The Books That Shaped My Early 20's

The Books That Shaped My Early 20's

I'm Alyssa. In 2016 I launched a company called easy. That's a picture of me two years ago. At the time I was bleached blonde and broken. My mom was extremely ill, I was at the tail end of a relationship that had become very unhealthy and I felt lost. Gradually over the last two years, a lot of layers have peeled away. I've let go of a lot, learned a lot and continue to learn a lot.

For me, one constant throughout my late teens and early 20's is that I've turned to books for guidance. Books to me feel like these sacred guides left behind by others. Often I find the connection, the reassurance that I'm not alone, that others have lived through the pain I feel too, in a book. 

 I've felt honoured over the last little while to be asked for my book recommendations. I'm by no means an expert, these are simply books that have left a mark for me. This list isn't definitive but it's a good selection and if you check them out I hope they touch you like they did me, so here goes!

The Artists Way by Julia Cameron 

A guide to unblocking your creativity which posits that we are all naturally creative.

This was a beautiful journey for me when I was working full time and yearning for a more creative life. She includes weekly work to reconnect with the parts of yourself that are naturally creative. I found it inspiring and super helpful for letting go of negative perceptions I had about myself as "not having a creative outlet." Turns out I love to write.


"we must remain ready to ask, open-minded enough to be led, and willing to believe despite our bouts of disbelief.

creativity is an act of faith, and we must be faithful to that faith, willing to share it to help others, and to be helped in return."

- Julia Cameron, the artists way

The 4 Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferriss 

This book was really influential for me. I had people recommend it but the title deterred me for a long time. When I finally read it I was really surprised. It helped me reimagine what I wanted my career to look like, rethink the idea of waiting for retirement to be "free" or enjoy life. It has some great exercises about visualization which helped me to understand how much money I really wanted to make each day to do the things I truly want to do. 

I think this book is worth giving a chance. It's a great way to envision something new for your career path and your life if you're looking for a change.

A Return to Love, A Woman's Worth & The Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson

Bit of a Marianne groupie. I find she breaks down spiritual principles into a way that's really easy for me to digest. The first book I read was A Return to Love which truly changed my life. It teaches the difference between viewing our circumstances with love vs. fear. It's a really powerful book. A Woman's Worth is all about reclaiming the power of the feminine and finding your worth within. The Law of Divine Compensation is something I come back to time and time again. It talks about how our perception affects our ability to attract an abundant life which it says is our natural state.

I treat these books like guides that I can come back to as reminders of the ideal perception I want to hold in all of these various areas. 

"Practice the energy that you want to receive from others. Make sure that you are a space, in the presence of which, other people are invited- they feel it viscerally- that in your space, they are invited to be better than they were yesterday because you have faith in them that where they are going carries infinite potential. We’re headed there and we are not slowing down."
Marianne Williamson

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Zadie is one of my favourite authors. She writes life like no other. This book like many of my favourites tells the honest and often hard truths about family, complex and ever changing. 

"Howard, crying himself now, got up from where he lay and sat behind his wife. He stretched his arms around her solid nakedness. In a whisper he began begging for - and, as the sun set, received - the concession people always beg for: a little more time." Zadie Smith, On Beauty

Wounds of Passion by bell hooks

Sometimes a book comes along at the right time and somehow as you read you find the words you've been longing to hear.

This book was that for me. I read it largely while on a very healing trip to LA, on various beaches, in different airbnb's. bell hooks' experience was like nothing I had ever read. She seemed to both know exactly what she wanted and be constantly discovering it but nonetheless was consistently willing to fight for the freedom to live the life she wanted to live. 

"A world of women choosing and making life as they want to live. I make no connection between their choices and age. They are married and unmarried, some with lots of children and some with none, and they are all women with rooms of their own. "
- bell hooks, Wounds of Passion

The Course of Love by Alain De Botton

Such an honest depiction of the sustaining of love over time. How two people grow, change, support and disappoint one another over the course of a life. The ways we learn to be in partnership and how love is an action to be constantly performed. So informative and beautifully written. 

"Rabih and Kirsten have a new sense of how little is in truth required to form a bond with another human being. Anyone who urgently needs us deserves, in the true book of love, to be our friend." - The Course of Love, Alain De Botton


The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte  

A goal setting book that puts how we want to feel at the forefront. For example, how do you want to feel when you walk into work in the morning? How do you want to feel at the end of the day? It guides you to find the feelings you are most searching for. 

Often knowing this can help guide your actions in new ways. Maybe your goals aren't actually moving you closer to the way you desire to feel. Another beautiful journey of a book.

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

I read this book many years ago and still come back to it. It helps you shift your perception to see that despite the circumstances of your past you have the ability today to choose how you perceive your life and what comes next. I found this book very empowering and very healing. A great book to help address unresolved issues with parents and issues around self doubt.

Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

This book helped me get through a really difficult time. You're intended to read one passage a day for a year long journey. I found it helped me to focus on gratitude and recognize and be grateful for the many small things in my life I had often overlooked. The book is calming and soothing as well as inspiring, encouraging you to rediscover the things that bring you joy.

Journey to the Heart by Melody Beattie

Another daily reading book, this book is so healing. Melody having been through some serious trauma has wisdom and healing words that feel like an encouraging friend. 

The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

It would be wrong of me to do this list without including a Gabrielle Bernstein book. Gabby's book Add More ~Ing was one of the first books I read on my spiritual path. She's been so influential for me it's hard to say which book has had the biggest effect. She really seems to walk the talk and make spirituality a way of life.

The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle

I read this book just after high school. I was struggling heavily with anxiety and I was desperate to understand it. This was my introduction to the concept of the ego self and observing our thoughts as a means for living in the present moment. The concepts were difficult for me to grasp and I read this over and over again. Being mindful and living in the "now" is still a daily struggle but I think this was a welcome introduction.

There are so many books that have and continue to touch me. Sometimes just one line from an author is like a beacon, as if it was written just to help heal you. It's difficult to narrow it down into a list like this. What I know is that my soul yearns for books. To read about the experiences of others, to see my joy, my pain and my hopes reflected. I am so grateful to have the privilege to access books and I really believe that the  act of writing is healing for the reader and the writer. On that note, thanks for reading :)

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