If you’re looking for the top books for men in their 20s, you’ve come to the right place! Here are some life-changing books to read in your 20s – from philosophy to self-development to relationships and more, this is your one-stop for life-altering books.
Reading may seem archaic in the day and age of podcasts and audiobooks, but nothing can beat sitting down with a book and reading with your perfectly capable (hopefully) eyes. We decided to compile a list of what we think to be the definitive Top 9 Impactful Books for Men in Their 20s.
This list will comprise of books covering many different topics – self-development, professional growth, philosophy, relationships, mental health, personal finance, and more. These are books that many of us at The Gentleman’s Playbook personally read in our 20s that made a difference; many are well-renowned for the impact they’ve had on people’s lives.
Let’s dive in:
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
A classic in the personal development space, How to Win Friends and Influence People is a timeless book that breaks down the different tactics one can use to make friends and influence just about anybody. Don’t take the word “Influence” in the title in the wrong context though – this book is not about manipulation, but more so about the enhancement of interpersonal relationships.
How to Win Friends gives actionable advice on how you can adjust your behavior to be more likable, approachable, and somebody that people are naturally drawn to. This book is largely regarded as one of the most essential books for men in their 20s. I’ve implemented many of the principles in my own life since I read the book at 20 years old and it has helped me advance my career, sell freelance services, and make lifelong friends with many people.
If you want a book that’s going to help you learn how to be more likable, friendly, and socially skilled, this is the book for you. It’s like the Holy Grail of personal development field guides. I read this book every few years just to keep the methodology fresh on my mind – you can seriously begin to immediately implement the methods outlined in the book with tactile social results. Great for professional, personal, and interpersonal development.
Man Enough by Justin Baldoni
Justin Baldoni’s Man Enough dives into some of the deepest and most raw aspects of the masculine experience.
From sharing honest accounts of the author’s experiences with masculinity as a child all the way into adulthood, Baldoni encapsulates some of the darkest parts of manhood.
The goal of the book is to break down the barriers between our brains and our hearts that society has placed on us as men. It evaluates and provides definitions and counter-mechanisms to toxic masculinity.
In contrast to most male-targeted self-help books, Man Enough asks you why it’s wrong to cry, why it’s wrong to listen to your heart…and in reading, you’re left without a valid response to that question – nothing is wrong with men being in touch with their emotions, their desires, their pains.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now is classified commonly as a “new age” spiritual book, but even if you’re not a spiritual person, there are many mindset and perspective shifts you can benefit from in reading the book.
The primary goal is to teach you how to bring yourself from thinking about the past and worrying about the future, and bring your self into the Now. The “Now” is the full sensory experience of being fully conscious in the present moment. From paying attention to the feeling of water when washing your hands, to the smell of that steak you’re cooking on the grill, the idea is to equip us with the tools needed to separate from the idea of self and to experience life as it happens.
The book does a great job of balancing practicality with the practice of mindfulness; of course, you have to think about the future or the past throughout your life, but you don’t have to live in it. Live in the Now. Master your emotions and separate yourself from your worst impulses. That’s what The Power of Now can do for you.
Illusions by Richard Bach
Richard Bach’s book, Illusions is a small pocket-sized novella that can easily be read in one sitting, though you’d be doing yourself a disservice in reading it like that. Each short chapter is packed full of wisdom on what the meaning behind life is and how we as humans navigate and discover that meaning.
The protagonist of this short novel meets a Midwestern modern messiah who passes on lessons about the purpose of life. The messiah demonstrates that what we perceive as reality is merely an illusion of perception. We don’t want to give away too much, as this is truly a special book. Let yourself get lost in its pages and look inward.
Illusions ultimately finds a way to teach you how the limitations you feel in your life are all a construct of your own perception…an illusion you created that defines what reality is. Bach takes that and teaches you that you can wear any lens you want to make reality look and feel however you’d like.
Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover
So far we’ve talked a lot about books that are impactful spiritually and philosophically – now, let’s start talking about money, money, money! The first stop on your journey to mastering personal finance – Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.
Dave Ramsey can be a little…extreme…with his financial views. For example, he parrots the idea that you shouldn’t buy a car unless you have cash on hand to buy it, in order to avoid debt. While that sounds great in theory, most aren’t in this position.
