5 Books Every 20-Something Needs To Read Before Getting To Work On Their Dreams

The media is dead wrong. Nearly every article I have read about Millennials makes us seem like a superficial, party-every-day generation.

You know what, we do like to turn it up every now and then, but at the same time, we are also the generation of Malala, who stood up for girls' right to go to school and of Jack Andraka, who developed an early detection test for pancreatic cancer. We are a generation of progression, equality and so much more.

I’ve learned that early-career success is not measured by how far you make it on the path, but rather, by which path you choose in the first place. Did you do what seemed safe or did you do what felt right (assuming the two are different)? Did you try to survive or did you try to thrive? Did you chase the dollar or did you chase the dream?

The five books below will reframe your thinking and guide you toward the path you were meant to take. Remember: This isn’t just about your age, but also about your stage.

So, if you are in the stage of life in which you are choosing which path to take, do yourself the favor and check out the following five books today:

1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

Coehlo’s masterpiece continues to be a seminal read for people of all ages, especially 20-somethings. It’s a fictional tale, but carries the truths from which those of us who are searching answers can learn.

If you loved mythical stories of wonder and personal transformation growing up, this book will help guide you into the adult you hope to become.

2. The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun

You simply cannot read this book and look at your life the same way after turning the last page. Braun captures the restless voice that exists within every 20-something and clearly explains how to craft your life into a story worth telling.

His true tale of turning $25 into more than 200 schools around the world will inspire you beyond belief and each chapter is titled with an actionable, guiding step to create your own life of success and significance.

3. Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal

This book was written for the new generation of people who don’t want to follow the traditional paths of investment banking, management consulting, medicine or law.

Agrawal wrote this book to remind you that you have a backbone, you are inherently strong, that it’s cool to care about and be excited by ideas. It’s cool to be proactive, to mess up and to work your ass off on something that is meaningful to you; it’s cool to keep trying when the odds are stacked against you.

4. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh was in his early 20s when he confronted an unusual decision: Should he follow his head and take the millions of dollars being offered to him or follow his heart and walk away?

The answer shocked me and the way Hsieh explains how he navigated the dilemma forever changed the way I approach life. If you are struggling with the question of "chasing the paper or chasing the dream," this book is for you.

5. Pour Your Heart Into It by Howard Schultz

Howard Schultz grew up in Brooklyn projects. He worked hard and by his late 20s, he was a highly-paid corporate exec in Manhattan. Then, he threw it all away. He packed up his bags and moved to Seattle to work for a little store that sold coffee beans. As he left New York, his mother cried out to him, "You're doing well; you have a future.

Don't give it up for a small company nobody's ever heard of." But still, Howard felt it was the right move, so he marched on. Sure enough, that "small company" turned out to be Starbucks. Howard Schultz, still the company's CEO, recounts his early journey in this inspiring book.

Comment below with the one book that has helped you most in finding your calling. Write what lesson you learned from that book, so we can learn from your experiences, too.

Which book do you recommend we read?

Alex Banayan is an associate at San Francisco-based venture capital firm Alsop Louie Partners and the author of a highly anticipated business book being released by Crown Publishers (Random House, Inc.). Fortune magazine reported that he is the world's youngest venture capitalist and Business Insider named him a "Rising Star in Silicon Valley." For more from Alex Banayan, sign-up for his newsletter here.