Six Books for (Not So) Recent Graduates

May 22, 2018

It’s graduation season, which has many women thinking about the trajectory of their lives since they turned their tassel.  Whether your career is going swimmingly or it’s hit a snag, we all need a bit of encouragement from time to time.  Here are a few of the books I give to new graduates or to friends who need inspiration to re-examine and revamp their professional lives.

A friend recommended Nice Girls to me when I was transitioning from administrative jobs into substantive roles, and it was a big help.  We learn a lot of unconscious lessons in our youth that can sabotage us as adults.  From asking for permission to being afraid to negotiate, it helps you unlearn those behaviors.

Ann Shoket wrote Big Life to appeal to millennial audiences.  It discusses side hustles, balancing relationships with work, and building confidence.  Even though I’m a perennial (an old millennial), I found that it helped me reconnect with the zest I felt in my early career.  Another friend, who manages a staff of ten women under-30, said that it helped her understand her staff in a new way.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is funny, enlightening, and filled with career lessons that any woman can benefit from learning.  Even if you don’t love politics, the stories are interesting and charming.  And you’ll finish the book wishing you were best friends with Alyssa. (It’s also $3.99 on Kindle.)

We all make mistakes at work.  I’ve made a few that I still look back on and cringe.  The women featured in Mistakes I Made at Work come from many different career paths, from a member of Sonic Youth to accomplished physician, so there’s a little something for everyone.  I found the book revealing and reflective.

The authors of How Women Rise are well-known leadership and career coaches.  The book takes the skills you have and bring them to the next level.  For example, if you’re a team player, you need to learn to take credit without upsetting the team dynamic.  It’s a great book if you’re trying to boost your skills or learn new ones.  My law school highlighters came out for an encore while reading it.

Feeling stuck in your career?  Yeah, you’re not the only one.  Most of the women I know in their thirties have or are feeling the same way.  Getting Unstuck focuses on the stories of professionals who have faced setbacks and how they moved past them.  Some started over completely, others pivoted, a few charged through, but the lessons they learned are applicable to many professional situations.

{this post contains Amazon affiliate links; image found here}

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  1. Rachel says:

    I have been reading “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea” and her whole section on getting a tampon dispenser in the White House is amazing. Her frankness about menstruating and IBS is refreshing.

  2. Cait says:

    I’d add the updated “Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office” to this list.

  3. Orla says:

    Love this post! Have read two out of the six…. *Adds four books to cart*

  4. KJ says:

    Perfect timing… you have no idea how needed this list was this AM!

  5. Susan says:

    One I would add for all you working moms out there: “Drop the Ball” by Tiffany Dufu. Amazing book, great writing, not self help fluff at all

  6. Prague says:

    Ask a Manager’s Alison Green has a new book out of the same name as the blog. Her site’s pretty amazing.

  7. Kelli says:

    168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam is another great addition to the list. It completely changed the way I look at how I allocated time to work and family life.

  8. Niki says:

    Perfect timing for me too! I just moved into a management role and am going to grab How Women Rise and Mistakes I Made at Work.

    Also, I LOVED Alyssa’s book!

  9. KatHleen says:

    Great list, thank you! Any suggestions on books or gifts for high school grads?

  10. caitlin says:

    Thanks for the list! I fall under “not-so-recent graduate” but I’m hustling to move from a administrative role into a managerial role and ANY sort of guidance is much appreciated.

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