Despite this, Total Money Makeover is a great blueprint to follow when you aren’t sure what to do with your money. It teaches you the order of operation for saving an emergency fund (and how much to save), how and in what order you should pay debts down, how you should approach retirement at a basic level, and how you can free yourself from the debt system over time.
We find ourselves coming back to this book frequently when we aren’t sure what the next financial move is, and it’s done a lot to help us break free of the debt cycle and be on track for a wealthy future.
The Sell by Fredrik Eklund
The Sell is a book penned by Fredrik Eklund, a high-ticket Swedish real estate agent operating out of New York City. The book details his journey into the real estate world, but focuses heavily on how certain behaviors, mindsets, and practices can help you sell just about anything. The “sell” he speaks of throughout the book isn’t just products – it also teaches you how to sell yourself.
The principles and guidance outlined is a great way to build your professional rapport, pursue promotions, and bring more value to your life. It feels similar to a modernized How to Win Friends, except the focus is more on how you can lean into your true self to your advantage.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
When you spend any amount of time searching on Reddit or any other internet forum in search of the answer for the meaning of life, you’re bound to run across references to Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl.
This book recounts the experiences Frankl had during his time as a Jewish man in Nazi concentration camps. He details the brutal conditions with a focus on the spiritual side of life in a concentration camp – he takes us on his journey and shows how even in the harshest of conditions, man is capable of still finding meaning in life. Ultimately, meaning in suffering.
The book is split into two parts. The first part is a retelling of Frankl’s days in the concentration camps as a doctor. The second part dives into a type of therapy developed by Frankl known as “logotherapy.”
By learning about Frankl’s brutal experiences in concentration camps, we are able to see how logotherapy developed. Then, Frankl teaches us how to apply logotherapy to our own lives in order to find meaning, no matter how challenging our circumstances may be. Your first true decade as an adult can be confusing and wrought with a sense of aimless purpose – this book helps reframe that outlook, making it a must when it comes to books for men in their 20s.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
Be ready to digest this book in chunks. The Body Keeps the Score dives deep into how trauma impacts the human body and psyche. At a baseline, it touches on how your neurological systems are impacted by events throughout your life, how that impacts your behavior years later, and how you can begin to tackle and overcome that trauma.
The author uses real studies performed throughout his career to teach the reader what trauma is, how it occurs, what it does to the body, and ultimately, what we can do to begin to heal. This is a tough read. It may trigger your trauma if you are holding any, but it’s worth the difficulty to extract the high value the book provides.
In the book, you’ll read about stories from victims of PTSD, emotional and physical abuse, and more – you’ll learn how their bodies change as a result of trauma when compared to non-traumatized individuals.
This book was personally recommended to me by my therapist – it’s a fundamental read for anybody who struggles with mental health, trauma, or mental illness. Your 20s is a confusing time and this book is a great way to navigate that time, making it a top contender for our list of books for men in their 20s.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
If you’re in your 20s and constantly torn between knowing what you should be doing and doing the opposite of that, then Atomic Habits may be just the right book for you. This book is the field guide on developing and sustaining habits that are not just impactful, but long lasting. It teaches you the science behind how we develop habits and argues that progress is made in smaller, daily habits that explode into something atomic.
The author, James Clear, discusses concepts such as exponentiation and how they apply to habits. He teaches how to approach goals and how to actually start doing the things you’ve been avoiding. Not only that, Atomic Habits also gives actionable steps on how to break bad habits such as overeating, smoking, or any other addictive behaviors that hold you back from your true goals.
Combine the step-by-step approach Clear outlines with a concept such as the X-Effect, and you’ll be conquering your habits in no time. We actually used the guidelines from Atomic Habits in conjunction with the X-Effect to increase our productivity at work, on our blogs, and with our home lives.
Start Reading these Books for Men in their 20s!
That’s our breakdown of some of the best books for men in their 20s! We have read all of these books and elected them as some of the most impactful, life-changing books to read in your 20s. The Gentleman’s Playbook will continue to provide more breakdowns such as these, so make sure to bookmark our site and come back frequently to check for new men’s reading lists!