15 Books To Gift A College Graduate That Aren't 'Oh! The Places You'll Go'
So, you've got to buy a gift for a recent college graduate. You want to buy them a book? Great! When I graduated from college a.. .ahem ...a few years ago, nothing helped me more when I was in that post-grad funk than books. Oh, wait, you say you're going to buy them Oh! The Places You'll Go? No, no, no. Please, step away from the toddlers section of the book store. As classically sweet as Dr. Seuss can be, there are actually tons of other books to read after college graduation that will be way more inspiring, super relatable and most importantly, incredibly helpful, to someone who has just graduated from college.
Whether they've already got a dream job lined up or are spending the summer adjusting to their new life (and probably feeling like they're totally failing to do so), there is a book that will give them comfort, make them laugh, and help get their ass in gear to chase all of their post-school dreams. Below we've assembled fifteen books that are a mix of fiction and non-fiction, and there is something ideal for every kind of post-grad feeling of both elation and concern. After all, college graduation is one of life's biggest achievements, and it shouldn't be marred by fears of the future. Now, get these books in the hands of your favorite grad, and watch them take the world by storm.
1. '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. She's got an ex-boyfriend she can't quite stop seeing, a less than ideal roommate, and a writing career that's gotten as far as penning an online lawn care advice column. 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. 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. This is a story about stumbling through the early years of adulthood; and a love letter to the role models who light the way.
2. 'The Most Of Nora Ephron' by Nora Ephron
Everything you could possibly want from the late, great Nora Ephron is here. From her writings on journalism, feminism, and being a woman, to her best-selling novel, Heartburn, written in the wake of her devastating divorce from Carl Bernstein. Also included are pieces on her ongoing love affair with food, to her extended takes on such controversial women as Lillian Hellman and Helen Gurley Brown; her pithy blogs on politics and her moving meditations on aging and dying. Ephron's honesty, fearlessness and humor have made her an inspirational icon for many, making this the perfect read for any creative post-grad woman.
3. 'Very Good Lives' by J.K. Rowling
In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Very Good Lives offers those words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life, asking the profound and provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others? Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world-famous author addresses some of life’s most important issues with acuity and emotional force.
4. 'These Days Are Ours' by Michelle Haimoff
Six months after September 11th, New Yorkers are instructed to get on with their lives. But for Hailey, still jobless after college and living in her family's penthouse, getting on with life means getting closer to Michael Brenner, the Princeton graduate and future human rights lawyer who seems to have it all. 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 belong to Hailey's privileged world, she she is soon questioning everything she thought she knew.
5. 'Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice On Love And Life From Dear Sugar' by Cheryl Strayed
Post-grad life can be hard. Sugar — the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild — is the person thousands turn to for advice. Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns. Rich with humor, insight, compassion — and absolute honesty — this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.
6. 'Adulting: How To Become A Grown-Up In 468 Easy(ish) Steps' by Kelly Williams Brown
If you graduated from college but still feel like a student... if you wear a business suit to job interviews but pajamas to the grocery store... if you have your own apartment but no idea how to cook or clean... it's OK. But it doesn't have to be this way. Just because you don't feel like an adult doesn't mean you can't act like one. Based on Kelly Williams Brown's popular blog, Adulting makes the scary, confusing "real world" approachable, manageable-and even conquerable. This guide will help you to navigate the stormy Adulthood by teaching you everything from what to check for when renting a new apartment to breaking up with frenemies to fixing your toilet. This way fun comprehensive handbook is the answer for aspiring grown-ups of all ages.
7. 'The Futures' by Anna Pitoniak
After graduation from Yale, Julia and Evan move together to New York City, where Evan lands a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, whose privileged upbringing grants her an easy but wholly unsatisfying job with a nonprofit, feels increasingly shut out of Evan's secretive world. With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan and Julia spin into their separate orbits, they each find that they are capable of much more—good and bad—than they'd ever imagined. The Futures is a glittering story of a couple coming of age, and a searing portrait of what it's like to be young and full of hope in New York City, a place that so often seems determined to break us down—but ultimately may be the very thing that saves us.
8. 'The Opposite Of Loneliness' by Marina Keegan
Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash. As her family and friends joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. Even though she was just 22 when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of Marina’s essays and stories that articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be, and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.
9. 'Wonder Women' by Sam Maggs
Smart women have always been able to achieve amazing things, even when the odds were stacked against them (and even when the post-grad funk threatens to crush their spirit.) In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs tells the stories of the brilliant, brainy, and totally rad women in history who broke barriers as scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors. Including interviews with real-life women in STEM careers, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to women-centric science and technology organizations—all to show the many ways the geeky girls of today can help to build the future.
10. 'Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman' by Lindy West
Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible, writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but. With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss...and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.
11. 'Lean In for Graduates' by Sheryl Sandberg
In 2013, Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In became a massive cultural phenomenon and its title became an instant catchphrase for empowering women and sparked ferocious debate about women and leadership. This enhanced edition provides the entire text of the original book updated exclusively for graduates just entering the workforce. This edition of Lean In includes a letter to graduates from Sheryl Sandberg and six additional chapters from experts offering advice on finding and getting the most out of a first job: resume writing; best interviewing practices; negotiating your salary; listening to your inner voice; owning who you are; and leaning in for millennial men.
12. 'How To Be A Bawse: A Guide To Conquering Life' by Lily Singh
Lilly Singh's book is the definitive guide to being a "bawse" — a person who exudes confidence and reaches their goals. The message is simple: success, happiness, and everything else in life that you want needs to be fought for, not wished for. Singh shares what she's learned about achieving success and happiness, how to pick yourself up, and not allow anything to stand in your way. Using stories from her own life to illustrate her message, she proves that the path to success is paved with equal parts hard work and hilarity. This fun, practical guide is perfect for anyone looking for a little kick up the butt to reach their goals.
13. 'Hyperbole And A Half' by Allie Brosh
Brosh's hilarious illustrations and the stories that go along with them range from childhood foibles to adult disasters, all of which will make you laugh out loud. Seriously, read this one in public at your own risk. But it is her chapters on overcoming depression and regaining control of her life that are the most affecting, reminding recent graduates that nothing is forever, even the bad stuff, and that they have what it takes to pick themselves up and get to work achieving their dreams. Oh, and did we mention it is really, really funny?
14. 'Year Of Yes: How To Dance It Out, Stand In The Sun And Be Your Own Person' by Shonda Rhimes
After college, you're going to hear people telling you to say yes. A lot. Here Rhimes chronicles how saying yes for one year changed her life ― and how it can change yours, too. With three hit shows on television and three children at home, Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say no. And there was the side-benefit of saying no for an introvert like her: nothing new to fear. Then her sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say yes to the unexpected invitations that come your way. She reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. Here, Rhimes shares the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life, including her creativity.
15. 'Post Grad: Five Women And Their First Year Out Of College' by Caroline Kitchener
An honest and deeply reported account of five women and the opportunities and frustrations they face in the year following their graduation from university. Recent Princeton graduate Caroline Kitchener weaves together her experiences from her first year after college with that of four of her peers in order to delve more deeply into what the world now offers a female college graduate, and how the world perceives them. Both a broad and an intensely individual exploration, Post Grad is a portrait of the shifting environment of that important year after graduation, as well as an intimate look at how a select group of very different individuals handles its challenges—navigating family tensions, relationships, jobs, and that ever-elusive notion of independence.