General Non-Fiction · Memoir · Reviews

Review: 30 Before 30: How I Made a Mess of My 20s, and You Can Too by Marina Shifrin


I’m not even going to lie…I maybe read too many of these “you’re a lost twenty-something and I’m going to teach you the way to successfully live like a real adult by giving you a giant list” books. I’ve read Things to Do Before You’re 30: The Try-It-Out, Get-It-Done, Live-It-Up List! by Jessica Misener, Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood by Alida Nugent…and probably a few more I don’t even remember. I always eagerly pick these books up and am always slightly disappointed. Do I just not respond well to well-intentioned women telling me what to do? Have I already mastered adulting? (Jokes!) Or do I just fundamentally understand that these books can’t actually help me without putting in work of my own?

Shifrin’s 30 Before 30: How I Made a Mess of My 20s, and You Can Too, which will be released on July 24, has also left me a bit disappointed. Maybe the title is a bit deceptive? You definitely get short essays on how Shifrin “made a mess of [her] 20s,” entertaining stories about her Russian parents and her time spent abroad, and a few drunken escapes that certainly almost all twenty-somethings experience. However, this book was also slightly different than other books in this genre–if you can call it a genre–as it wasn’t a list of goals or experiences meant to be accomplished, but things the author had already experienced. You’ll read about how she quit her abroad job (and how it went viral!), how she meant one of her icons (who I still have no idea who he is?!), and how she bought her first adult furniture. So maybe the “and You can Too” in the title is deceiving–because this reads more like a memoir made of essays, than a self-help or inspirational book.

Shifrin, however, has always wanted to be a comedian, and that reflects in her writing. She has a knack for storytelling, and what results is a nice, light, summer read with several laughable moments In and of itself, I enjoyed 30 Before 30–it just certainly wasn’t what I expected after reading so many similar books, and maybe that’s the charm that some readers will enjoy! Overall, I wish Marina Shifrin the best of luck on her book debut, even if it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. And, because I did enjoy her personal writing style and her sense of humor, I’m excited to start following Shifrin on social media (where she says she tweets a few jokes a day!).

Also…maybe after reading all these books, I should actually commit to making my own 30 before 30 list? Do you have a similar list? Or just a general life bucket list? Tell me in the comments!

Rating: 3/5

Best binged with: vodka shots–but an authentic Russian brand, of course. The author is Russian and tells a humorous story about her family gatherings, vodka shots, and how to properly keep up…without the nasty hangover in the morning! 

[I received a digital, advanced reading copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.]

2 thoughts on “Review: 30 Before 30: How I Made a Mess of My 20s, and You Can Too by Marina Shifrin

    1. Hmmm…interesting thought. I feel like I’m still stuck in this whole adulting as a millennial, with a dash of imposter syndrome phase, to even begin contemplating writing anything myself!


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