If you just graduated — congratulations! After the big graduation ceremony is over, hats are tossed, and family photos are snapped, you might still face one big, looming question: what do I do with my life after college? It's something we've all asked, and something we will continue to ask as life goes on, but it's never as intimidating than it is right after college ends. Even if you have a great internship, a fabulous job, or amazing travel plans, there's no denying the universal fear and confusion of becoming a "proper adult" after graduation.
The days following your graduation can feel overwhelming with your friends posting on social media about landing their dream job, getting accepted into grad school, or announcing wedding and baby showers. It can feel like everyone around you knows what they're doing, but I'll let you in on a secret: they really don't. However, if you don't believe that statement, there are many exceptional books that'll help steer you in the right direction.
From fictional books with inspirational characters and plots, memoirs with some much-needed advice on creativity and adult-ing, and self-help books that'll keep your finances and apartment in tip-top condition, these 10 books are a must-read for every new grad out there. Happy reading, and make sure to enjoy this crazy, hectic, and wonderful time!
1. Graduates in Wonderland by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Two best friends who met in college promise to keep in touch after graduation through brutally honest weekly email exchanges... and they certainly succeed in their goal. One heads off to Beijing on a whim, and the other moves to NYC. Over the next few years, the best friends travel the world, reinvent themselves, learn a few difficult lessons, and most importantly, never lose touch. As you embark on your own unpredictable adventures, these friends will inspire you to keep your true f
2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
After graduating college, Christopher Johnson McCandless gave his savings away to charity, rid himself of most of his possessions, and hitchhiked his way to Alaska. This true story is about finding yourself, leaving anything and everything behind, and going it on your own. While venturing off to dangerous territory probably isn't the best plan for you, this book will definitely inspire you to take some risks. Just be safe about it, OK?
3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
College is a unique time when your creativity is at an all time high, no matter if you're an aspiring artist, mathematician, or nurse. You live to problem solve, to create a better way of doing something, and after graduation, that creativity can come to a sudden halt when you realize scary big-world responsibilities are knocking at your front door. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert, known for her memoir, Eat Pray Love, discusses how facing your biggest fears may lead you to your greatest creative moments.
4. The Group by Mary McCarthy
Originally published in 1963, this classic tale of eight recent graduates in search of their purpose in life is still relevant today. Known as "The Group" on campus, these eight women venture off in separate directions to chase success, love, and independence. It's one of those stories you'll want to share with all of your friends... even years after graduation.
5. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
Speaking of friends, do you feel like you're the only one who isn't getting married or having a baby right now? If so, you should pick up the hilarious novel Girls in White Dresses. It's the story of three girls, Isabella, Mary, and Lauren, who feel hopelessly behind as they watch their friends pick out wedding gowns and fancy toasters for their gift registries. One girl falls for her boss; another has a date with a gay man; and the third spends her night in with her goldfish. There isn't a book that captures the holy-crap-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life feeling better than this one.
6. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, gave an inspirational and unforgettable graduation speech soon after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Focusing on childhood dreams, Pausch imparted enough wisdom upon his students to last them a lifetime. You probably had (or will have) a pretty amazing guest speaker at your graduation, but you can never read too many inspirational words during this time in your life, so pick up this book as soon as you've got that diploma in hand.
7. Generation X By Douglas Coupland
The three main characters in this book represent a generation brought up in a world of divorce, debt, and constantly-changing technology. Unsure of their futures, the three decide to venture off into the world underemployed and overeducated. Sound familiar? Coupland brilliantly describes the fears and excitement of being in the world alone with no plan and no idea what you want.
8. Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown
Becoming an adult always seemed like fun when you were a kid. But now? Not so much. Becoming an adult isn't an overnight process, unfortunately. Luckily, we have Brown and her genius tips on making the adult-world a little more approachable. This is a book every twenty-something should own and read from cover to cover.
9. Get A Financial Life by Beth Kobliner
Loans, debt, bills, oh my! Learning about your personal finances isn't usually a big focus in college, even with the looming threat of student debt just around the corner. If you're someone who needs to get a grip on your money situation but you have absolutely no idea where to start, pick up Kobliner's fantastic book. It's easy to understand, and it won't bore you, I promise.
10. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
Have you ever doubted your amazingness? Wondered if you were heading down a pointless path? Worried you'll never accomplish your biggest dreams? I know, I sound a bit cheesy, but those are the sort of thoughts that occupy many people's minds as college ends and the real world begins. It's also what Jen Sincero focuses on in her incredible self-help book You Are A Badass. This book made me realize that I have to find confidence in myself and stop getting in my own way before I can realize my dreams.
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