3 Books Every New Grad Should Read


Whether you’re commuting to your summer job, lazing around at the cottage, or hanging out in a hostel – this is the perfect time to pick up a book.

These three reads will encourage you to think about, prepare for, and appreciate the changes that will soon be coming your way after graduation.

the defining decadeFor the practical: The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, PhD

This book inspires action like no other. In this quick-read, Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist specializing in adult development, discusses the importance of making good decisions in your 20s. She combines real patient stories with scientific data to prove how your early choices can have lasting effects on your career, love life, and happiness. In her book, Dr. Jay discusses topics such as finding your first job, the importance of your social circle, and factors to consider when choosing to date someone.

Favourite part: The section on the “cohabitation effect”, which explains the long-term consequences of hastily deciding to live with a romantic partner.

the-opposite-of-lonelinessFor the uncertain: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

You may have read Keegan’s essay of the same name, which became popular following her tragic death shortly after she graduated from Yale in 2012. That essay captures the unique emotions that a lot of us may feel when graduating – a combination of nostalgia, doubt, and optimism. The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of Keegan’s essays and short stories that explore the same themes. Some of her pieces are realistic and personal (like a humorous take on her gluten allergy), while others are more imaginative and risky.

Favourite essay: “Even Artichokes Have Doubts”, where Keegan questions why such a large percentage of her classmates are interested in pursuing consulting and finance careers.

if this isnt nice what is3) For the literary: If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? By Kurt Vonnegut

After the success of Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five in 1969, he became a highly-coveted commencement speaker. This book is a collection of the nine speeches he made at various US post-secondary schools in the following twenty-five years. He talks about various topics such as technology, religion, and the significance of community – all with a lens of criticism and wit. When reading this, picture yourself at your own graduation ceremony. You will learn from and laugh at his personal stories and observations.

Favourite quote: From his speech at Syracuse University in 1994, “…the most wonderful thing…you can get from an education is this – the memory of one person who could really teach, whose lessons made life and yourselves much more interesting and full of possibilities than you had previously supposed possible. I ask this of everyone here…How many of us…had such a teacher? Kindergarten counts. Please hold up your hands. Hurry. You may want to remember the name of that great teacher.”

These are just three of the many books that offer varying perspectives on how to handle the challenges that come with young adult life as a new grad. They should not tell you what to do or what not to do, but should rather inspire you to seek those answers for yourself. Happy reading!

What books are on your reading list? Comment below!

About the author

Allison Tse is a marketing professional with three years of experience in the credit card industry. She currently works at CIBC, but started her career at American Express after graduating from the Queen’s Commerce program. Outside of work, Allison loves to cook and is currently pursuing a Culinary Arts Certificate at George Brown College in Toronto. Check out her profile on LinkedIn