of the biggest questions about what you value in life through her writing.

16. The Kidult Handbook by Nicole Booz

best books to read in your 30s

A guide to connecting to your inner child through play, perfect for single adults and adults with children and everyone in between. With 160 ideas for activities to help you reconnect with your childhood, this book is a perfect way to practice creativity, get inspired, and find new motivation.

17. The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Ferriss’s guide shares his personal insight on leaving a $40K per year job with 80-hour weeks to making $40K per month with just 4 hours a week. He includes helpful step-by-step instructions for luxury lifestyle design.

18. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg

Option B combines Sheryl Sandberg’s personal insights with expert Adam Grant’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. She shares how resilience comes from within and that even after the most devastating events, it’s possible to still grow and find joy.

19. “Educated” by Tara Westover

A true story and great memoir about a woman who escapes a strict and abusive household in rural Idaho through education, exploring the transformative power of learning.

20. “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain

An exploration of introversion, challenging societal norms, and highlighting the strengths of quieter individuals. This may raise big questions about our perception of introverts and their role in this world.

21. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz

“The Four Agreements” is a spiritual and self-help book written by Don Miguel Ruiz. Published in 1997, the book draws on ancient Toltec wisdom and presents a code of conduct for achieving personal freedom and a more fulfilling life. The Four Agreements are simple yet profound principles that, when followed, can lead to a transformation in one’s perception and approach to life.

22. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

In “Attached,” Levine and Heller draw on attachment theory to explain different attachment styles—secure, anxious, and avoidant—and how these styles influence individuals in their romantic relationships. The book provides insights into why people behave the way they do in relationships, how attachment patterns are formed in early life, and how understanding these patterns can lead to healthier and more fulfilling connections with others.

The authors offer practical advice and strategies for individuals to better understand their own attachment style and the styles of their partners, ultimately aiming to help readers navigate the challenges of love and build stronger, more secure relationships.

23. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

This great book explores the phenomenon of how small changes or events can lead to a tipping point, causing a significant and often unexpected impact. Gladwell delves into various real-life examples and case studies to illustrate his points.

The main concepts explored in “The Tipping Point” include:

  1. The Law of the Few:
    • Gladwell discusses the idea that certain types of individuals, whom he calls “Connectors,” “Mavens,” and “Salesmen,” play crucial roles in the spread of ideas. These individuals have a disproportionate influence on social networks.
  2. The Stickiness Factor:
    • This concept refers to the specific qualities that make an idea or message memorable and “sticky” in people’s minds. Gladwell explores the factors that contribute to the lasting impact of certain ideas.
  3. The Power of Context:
    • Gladwell emphasizes the importance of the environment or context in shaping behavior. Small changes in the context can lead to a tipping point, affecting the way people think or act.

Gladwell uses examples ranging from the spread of diseases to the popularity of TV shows to illustrate how small, seemingly insignificant factors can trigger large-scale social change.

24. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

This book explores the intricate connections between trauma and the human body. Dr. van der Kolk, a leading psychiatrist, delves into the ways trauma affects the brain, mind, and body.

Drawing on scientific research and real-life stories, he examines the profound impact of traumatic experiences on mental and physical well-being.

This is the perfect book in how it advocates for holistic approaches to trauma healing, emphasizing the importance of understanding and addressing the body’s role in processing and recovering from traumatic events. It sheds light on innovative therapeutic methods that integrate neuroscience, psychology, and somatic practices for comprehensive healing.

25. Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl is a profound exploration of the human experience in the face of suffering. Based on his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, Frankl reflects on finding meaning and purpose in life, even in the midst of immense adversity.

The book discusses the psychological resilience that comes from having a sense of purpose and underscores the idea that individuals can endure almost any suffering if they can find meaning in their experiences. Frankl’s existential analysis has inspired readers to seek purpose and transcend personal challenges, making the book a timeless guide to finding a meaningful life.

26. How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen

“How Women Rise” by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith identifies common habits that may hinder women’s career advancement. The book provides insights and strategies to overcome these habits, empowering women to break barriers and achieve success in their professional lives. It focuses on practical advice for personal and leadership development.

27. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This classic self-help book offering timeless principles for effective interpersonal communication. Carnegie emphasizes building genuine relationships by understanding others’ perspectives, expressing appreciation, and avoiding criticism.

The book provides practical tips on enhancing social behavior skills, influencing people positively, and becoming a more likable and persuasive individual. Through anecdotes and examples, Carnegie’s insights encourage readers to prioritize empathy, kindness, and cooperation, creating a guide that has endured for decades as a foundational resource for personal and professional success.

28. On the Shortness of Life: Life Is Long if You Know How to Use It by Seneca

“On the Shortness of Life” by Seneca is a philosophical essay urging readers to reflect on the brevity of life and the importance of using our little time wisely.

Seneca contends that life is long if lived with purpose and mindfulness, critiquing those who squander time on trivial pursuits. He explores the value of philosophy, the pursuit of virtue, and the significance of focusing on meaningful pursuits.

Seneca’s timeless wisdom encourages readers to make the most of each moment, embrace purposeful living, and cultivate a deeper understanding of the true nature of time, offering insights that remain relevant for personal and philosophical contemplation.

29. Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence by Ben Carson

This is a motivational book that shares the author’s journey from a troubled youth to a renowned neurosurgeon. Carson imparts everyday life lessons on overcoming challenges, cultivating a positive mindset, and unlocking one’s full potential.

The book encourages readers to set ambitious goals, embrace discipline, and persevere through adversity. Carson emphasizes the importance of education, faith, and personal responsibility in achieving excellence. “Think Big” serves as an inspirational guide for people seeking to harness their abilities and achieve greatness in their personal and professional lives.

30. Turn to the Sun: Your Guide to Release Stress and Cultivate Better Health Through Nature by Brittany Gowan

Brittany is a wellness coach and the founder of Pause with Plants. In her book she shows us how to make mindfulness part of our daily routines to let go of daily distractions, how to get back to nature, how to be connected and grounded, as well as how to nourish your relationship with yourself.

The book includes affirmations, meditations, how-tos, and stunning botanical photography to show you how to reconnect with nature.

What have you read in your 30s that has been life-changing? Let me know!

About the Author

Nicole Booz is the founder of GenTwenty and GenThirty. She is an entrepreneur, author of The Kidult Handbook, and most importantly, Mama to two beautiful little boys. She loves reading, organizing her home, and living a simple, less toxic lifestyle. You've seen her in The New York Times, TIME, Insider, Inside Edition, New York Post, NextAdvisor, Forbes, Yahoo, HuffPost, and U.S. News & World Report.