With the holidays just around the corner, life can get super busy. But for me, it seems like this weird juxtaposition of the busy holiday season and then lazy dead days for that time in-between Christmas and the New Year.
If you want to get a head start on plans for that time of the year, I love being able to catch up on some reading with my heated blanket (literally life-changing) and a good scented Winter candle.
This year, I’m rounding up my 4 favourite books and why you should also read them. These books are not just books I read and forgot about, they are ones that I quote and refer back to all of the time. And if you’re not into buying a lot of books (and the first book I describe will explain why that’s perfectly okay!) then I recommend borrowing them from the library or listening to an audio version. I personally love, with a passion, audiobooks. And if you’d like to try getting into it as well (don’t worry, this isn’t a sell on Audible), I’d recommend seeing if you’re local library has an audiobook app and version of it. I personally use OverDrive – an app to borrow audiobooks from my local libraries (I have more than one library membership to maximize my choices of course) and then they get downloaded onto my phone.
And the best part?! Once they are due, they are simply removed from my app so no worrying about late fees!
Anyways, before I dive into the book recommendations, I specifically chose books for 4 categories of adulting that I think are really important. These categories are finance, career, home, and creating a successful life. I think these categories are, its core, the basics of adulthood for a number of different reasons and these books have all played a really big importance on evaluating myself and continually growing and making changes for the better.
Let’s get started!
1. To Learn The Basics Of Adulthood:
The Financial Diet – Chelsea Fagan + Lauren Ver Hage
Like I’ve mentioned before, although I am not exclusively a personal finance blogger, it’s a big part of MLA because I strongly believe that being financially savvy and responsible is a huge part of growing up because it provides the foundations to almost everything in adulthood.
I’m a huge fan of all of The Financial Diet in all their channels – their website (I’ve written for them as well!), YouTube, and Instagram, but also they have a really wonderful book that came out earlier this year!
This book is a great and easy read that provides the introduction to all things finance. Just be aware that Chelsea and Lauren are American so the book focuses a lot about on U.S. financial systems and institutions but a lot of the general concepts about saving are still applicable to the Canadians such as when they talk about 401k retirements; Canada has similar systems in the CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) and RRSPs. Plus they don’t just cover the less-fun things like retirement, but also super fun things like cooking! Something I’m a super fan of.
My favourite part about the book is probably the interesting of the interesting guest interviews and the variety of topics they speak on. From career to decorating on a budget to retirement, it’s a really great and easy read with really nice graphic layouts so I do actually recommend reading the actual book as opposed to the audiobook.
2. To Organize Your Home:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
This title does not exaggerate. And there’s a strong chance you’ve either already heard of this book or heard it referenced because while there are things in society that tend to get over-hyped, this is not one of them. This book deserves all the attention it’s getting because it truly is life changing.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is essentially about decluttering and really, truly, does make you think about how the material possession we own affect our mental and physical well-being. This book truly opened up my mind to decluttering and the most popular take away from it is to ask yourself if an item brings you joy anymore. If it doesn’t Marie describes steps into letting it go.
My favourite step, and one I still use today all the time is when Marie Kondo talks about letting go of sentimental items. That chord struck me hard because that’s what I have the most difficulty with. Now, as Marie Kondo extensively explains in the book, if an item brings you joy, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping it. But that sweater you got as a gift, but never wear anymore/doesn’t even fit, the trinkets that people gave you here and there, the book you got as a birthday present and no longer have any interest in – these are all things you can let go of. Marie explains that you can thank items in your life before letting them go (which I actually don’t do) but she also recommends changing your mindset on how you view these items.
The thing that she said that really resonated with me was to think about how an item has served its purpose. Whenever I’ve received a gift, the purpose was to bring me joy, and I always remembered that it’s served its purpose. So when that sweater or item no longer fits, I don’t have to feel bad about donating it, because it’s fulfilled its purpose for me and now it’s going to move on to someone else.
This is one of the books that I read (or heard) as an audiobook and it was so inspiring. Although I don’t use all of her methods – like folding all of your clothes because I hate, with a passion (after my retail days), folding clothes, I had a lot of breakthroughs reading this book. I truly recommend it and have mentioned it in my Apartment Anti-Haul article!
