The Best Books Every Woman Should Read In Her 20s
Everyone says your 20s are a time for learning more about yourself, the world, and your place in it. It’s a decade of navigating new jobs, new cities, new relationships — and coming to terms with what’s come before. With that in mind, this list of the best books to read in your 20s gathers stories that delve into everything that’s tumultuous, mundane, and magical about these years with books that offer practical lessons you’ll be grateful to have for years to come.
Disclaimer: These books have been picked based on personal preference and recommendations.
The Joys Of Motherhood - Buchi Emecheta
This story is centered on a Nigerian woman struggling in a sexist society to fulfill her roles as a woman. Set in two parts of Nigeria, rural Ibuza, where traditional values and lifestyles were maintained and the urban Lagos, the story follows the life of a woman struggling to maintain her traditional values while living in a modern, westernized, and industrialized urban setting. It demonstrates how a young woman, who desired nothing more than to be a good wife and mother, is undercut by modern society.
We Should All be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This list won’t be complete without the highly acclaimed, provocative New York Times bestseller, Chimamanda Adichie. We Should All Be Feminists is a personal, eloquently-argued essay which she offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness as well as drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often-masked realities of sexual politics.
Rape: A South-African Nightmare - Pumla Dineo Gqola
If you're looking to be an activist for sexual harassment, this books is for you. Using examples from the past and present, Rape: A South African Nightmare takes on various aspects of rape culture in South Africa. It does so by focusing on the patterns and trends of rape culture and asking what can be learned from famous cases. This book analyses the fact that public responses to rape are characterized by doubt. It also asks penetrating questions about female fear factor, boy rape, the rape of black lesbians and more.
Freshwater - Akwaeke Emezi
This book paints a profound picture of what it’s like to mentally be between worlds by exploring the life of Ada, a Nigerian girl who was a little “different” from other children. She was a challenging child for her parents, who were constantly concerned about her fractured existence. Throughout her life, Ada speaks through her various selves (which is framed within the Igbo tradition of ogbanje. Freshwater takes on challenging topics such as identity, mental illness, self-harm, sexual assault, suicide, and more.
Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi
An unflinching portrayal of the slave trade explores its impact down the generations, from 18th-century West Africa to the modern-day US, Homegoing opens in what is modern-day Ghana, where a character named Effia is sold by her parents to an English governor. While Effia lives in luxury in the Cape Coast Castle, unbeknownst to her, her half-sister Esi is captured in warfare, and then raped and beaten in the ordure-filled dungeon below. The book subsequently moves over a period of three hundred years, with each chapter swapping between the two family branches
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
Rich in cultural history, Things Fall Apart tells a captivating story of a traditional Igbo man who, though living in a rapidly changing Africa, refuses to accept British imperialists and missionaries. Achebe describes the daily life of the Igbo by telling the story Okonkwo and passes on key points about the Igbo culture. This book details how the way of life of the British crept into traditional Igbo society and exposes the corruption and oppression that was perpetuated.
Recreating Ourselves - Molara Ogundipe
Considered one of the foremost writers on African feminism, gender studies, and literary theory is the Nigerian born poet, Molara Ogundipe. With an in-depth knowledge as one of Africa’s critic thinkers, Recreating Ourselves is a selection of writings in which she has critically and creatively pondered issues of gender, politics and social transformation for at least three decades.