Books for Grads

photos by Matt Cornelius
photos by Matt Cornelius

Graduation time feels a bit like being on the cusp of a new year. The blank slate of a new life path can be a thrilling rebirth and, at the same time, paralyze you with the scaries. For many graduates, this could mean heading off to an oversized elementary school that makes you feel tiny, leaving the comforts of your childhood hometown to embark on a brave new world, or packing up your college apartment and thinking, now what?

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

While I recommended this book in my annual holiday gift-giving review, I have never reviewed it on paper. It is a book I have read multiple times and recommended to anyone interested in understanding people and themselves on a deeper level. The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile does an excellent job of explaining the Enneagram, which can be a helpful tool in understanding who you are at the root of what brings you joy and your deepest fear. It will also open your eyes to see the goodness at the heart of the people around you. “The Enneagram is a tool that awakens our compassion for people just as they are, not the people we wish they would become so our lives would become easier.”

James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Another book I recommend at the start of a New Year that seems equally fitting for the new beginnings of graduation is Atomic Habits by James Clear. The book’s message is straightforward and insightful for the recent grad learning to form healthy habits and get into the new college or post-grad work rhythm. “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves, and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.”

Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

I go back to Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell over and over. You have heard me review many books on the power of changing our minds, and for my money, there is no one better at helping you consider the other side than Gladwell. Heading off to or out of college is a ripe time to examine perspectives and ideals you hold dear. The same goes for us not graduating humans. “We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of clues. We jump at the chance to judge strangers. We would never do that to ourselves, of course. We are nuanced and complex, and enigmatic. But the stranger is easy. If I can convince you of one thing in this book, let it be this: Strangers are not easy.”

You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself any direction you choose!” —Dr. Seuss

My tiniest human will graduate Pre-K in a few weeks, and while we could argue that graduating from every grade can get a tad non-special, I can not help but stand back and celebrate that we made it through infancy and toddlerhood. She is off and on her way to great places, and I promise not to blink because I have been assured by the veterans who have gone before me that I will be buying her books to prepare her for college before I can finish a Dr. Seuss sentence.

I polled a handful of reader buddies, and we all agreed that these books are also worth gifting...

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Carol Dweck

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Stephen Covey

How to Win Friends and Influence People
by Dale Carnegie

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
by Patrick Lencioni

by Malcolm Gladwell

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else
by Geoff Colvin

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May 2023
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