The anxiety-inducing, plunging uncertainty inherent in the transition from college into adulthood is talked about constantly, yet never near enough. I was in no way prepared to fall off the abyss from an honors student, still giddy with champagne in my black robes to the paralyzing question mark that followed me for the next month, the next year. Sitting wedged in the back of my parents’ minivan, tears streaming steadily down my face as I listened to the most nostalgic songs I could find, I was blissfully unaware. I had no idea.
Still, regardless of what Instagram may tell you, you aren’t alone. And while you might get lucky with a group of friends who talk openly and candidly about their experiences, about how nothing in their life is going according to plan, these books, in their beautiful, honest entirety, can serve the same function.
1. Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
This stunning collection of advice columns reads more like essays as Strayed talks falling in love, developing a career, and falling, again and again, on the way to living your life.
2. The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan
Keegan graduated Yale with a job already lined up at the New Yorker when she died suddenly in a car crash. Her essays that she left behind with the themes of living in the moment and following your dreams are that much more poignant because of it.
3. The Defining Decade, Meg Jay
This book urges you not to dismiss your 20s and just trying to “figure it out,” but instead to recognize them for what they are: important, in terms of career, love, and life.
4. Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett
As a woman going into any career, this book on combatting sexism in the workplace is a must-read. As a man going into any career, this book on being an ally to women battling sexism in the workplace is a must-read.
5. The Gift, Lewis Hyde
This book inspires you to nurture your creativity throughout your lifetime in a world that largely ignores its importance.
6. Yes Please, Amy Poehler
Poehler’s thoughts on everything from her career — which she acknowledges she worked for and deserves — to dealing with sexism to friendship to her family is dripping with beauty, passion, and sass.
7. Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, Kelly Williams Brown
This book gives advice on everything from finding an apartment to avoiding romance in the office. I hate the word “adulting,” but this book is necessary.