10 Books to Read Before Starting Your First Job
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read. My mom always took me + my brother to the local library growing up, and I would check out so many books I couldn’t hold them all on the walk to the car! I love that reading encourages you to think differently, allows you to escape your reality, experience someone else’s perspective, and keeps your mind sharp by teaching you new things.
During college I didn’t have as much time to read, because my classes had enough required readings keeping me busy (I’m sure anyone who is in college or graduated can relate!). By senior year, my course work had whittled down giving me some free time to read more frequently. During holidays as well I would take advantage of my free time and read, plus when it was 20 degrees in December in Buffalo I really didn’t want to do anything else.
This year I set a goal on Goodreads to read 20 books. If you don’t use Goodreads yet, get your ass over there and make an account! It’s an amazing way to keep track of what books you’ve read and want to read, and you can get recommendations from friends or the community. I use my to-read list any time I go to the library to figure out what to read next. Anyway, I’ve read 52 books this year so far. YUP, I said 52. I’ve had a lot of free time this summer, what can I say?
With my book knowledge, I put together a list of books that are great for recent college grads who are about to become adults, covering a wide range of topics! Side note: they are in no particular order.
- The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay: What I loved about this book is that it gives personal narratives from twenty-somethings who are struggling with everything from romance to career, but also provides statistics that make you go “oh, crap!”. Realizing that most of your career growth will happen in my twenties and that in your early 20s your brain is more permeable than ever before were startling and made me take this stage of life more seriously.
- The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor: I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a good happiness book. Anchor promotes the idea that happiness leads to success, rather than happiness coming from success - an important reminder in today’s comparison culture! There are also concrete steps we can take to make ourselves happier, based on Anchor’s extensive research.
- Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin: I first read Rubin’s The Happiness Project this past spring and did a short-term happiness project of my own. Along with happiness, I love reading about habits, and I think this book does a great job of helping you figure out how to change your habits. She provides a plethora of questions to ask yourself to figure out your tendencies and gives great advice on how to form worthy habits. This is great if you want to start new habits before starting your job - Rubin points out that big life changes often create beneficial environments for new habits, so a time of change is the best time to audit your habits!
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki: This book is timeless - first published in 1997, I read it this summer and it still had relevant advice. Kiyosaki talks about the importance of having your money work for you, describes the differences between rich and poor (it’s not what you think it is!), and compares money philosophies from two father figures in his life. The tips in this book aren’t as tangible or relevant for creating your first budget after college or how to pay off your debt, but is more big picture thinking and helps you look at your finances in the grand scheme.
- MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche: Rachel Bertsche writes about her mission to find a new best friend, as the title suggests, once she moves to Chicago away from her tight-knit friend group in NYC. She goes on 52 friend dates and talks about her experience as a young, married woman trying to find her girl squad. I’ll admit it got a bit slow during the middle, as it was hard to keep track of all the different women she ‘dated’, but it serves as a reminder about the necessity to put yourself out there to make new friends - a good message for us recent college grads out on our own.
- The Body Book by Cameron Diaz: Starting a new job, moving to a new city, navigating adulthood - it’s all so time consuming. Cameron Diaz’s book provides the foundation for leading a healthy life, loving your body, and taking care of yourself. Self-care is crucial, and this book points out how to make health an integral part of your life. Bonus: it makes a great coffee table book!
- Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(isn) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown: My roommate from college lent me this book after I saw it on her desk and was curious if there were any tips that I would find useful. This is a humorous play on adulating but it also provides tangible tips to help you be a real adult. Fun topics include buying furniture, how to cook, sleeping with coworkers, and more!
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: Any #girlboss who wants to do big things in the world needs to read this book! Sandberg is the ultimate girl boss who does amazing things at Facebook and advocates for equality in the workforce. My favorite section of the book is when she talks about her marriage to Dave and the importance of picking a partner who views you as an equal and will support all of your endeavors. It’s a short book too so you have no excuse not to read it!
- I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam: Laura Vanderkam’s book fascinated me since I love getting a peek into other people’s lives and reading about real-life social studies. Her book discusses how working women who are successful and have families spend their time. The inner sociologist in me geeked out while reading this book, and if you have intentions of being a working mom, I would definitely give this book a read! Vanderkam looks at the hot topic of ‘having it all’ and how women do it.
- Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: I first fell in love with Aziz Ansari watching him in Parks and Recreation. He brings his humor style into his book but also has the help of a psychologist to combine humor with factual information regarding dating, love, and marriage. From discussing the best pictures to use on your Bumble profile to figuring out why he never responded, this book is helpful for any Millennial navigating the confusing world of love today.
I hope that I was able to provide some good reading inspo for you, even if you only read a few of these books! I can confidently say that reading each of these books has helped me prepare for my impending move to a new city + start of my job. If you have any good book recommendations, leave a comment! I'm always on the hunt for a new good read.