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11 Books to Read Before Graduating College


By Annika Tomlin

11. “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov

Despite the controversial and shocking topic of the book, “Lolita” is a top read because of its intricate use of words to tell a challenging story. The book follows a middle-aged French literature professor who is obsessed with a 12-year-old American girl. 


10. “The Iliad” by Homer

If you haven’t already read “The Iliad” or “The Odyssey” by Homer sometime during your school career, now is the time to do so. Along with being one of the oldest texts of Western literature, “The Iliad” is an ancient Greek epic poem set during the Trojan War, telling of the battles and events between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

9. “Big Magic: Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert

From the same author of “Eat. Pray. Love.” comes a book centered on the mysterious nature of inspiration and embracing one’s curiosity. Gilbert shows readers how to tackle what they love the most, and how to face what they fear the most. She does this by discussing the attitudes, approaches and habits people need to live their most creative lives.

8. “I Will Teach You to be Rich” by Ramit Sethi

Raised in a middle-class family, Ramit Sethi created a system to apply for scholarships to afford his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Stanford University. During this time, he flipped the script on poor financial advice and focused on the psychology behind living a rich life. 

7. “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear

During college, students stop destructive habits. This book will help find an enjoyable career path, maintain healthy relationships and have a well-balanced life.

6. “Letters to a Young Contrarian” by Christopher Hitchens

Contrary to what some might think, it’s OK to have differing positions. Christopher Hitchens inspires the next generation of rebels, mavericks and women and men of tomorrow by exploring the range of contrary positions. Hitchens touches on his own ideological development, the nature of debate and humor, the ways in which an apology can be twisted offensively or in a laughable manner and how to see through this.

5. “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain

Susan Cain writes about the rise of the “extrovert ideal” throughout the 20th century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. Along the way, she introduces readers to successful introverts who have made an undervalued impact on society.


4. “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism re-energizes and reshapes the conversation around racial justice in America by defining new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Taking a step away from the current policies and systems that are in place, this book asks the reader to imagine an antiracist society and how people can play an active role in making that a reality. Kendi combines ethics, history, law and science to create his memoir, including the story of his own awakening to antiracism.

3. “Anti-Time Management: Reclaim Your Time and Revolutionize Your Results with the Power of Time Tipping” by Richie Norton

A graduate of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU, Richie Norton disrupts the long-held belief that time management is the key to achieving goals, dreams and happiness. Instead, Norton tells readers to find their motivation, prioritize their ideals and create a flexible work-life lifestyle regardless of how busy or successful they are. He elaborates on the concept of time tipping, a framework that allows individuals to live and work wherever they choose.

2. “What Next?: Your Five-Year Plan for Life After College” by Elana Lyn Gross

The infamous question asked to every soon-to-be college graduate is “What’s next?” Now, there is an answer to the question. This book weaves a detailed guide to create a five-year plan and to set yourself up for success. Pinpointing every detail for life after graduation can be stressful, but Elana Lyn Gross helps readers focus on making the most out of the years following earning a degree. Between finding the first job outside college, managing money and treating yourself, this book covers it all.

1. “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes

The creator behind “Grey’s Anatomy,” “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Scandal,” Shonda Rhimes tells readers how her life was forever changed by saying “yes.” Despite having multiple successful shows on the air, Rhimes, being an introvert, ended up hiring a publicist to do her public appearances for her. After her sister pointed out that “You never say yes to anything,” she agreed to everything that scared her for a year. This book captures those 12 months. CT


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