16 Books Every College Grad Should Read

Originally written for and published on Her Campus on July 6, 2015.

 

Adjusting to post-college life can be rough—you may be done with classes, homework and finals, but you’ve come to the realization that it’s no longer socially acceptable to wear sweatpants every day, make dinner in a microwave, and binge-watch Netflix every night—even if it was okay to do so just a few months ago. You’re not the only one! That’s why I’m directing you right to the pros. Here are 16 books every recent grad should read, by everyone from career experts to fellow post-collegiettes.

1. Welcome to the Real World by Lauren Berger

Welcome to the Real World, by Lauren Berger of InternQueen.com, is a must if you’re looking for or starting your first job. It’ll provide you with valuable information you’ll want to know before taking your first step into adulthood. Berger emphasizes the importance of taking risks and having a strong understanding of who you are and what you can bring to a company as a potential new employee. “It’s time to get comfortable getting uncomfortable,” she advises. This book will help you build a strong foundation—by the time you finish reading it, you’ll have a great understanding of what to expect from a full-time job.

2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

A ton of schools host events where professors give talks they like to call their “Last Lecture.” For these lectures, professors discuss what matters most to them and share their wisdom as if it were truly their last lecture. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer when he was asked to give his “last lecture.” However, Paush’s lecture wasn’t about dying—it was about living. It explores why it’s important to strive to overcome every challenge you face in life and how to seize every moment. Pausch’s The Last Lecture will help you see the world in a new light. His philosophies and life lessons emphasize the importance of striving to make the most out of your life, something that all college grads should aim to achieve.

3. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in May 2012. She was on the road to success. She wrote a play that was scheduled to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and had a job lined up at The New Yorker after graduation. Tragedy struck just five days after Keegan graduated when she died in a car crash. After her passing, her unforgettable essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral and received over 1.4 million hits. Regardless of her young age, Marina managed to leave behind a valuable piece of writing that captures the aspirations and abilities of our generation. This book is thought-provoking and will help you figure out what you aspire to be and how to harness your talent to make an impact on the world.

4. What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles

What Color Is Your Parachute? sold more than ten million copies—and we totally get why. This book provides you with up-to-date information, research and tips regarding the job market, how to write resumes and cover letters, effective networking tips, how to negotiate your salary and strategies you should follow to find those jobs people tell you don’t exist.

5. Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

The back of the book states, “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.” We don’t know about you, but this certainly seems to apply to the majority of graduettes! This funny book makes the scary “real world” seem totally conquerable. Whether you’re looking for simple recipes, networking advice or tips on how to be taken seriously at work, this book has your answers. It’s pretty much the handbook to have by your side as an aspiring grown-up entering the real world.

6. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

We all know how hard life can be sometimes, but what we sometimes overlook is how truly great it can be, too. Sugar—a once-anonymous online advice columnist—was everyone’s go-to person for advice. Tiny Beautiful Things is an aggregation of the best of Dear Sugar. This book teaches you lessons through a tough-love tone of voice. You’ll be laughing and gaining valuable insight on all the the challenges life can throw your way.

7. The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces by Kyle Schuneman

What’s scarier than moving into your very first apartment? How about moving into your first apartment before you can actually afford an apartment big enough to live in comfortably? Your first apartment lets you have full control of what you want to do with your space, but it can be a little tricky to decorate. Luckily, Kyle Schuneman, a decorating prodigy, understands that a non-existent income and plain, white walls don’t have to stand in your way. He provides excellent examples of ways to take a small space and turn it into a cozy place you’re proud to call home.

8. Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook. She uses this book to share her knowledge on how to avoid common obstacles and advance your career. An excellent read for women who have recently graduated, Lean In teaches how to strive toward your aspirations and career goals. When the book first came out in 2013, it became a phenomenon for empowering women. This book’s combination of inspiration and advice is what makes it such a powerful tool for young women.

9. Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

These two women—best friends since the moment they met during their freshman year at Brown University—made a promise to keep in touch after graduation through emails full of all the juicy details of their post-college adventures. One moves to Beijing while the other heads to New York. Both girls spend the next few years battling their way through adulthood and composing emails to another regarding all their exciting tales. This book is an easy, fun read that you will not want to put down. The emails between the two authors are exciting to read and recent graduates will find themselves able to relate to the authors’ stories and experiences in ways that are happy, sad, funny and exhilarating.

10. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Just because you’ve graduated doesn’t mean you should stop learning. And who better to help you learn than Stephen King himself? He is a true storyteller and uses this book to share his expertise and his story on how his writing got to be where it is now. Gia Gallone, a recent graduate from Rowan University with a love for writing, believes this book is a great tool to help anyone looking to strengthen his or her writing. “Stephen King is an amazing writer. If you’re looking for a book to read that will help you enhance your writing abilities, definitely check out this book,” she recommends.

12. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell believes success is a combination of opportunity and time spent on a task. He is a believer in the 10,000-hour rule: that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master anything. In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell takes you on a journey through the world of “outliers”—the best and the brightest, the famous and successful. He focuses on what makes these people different. He believes we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from. This book is a great eye-opener, filled with stories and lessons weaved together into one valuable, interesting book.

13. Put Your Dream to the Test by John C. Maxwell

“What’s the difference between a dreamer and someone who achieves a dream?” Dr. John Maxwell believes you will find the answer to this question after answering ten questions. This book provides you with a step-by-step plan to identify, follow, and eventually reach your dream. This is a perfect book to read after graduating when your dreams and possibilities are endless!

14. Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want by Jenny Blake

Life After College serves as a guide written specifically for recent grads and young professionals. Jenny Blake, popular blogger and life coach, uses a combination of anecdotes, insight and inspirational quotes to help readers focus on the big picture of many different aspects of life: work, money, home, friends & family, organization, dating & relationships, health, fun, relaxation and personal growth. This read will leave you feeling confident, inspired and ready to take action toward building the life you want. You’ll be embarking on your big post-college journey in no time with this manual by your side.

15. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Remember when we mentioned it’s no longer acceptable to make dinner in your microwave? Well, with that being said, now is a great time to invest in a handful of cookbooks. Pinterest is a great tool to use for finding recipes, but having cookbooks at home will help you improve your cooking abilities even further. Bittman has a whole series of How to Cook Everything books with over 4,000 recipes, ranging from holiday recipes, easy weekend recipes, vegetarian recipes and quick and simple recipes. Check them out!

16. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke by Suze Orman

Last, but certainly not least, every graduette needs to manage her finances… or lack thereof. You know all those money-related topics we all try our best to avoid thinking about: credit card debt, student loans, credit scores and insurance? Well, get ready to face it head-on. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke is a great guide to read when you don’t know where to begin when it comes to budgeting, personal finances and every other not-so-popular money topic.

 

Spend some time this summer reading these books and you’ll be a real-world pro in no time! We promise.

 

Read the full article on Her Campus!

New Year’s Resolutions – 2015

I have been working on my list of resolutions for 2015 and finally finished. Here’s a glimpse at my what my goals and resolutions are for this upcoming year:

 

1. Write/blog more often. I have the tendency to write and blog frequently, but only in the summer. When I’m at school I rarely write. I aim to change that.

2. Graduate magna cum laude. I currently have a 3.58 GPA and need a 3.6 to graduate magna cum laude. This should be relatively easy, except for the fact that I’m taking physics this semester… Uh oh.

3. Drink more water. This one is self explanatory. I’m so bad at remembering to do this, though.

4. Save my money. Before I buy anything, I need to stop and think, “Do I really need this?” The answer is typically no. Additionally, I want to create a personal budget every month. I already have a couple pages in the notes section of my planner reserved for this purpose.

