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Books with Characters in Their 20s

Whether you found this list searching for 20-something main characters or as a participant in the Lifetime of Reading Challenge, we hope you’ll find a perfect read on our list of main characters in their 20s.

The Rocket Years

For most, your 20s are spent learning to be independent, gaining life skills, and answering fundamental questions about who you are and what you want to do with your life. This decade has recently been termed “the rocket years” because for many, the decisions made during your twenties set the trajectory for the next 40+ years of your life.

While no two experiences are the same, some common themes include college and job hunting, exploring relationships, and forming an identity independent from your parents’ or family expectations. The twenty-something experience now looks much different than it did in the past. While this was once the decade during which most people married and started a family, recent research data shows that 95% list a career as their most important objective for the decade from 20 to 30, prioritizing this goal before seeking a long-term relationship and having kids.

What Kind of Books Are on This List?

One of our main goals for the Lifetime of Reading challenge is to create understanding and reinforce an appreciation for those in different phases of life. As a result, in researching books to recommend for this month, we’ve focused primarily (but not exclusively) on contemporary stories that can help those of us with our 20s in the rearview mirror understand what it is to be twenty-something in today’s society, with its unique challenges, pressures, and opportunities.

We’ve curated a diverse list of recommended books with main characters in their 20s. These books show a wide range of life experiences during this decade of life, and the main characters in these books vary in race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, class, ability/disability, and more.

The Best Books With Characters in Their 20s

Other Books to Consider

If you are specifically interested in reading a book with a character in their twenties that is set in a different part of the world, we recommend taking a look at our Book Voyage reading lists, which are organized by region. Additionally, if you’re looking for a book that provides a historical perspective, our Decades Challenge reading lists, which cover the 1880s through the present, are a great place to start!

We hope you enjoyed this book list and found several books to add to your TBR (to be read list). If you’re choosing a book for our reading challenge, you are also welcome to read any other book that meets the challenge prompt.

If you have a suggestion for a book that you think would be a great addition to this list, please fill out this form.

You can read all about the Lifetime of Reading Challenge and sign up for a free printable challenge book tracker here.



Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.


Sunday 20th of February 2022

I was afraid that the list of books with 20 something characters would be too heavy in the romance category. What a pleasure to find several classics, some mysteries, and more than a few memoirs! Thanks again for a great list. Wherever the Road Leads, which was on the books that span multiple continents list in December, would be an enjoyable cross-over book. A memoir, the main characters are 28 and 29.

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