Books Every New Grad Student Should Read (At Least Once)

Kelsie Foreman
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May 21, 2021

As the month of May comes to a close, graduating students everywhere are finally pushing through their final few weeks of school. And regardless of if you are graduating from high school or college, graduation is an important life milestone that signifies tons of opportunity and new things to come. Change (especially the unknown kind!) can be scary, but at BookClub we know that books give you the knowledge needed to navigate all of life's transitions. Below you’ll find a few of our most favorite books that we think are worthy of a spot on every grad’s to-read list. 


Getting There by Gillian Zoe Segal

College grads about to embark on the job hunt will appreciate this powerful read by Gillian Zoe Segal, who is also the author of another hit, New York Characters. Segal understands how difficult but crucial it is to find a good mentor, so she compiled the witty advice from over 30 industry experts into this one book. Not only do Segal and her class of experts provide great advice on navigating the pitfalls of one’s career, but they’ve got some excellent insight into the pitfalls and hardships that sometimes occur in one’s life as well. 

While the book itself has pages and pages of great advice (191 of them to be exact!) our very favorite is probably this: “Over the years, people have come to me and said, “You can’t do everything.” That is total bullshit. You certainly can do everything.”

The Beautiful Chaos of Growing Up by Ari Sotak


Perfect for high schoolers setting off to start the next phase of their lives, this collection of poetry will stir up a much-needed dose of nostalgia while examining the sometimes harsh realities of moving out, going to college, and finding the perfect job. Without being too glum or overwhelming, Sotak has an innate ability to capture the emotions behind these real-life moments, because the moments depicted are his own experiences, and showcases them in an incredibly raw way that is sure to resonate and impact young readers who are going through the same thing. 

If there’s one thing that the team at BookClub recommends that you do, it’s read this collection of poems the night before your graduation ceremony for a unique perspective that will definitely make you feel some type of way.

Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders


“Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness,” said George Saunders during a 2013 commencement speech that left an impact on many.

At first, Saunders only shared this commencement address to the class at Syracuse University but editors at the New York Times were impressed with his candor and picked up the full-length speech to run. Upon publication by the Times, thousands were inspired by Saunders’ advice to always “err in the direction of kindness,” and Random House published the speech in book form in 2014. A quick, insightful read, Saunders’ candid recount of his life will inspire you to always work to be a little kinder. Something that we could all use after an especially traumatic year! 

The Freshman Survival Guide by Bill McGarvey and Nora Bradbury-Haehl


Those preparing to start their first semester of college in August probably have tons of questions about roommates, dorm living, class expectations, and more. While most of these questions will be covered during your college orientation that usually happens a few weeks prior to the start of courses, in case they aren’t, this survival guide written by experts Bill McGarvey and Nora Bradbury-Haehl will give you an fully-encompassed look at the college experience while answering some of your most embarrassing questions about school, no matter what they may be! 

Full of easy-to-read stories and tips from those who have actually been there, this book is a critical addition to the library of any student heading off to college this year.

The Entrepreneur Mind by Kevin Johnson


Eager to use your newfound freedom from school to dip your toe into entrepreneurship? We recommend reading The Entrepreneur Mind by Kevin Johnson before you decide to take that final plunge. Johnson, a successful entrepreneur behind companies like Johnson Media, Inc., believes that entrepreneurs who are successful all share the same mindset, learned through a series of 100 lessons in a variety of categories like leadership, marketing and sales, finance, and more. 

As Johnson says in this book, “All entrepreneurs must ask themselves three vital questions that concern their business strategy: Where are we now? Where do we want to be? How do we get there?” This book explains how to decipher those questions and make the decisions crucial to the success of your startup company. 

No matter where the next chapter of your life takes you, remember that you don’t have to go in at it alone: these books are here to help guide you! Whether it’s the advice of 30+ mentors in Getting There by Gillian Zoe Segal or the powerful reminder to stay kind no matter where your journey takes you from George Saunders, the books on this list are sure to help keep you on track. What book do you plan on reading in celebration of the Class of 2021? Share it with us by tweeting to us @bookclubdotcom. 

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