5. Read 30 books. 2014 wasn’t my best year when it comes to reading a ton of books. Let’s hope 2015 is a little better.

6. Be more adventurous. Aka, go places!

7. Find a job I love.

8. Make more of an effort to hang out with Jeff. I really need to work on this. I take the fact that we live so close to each other for granted, both at home and at school.

9. Take more risks. Don’t pass down opportunities. But also, don’t over-fill my plate.

10. Don’t procrastinate. I always get my work done, no excuses. However, I need to stop waiting until the last minute to do it.

11. No more late-night snacking. I crave food late at night, every single night. I need to work on stopping this.

12. Eat more veggies. I love fruit, but rarely eat vegetables. I already bought myself carrots and ranch to motivate myself to eat more vegetables.

13. Cut back on junk food. As if late-night snacking isn’t bad enough, I eat junk food late at night. I went through multiple bags of truffles over the past few weeks and need to cut back on them. They’re just too yummy!

14. Yoga 3x/week. Oh, and take some workout classes like kickboxing and zumba.

15. Cook more often. This would also help me save money since I won’t be going out to eat as often.

16. Get at least eight hours of sleep every night. One can hope, right?

17. Stay positive. I need to look on the bright side of things from now on.

18. Better appreciate what I have. Don’t take things for granted.

19. Don’t overthink everything.

20. Don’t doubt myself as often. Be more confident in my abilities. 🙂

 

Book Review: Unravel by Calia Read

N ormally I would wait until I’ve read a bunch of books so I can review them all at once, but I need to make an exception.

I don’t know how I came upon this book, but I am so glad I did! I started it last night and couldn’t put it down all day until I finally finished. Now that it’s over, I wish I could erase it from my mind just so I can start over and re-read it. Yeah, it’s that good. Actually, it’s very likely I will be reading it again very soon.

For starters, the book cover is beautiful.

The book was released on February 17, just two weeks ago, and already has 1,168 ratings on Goodreads. It currently has a 4.23 stars out of 5. However, my rating upon completion was a well-deserved 5 stars!

The plot itself cannot be described in detail because anything I say would give it away. It is best to go into this book knowing very little and allowing your brain to string everything together. Once it all clicks, you’ll be in shock. But don’t be too shocked, because as soon as you think you know everything, it all changes and your mind gets blown all over again.

The main character is relatable and the men in her life are both attractive and wonderful in different ways. I think I related to the main character well because she was a 20-year-old girl, and it’s always nice reading a book where the narrator is the same age as you. In case you couldn’t tell from my previous book reviews, I enjoy young adult novels and also love mystery. This was the perfect balance between young adult and mature, and had the perfect amount of mystery.

Like I said, I can’t give too much away. But here is the blurb on the back of the book:

“Six months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine. One month ago, I was admitted into a psych ward. Yesterday, Lachlan visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind. Hours later, Max haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help. A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past. And now… everyone thinks I’m insane. But I know he’s real, and I know he needs me.

Do you believe me?”

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was because the main character is my age and that’s rare for me. Typically, the books I read have a protagonist in either high school or significantly older than I am. So this is perfect for those like me who can’t resist young adult novels even though you’re too old to be browsing through the teen section at Barnes and Noble.

I know this is a terrible book review because I’m not exactly explaining anything in elaborate detail, but I don’t want to spoil even a single aspect of the book. (And I’m usually a sucker for spilling the beans with spoilers to all my friends and family). Just take my word for it and grab this next time you are at the bookstore (or just download it on your iPad like I did).

I’d love to hear feedback from my readers after they finish the book. So drop a comment below and let me know what you thought.

Happy reading,

Courtney

Side note: this book contains some mature content and sensitive subject matters.

A Year of Reading – Reviews, 2013

I love to read, especially fiction! I am always in the middle of a book, so I figured I should start keeping a log of which books I read and what my opinions are of them. One of my guilty pleasures is reading books about teenagers, regardless of my age. I find them more entertaining and relatable. Maybe it’s because I’m only 20, so my teenage years weren’t very long ago. On the other hand, I enjoy reading books that are Fifty Shades of Grey-like. So if you like those, you’ll find them in here as well! Basically, I have an open mind when it comes to reading.

