Many women fear their 30s because of societal expectations to have children, settle down, and maintain a stable career. All this pressure creates doubt and challenges for women approaching this decade of their lives. The truth is, many wonderful things come with turning 30!
Being 30 will look different for everyone. Some people will have children, get married, and buy a home. Others may build a business and travel the world. Women play many different roles in life, and neither is wrong. Whichever journey you’re on, each brings unique highlights and challenges.
In this booklist, we empower you to get excited about your 30s! It’s a time of great adventure, independence, and discovery. We found the best books for women in their 30s to show you there is no timeline to follow. It’s not too late to start your passions or learn to love yourself. Instead, it is a period to advocate for yourself, work towards what you want, and cultivate joy.
A woman’s 30s are a misunderstood decade. Instead of feeling apprehensive, there are many reasons to get excited about your 30s! Whether you’re an expecting mother, building a career, traveling, or still figuring it out, everyone’s 30s will look different.
Two empowering and relatable books every woman should read include We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown.
The best books for moms in their 30s include Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.
For those approaching your 30s with doubt, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig and How to do Nothing by Jenny Odell are must-have books to read before turning 30.
20 must-read books for women in their 30s
Below, we have the best books to read in your 30s. We’ve designed this booklist to empower, educate, and entertain. So, whether you’re navigating heartache, love, loss, or even success, these books will support you through the next decade of life.
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan For Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis
Your 30s are the perfect opportunity to let go of other people’s opinions and focus on being true to yourself. In this straightforward read, Hollis encourages women to advocate for their dreams. She helps readers work towards self-growth rather than playing the roles they’ve been given and making excuses.
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
If you want to change your lifestyle, successful people are often the blueprint for doing so. Countless books have analyzed their habits, including how they spend their mornings. Similarly, Vanderkam wrote this book l to help readers become more productive. She focuses on small, manageable shifts that make a big difference. Getting your mornings right in your 30s might sound like a drag, but it could be what you need to kick-start your days.
The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo
So you’re approaching your 30s, and people expect you to have everything figured out. This is simply unrealistic for most of us. Life presents challenges no matter your age. Having a stable career is a significant part of this decade. Still, not everyone has the same opportunities or follows the same path. For those just getting started in their career, Julia Zhuo explores the fundamental lessons for someone stepping into a leadership role for the first time. She teaches you to adapt to new roles and build your confidence, whether you are 25 or 35.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown, Ph.D.
Embracing your true self is a major theme in your 30s. Rather than being somebody you think everyone will like, this book teaches you the importance of being your true self. Being at peace with yourself is a huge part of building self-esteem, which Brown addresses in this book. The Gifts of Imperfection is a globally recognized text everyone in their 30s should read.
Burn Out: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., and Amelia Nagoski, DMA
There are some fundamental differences between men and women. According to the authors of this book, the way we experience burnout is one of those things. Burn Out is rooted in science and aims to provide practical advice for balancing emotions, reducing stress, and cultivating more joy in life.
The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
If you’re looking for a helpful book on gender inequality, The Moment of Lift is for you. Prepare yourself to hear fresh perspectives on a prevalent subject. In this account, you’ll hear from inspiring individuals and relevant data to support each idea. Alongside Bill Gates, Melinda Gates is a co-founder of the Gates Foundation. Within their private charity organization, their work centers on gender inequality, helping all people lead happy and fair lives.
Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
Your 30s are a time of transformation and being honest with yourself. Although your peers might have families, careers, or are traveling the world, not everyone has defined their path. The truth is most 30-somethings feel they haven’t. Girl, Wash Your Face is a book about honesty and identifying which lies govern your life. Are you doing what makes you truly happy, or are you following what you think you should be doing?
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown, Ph.D.
In this book, Brown covers topics from love, parenthood, and leadership. The author explores the power of vulnerability and how it can lead to changes in your life. Readers will unlearn the notion that being vulnerable is a weakness. Instead, this book empowers women in their 30s to take control of their emotions because you find true strength when you surrender to vulnerability.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help you Find — and Keep — Love by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel Heller, M.A.
While we don’t suggest reading over counseling, readers have likened this next book to attending therapy. In Attached, you’ll learn about the scientific approach to attachment styles and how understanding this can alter your experience of love. Although we suggest this book to women, it’s a fantastic read for anyone before they turn 30. You’ll learn about attachment theory and insightful techniques to apply to your romantic life.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me is a moving read which offers women in their 30s a book from a different perspective. Written as a letter to his young son, the author attempts to answer challenging questions about American history, race, and the experience of living as a Black man. If you’re looking to read beyond your own experience and gain a deeper insight into the lives of others, Coates’ book is the one to read.
