Sammy Says: 5 Books Every Recent Graduate Should Read


Come and Join the Dance by Joyce Johnson

First published in 1961, Come and Join the Dance is a time capsule. I read this just before graduation, which was symbolic because the book is about a young woman Susan reflecting on her future, her family, and her choices just before her graduation. In our modern lingo, Susan was #basic who becomes ‘woke’ by the end of the novel. It is painfully honest and thus, beautiful. I became absorbed into the novel, even more so than On the Road – Joyce Johnson was Kerouac’s girlfriend. The 1950s in New York City felt so very alive; all of Susan’s worries about marriage, virginity, and her career showed me how far we have come, but also how far we still have to go.

$11.99 on Amazon
What Color is Your Parachute? 2017: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers by Richard N. Bolles

What Color is Your Parachute? was first published in 1970 and has been revised every year since 1975. It is a job-hunting manual classic. The focus of the book is not to help you get a job, but to help you find your dream job through exercises and reflection. Bolles then breaks down the process into bite size pieces. He basically said everything my Dad told me, but with statistics, examples, and worksheets. It is a very motivating book, which outlines a traditional career. As my brother and I have debated thoroughly, what’s wrong with traditional?

$13.00 on Amazon 


“Poetry is just the performance of it. These little things, whether I write them or not. That’s the score. The thing of great value is you. Where you are, glowing and fading, while you live.”

Inferno by Eileen Myles

I met Eileen Myles, but I hadn’t read their books. I heard them read, saw the way they interacted with their students, and admired the respect others gave them. Then, I read Inferno. Suddenly, they made more sense. Raw, vulnerable, honest. Beautiful. Years and years of their life winding through and around and under, moments twisted into sentences, as their love of New York, their career as a poet, and their acceptance of their sexuality become a loose plot. I was moved. After graduating, I felt this need to become some kind of ‘success’ immediately. Myles in Inferno showed me that there is no need to rush life. They followed their own path in their own time and most everything has worked out just fine.

$10.38 on Amazon 

“Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way, and never again. That is why every man’s story is important, eternal, sacred; that is why every man, as long as he lives and fulfills the will of nature, is wondrous, and worthy of consideration. In each individual the spirit has become flesh, in each man the creation suffers, within each one a redeemer is nailed to the cross.”

Demian by Herman Hesse

Demian changed my life. It made me feel normal, or not normal but it helped me accept my self. Sinclair is a young boy who comes into conflict with good and evil as a young child. One of his classmates Max Demian opens his eyes to the contradictions of society. He introduces him to Abraxas, the god of both good and evil. They believe that since God created both, then both are natural and should be accepted by society. I have always struggled to love all of myself. I used to firmly believe that people only wanted you for the good times… and so I wrote away all of my other emotions. Demian helped me to accept the other emotions, and to try to share them with others.

$3.99 on Amazon 


“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it…People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I saw the musical and I cried during it, but it wasn’t enough. The Color Purple, the book, woke me up to the injustices of today. It sent me spiraling, as questions about race, feminism, the South, and the ultimate meaning of life made me want to take action, to be part of the change. Written in the form of letters, Celie, a 14-year old girl living in rural Georgia dominated in the racial and patriarchal South, learns how to raise her voice, how to express her self, and how to share her love. Read my full review, here.