Book clinic: which books will help me navigate singledom in my early 20s?

Ottessa Moshfegh, whose novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation is ‘weirdly addictive’.

Ottessa Moshfegh, whose novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation is ‘weirdly addictive’. Photograph: Christopher Lane/Observer

Q: What books will best help me to navigate singledom in my early twenties, the position I find myself in at the moment?
Junior doctor, 23

Novelist and journalist Candice Carty-Williams writes:

Hello to you! Absolutely great question, and let me thank you very much for what you do. Also, huge congratulations on your early 20s singledom – you have lots of time to figure out who you are but, more importantly, to read.

Partners can be distractions when it comes to leisure time. Is it arrogant to start with my own novel, Queenie (Trapeze, £12.99)? Apologies, but it will help. It will show you how we twentysomethings are allowed to make mistakes, pick ourselves up and learn what works for us and what absolutely does not.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’d suggest The Wrong Knickers, Bryony Gordon’s hilarious retelling of her “decade of chaos” through love and life that was all too relatable to me. If you want to laugh your way through a collection of no-holds-barred essays ranging on everything from failed relationships and IBS by way of bad sex, then Meaty by Samantha Irby is the collection for you.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh is the weirdly addictive and languorous story of a young woman living in an apartment inherited from her dead parents on New York’s Upper East Side. She essentially takes enough prescription drugs to allow her to sleep through most of her days, lest she should have to face up to the realities of her 20s. You, as a junior doctor, can be the judge of how realistic that is.

Finally, I would suggest Heartburn by Nora Ephron, one of the funniest books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading over and over again. It taught me that even if we do navigate the confusing and sometimes brutal journey that is 20s singledom, the years beyond will have a lot of tricks in store for us, but we’ll be able to laugh our way through them.