Anyway, I want to build an online reading list of memorable books I read in 2013 so my readers can discover new and exciting books to add to their reading lists! I can’t count how many times friends and family members have asked me for new books I can recommend for them to read, and I always love sharing my thoughts on previous reads. So here I am to share these recommendations to the world!

 

Click on the book for more information.

 

  • Burn for Burn
  • Fire with Fire
  • The Hollow
  • The Haunted
  • Best Served Cold
  • Gone Girl
  • Sharp Objects
  • If You Find Me
  • Hopeless
  • Losing Hope
  • Slammed
  • Point of Retreat
  • This Girl
  • Wait For You
  • Wreck Me
  • Restore Me
  • Beautiful Disaster
  • Walking Disaster
  • Revived
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Every Girls Guide
  • Hide and Seek
  • Cross My Heart
  • Seven Minutes
  • Best of Me
  • Vampire Diaries

 

 

The Best (Rating is 8+):

  • Burn for Burn (8/10)

I found this in a magazine which said, “if you like the show Revenge, check out this book.” Since Revenge is one of my favorite shows, I went ahead and bought this. The cover captured my attention as well. The storyline was fun to read and kept my attention. I was able to relate to the characters in multiple ways, regardless of the differences among them.

  • Fire with Fire (8/10)

This is the second book in the Burn for Burn trilogy (the third one doesn’t come out until September 2014 and I already pre-ordered it). I liked it slightly more than the first one because the plot was deeper and was able to progress forward more quickly because we already have been introduced to all the characters and their backgrounds. However, this book was obnoxiously long. I don’t mind the length, but it wasn’t necessary to make it so long. Overall, I would recommend this book series to my friends and family.

  • Gone Girl (10/10)

I’m sure most of you read this book already. I love mysteries. I grew up reading Mary Higgins Clark‘s books all the time (check out All Around the Town and Loves Music, Loves to Dance), so this book was wonderful because it had both drama and mystery embedded throughout the storyline. The first chapter was slow, but after I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Funny story: I bought this book on my Kindle for my trip to Europe this summer. I visited five countries with a group of students and we spent a lot of time driving. I was so into this book that while everyone else looked out the window to see everything we passed (or sleeping, because we woke up at 6 AM every morning), I was busy reading. The chaperone even yelled at me and said something along the lines of, “It’s a shame that you’re in a beautiful new country and you’re busy reading.” So yeah, I don’t know if it’s that funny of a story, but it shows how enjoyable this was to read. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already done so.

  • Hopeless (10/10)

This is my absolute favorite book! It starts off as a typical teenager book with a girl and a boy and romance. However, the craziest twists get thrown into the story. I was like, “holy shit, I didn’t see that one coming!” at least six different times throughout the span of the book. I don’t want to give anything away, because not knowing that the twists in the story are coming makes it more of a shock while you read it. Put this one at the top of your reading list.

  • Losing Hope (10/10)

Imagine the excitement you’d get if you found out they were making a different version of your favorite book. That’s what Losing Hope gave me. It’s the same storyline as Hopeless but from the boy’s perspective. At first I thought it wouldn’t be as fun to read because I knew what was coming. Boy was I wrong. There’s a reason I gave it a 10/10. My mom and sister actually ended up preferring this book over the original.

  • Slammed (8/10)

I chose to read this because it was written by the same woman who wrote Hopeless, Colleen Hoover. It isn’t as crazy and wonderful as Hopeless, but it was pretty damn good!

  • Wait For You (9/10)

I took a shot in the dark with this book. It was $1.99 for the Kindle version on Amazon so I figured I’d read it since I don’t have much to lose. I ended up loving it and raving about it to my family. They read it after I did, and they loved it as well. It’s like a toned down Fifty Shades-type book, but less corny. The main character is easy to relate to I finished this book within a couple of days because I refused to put it down.

