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I had 2 cousins recently graduate – 1 from high school an 1 from college. I tend to gift a lot of books, but haven’t given many to young adults going through this crucial transition out of university and in to the workforce. They’ll be making a lot of like altering decisions in the next few years and you want to give them the best advice you can.
I scrolled through several years of amazon orders looking for the things that best fit the situation. My top 10 are below.
Business / Career
Regardless of the career path you choose to take, basic business skills and knowledge are a must. We all need to understand how to add value. The Personal MBA will give you a foundation in marketing, sales, and a dozen other topics. I believe this is the perfect starter book for any graduate.
The One Thing is a great primer for any graduate on focusing on the things that matter. Always ask yourself what is the 1 thing that will make everything else easier.
Carl Richards doesn’t introduce any new concepts in this book. What he does do is distill the basic lessons of personal finance in an incredibly easy and clear lessons that any 20 something can absorb. His ability to take complicated concepts and break them down in to a single, simple image is almost magic.
The JLF method isn’t for everyone, but it’s something that every single graduate should at least be introduced to. When the only thing you’ve ever heard is save 10% and retire at 65, it’s hard to imagine another option. Just reading Early Retirement Extreme will open the eyes of every young person to what is possible and let them then decide how “extreme” to take their financial plan.
This is probably not a typical book for a new graduate, but it’s the single best primer on economics 101 that I’ve ever read. While you can get by in life without ever really understanding economics I think getting the basics is going to make you a smarter, more informed person who better understands the world around them.
Life / Personal Improvement
Vagabonding is another eye opener, much like ERE that can show a new graduate there are a lot ways to live your life and that travel doesn’t have to be only 2 weeks a year or for the rich. Rolf Potts is a revolutionary that every young person should read.
I sound like a broken record, but I’ve chosen many of these books because of their ability to show a young person a world view, lifestyle, or way of life that they may never have encountered up to now. People love Tim Ferris for this exact reason. Nobody was talking about lifestyle businesses, working remotely, or any of the other things he covers. Tim is a genius at distilling down complex ideas in to their most basic and important substance and should be a must read for grads.
The greatest commencement address ever given, now in print. David Foster Wallace, in only 20 minutes, manages to teach every one of us the value of empathy and compassion for one another despite the monotony of our day.
While I’ve not read near enough psychology, I really loved Daniel Gilbert’s book. He brings a lot to the table in terms of understanding what makes us happy, why, and how to get there.
Everyone needs a bit of philosophy in their lives. I never really encountered any that made an impact until after college. The first was the discovery of libertarianism and the second was Stoicism. Meditations is one of the best introductions to the topic of living a good life.
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