Melody Wilding

Being a twenty-something woman today can feel like a roller coaster: an up-and-down, overwhelming adventure in finding your dream job, navigating the dating scene and attempting to maintain friendships in the face of cross-country moves, marriages and babies.

You might feel — as many of us do — that you’ve been thrust into adulthood without a blueprint, suddenly waking up to the realization that all of your education and upbringing actually left you woefully unprepared for the “real world”.

The quarter-life crisis, usually ranging from college to our early thirties, is a stressful period filled with rampant self-doubt. If you’re grappling with uncertainty about what you want to do with your life, your purpose and your identity, here’s a few poignant reads that will pull you out of your twenty-something funk and cure your expectation hangover:

1. "The Defining Decade" by Meg Jay

If you feel like your twenties have thus far been a waste of time, this book is for you. A great deal of research points to the post-grad years as some of the most crucial for one's personal development (work, love, brain and body all included). Meg Jay helps put the kibosh on your post-grad apathy, rekindling a sense of urgency to use your time more wisely and providing a roadmap for making the most of your twenties.

2. "20 Something 20 Everything: A Quarter-life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction" by Christine Hassler

Many young women feel unsettled, and this anxiousness leads to renegotiating our position on what Christine Hassler calls the “Twenties Triangle”: Who am I? What do I want? And most importantly — how do I get it? This book was the first that caused me to realize I wasn’t alone in my quarter-life crisis; in fact, I was joining a generation of women who were encountering the same bewilderment as me. Christine encourages you to take responsibility for your life choices and shares down-to-earth, practical direction for liberating yourself from doubt.

3. "Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want" by Jenny Blake

It’s easy to forget about your aspirations and lofty plans amidst the realities of working to pay rent and get through the work week. Whether you’re just graduating, fresh out of college or have been in the workforce for a few years now, "Life After College" is an indispensable, inspirational guide for dreaming (and achieving) big. Jenny includes excellent coaching exercises that address every domain of life from work and money to home and organization.

4. "Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together" by Pam Slim

Millennials are making a name for themselves as a generation of “slash” careerists: entrepreneurial go-getters who often bounce from company to company or pursue multiple interests as side hustlers. However, many of my clients express that their ambition and multi-passionate nature makes them feel like they have a fractured, incohesive identity — that somehow they’re inadequate because they’re “not good” at any one thing. In "Body of Work," Pam Slim proves that having a diverse background is truly a gift, and shows you how to create a rock-solid personal story out of your rich experiences.

5. "Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers" by Lois P. Frankel

For most twenty-something women, establishing themselves in the workplace is a top priority, and unfortunately, being a nice girl doesn’t always translate to success. In this uber practical book, Lois Frankel shows you how to command respect, navigate office politics, negotiate for yourself and walk the fine line of being assertive without coming off as a pushover or alienating yourself as the office bully.

6. "I Will Teach You to Be Rich" by Ramit Sethi

Learning personal finance is one skill that’s glaringly missing from most education curricula. If you’re like me, you entered the professional world with little understanding for how to manage your money, precisely at a life stage when it’s critically important. After all, student loans are kicking in, it’s the time to be building credit and you’re being confronted with new words like “401k” and “IRA”. Ramit’s book is written for someone in your shoes — smart, tech savvy, and not willing to sacrifice things you love (like your daily latte) just to save a few bucks. Thanks to Ramit, I got my first credit card, set up a retirement account, automated my student loan payments and finally felt in control of my finances.

Now it’s your turn! What other books helped you through your quarter life crisis? Which of these books has impacted you the most?


Melody Wilding helps ambitious women and female entrepreneurs master their inner psychology for success and happiness. She teaches human behavior at The City University of New York and is a nationally recognized Master Coach who distills psychological insights into actionable career advice. Learn more at