This month, many men and women across the nation will be walking across the stage to receive their hard-earned college degree. While you may have spent years with your nose buried in the books, those were likely all related to your field of study and electives you either loved or loathed. Sure you may have had that one professor who imparted sage wisdom a’la Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, but beyond that, how well-prepared are you for post-university life? Below are five of the best books new college grads can glean to help get ready for the world ahead.

The Last Lecture

This is actually a printed version of Carnegie Melon professor Randy Pausch’s lecture titled, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. However, Pausch was diagnosed with terminal cancer around the time he initially gave this talk in 2007, and it has served as a key part of his legacy since his death in 2008. Pausch was an accomplished individual, with stints at Electronic Arts and as member of the Disney Imagineers team. These achievements didn’t just land in his lap, however; Pausch had made it a point to seize any opportunity he could and did so with unbridled optimism.

Thought-provoking and inspirational, The Last Lecture is a terrific book for new grads who may be facing hardship or trying to achieve lofty goals. Rated 4.7/5 stars from thousands of readers, you can pick it up in hardcover at Amazon for $12 or $11 on Kindle.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***

Mark Manson’s book is a total 180 from Pausch’s in terms of tone, but the heart of the message in The Subtle Art is invaluable. Based on his similarly irreverent blog, Manson presents a no-nonsense approach to self-help with no fluff to be found. But the candor is refreshing, and at times humorous. Not to give away any spoilers, but Manson isn’t suggesting people not care about anything, only the things that matter. Doing so will save you loads of energy and angst.

If you don’t want to be coddled (anymore), The Subtle Art will be a welcome addition to your library. Learn how to use your f-words properly and get a few laughs out of it in the process. Rated 4.4/5 stars on Amazon, where you can grab it for $11 in paperback or $13 on Kindle.

Lean In for Graduates

This is an expanded version of Sheryl Sandberg’s popular book Lean In, which is specifically geared towards women. This edition, however, is accessible to any recent grad who is about to enter the workforce. Learn how to find your first job, negotiate a fair wage, and “own who you are.” Where your school career counselor may have fallen short, Lean In for Graduates will likely help you fill in those gaps so you can start post-grad life on the best foot.

Practical advice is especially useful for new college grads, and this book has plenty of it. Reviews are still coming in, but it’s rated 4.5/5 stars. Buy it now at Amazon for $14 in hardcover or $13 on Kindle.

Failing Forward

The title may seem like an oxymoron at first, but New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell encourages readers to do just that. How? First, by acknowledging that failure is an inevitable part of life, no matter how prestigious your education was. Maxwell speaks from his own experiences in this book, as he was deathly afraid of failure once he graduated from school. However, he learned to make failure his friend, and encourages readers to do the same.

The sad reality is you’ll find yourself on the losing end of situations often in adulthood. Re-purposing failures into valuable life lessons will surely benefit you in the long run at work, in relationships, and life in general. (After all, John C. Maxwell turned all of his into a successful book.) It has a 4.6/5 star rating on Amazon; find it in paperback for $13 or on Kindle for $11.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

We’d be remiss to leave this classic Dr. Seuss title off our list of best books for new grads. Although it’s geared towards children, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! features a timeless message about the uncertainties of life in clever Seussian prose that everyone can enjoy. Even if “[you] can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch,” it’s still possible to “join the high fliers who soar to high heights.” Just believe you can do it.

This makes a great send-off present for anyone who is embarking on a new adventure, especially one into the real world. The nearly 30-year-old title has a remarkable 4.8/5 star rating from nearly 10,000 readers who have likely been to many places. Buy the hardcover edition at Amazon for $11 or the Kindle edition at $10.

Your own best books for new college grads?

What books helped prepare you for life right after college? Which books do you wish you had read while you were in that transitional phase of your life? Share your suggestions with us in the comments.

Meanwhile, enhance your reading experience with these unique book accessories for $30 or less. You can also add to your reading list by checking out our favorite titles for May.


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