When you finish high school, college, or after college, it can be hard to think about. The end of happy times in your life, or the start of a new and better chapter, doesn’t matter. It still means change. What comes next is what you’ve been working for for the last few years. You’ll get your diploma and the degree you’ve been working for. And getting good grades might not be as easy as it sounds.
These kinds of maps or guides would come in handy. Books are the next best thing to having a step-by-step guide for what to do after college or how to reach your ultimate goals in life, but there isn’t one. As someone who has been through a big change, reading about the lives of people who have, or following the story of a character who has, can help you figure out how to handle it. If you’re a senior or a recent grad, these are some of the best books you can read right now.
Becoming, by Michelle Obama
To help you get through college, who better than Michelle Obama to be your guide to the world afterward? They all love to recommend her New York Times bestseller, “Becoming,” to their friends. This book is a retelling and reflection on the good and bad things that happened to her. They made her into the person she is today. It’ll also make anyone who reads it look inside, grow through both good and bad things in their lives, and try to be the best version of themselves.
The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch
This book has sold more than 5 million copies in the last 13 years. And it’s a great gift for grads. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, delivers his “last lecture”—a lecture profs are sometimes asked to make if it were to be their very last in life. Relying on Your Childhood Dreams was a smart, funny, and inspiring talk by Randy Pausch. It was all about living life.
Less: A Novel, by Andrew Sean Greer
Nearly 50-year-old failed novelist Arthur Less is trying to get away from everything and not go to his ex-boyfriend of nine years’ wedding. He decides that the best thing to do is to use this as an excuse to travel and go to half-baked literary events in different countries around the world, which he’s been asked to. There are all kinds of things that go wrong on his trip. But on this crazy trip, he also finds love.
This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life, by David Foster Wallace
Everyone should read this. If you want to read David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College, this book is for you. It’s a print-out of that speech. The author gives us a glimpse into his personal life, as well as some of his best philosophical thoughts about life, how people live it, and what it means.
The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories, by Marina Keegan
When Marina Keegan graduated from Yale in May 2012, she got the honor of magna cum laude. Looking ahead, her future looked good. She had a job at the New Yorker and was excited about it. However, she died in a car accident just five days after she graduated from high school. The last essay she wrote for the Yale Daily News that went viral will stay with people for ever. There is a book called “The Opposite of Loneliness.” It includes that essay, as well as other essays and stories Marina wrote about how hard it is to figure out how you can make a difference in the world.
Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear, by Carl Hiaasen
There is nothing uplifting or inspirational about this speech. A jokey commencement address tells people to, as the title says, think the worst. Jokes aside, this book is full of hard love and has some really funny and useful advice for people who are taking the next big step in their lives.
Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, by Kelly Williams Brown
After school, this might be the best guide you can get. Adulting is based on a popular blog written by author Kelly Williams Brown. The blog tries to break down the overwhelming demands of the “real world” and being an adult into simple, easy steps. This book gives advice on everything from finding a place to live and fixing the toilet to dating and relationships. It tries to be as complete as possible with its tips and tricks for people who want to be adults.
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It, by Lauren Graham
Her own words of advice for graduates are good: In the end, don’t worry about it. If you want to read Lauren Graham’s commencement speech that she made at Langley High School in 2017, this book is for you! The actress writes in a voice that is both relatable and comforting. She also draws her own pictures to make the story more fun.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, by Mark Manson
After college, everyone wants to live a good life, but Mark Manson says that the way to get there is to not give a fuck. In the past, Maroon 5 said that “In life, things don’t always turn out the way they should. It’s a trade-off.” In this book, both academic research and poop jokes are used to make the case that you should learn to let things go and only care about the things that are important to you.
The Beautiful Chaos of Growing Up, by Ari Satok
In this case, you should like it if you like poetry more than you like reading about it. This collection of poems is all about the not-so-straightforward, sometimes-messy journey to independence and becoming a full-fledged adult. In this book, it talks about graduating from high school, job interviews and internships, college friendships, dating, and more!
Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self, by Manoush Zomorodi
In the beginning, it can be hard to remember that you don’t have to do anything all the time. Society seems to be based on being productive, and a lot of people work too hard. This book is a little reminder that taking a pause, letting yourself get bored, and spacing out can actually help you become your most brilliant self.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
No, this is not just for people who study economics. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn more about the weirdest things and weird things that happen in everyday life. There are a lot of different things the book talks about, like crack dealing, real estate agents, the Klu Klux Klan, and a lot more. It’s also about how people get what they want or need even when there’s a lot of competition and other people want the same thing.