Not sure where your life is headed? Unsure which decisions are the right ones to make? Wondering if things could possibly get any more chaotic than they are now? Welcome to the roller coaster ride of reality checks that is your 20s.
While we can't give you directions on how to get through the "defining decade," we can recommend some autobiographical accounts of women who have been there, done that, and lived to write about it. Make room on your reading list, because here are 10 memoirs every 20-something woman should read.
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Yes Please by Amy Poehler
The title of this book pretty much sums up how we felt when first got wind that Amy Poehler was writing a book, with the exception of a few expletives and have a half dozen exclamation points. In this book the funny SNL veteran and Parks and Recreation star anecdotes and advice both humorous and heartfelt, including such quotable gems as:
"I think we should stop asking people in their twenties what they 'want to do' and start asking them what they don't want to do. Instead of asking students to 'declare their major' we should ask students to 'list what they will do anything to avoid.'"
"I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas."
Yes Please will make you laugh, maybe cry, and most definitely realize that you and Amy are kindred spirits destined to be BFFs if only her publicist would return your e-mails. Dammit, Cheryl, why won't you get back to us?
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Look, Tina Fey is practically a god among us. Whether you're a 20-something female, an aspiring comic, a stay-at-home dad, an amputee pirate with one leg, or the co-host of a Japanese game show, you should consider Bossypants your bible. In this book, the former SNL star and 30 Rock creator takes on her personal journey from late-in-life baby to virgin thespian to struggling artist to entertainment success to mother, all the while giving insights on motherhood, comedy, puberty (nature's comedy), women in the workforce, magazine photo shoots, and peeing in jars with men. Here's an excerpt of her take on body image:
"But I think the first real change in women's body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom--Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I'm totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes."
I'm Down by Mishna Wolff
More people have probably heard of comedian Marc Maron than they have his ex-wife, Mishna Wolff, which is real shame because this woman is talented. The writer and humorist who honed her skills at Upright Citizens Brigade and L.A.'s Sit N' Spin, uses it to recounts her early and late adolescence as somewhat displaced white girl with cornrows growing up in a predominately black neighborhood with a father who, incidentally, thinks he's black.
She tackles divorce, family, cultural identity, beauty, and friendships with an endearing wit and real life accounts that make you realize, no it's not just you, everyone's life is a little strange.
"It's dangerous to have an unloaded gun in the house," Dad said. "When you pick this gun up it better be loaded and you better be ready to use it."
Is Everyone Handing Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Whether you're a fan of Mindy Kaling or not, you can at least admit you've thought at least once, "Is everyone hanging out without me?" The former The Office actor and star / creator of the Mindy Project gives a funny, honest depiction of her dorky childhood, her post-graduate early 20s trying to make it as an entertainer in New York, and the struggles and truths she's come to face even as a successful adult.
In this book, Kaling's not attempting to be wise or insightful, she's just being herself. Her voice comes across strong and her opinions read both relatable and refreshingly entertaining.
"You should know I disagree with a lot of traditional advice. For instance, they say the best revenge is living well. I say it's acid in the face -- who will love them now?"
Some Girls by Jillian Lauren
Okay, maybe being in a harem isn't something that every 20-something girl can relate to, but it sure does make for an interesting read. While Jillian Lauren may lead an interesting life as a former stripper/escort/D-film actress turned mother, author, and wife of Weezer bass guitarist Scott Shriner, her early days started out just like any typical middle class American girl.
Some Girls documents the story of one girl coming into her own, exploring sexuality, independence, and the world and she opts for less traditional paths in life, ultimately landing her in the harem of Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei. Some Girls aims to challenge the ideas of gender roles and propriety, of what is right and what is expected for young women.
"I've always liked rooms where the party hasn't started yet. . . I love the feeling that anything could happen. After the party, when anything already has happened, there's usually the inevitable fact to face that anything wasn't all you'd hoped it to be."
Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
If you didn't appreciate Sarah Silverman already, her memoir should be a game-changer. Bedwetter follows the ups, downs, and in betweens of Silverman's life from childhood to adulthood, highlighting the moments that guided her to where she is now.
Bedwetter lends value to Silverman's groundbreaking style of comedy, noting the thoughts and people that shaped her humor. But it's not all laughs. Between wetting the bed well past a typical age and battling depression at the early age of 13, Silverman comes across as talented but vulnerable.
"My early trauma was a gift, it turned out, in a vocation where your best headspace is feeling that you have nothing to lose."
I Don't Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner
Julie Klausner doesn't care about your band, guys. She also doesn't care if you think she's a slut or if women are funny. In this somewhat edgy, and very much revealing memoir, Klausner recalls past flames, one-night stands, dating failures, STDs, and early sexual awakening. Filled with sharp pop-culture references, modern day philosophies on dating, and embarrassing bedroom tales that will make you feel good about your own life, Klausner's book has been described as "the girl version of High Fidelity."
"I took my cues from Piggy, chasing every would-be Kermit in my vicinity with porcine veracity and what I thought was feminine charm. I was agressive. I never went through a "boys are gross" phase - I'd find a crush and press my hoof to the gas pedal. I wasn't the girl who couldn't say no -- I was the one who wouldn't hear it."
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Alison Brosh
If you've ever been on the Internet, you probably already know Alison Brosh. But if you don't already own her book, you should probably get on that. Brosh brings her comedic illustrations, stories, and experiences to the printed page to discuss eclectic range topics including dogs, depression, cake, hot sauce, and growing. It's the literary win-win that pleases both your inner child and your aspiring adult.
"Most people can motivate themselves to do thing simply by knowing that those things need to be done. But not for me. For me, motivation is this horribly, scary game where I try to make myself do something while I actively avoid doing it. If I win, I have to do something I don't want to do. If I lose, I'm one step close to ruining my entire life."
I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee
One our favorite Daily Show correspondents wrote a book a few back and it was everything we hoped it could be in more. Samantha Bee's I Know I Am But What Are You is a collection essays that showcase Samantha Bee's ability to be simultaneously frank and silly, sweet but offensive, and self-deprecating while not really giving two shits what anyone thinks about her.
"For about nine years from the age of 3 until I was 12 or so, Jesus was totally my boyfriend. Not my flesh-and-blood boyfriend, of course, but for a pre-teen, it was close enough. I was a patient person; I knew that one day He would make Himself known to me and we would be able to actualize the throbbing Tiger Beat-style L-U-V we felt for each other."
Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham
Thanks to already establishing herself as a contemporary female voice in pop culture, Lena Dunham's debut book didn't need much pushing this fall. The 28-year old writer, actress, and producer best recognized for her HBO show, Girls, discusses the situations, challenges, and ideas that she and no doubt many other women have encountered in early adulthood -- everything from college to careers, boyfriends to body image.
"It's okay to ignore the dress code if you're an 'artist.' People will think you're operating on a higher plane and feel suddenly self-conscious."
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
This may sound like a book for the older ladies, but guess what, young women of America, chances are that one day you will be older ladies. As we speak, your metabolism is slowly packing up its bags and looking for one-way tickets on Travelocity. Which is why it wouldn't hurt to turn to the wise words of Nora Ephron. The late journalist, playwright, producer, really all-around literary talent uses her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, to discuss feminine trials and triumphs. From looks to love to making it to a certain age, Ephron's book gives readers a firsthand account of what to look forward to, what to watch out for, and what you should know now.
"Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four."