If there was one activity I was thankful to be finished with it was reading. Between required reading for classes and studying textbooks, the last thing I wanted to do in my free time was pick up a book and read.
If you just graduated, you probably find yourself thinking the same thing. However, developing a habit of reading might be the single greatest contributor to your long-term success.
Last month, I shared a few principles I wish someone would have shared at graduation. But after thinking about it a bit more, there’s one more I wanted to add: Don’t get out of the habit of reading as a way to continually grow and stretch yourself.
To that end, I wanted to provide a few recommendations from the best books I’ve read since graduation. And if you’re not an avid reader, give yourself a little grace. You don’t have to finish all of these in the next five months.
5 Books Every Recent College Graduate Should Read
Here are five books I’ve read since graduating college that have made the biggest impact in my professional life:
1. “Linchpin” by Seth Godin
I’ve read about a half dozen Seth Godin books over the past five years. I could include all of them in this post. But if I had to narrow my recommendation down to one book it would be Linchpin. This book will help you understand what it takes to stand out in today’s workplace and develop a mindset for becoming indispensable in whatever company or role you might find yourself in.
Favorite Quote: “A brilliant author or businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant only in tiny bursts. The rest of the time, they’re doing work that most any trained person could do.”
2. “The First 90 Days” by Michael D. Watson
This is probably the most practical book for any college student who is starting their first full-time job. But it’s application goes beyond your first job. In The First 90 Days, Michael Watson outlines ideas and principles that will serve you well on every new job you start by learning how to effectively assimilate into your company’s culture, create powerful connections with co-workers, and identify what will help you be successful for your tenure.
Favorite Quote: “Joining a new company is akin to an organ transplant—and you’re the new organ. If you’re not thoughtful in adapting to the new situation, you could end up being attacked by the organizational immune system and rejected.”
3. “The Go Giver” by Bob Burg & John David Mann
The Go Giver is a parable that teaches an important principle for getting ahead in your career: Setting yourself up for success is not about how much you can get, it’s about how much you can give. In a culture where people can be incredibly egocentric and are constantly looking out for themselves, this book provides a paradigm shift that will help you stand out by learning how to put others before yourself practically.
Favorite Quote: “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first.”
4. “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni
The Ideal Team player is another book with principles that are taught through the lens of a parable. While the book is geared towards helping leaders learn how to spot and identify the best potential hire, the insights about what it means to be an ideal team player were invaluable to me as an individual.
Favorite Quote: “Great team players lack excessive ego or concerns about status… Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.”
5. “The Truth About You” by Marcus Buckingham
Chances are, your first job won’t be your dream job. As you search for another opportunity people will often ask, “What do you like doing? What are you good at?” Honestly, I hated those questions when I was 24. I had no idea what I liked doing or what I was good at. The Truth About You is an incredible resource by career expert Marcus Buckingham that can help. The book will help you start to unpack your unique strengths and gifts so that you can find a job that aligns with your giftedness.
Favorite Quote: “When it comes to your job, the ‘what’ always trumps the ‘why’ and the ‘who.’ People join because of the ‘why’ stay because of the ‘who’ and in the end quit because of the ‘what.’”