13 Memoirs Every Millennial Women Should Read In Her 20s

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I love a good memoir. Something about sinking my teeth into the behind the scenes of someone else's life has always appealed to me. I believe there are certain memoirs to read in your 20s to help you navigate the ups and downs of adulthood. The mix of female memoirs below are both dark and humorous. Well mostly funny, since I think we all need a good laugh to get us through this decade.

13 Memoirs To Read In Your 20s:

Growing up as an only child with overly protective parents, I often found myself escaping into television and books. I love how they exported me from my relatively mundane life, into another realm.

1. Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas
smashed millennial women books to read

Okay, I know most other people would recommend “Drinking A Love Story” by Caroline Knapp, but for me Koren Zailckas does a much better job of tapping into what it truly felt like to start drinking in high school and see that play out into young adulthood. The book follows her journey from her first drink at 14 into young adulthood. She published the book at only 24 years old! This book was a gamer changer for me. I laughed, I cried, and I totally related to Koren in her memoir. It's a good reminder that friends need to stick together and look out for each other.

2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I loveeee Mindy Kaling. Seriously she just gets me. Her memoir is no different. It's more random musing about friendship than life per se, but a great beach read nonetheless.

3. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Sophia Amurouso's journey from homeless and dumpster diving to running a multi-million dollar company. A great reminder that dreams just don't happen, we have to work for them.

4. Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's “Learned” by Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham is basically an artistic, expressive genius in my eyes (#RIP Girls). Seriously, no one can quite capture the existential crises of our twenties like Dunham does. I loved learning more about her personal experiences in life. It's hilarious and wise beyond it's years.

5. Pretty Is What Changes: Impossible Choices, the Breast Cancer Gene, and How I Defied My Destiny by Jessica Queller

Ugh this book is riveting, heart wrenching, and a total page turner. Jessica Queller is a former writer for TV hits like Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Felicity, and more. In this book she shares the experience of losing her mother, discovering she is a carrier of the BRCA gene, and how that knowledge plays out in her life. I always knew about the different diseases and issues ashkenazi Jews (which I am) are susceptible too, but didn't know about this one. It was a great call to action to get myself checked out by the doctor and learn more about my family history.

6. Bossypants by Tina Fey

This book covers SO many stages of Tina Fey's life. It's literally laugh out loud hysterical (I would read it at the gym and almost fall off my elliptical!). Both wildly insightful and inspirational.

7. My Horizontal Life: A Collection Of One Night Stands by Chelsea Handler

Truthfully, anything by Chelsea Handler is the perfect summer read. Wildly funny, and easy to pick up and put down (most of her books are a collection of short stories). My Horizontal Life has always been a favorite of mine. So after that rough night out, pick it up and remember, at least you didn't do that. Also, her latest one, Life Will Be The Death Of Me, is fabulous and kind of different from her previous ones! It's a must read!!

8. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

As they say in the Gilmore Girls revival, “the book is more pure.” Nothing is more comforting in your twenties than reading about someone else hitting rock bottom then leaving it all behind to find themselves in nature.

9. “Orange Is The New Black” by Piper Kerman

I read this book back in 2010 and it spoke to my heart then. Put aside what you think about Piper Chapman in the Netflix version of this story, and remember that Piper Kerman is a real person. Who went to real prison. For a real crime. While the book and show have a lot of foundational concepts the same, they are also different (the show is more #drama). Kerman's story is a great reminder that the things we do in our youth, can impact us in ways we never thought possible.

10. Becoming by Michelle Obama

I mean, it's Michelle Obama, need I say more?

11. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

So I won't lie, I actually debated putting this on here; but a reader convinced me to. The book is definitely motivational, and not a traditional “memoir” while it does have loads of personal stories. It's more self help-y. My issue with it, is that it pushes the hustle mentality, which I don't agree with (more on that here). However, it is a good, thought provoking, motivational book that many women LOVE. She also has a sequel, which I haven't read, “Girl, Stop Apologizing.”

