11 Books Set Post-College That Will Help Get You Through Your First Summer After School
Let's get this out of the way up front: I am a total sucker for the old trope "girl has just graduated from college, is dealing with some serious romantic drama, and just wants to be a writer/designer/publicist/musician/actress whatever, but... in this economy?!" It's one of my preferred genres of summer reads, the ones I always leave room for in my beach bag or suitcase. And so I'm always on the hunt for books that explore this trope in funny, heartwarming, and super relatable ways. And if you've just recently (or maybe even, ahem, less than recently) tossed your own graduation cap in the air and are embarking on your first summer post-school, you might just find that working through a stack of these will help you with any post-college blues that might creep up.
Each of the 11 books below follows a young woman who is making her way through her the first few months and years post-college to varying degrees of success. Whether you landed a job right out of school but are still trying to follow your dreams, have your dream job but can't seem to get your love life in order, or are seriously shrugging confusedly in most areas of your post-school life, there is a book below that will make you laugh, make you cry, and give you comfort during this transitional period.
'Playing With Matches' by Hannah Orenstein (June 26)
Sasha Goldberg has a lot going for her: a recent journalism degree from NYU, an apartment with her best friend Caroline, and a relationship with her finance-bro boyfriend Jonathan. But when her dream career falls through, she lands a job as a matchmaker for New York City’s elite at the dating service Bliss. Sasha hopes to find her clients The One, like she did. But when Jonathan betrays her, she spirals out of control — and right into the arms of a writer who she had previously set up with one of her clients.
Disclosure: Hannah Orenstein is an editor at Elite Daily, a Bustle Digital Group property.
'The Futures' by Anna Pitoniak
Julia and Evan fall in love as undergraduates at Yale. After they graduate in 2008, they move together to New York city, where Evan takes a job at a hedge fund. Julia graduates with an art history degree and no plan for her own future, landing a low paying assistant job at a nonprofit. With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan becomes involved in a high-stakes deal at work, and begins to realize that the price of privilege may come with dangerous strings attached. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past — someone who offers her a vision of a different kind of life.
'Ten Girls To Watch' by Charity Shumway
Like so many other recent graduates, Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine's "Ten Girls to Watch" contest, she's thrilled. After all, she's being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women: once outstanding college students, they have gone on to become mayors, opera singers, and air force pilots. As Dawn gets to know their life stories, she'll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places.
'These Days Are Ours' By Michelle Haimoff
It's six months after September 11th, and many New Yorkers are trying to get on with their lives. But for Hailey, still jobless after college, the city feels as if it's on the brink of apocalypse, and seeking out any sort of future seems pointless. So Hailey and her friends stay out all night, dream up get-rich-quick schemes and aspire to greatness while questioning how much that greatness really matters. But when Hailey meets Adrian, a recent Brown graduate who doesn't share Hailey's privilege, she begins to question everything she thought she knew.
'The Ghost of Greenwich Village' by Lorna Graham
For Eve Weldon, moving to Greenwich Village is a dream come true. She’s following in the bohemian footsteps of her mother, who lived there during the early '60s among a lively community of Beat artists and writers. But when Eve arrives, the only scribe she meets is a grumpy ghost named Donald, and the only writing she manages to do is for chirpy segments on a morning news program, Smell the Coffee. The hyper-competitive network environment is a far cry from her mother’s literary scene, and Eve begins to wonder if the world she has always sought has faded from existence.
'My Not So Perfect Life' by Sophie Kinsella
Katie Brenner rents a tiny room, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers. Then one day her not-so-perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter fires her. Katie has to move home, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business. Then Demeter and her family come to the camp, and Katie sees her chance for revenge. But should she get even, or try to get her job back? Does Demeter actually have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.
'Someday, Someday, Maybe' by Lauren Graham
Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to succeed. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates and is struggling with her feelings for a charming guy in her acting class. Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.
'London Belongs to Me' by Jacquelyn Middleton
Alex, is a recent college graduate from Tallahassee, Florida in love with London, pop culture, and comic cons. Fleeing America after a devastating betrayal, she believes London is where she belongs. But Alex’s past of panic attacks and broken relationships is hard to escape. When her demons team up with a jealous rival, Alex begins to question everything: her life-long dream of becoming a playwright, her new friends, and whether London is where she truly belongs.
'A Lady's Guide to Selling Out' by Sally Franson
Casey Pendergast is losing her way. Once a book-loving English major, Casey lands a job at a top ad agency that highly values her ability to tell a good story. Her best friend thinks she’s a sellout, but Casey tells herself that she’s just paying the bills. When her hard-to-please boss assigns her to a top-secret campaign that pairs literary authors with corporations hungry for upmarket cachet, Casey is both excited and skeptical. When she falls in love with one of her authors, Casey can no longer ignore her own nagging doubts about the human cost of her success.
'The Assistants' by Camille Perry
Tina Fontana is the executive assistant to Robert Barlow, the all-powerful and commanding CEO of Titan Corp., a media conglomerate. She’s excellent at her job and beloved by her famous boss — but after six years, she’s bored, broke, and over it all. When a technical error in an expense report presents Tina with the opportunity to pay off her entire student loan debt, she struggles with the decision, because she’s always played by the rules. It’s such a relatively small amount of money for the Titan Corporation — but for her it would be a life-changer.
'Maybe in Another Life' by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. So she decides to move back home to stay in her best friend Gabby’s guest room. Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan? In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision, developing into radically different stories with consequences for both Hannah and the people around her.