Going Through It: Books About a Quarter-Life Crisis

You've most likely heard the term, "midlife crisis," but did you know there's a "quarter-life crisis" as well? Quarter-life crisis describes a period in a person's life where they struggle with transitioning into the increased challenges and responsibilities of adulthood, usually happening in their 20s or 30s. It wasn't until recently that I learned such thing as a quarter-life crisis even exists because it's rarely talked about.

As someone who recently turned 23, I am all too familiar with the feelings that come with navigating life as a fairly new adult. During this time, some people may be more inclined to read self-help books. While self-help can be a nice way to give you insightful information on what to do, I found that reading fictional literature about characters going through the same phase of life as me is what ultimately brought me comfort for my feelings of hopelessness or confusion. Here are a few books to remind those of us who are going through this stage that we're all really just trying to figure things out.

While its narrator may not have the most pleasant perspective on life (or be that much of a pleasant person in general), My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh offers an embarrassingly relatable depiction of what going through your 20s can often feel like. For those who can handle feeling called out through the eyes of an unlikeable protagonist, this novel may ironically enough make you feel better to know that burnout from life is not only normal, but rest from it is even more important. 

Similar to My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Queenie is another novel where our female protagonist is clearly struggling with her life that seems to be falling apart. From career concerns to relationship drama, a lot of people in Queene's age range can relate to her situation. Candice Carty-Williams offers a complex perspective on dealing with the obstacles that can come with being an adult through the lens of a Black woman. 

Most people are familiar with the writer James Baldwin, and Giovanni's Room is one of his most recognized works. Although Giovanni's Room explicitly explores themes of love, sexuality and interracial love, I'd argue that there are also subtexts of David going through a quarter-life crisis as well, such as: confronting one's own self-identity, yearning for freedom and reevaluating where your life is going. The 1950s Paris setting provides comfort in knowing that writers from the past went through the same thoughts and emotions that we still face today.

Do you have a book that resembles a quarter-life crisis? Share it in the comments below.