How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
While its title may convince you this book is about inactivity, it is rather the opposite. Jenny Odell, artist and critic, first teaches you how to step away from mindless consumption — how to do nothing. As the book progresses, you learn to retrain attention and focus on what truly matters; making positive changes to the environment. In its truest form, this book is about mastering communication and persevering your energy until it’s time to speak up.
Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
Friendships are essential throughout life, whether you’re in your 30s or not. The authors discuss what makes good friends and how to maintain meaningful connections, even when you’re busy. If you’re preparing to turn 30, add Big Friendships to your list of books to read before 30 and beyond.
I Thought It Was Just Me (But it Isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” by Brené Brown, Ph.D.
The social expectations during one’s 30s are daunting. You may be questioning if you are on the right path and when you’ll start a family, if at all. Those pressures can fuel your 30s with anxiety and stress when it should be a time of adventure. Once again, Brené Brown makes the list of books every woman should read in her 30s. This bestseller opens you up to reality and helps you accept challenges when they arise.
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho
If you’re looking for fiction books to read in your 30s, The Alchemist is a parable about following your desires and listening to your heart. Readers around the world praise this book for its life-changing and inspiring message. If you have a dream to fulfill, you can read or listen to the core lessons in The Alchemist on the Headway app.
We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True by Gabrielle Union
Renowned actress and activist Gabrielle Union shares stories for all women in their 30s. In this New York Times bestseller, Union writes essays about life in Hollywood, the challenges of being Black, and what life is like as a modern woman. We’re Going to Need More Wine makes for a captivating read that injects humor and heartbreak onto the pages.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Reasons to Stay Alive is one of those books to read before you are 30. Matt Haig shares advice for people suffering from depression and those who aren’t. It is a book everyone should pick up, whether you’re 20, 30, 40, or above. Readers will discover the lessons Haig learned on his journey battling mental illness and how to apply these to everyday life.
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This book intimately depicts how to raise a child to be a feminist. What started as a letter to a friend turned into one of the best books for moms in their 30s and a daily guide for living life. It is an intimate read touching on parenthood and gender inequality. We Should All Be Feminists is another fantastic work by the same author that helps readers understand what the term feminist actually means.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
In 1951, the medical industry changed forever when Henrietta Lacks passed away. This account tells the moving story of Henrietta and her family, how her cells still live on today and the questions that follow her immortal life. Rebecca Skloot attempts to answer challenging questions about the medical field and the injustices that followed Henrietta’s family.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Your job or relationships are often the defining factors in your 30s. It can leave many people, especially women, to fight internal battles about what they truly want from life. When things get tough, Tiny Beautiful Things is the book that will catch you when you fall. Despite the social expectations and the challenges of everyday life, this book is here to empower. Strayed offers advice on love, loss, and life, in hopes it’ll bring you closer to your most joyful self.
Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D.
Throughout history, women have adapted their behavior to society’s criteria. Although we’ve come a long way in the past century, many women still fall subject to pleasing people even when it disregards their own needs. In Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, the author details women’s unconscious decisions that hold them back, particularly in their careers. This book shows women how to step out of the people-pleasing trap and start advocating for themselves in the workplace.
Discover books for women in their 30s on the Headway app
You can still have fun and continue to learn in your 30s! Headway makes it easy to read more books, even if you’re living a busy lifestyle. With just 15 minutes of reading a day, Headway supports you in creating healthy habits.
On the app, you’ll find bite-sized text and audio clips which provide an in-depth summary of the text. It is an efficient way to learn more from popular books and helps you decide if you want to read the whole novel. Download the Headway app today to start your learning journey.
We hope you’ll find a book to suit your needs and are getting excited about what this decade will bring. If you want to learn more about the texts on this booklist, head to the Headway app to read or listen to summaries of each one. Headway provides a fun way to learn and grow on the go!
What book should I read in my 30s?
Brené Brown is an author that has appeared on our list numerous times. So, it’s only fair we recommend I Thought It Was Just Me to empower anyone feeling lost, uninspired and anxious in their 30s.
What book should every woman read?
Girl, Wash Your Face is a book about being honest with oneself and honoring what you really want from life. The author, Rachel Hollis, creates books every woman should read in her 30s.
What is the most life-changing book to read?
Attached by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel Heller, M.A. is a book some have likened to therapy. While we don’t recommend replacing a professional with a book, it provides some life-changing insight you can start exploring on the Headway app.