Top 10 Books to Read Before You Graduate

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Need new books to read as you travel around the world this summer or lounge lazily at home? Instead of binge watching all seven seasons of Bob’s Burgers, pick up one of these books. “It’s not just the books you read while in college, but the fact that you do read while you’re in college and talking to others about them is something you shouldn’t stop doing after you graduate,” said Kim Emery, University of Florida U.S. Literatures & Culture, Queer Studies, Semiotics Associate Professor.

Bored AF? These 10 Books with Leave You Excited For Your Future.

1.  Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

Quote from book: “You’re a grown-up, and you get to decide what behaviors affect you for five minutes versus what behaviors change you as a person.”

Adulting’ is honest and written just as your best friend would give you advice. Kelly Williams Brown takes on the responsibilities to come in the near future for graduates. She gives advice on everything from jealousy to apartment hunting. This truly makes the ‘real world’ a little more manageable and less intimidating. Who couldn’t use that? By using humor in a relatable way, she provides tips that you can then pass on to your ‘adulting’ friends.   

2. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Quote from book: “Information is a beacon, a cudgel, an olive branch, a deterrent–all depending on who wields it and how.”

The book comes full of surprisingly interesting statistics explaining how certain habits show how society attempts to mitigate crime. The authors’ focus on socioeconomic issues involving class, race, and biology revolves around education and what in particular keeps students driven. “It not only opens your eyes to statistics and challenges in the world but makes you think for yourself,” said University of Central Florida graduate Maiah Monet. What are you waiting for? 

3. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Quote from book: “Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human.”

Audre Lorde, the self-defining “Black, Lesbian, Feminist, Mother, Warrior Poet,” navigates a range of social issues regarding race and sex in her book of essays and speeches. As well as exploring anger, guilt and fear, all of which may result from America’s system of values, her novel leads to the goal of moving towards equality. It poetically teaches students about the power from standing up for your rights and using your voice as a vehicle for action. Written in 1984, the book remains just as timely and important in our society.

4. Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

Quote from book: “I had always wanted to contribute in some way. Leave a little more than I took.”

This book is about a personal journey of life through food and travel, both of which almost every college student dreams about. “There’s honesty, humor and passion in what she writes. My love for different cuisines throughout this book, it makes it even better as I wanted to eat everything she cooks in detail,” said University of Florida student Kayla Lane. Is your mouth watering yet? 

5. He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

Quote from book: “Remember always what you set out to get, and please don’t settle for less.”

Even if you’ve seen the movie, the book translates to a written manual for navigating relationships in your young adult years. We all know we need this in our life. “The book acts as a reminder to never settle and sometimes he truly is just not that into you,” said University of Central Florida graduate Joanna Young. “It will definitely save you from wasting your nights waiting by the phone when you can be out with your friends.”

6. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Quote from book: “There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

This classic provides the prime definition of self-care. The narrator reflects on the educational and general differences in women and men’s lives and decides to imaginarily reconstruct their existence in a creative and magical way. Ultimately, it serves as a gentle reminder to always create time for yourself and to do the things you love.

7. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Quote from book: “We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

In this collection of both fiction and nonfiction essays, Keegan urges readers to really evaluate what they want out of life. In my personal fiction favorite, “Winter Break,” she describes the complexity of going back home during a college break and reuniting with an almost-kind-of-boyfriend. The book leaves you with the message that life is short and it’s perfectly okay to feel scared but at the same time excited.

8. A Brave New World by Adolphos Huxley

Quote from book: “I’d rather be myself,” he said. “Myself and nasty. Not somebody else, however jolly.”

At a time when you’re trying to figure out who you are and where you want to go in life, this classic, futuristic and dystopian novel tackles sexuality, reproduction and the conditioning to different situations. “It’s a true classic that really makes you think about society and the influence people and media has on a person,” said UF student Katherine Lem. “It really just makes you want to figure out what path you’re meant to be on.”

9. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Quote from book: “Once again, I arrived at my usual conclusion: one must educate oneself.”

Satrapi takes the reader through her life journey growing up during the Islamic revolution in this graphic autobiography. She details the characters according to their personality, with the facial expressions perfectly accompanying their words. It’s  honest and funny all while explaining the difficulties of adolescence and becoming an adult. It also makes any student recognize the importance of being educated in everything from politics to foreign affairs like the  American-Vietnam war and the Socialist revolutionaries of Iran. 

10. Girls, Visions and Everything: A Novel by Sarah Schulman

Quote from book: “Then they went on to discuss other things because there is always something more to a person than what somebody else does to them.”

Schulam tells a story of a young woman who’s a lesbian, feminist, artist and writer in NYC who admires Jack Kerouac. She sets out for adventure, but wants to have it without leaving the Lower East Side. She wanders around the city, has sex, talks to drug dealers and gets a girlfriend. While doing this, she reflects on gentrification, relationships, the lesbian community and race. “This young woman is trying to maintain her artistic integrity as a writer and just try to figure life out. It’s about maintaining your idiosyncratic visions but also being responsible to other people, and not getting caught up in some romantic fantasy of freedom, plus it’s just hilarious,” Emery said. In other words? This sounds like the dose of reality we could all use.

Brianna is a senior at the University of Florida studying Journalism and Women's Studies. She lives off of iced coffee and tacos, is a happy feminist and watches too much reality television when she's not writing.

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