  • Wreck Me (9/10)

If you liked Fifty Shades, read this. Just do it. You will not regret it, I promise. I wish they’d make this into a movie instead of Fifty Shades because the characters have so much more depth and the backstory between them is clever and creative of the author.

  • Beautiful Disaster (9/10)

I’m so glad they’re making this into a movie. I read this and made all my friends do the same as well. I think you get what I’m trying to tell you. I gave it a 9/10, so add it to your list.

  • Silver Linings Playbook (9/10)

This movie was incredible, so of course the book was even more mind-blowing.

 

Enjoyable to Read (Rating is 5-7):

  • Best Served Cold (5/10)

This isn’t a fiction story. It’s just a companion to the show, Revenge. It goes into the storylines and characters in the show and gives you a behind-the-scenes feel.

  • EveryGirls Guide to Life (7/10)

This isn’t a fiction story either. If you’re a girl, buy this. I saw it at Barnes and Noble and immediately bought it on my Kindle when I got home. I devoured this book and highlighted and bookmarked so many pages. It’s like the bible for women, covering topics such as: organizing, makeup, work, decor, fashion, love, hair, nails, health, recipes, working out, travel and more.

  • Sharp Objects (6/10)

I read this because it’s by the same author as Gone Girl. It was a little darker, so be cautious when reading this. The storyline itself is creative and original. I definitely haven’t read anything similar to this before.

  • Point of Retreat (7/10)

This is the second book of the Slammed series so if you decided to read that, there is a pretty good chance you didn’t stop at book one.

  • Walking Disaster (7/10)

Similar to how Losing Hope was Hopeless but from the boy’s perspective, this is Beautiful Disaster but from the boy’s perspective. Once again, my sister and mom preferred this one over the original. I guess it is personal preference of whether you want to hear the story from a girl’s or boy’s perspective.

  • Revived (6/10)

The book, Forgotten is written by the same author as Revived. I give Forgotten an 8/10, but I didn’t read that this year so it’s not included in this review. Both books were a good read though.

  • The Lying Game Series (7/10)

If you watched the show don’t say, “oh I watched the show so there’s no point in reading the books.” Guess what? They have almost nothing in common aside from character’s names. Oh, here’s the first difference: In the show, Sutton is alive. In the book, Sutton is dead. Yeah, nothing like the show. Read the series!

  • The Best of Me (7/10)

You can never go wrong with Nicholas Sparks. If you liked A Walk to Remember, Safe Haven, The Notebook and so on, you’ll like The Best of Me.

  • The Vampire Diaries (6/10)

I read these years ago, I think during my Sophomore year of high school, but decided to read them again because it’s my favorite show. These are good for teenagers, but I don’t recommend it to anyone over the age of 20.

 

Not The Greatest (Rating is 4 or below):

  • The Hollow (4/10)

I was expecting this to be great, so maybe that’s why it ended up with a low rating from me. It is a trilogy and it was kind of, for lack of a better word, boring.

  • The Haunted (3/10)

I don’t know why I bought the second book, since I felt that the first was boring. But it had a cliffhanger and I wanted to know what happened next. I never even finished it because I was so bored by lack of any of my questions being answered.

  • If You Find Me (4/10)

This was okay. Not terrible, not awesome. I don’t think I finished the entire thing though. Maybe I’d like it better if I finished it.

  • This Girl (4/10)

This is third book of the Slammed series. They should’ve left it at two books.

  • Restore Me (3/10)

Wreck Me was great from start to finish. Restore Me was good from the beginning of the last chapter to the end of the last chapter. I bought the third one since it just came out last week, I’ll probably read it eventually.

 

Now it’s your turn to recommend a book to me. Let me know if you have any books in mind that you think I’d enjoy. I’m always open to new book recommendations!

 

Thanks everyone, and happy reading 🙂

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