12. Educated by Tara Westover

I first heard about this book on Ellen and let me tell you, it's WELL worth the read! She grew up isolated from mainstream society in the mountains as the daughter to survivalists preparing for the world to end. She never stepped foot into a classroom until 17 years old. There's violence, seeking, and transformation. It looks at education and family dynamics and so much more.

13. The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

I love Tiffany Haddish. She shares her story from foster care, to sexual abuse and loads more, all with her comedic flare. It's like that phrase, “I laugh to keep from crying” coming to life.


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175 thoughts on “13 Memoirs Every Millennial Women Should Read In Her 20s”

  1. These are all really great suggestions!! I haven’t read BossyPants so maybe I’ll put that next on my list! Great list gf.
    xo, G

  2. I LOVE Tina Fey and I’ve been considering picking up her memoir for a while now, thanks for the nudge!

  3. I’m so glad that I’ve already read “Bossypants” and “Wild.” They were both amazing books! Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham’s are both on my list as well. Have you read Amy Poehler’s memoir? I highly recommend it!

    1. I havent whic his why its not on this list! Everyone says they love it though and its on my to-read list!

  4. Kristine Circenis

    I finished Tina Fey’s book in a day and it was every bit as hilarious as I wanted it to be. I JUST finished Wild and freaking loved it. It made me want to throw all of my things away and hike, great read!

  5. Great list! I’ve read a few of these, including Smashed, which I remember really appreciating back in the day. It wasn’t one that I identified with, necessarily, but I appreciated it just the same. I’m reserving a couple of these at the library (trying to get back into the library instead of buying every book I read). I’m especially interested in Pretty Is What Changes. I have a family history of breast cancer, including my mom. Everyone in my family has survived and it’s something they’ve gotten later in life. I haven’t been tested for the BRCA gene, but having watched my mom go through cancer, but it’s something that I considered doing and even without having been tested for that, I’ve definitely thought through what my family history means for me as I live my life, so that would be an interesting read.

    1. You’re the first one who else read Smashed! Happy to hear that it was still appreciated even without the personal connection. And I basically only go to the library! If check ebay and amazon to see if I can get it for under $4, but if not, library it is! – the book is really good IMO, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! I haven’t met anyone else who has read it other than my mom (who also loved it).

  6. I read Orange is the New Black back in 2010 too, and I absolutely LOVED it! It inspired me to take several criminal justice classes in college, as the book Gang Leader for a Day (HIGHLY recommended if you liked OITNB!) inspired me to add a double major in sociology to my psychology major. I’ve never watched the show because I’m worried that it won’t hold up to Piper Kerman’s personal account!

    1. Oh I have to read it!!! – Honestly, the show is REALLY good IMO! It obvi has teh TV drama aspect, but they held true to sharing womens stories of both injustice and adversity. and season 4 ended with a bang. I am so excited to start this new season!

  7. I have SO many books on my reading list for the summer and you just made it worse! hahahahah I really want to read the Girl Boss one, but heard so many conflicting opinions. I’ll just have to get it and make an opinion in my own! (:


    I need to read GirlBoss! I watched the show on Netflix but it would be interesting to actually read her words since the show didn’t necessarily paint her in the kindest light.

    1. I think the book is more positive than the show, since obviously shes a biased narrator – its more inspiring – the show i think is more realistic though based on things I’ve read/heard about her

  9. Great post, I”ve read a lot of these, but am adding the remainder to my GoodReads!

  10. I have yet to read so many of these sadly. I LOVED bossy pants (omg Tina is my souls sister)!

    If you loved Wild I really recommend “tiny beautiful things” which is a compilation by Cheryl Strayed from when she was an advice columnist. I blogged about it a few years ago in a rare book review for me. Anyway, she shares stories of her life and responds to gut wrenching questions from readers. It’s the ultimate “perspective” book, it was awesome and one of the best things I’ve ever read.

    Laura @ http://www.cookwineandthinker.com

    1. YASSS! Loved Bosspants! That’s on my list! I listened to a podcast with Cheryl Strayed and she convinced me to read it. It sounds even better than Wild!

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