Congratulations! You’re done! You’ve accomplished something. Now comes the daunting task of figuring out what comes next. Maybe you already have your dream job lined up; maybe you’re going to take a break from adulting for some travel and adventure; maybe you have no idea what you’re doing.
It’s all fine! Regardless of where your life plans stand, enjoy the celebration and bask in the glory of completing a degree. Here are some books to get you inspired for the next chapter and keep you inspired when the commencement party is over.
Portland literary superstar Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things is a “best of” treasure trove of wisdom and spot-on advice from her Dear Sugar column. From love and relationships to career questions and personal trauma, Strayed has an aphorism or nugget of hope for all of her “sweet peas” in any situation. You can buy the cute little book for your bedside table or read her responses in full for free at The Rumpus online. Strayed’s insights are sure to keep you doing life “like a motherf*cker” long after you’ve tossed your graduation cap.
When you want to be entertained without sacrificing the intelligence and critical thinking skills you’ve spent your college years building, then pick up Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. These essays are funny, stupid smart, and will keep challenging you to think in new and meaningful ways about the world and your place in it.
School can obviously be a great place to make friends. Every new class or club activity or sunny day doing homework out on the Park Blocks is an opportunity to mingle and meet new people, including that special person. But as many post-school singles can tell you, dating in the real world can be hard. So let comedian Aziz Ansari give you a few pointers—and a few laughs. Modern Romance draws on legitimate social science to help us navigate technology and relationships in the 21st century.
You Are a Badass is a self-help book for people who detest self-help books. Jen Sincero turns every corny cliché on its head and reminds us that loving and believing in ourselves is really just common sense. Through hilarious storytelling and language that beams with authenticity and not a drop of condescension, Sincero provides practical and profound advice about how to kick ass at life.
“This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life” is an essay by literary giant David Foster Wallace based on the commencement speech he delivered at Kenyon College in 2005. In it, Wallace breathes fresh meaning into the typical banal platitudes we’ve come to expect from the commencement speech genre. He posits that a good education doesn’t just teach us how to think, but how to choose what to think about. That may seem obvious, but he contends that it is often the obvious, the thing right in front of you, that’s most important. Written with his typical humor and wit in searing prose, this is a great book to come back to again and again.