5 Books About Twenties Angst and Finding Your Way

Claire Handscombe

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If you're finding your twenties confusing and exhausting, you're not alone. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink, and hang out with these women who've been there, too.

Are We Nearly There Yet? by Lucy Vine

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Lucy Vine brings her signature wit to the story of Alice, who, about to turn 30 and not exactly winning at life, decides to go and find herself in Thailand. And if you enjoy this one, pre-order her next novel, Bad Choices, out in the US in September.

Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton

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Dolly Alderton was one half of the excellent and very popular podcast The High Low, which for four florious years covered news and culture (both high and low, hence the name). She’s also a successful journalist, but she didn’t always have her life together. This is the story of her somewhat wild 20s and how her friendships saved and helped redeem her. I’m never really sure about memoirs written by people younger than, say, 40, but this one is worth your time, in part because it has a really satisfying narrative arc – watching young, lost Dolly find her way and learn about what’s really important in life is very moving. It also has a fun structure: essays about various stages of her life are mixed with recipes, lists of what Dolly knew about love at different ages, satirical emails about the realities of being a young woman, and more. It’s firmly anchored in British culture but the themes are universal. By turns touching, sad, and funny, it’s really insightful and well written. Highly recommended.

The High Moments, by Sara-Ella Ozbek

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Pitched as being for fans of Fleabag and Girls, and a more sordid Devil Wears Prada, this novel follows Scarlett’s attempts to get out of her small town, move to London and “be someone”. Her internship at a fashion agency seems like one way to do this, but things quickly spiral out of her control. Sara-Ella Obzek has worked at Vogue and at a fashion agency, so you’ll get some authentic behind-the-scenes glimpses at the industry.

Living the Dream, by Lauren Berry

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If La La Land is the optimistic, American version of pursuing your dream, then this novel sounds like its cynical (or perhaps just realistic) British cousin, investigating what life looks like while you and your friend work a dead-end job and plug away at a popular blog that’s not earning you a penny… but at least you have each other.

The Wrong Knickers, by Bryony Gordon

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Not one to recommend to your mother-in-law, this one, but you probably could have guessed that from the title. This memoir of the small and not so small indignities of life in London as singleton in the author's 20s rang, in some place, very familiar. It would almost be uncomfortable if that wasn’t all so very long ago now.

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Claire Handscombe is a British writer who moved to Washington, DC, in 2012, ostensibly to study for an MFA in Creative Writing, but really, let’s be honest, because of an obsession with The West Wing. She is the host of the Brit Lit Podcast, a monthly show about news and views from UK books and publishing; the author of Unscripted, a novel about a young woman with a celebrity crush and a determined plan; and the editor of Walk With Us: How The West Wing Changed Our Lives.

Washington, DC
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