Biographies, Lists, Non-fiction

The 5 Best Nonfiction Books I Read in My Twenties

My twenties were wonderful! It’s the time I loved best about my life! I felt absolutely free and felt like anything was possible for me. It was a time I traveled a lot and read a maximum of 2 books a month – I simply had no time for more reading! With so little reading, you think I would put a lot more effort into choosing my books…I didn’t. Sadly, no effort at all was spent for that.

That being said, what I have here is a list of what actually influenced me during this time: books I just got very lucky to stumble upon!

1. Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage

Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage by Richard Stengel, with a preface by Nelson Mandela

This book is the one that made me reflect on how I used to see things – always only black and white. It opened my eyes on how life is a lot more nuanced. The perspective I gained from seeing life through his eyes was invaluable.

Nelson Mandela actually wrote the preface to this book and this is his quote:

In Africa there is a concept known as ubuntu—the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.

“Mandela’s Way”, Richard Stengel

You can find the book on Goodreads here.

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2. Diary of a Genius

Diary of a Genius by Salvador Dali

This book was a fun read!

Salvador Dali is a surrealist painter whose originality and extravagance are legendary. His diary is eye opening regarding the confidence he had in himself and in his ideas. He viewed himself as superior to everyone and the fact that he had so little regard to other people’s opinions is what allowed him to create outrageous works of art.

He really seemed to live for scandal that one. However, there are other two things that impressed me:

The first one is his love for Gala: she simply can do no wrong. I find that endearing.

And second, is his many ideas. The way he thinks, the way he gets inspired and the way he matches unrelated ideas to create something unique is spectacular!

If you manage to get passed his ego which shines bright in his diary, I’m sure you’ll find something inspiring to learn from him.

You can find the book on Goodreads here.

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3. Screw It, Let’s Do It!

Screw It, Let’s Do It - Lessons in Life by Richard Branson

This autobiography by Richard Branson made me dare to do more and more things.

Richard Branson’s life is nothing short of amazing. What he achieved, his commitment to his business, his unconventional marketing, his understanding of his purpose – they are all wonderful.

His life is so, so close to the idea of “yes man”.

Reading this book gave me energy and enthusiasm to last me for two lifetimes!

You can find the book on Goodreads here.

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4. Lean In

Lean in - Sheryl Sandberg

My review at the time was:

“One of the best books I’ve read, full of great advice and shared experience. It is one of those books that, if read by many, has the potential to really influence and change our work place and view of careers. If understood and acknowledged, it’s a manifesto to help continue changes in our society and improve gender equality. I feel very strongly about it and really recommend this to anyone.”

I really stand by my words even now.

“Lean in” helped me see I was not assertive enough. It made me think on what I stand to lose if I don’t change, even a little.

You can find the book on Goodreads here.

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5. The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler.

This book aims to solve daily problems with reflection and meditation. The author is a psychologist that interviews the Dalai Lama, so the message is very clearly adapted to a western context.

The life lessons are simple and beautifully put to reflect Tibetan Buddhism principles. This is done in a way that a follower of any religion can use practically, with no real religion interference, so if something like that is stopping you from reading this book, don’t let it.

What this book thought me is to look inside whenever I have a choice to make. It was really, really beautiful and it gave me a serenity and good mood that lasted a long while. I still think of it from time to time.

The book can be found here on Goodreads.

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And… a Bonus Book:


Gandhi - Jose Freches

Unfortunately this French book is still not available in English. However, I need to mention it here because I was, for a while, obsessed with Gandhi. It was because of this book.

I really advise you to read any Gandhi biography because his story is fascinating!

The way he sticks to his principles throughout his life is inspiring. This man changed the destiny of an entire country with one act of resistance.

What personally impacted me in this book is his shyness. As a shy person myself, to understand that a cause big enough makes one forget his shyness altogether – this was life changing.

The book can be found on Goodreads here.

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The End

This was a short list, but all these books have inspired me so much! They have all impacted my life in different ways and have made me reflect more on what I want and how I want to live.

I hope you’ll find them as amazing as I did, if you choose to read them!

Have a wonderful day!

2 thoughts on “The 5 Best Nonfiction Books I Read in My Twenties”

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