Turning 30 can be scary but, as someone who crossed that age threshold in the (very) recent past, I can say that things are pretty good on the other side. Of course any major milestone is better when celebrated in the company of books, and there are books to read before you turn 30 that will make the transition that much smoother.
Whether you’re picking up practical life knowledge or rounding out your education, these books can help you adult like never before. You’ll be able to handle things that your younger self could have only imagined. If you’re thinking about buying a home, restarting your career, or even finding a new passion, these books can help guide the way. They can also offer general insights into living well that are more important now than ever before.
Reading always helps me feel more confident and prepared for the major changes headed my way, and I hope these reads can help you feel the same way. And if you get to this list long before your 30s, you’ll just be that much more prepared for the realities of adulthood. Here’s to many more birthdays filled with great reads (and of course lots of cake).
1. To Live Well With Less
Feeling cluttered? If your life could use a bit of paring down and streamlining, then The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay can teach you how to pare down your possessions to free up time and space.
2. To Get Artsy
Has your creativity suffered a bit in the face of adult responsibility? Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon can show you how to embrace influences and not worry so much about originality. Stealing just ideas might be the thing that gets your creative juices flowing again.
3. To Travel Well
Christopher Elliott's How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler can help you become a globetrotting pro in no time. That vacation you've been putting off for years? Take it!
4. To Prep For Kids
The Baby Owner's Manual by Louis Borgenicht and Joe Borgenicht provides all the information (complete with schematic diagrams) that you need to operate your brand-new tiny human. It's the missing manual that every new parent has wished for.
5. To Master The Kitchen
Chances are, you already know your way around the kitchen. Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg's The Flavor Bible will show you how to take your skills to the next level with skilled seasoning techniques. Your evening dinners just got fancy (and super delicious).
6. To Negotiate Well
Nervous about asking for a raise? Negotiation Genius by Deepak Malhotra and Max Bazerman, executive education leaders from the Harvard Business School, will teach you to strategically negotiate like a pro.
7. To Break Free
The tiny house movement appeals to people who are interested in pursuing a simpler lifestyle, and Tiny House Living by Ryan Mitchell profiles these adorable houses and the people who call them home. Even if you aren't ready to live in a house smaller than most studio apartments, it's still fun to see how other people choose to live.
8. To Go Your Own Way
If you have a great idea for your own business but don't know where to start, then Chris Guillebeau's The $100 Startup can show you how to launch your own startup. You can also learn to turn these ideas into income.
9. To Start A New Career
Whether you're job-hunting in your regular field or pursuing something totally new, What Color Is Your Parachute? 2016 by Richard N. Bolles provides updated information on finding the best job for your own talents and training. It also includes tips on writing great resumes and conducting effective interviews.
10. To Save Like A Big Shot
How does the other half really live? It turns out most wealthy people aren't flaunting their money. Thomas J. Stanley's The Millionaire Next Door provides tips on living well within your means and saving richly.
11. To Get Fancy
It's probably been a while since you hosted any parties featuring kegs and red cups, and you can continue upping the fancy level with Picture Perfect Parties by Annette Joseph. With delicious recipes and easy centerpieces, you can make your next get-together an affair to remember.
12. To Dress Sharp
Stylist George Brescia makes a case for dressing well in Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life. The book advocates the use of clothing as a means of determining your perception and increasing confidence.
13. To Navigate Parenthood
Need a little humorous relief from your 24/7 job? Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler's Science of Parenthood offers a funny take on the weirdness and joys of raising kids.
14. To Be A Cat Guardian
On of the best parts of adulthood is the chance to pick out and care for your own pet. Think Like A Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett will teach you how to avoid basic cat health problems and create a great life for your furry friend.
15. To Be A Dog Person
If you're more of a dog person, Training The Best Dog Ever by Larry Kay will help you rise a well-mannered puppy. It relies on treats and praise instead of more negative methods.
16. To Grow Food
Even if you don't have a green thumb, taking some lessons from Brett L. Markham's Mini Farming can help you grow a lot of edibles in a small amount of space. You can learn the scientific side of gardening to create a super-efficient little farm of your own.
17. To Be Mature In Relationships
How To Be An Adult In Relationships by David Richo expresses the importance of maintaining a realistic approach to relationships by accepting others. This kind of change can result in more mature, loving relationships — because no one has time for unnecessary drama at this age.
18. To Get A Fresh Look
If you'd like to increase your art appreciation, then How to Look At A Painting by Francoise Barbe-Gall is a great place to start. Using some classics as a starting point, this book will teach you the tools to have a conversation with this visual medium.
19. To Watch Great Films
To keep your movie queue packed with great films, review The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. It covers everything from Hollywood blockbusters to amazing foreign films. You'll soon be able to discuss film with just about anyone.
20. To Read Well
You can learn to really dig in to a story with Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor. You can learn to read what the symbols in storytelling are really telling you.
21. To Settle Down
100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask by Ilyce R. Glink provides you with a blueprint for home ownership. This book covers everything from mortgage lending to potential environmental hazards.