3. For Your Career:
Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
I was a little late onto the bandwagon with Lean In because, to be honest, I didn’t know that much about Sheryl Sandberg and wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this “inspirational’ life story of what I assumed was a privileged white woman in Silicon Valley.
Boy was I wrong.
If you don’t know, Sheryl is currently (and has been for over 10 years) the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and before that, she worked for Google.
I loved this book. I’ve learned that a lot of memoir books are really just people talking about themselves, and there’s nothing truly wrong with that (that in fact, is what a memoir is). But Sheryl brings to a light a lot of issues as a woman working in Silicon Valley from a very genuine and relatable perspective that I think anyone can benefit from. Her book was extremely well written and went above and beyond of just talking about the details about her life – which she does do but in a sense where you can actually feel like you know her.
My favourite part of the book was when she talked about how she chose to go back to work after giving birth and how she does not all judge anyone that chooses not to do so. Sheryl is so genuine and open-minded in her book and she talked about how there’s no right and wrong in choosing to go back to work or staying at home with the kids. It doesn’t make you any less smart, it’s truly a personal choice for that person. The part that struck me the most is when she said that those choose to have a nanny or caretaker will most likely advance far more in their career, but they must be okay with when their child calls the nanny, “mommy.” And that hit hard. She outlines the pros and cons of both sides, and that each person must make the choice for themselves. I still think about this when I think about if/when I have kids one day.
There are so many gems in Sheryl’s book. I listened to this on audiobook as well and I felt like I knew her. She talks about her life in a relatable, authentic voice, always acknowledging her privilege and how she tries to uses it to help other women.
A truly great recommend when thinking about your career.
4. For that Quarter Life/Late Twenties Crisis:
The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is one of my all-time favourite authors. I’ve read and recommend all of her books including Happier At Home, and Better Than Before, but The Happiness Project is by far my favourite. I’ve actually bought multiple copies of it to give to my friends and I also own the French version of it to help me practice my French.
I recommend this book for anyone that is going through their quarter or late twenties crisis. Or maybe “crisis” is strong of a word, maybe if you’re just feeling lost with your goals or little confused on what the next step is.
This book doesn’t talk directly about business, career, or finances, but it talks about the most important underlying all of those topics, happiness. And that’s why I’ve been re-reading this book almost every year for the last 5 years.
In this book, Gretchen talks about how she spends one year attempting to make herself “happier.” Each month, she takes upon a different theme and tries different techniques based upon everything from scientific research, like how much sleep truly affects our mood, to the effects of money and how it can relate to money. She goes deep into the definition of happiness and experiments with strategies and systems and why they did or did not work for her. It’s absolutely mesmerizing.
I love this book because I feel like if Gretchen and I were to ever meet, we’d be instant friends. Her personality is a lot like mine, we are both Type A, very organized, and fascinated by human behavior and responses to situations. Like I mentioned before, her book is a mix of scientific research and her own experience, and I think that’s one of the reasons I really loved her book. I also like that her book is grounded in science as she refers back a lot to researchers who I used to study in when I minored in psychology in school.
I read this book every time I feel lost because it reminds me to constantly challenge myself in different ways and cut through all the social media noise of being a girlboss, and Instagram perfect, and rich, career driven person, that what I’m truly chasing in life is happiness. And that means something different to different people at different times. Every time I read this book, I get something different out of it, depending on my stage and view of life. Happiness at 21 means something different to me than happiness at 27 and that’s okay. As long what I’m chasing is happiness and not a particular career title or dollar amount in my bank account. I try to remind myself that whatever happens in life, if I’m happy, then I’ll be successful. And maybe that will be a high powered career one day, or maybe it’ll mean being a mom, wherever I end up, this book has taught me that happiness is the most important thing.
I actually think this book is quite underrated and not talked enough about in the world of personal development, as you can tell, it has taught me a lot. And while I’ve never actually pursued my own year-long happiness project, I do a mini-project every year to try challenge myself to improve in a small way every new year. So my happiness project is more like that school project that’s never quite finished.
So that’s my round-up of the best 4 books that every millennial should read as they approach adulthood. These books have all challenged me to open my mind and think about new concepts and ideas in meaningful and applicable ways and they are all written by kick-ass authors.