Graduation is just as life-changing as being in college itself. A whole world has opened up before you and endless paths lie ahead. This is one of the most daunting moments of your life. You are not alone in this, and many authors have taken it upon themselves to create literature that gives insight to the world and life in general.
1. “Now What?!” by Ari King
“Now what” is probably a relatable question for new graduates. Countless hours and sleepless nights have led to this moment. You have just finished graduation, degree in hand. “Now what?”
The book includes conversations with recent graduates and famous people who graduated Cal Poly.
“The conversations are honest and relatable, no matter what stage of ‘figuring it all out’ you’re in,” Reyna Cazares wrote.
Sometimes you need a little guidance. Sometimes you need to find your own way. But sometimes, seeing how other people handle this new chapter can help you handle yours.
2. “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara
With a diverse and unique cast of characters, “A Little Life” follows four young graduates of a prestigious college. They struggle and fight against life’s obstacles, seeking to find and fulfill their dreams.
Yanagihara’s bitterly real novel on the lives and relationships of these men is both refreshing and stressful. There will be times when you doubt the characters and even yourself. The book has been both praised and scrutinized for this by The Guardian’s critics.
“It may be dark and traumatic, but Hanya Yanagihara’s second novel offers a refreshingly modern take on friendship in the age of anxiety,” Brigid Delaney of The Guardian wrote in a review.
3. “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Distinguishing between right and wrong is much more complicated than taking a required Ethics class. It involves understanding and perspective. Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun” puts the Nigerian Civil War under different lenses to give that perspective.
This is not just about being a good college graduate. Being a good person starts with understanding.
4. “Angel of History” by Rabih Alameddine
In life, you will meet people that have had very different experiences than you. Perspective and empathy are hard to hold without knowing a whole life story. Rabih Alameddine provides readers with his in his book “The Angel of History,” exploring varying themes from loss and self-identification to politics and prejudice.
The novel centers on a gay, Yemeni-born poet waiting to check into a mental health facility. The story takes place over that one night.
The novel is the winner of the Northern California Book Award, the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction and the Arab American Book Award for Fiction.
5. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
“Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Doctor Seuss is a staple of any graduate gift basket, but there is another children’s book out there fit for graduation: “Where the Wild Things Are.” Critically praised for being a colorfully psychological experience, this 338-word picture book conveys morals about anger and imagination through beautiful illustrations and a simple story about a boy’s dreams.
“[They are] all variations on the same theme: how children master various feelings – danger, boredom, fear, frustration, jealousy – and manage to come to grips with the realities of their lives,” Sendak said.
We all deal with these realities of life, and sometimes you do not need a 500-page novel to help you understand and overcome them. Sometimes, it just takes a good children’s book. Sendak sees three of his books as a trio: “Where the Wild Things Are”, “In the Night Kitchen” and “Outside Over There.”