9 books that every grad should read
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Reading for Pleasure1 of 10
By Edan Lepucki
School may be over, but for the newly graduated, there are many life lessons left to learn. To help ease the transition into the real world, we've rounded up nine books that will inspire, encourage and reassure. How many of them are on your shelf?
The Secret History2 of 10
If you're lucky enough to travel after graduation, you'd be wise to pack Donna Tartt's The Secret History, a brilliant and dark page-turner about a cloistered group of Classics majors at a New England college. The story of this twisted group of friends will make you simultaneously long for your campus days…and be relieved they're over. It's the ultimate summer-after-graduation beach/train/plane read.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers3 of 10
New Yorker staff writer Katherine Boo spent three years among the residents of a slum in Mumbai. The result is Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction: fast-paced, informative, and cinematic, a must-read for anyone who wants to understand our ever-changing global economy. If you're entering the American workforce for the first time, this book will offer a sobering and revelatory perspective.
Looking Back4 of 10
This is the perfect essay collection to devour on your subway commute or in the bath after a long day of work. With humor and a dash of self-loathing, My Misspent Youth chronicles everything from Internet dating to being poor in fancy-pants New York City to grieving (or not grieving) a friend's death. Meghan Daum's essays are provocative and perceptive, and she gets what it's like to be in your 20s. Sometimes, that's all you need.
The Tipping Point5 of 10
Malcolm Gladwell's engaging and accessible book is about how and why change happens, and he analyzes a broad range of trends, from the crime-rate dip in 1990s New York City, to a particular brand of shoes becoming suddenly ubiquitous. Each thought-provoking study in The Tipping Point will compel you to consider what your role in the world is. What idea do you want to help spread?
What It Is6 of 10
Lynda Barry is a well-known comic book artist who firmly believes in humanity's innate creativity and capacity for storytelling. Her book What It Is, part memoir about her development as an artist, and part writing guide, is filled with beguiling drawings and questions like, "When we imagine something do we use our memory?" After the rigor of college, and as a respite from our deeply digitized, screen-mediated world, turn to this dazzling book to relearn how to express yourself without inhibition. (This time, tequila shots not required.)
The Illustrated Elements of Style7 of 10
This classic and highly opinionated grammar handbook will keep your post-college brain from turning into total mush, and it'll no doubt help you write those tricky cover letters. The contemporary illustrated edition, with Maria Kalman's delightful drawings, adds some much needed charm. Plus, the cheerful cover will look great on your new Ikea coffee table.
Please Excuse My Daughter8 of 10
In this sweet and funny memoir, Julie Klam recounts her pampered upbringing and her subsequent struggles to be a responsible adult. Her story about expectations raised and dashed (for the better) will make you feel okay about not (yet) having a career, or a 401K, or a trust fund—okay, sorry, the trust fund's never coming. Please Excuse My Daughter is a book about learning self-reliance, and that's a lesson we should all learn, sooner or later.
Lean In9 of 10
Sure, you might be sick of all the Internet chatter surrounding Lean In, but the bestseller, by Facebook's chief operating officer, does have some helpful advice to young women at the cusp of big careers. Sheryl Sandberg's frank discussions about family-rearing, work promotion, and professional risk-taking will stay with you as you move up the corporate ladder, rung by rung. You're planning to rule the world, aren't you?
Not Quite What I was Planning10 of 10
Ernest Hemingway once bragged he could write a story in half a dozen words, and Not Quite What I Was Planning proves you can depict a life within such parameters, too. The compulsively readable and endearing collection offers tons of humorous and touching mini-memoirs, reminding us that life passes in not an instant, but in a phrase. Enjoy these tidbits when you're too tired to think, and remember, savor this strange and beautiful post-college era.