I recently published an article about the 75 best books for men to read. While that list is pretty exhaustive, and will have you busy reading for the next couple years. However, I wanted to put this list of books together to share with other guys in their 20s–because these books all had a big impact on me.
I think reading these books will help you level up as a man and can help you unlock new pathways to wealth and happiness.
Here are a list of books that I would recommend to any guys under 30, simply because they were very impactful on my life and mindset.
Top 10 Books for Men in Their 20s
10. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
I think that most guys at some point of early adulthood have a temptation to roam. To just drop everything and hit the road. I think this book is a cautionary tale, that although we can live vicariously through the main character Christopher McCandless, we also see his hard-headedness and ignorance.
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How Christopher Johnson McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
9. The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco
This book did a great job of helping me understand why entrepreneurship is so exciting to people. Working for an annual salary means you end up owning nothing, but you exchange your time and energy for a fixed amount of money.
However, when you start a business, you may have to work for free for years – but if you sell the business your energy could be compensated with far more than your salary would have equated to over that time. (And you own a business).
This book shares of MJ DeMarco leveraged an internet business to go from moving to a new city as a totally broke young man, and working his way to buy his dream car, a Lamborghini.
Since you were old enough to hold a job, you’ve been hoodwinked to believe that wealth can be created by blindly trusting in the uncontrollable and unpredictable markets: the housing market, the stock market, and the job market. I call this soul-sucking, dream-stealing dogma “The Slowlane” – an impotent financial gamble that dubiously promises wealth in a wheelchair.
Accept the Slowlane as your financial roadmap and your financial future will blow carelessly asunder on a sailboat of hope: hope you can get a job and keep it, hope the stock market doesn’t tank, hope the economy rebounds, hope, hope, and hope. Do you really want hope to be the centerpiece of your family’s financial plan?
Drive the Slowlane road and you will find your life deteriorate into a miserable exhibition about what you cannot do, versus what you can. For those who don’t want a lifetime subscription to “settle-for-less”, there is an alternative; an expressway to extraordinary wealth capable of burning a trail to financial independence faster than any road out there. And shockingly, this road has nothing to do with jobs, 401(k), mutual funds, or a lifestyle of mediocrity.
Demand more. Change lanes and find your explosive wealth accelerator. Hit the Fastlane, crack the code to wealth, and find out how to live rich for a lifetime.
8. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
If you’ve never been to Paris, read this book. If you have been to Paris, read this book.
This might be my favorite book of all time. I think it captures the essence of Paris almost perfectly, even if it’s a bit romanticized.
Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway’s most beloved works. It is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft.
It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.
7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill is one of the earliest “get rich gurus”, but this book is not just Hill spewing garbage advice. Think and Grow Rich helped me expand my mindset to understand that bigger things are possible for both myself anyone else who is will to shift their mindset in the right direction.
Think and Grow Rich is the number-one inspirational and motivational classic for individuals who are interested in furthering their lives and reaching their goals by learning from important figures in history. The text read in this audiobook is the original 1937 edition written by Napoleon Hill and inspired by Andrew Carnegie, and while it has often been reproduced, no updated version has ever been able to compete with the original. It has been used as a roadmap to achievement by countless individuals.
The 13 Steps to Riches described in this audiobook offer the shortest dependable philosophy of individual achievement ever presented for the benefit of the man or woman who is searching for a definite goal in life. It comes directly from the experiences of hundreds of America’s most successful men.
Hill interviewed 504 people, including Ford, Wrigley, Wanamaker, Eastman, Rockefeller, Edison, Woolworth, Darrow, Burbank, Morgan, Firestone, and three United States presidents. The process of conducting these interviews required an investment of 20 years of Napoleon Hill’s life.
6. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
I’m naturally quiet and shy person. However, this book equipped me with knowledge and actionable skills to have better conversations. The title of this book can sound kind of slimy, but in reality you aren’t tricking people into liking you – you’re just becoming more likable yourself.
If you’re a younger man and you want to enhance the connections you have with other people, I highly recommend this book.
For over 60 years the rock-solid, time-tested advice in this audiobook has carried thousands of now-famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.
With this truly phenomenal audiobook, learn:
- The six ways to make people like you
- The twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
- The nine ways to change people without arousing resentment
5. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
I’ve read this book a couple of times in the past 10 years. I get tempted to take a cross country trip every so often, and with this book I’ve kind of outsourced the experience to Steinbeck.
In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America, from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. Travels with Charley is animated by Steinbeck’s attention to the specific details of the natural world and his sense of how the lives of people are intimately connected to the rhythms of nature—to weather, geography, the cycles of the seasons. His keen ear for the transactions among people is evident, too, as he records the interests and obsessions that preoccupy the Americans he encounters along the way.
4. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
I recently finished this book in audio format. And while that certainly allowed me to extract the value from the book, I feel like I would have benefited more from working through this slowly and taking notes.
The craziest thing about this book is that it was first written nearly 2000 years ago, yet many of the lessons apply perfectly to modern life.
One of the most significant books ever written by a head of state, the Meditations are a collection of philosophical thoughts by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 ce). Covering issues such as duty, forgiveness, brotherhood, strength in adversity and the best way to approach life and death, the Meditations have inspired thinkers, poets and politicians since their first publication more than 500 years ago. Today, the book stands as one of the great guides and companions – a cornerstone of Western thought.
3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
When it comes to understanding money, this book gave me a new way to approach money and investing. Before I read this book I definitely had a more scarcity-focused mindset when it came to money, but this book opened my eyes that leverage and investing can make money abundantly available for whatever it is you’re doing.
The #1 personal finance book of all time… translated into dozens of languages and sold around the world.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad is Robert’s story of growing up with two dads – his real father and the father of his best friend, his rich dad – and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.
2. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
I love Ramit Sethi’s approach to living your “rich life”. This is more of a personal finance book than a book about how to invest or what to invest in. However, Sethi shares tips for how to use your money to live the best life you can possibly live. Spend money on what you love, eliminate what you don’t and your “rich life” may be much closer than you think.
Buy as many lattes as you want. Spend extravagantly on the things you love. Live your rich life instead of tracking every last expense with Ramit Sethi’s simple, powerful, and effective six-week program for gaining control over your finances.
This isn’t typical advice from a money expert. In this completely updated second edition, Ramit teaches you how to choose long-term investments and the right bank accounts. With his characteristic no-BS perspective, he shows how to squeeze every hidden benefit out of your credit cards. Crush debt and student loans. Learn the exact words to negotiate a raise. Set up an automatic payment system and get on with your life. Plus, new material on overcoming psychological barriers, love and money, new investments options, and real audience stories of how applying Ramit’s principles led to a rich life.
1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
This book had a substantial impact on my outlook on life, and my approach for dealing with stress and anxiety. I recommend this for all young men, even if you aren’t struggling right now. If at some point you find yourself dealing with difficult issues or hard times, this book may help.
In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be positive all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.
For decades we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F*ck positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f*cked, and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is – a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mind-set that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.
Manson makes the argument, backed by both academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited – “not everybody can be extraordinary; there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault”. Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.
Books About Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll
Look I get it. We all want to improve ourselves and get smarter, richer, healthier, and happier. However, sometimes we just need a break from the serious side of things to just read about some cool guys doing some absolutely crazy shit.
You don’t have to bore yourself with the books that your high school and college English teachers told you to read. If you’re into partying, I bet these books have some wild stories that will make your stories seem mundane.
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
This book actually helped to ignite my love for reading. I think I read this during my junior year of high school and it completely opened my eyes to what was out there for me to read.
This story is an autobiographical memoir about Bukowski’s years working for USPS. The books main character, Henry Chinaski, drunkenly drifts around spending time with different women here and there after quitting his job.
“It began as a mistake.” By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers.
This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski.
Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals by John LeFevre
John LeFevre is probably best known for his satirical Twitter account Goldman Sachs Elevator (@GSElevator). This book shares some crazy stories (and they’re true!) from LeFevre’s time working in finance in New York, London and Hong Kong.
Over the past three years, the notorious @GSElevator Twitter feed has offered a hilarious, shamelessly voyeuristic look into the real world of international finance. Hundreds of thousands followed the account, Goldman Sachs launched an internal investigation, and when the true identity of the man behind it all was revealed, it created a national media sensation – but that’s only part of the story.
Where @GSElevator captured the essence of the banking elite with curated jokes and submissions overheard by readers, Straight to Hell adds John LeFevre’s own story – an unapologetic and darkly funny account of a career as a globe-conquering investment banker spanning New York, London, and Hong Kong.
Straight to Hell pulls back the curtain on a world that is both hated and envied, taking listeners from the trading floors and roadshows to private planes and after-hours overindulgence. Full of shocking lawlessness, boyish antics, and win-at-all-costs schemes, this is the definitive take on the deviant, dysfunctional, and absolutely excessive world of finance.
Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author Hunter S. Thompson rocked the literary world with his mind-bending style of Gonzo journalism. First published in 1966, Hell’s Angels is Thompson’s up-close and personal look at the infamous motorcycle gang during the time when its moniker was most feared.