5 of the best books of 2019 for students and new graduates

by Feb 7, 2020

Being a university student involves a lot of reading, and a lot of new graduates feel relieved that they don’t have to pick up another book for a long time (textbook or otherwise). Despite this, there’s an argument that reading for leisure is precisely what you should be doing to complement your studies.

It’s not uncommon to feel confused or even frustrated as a uni student or new graduate. These can be challenging years, personally and professionally. Without realizing it, we can fall into patterns of behaviour and thinking that don’t serve us well. That’s why it’s essential to educate yourself more broadly – that is, beyond classes and what’s trending on social media. Starting the New Year with a new book is the perfect way to do this.

Below is a list of 5 of the best books published in 2019 that push the boundaries of conventional, often misguided beliefs about the workplace, human behaviour, personal development and modern life trends. These bestsellers range from help-guides to personal memoirs, to behavioural explorations – something for everyone!

1. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy

by Jenny Odell

In this book, Odell explores the 24/7 experience-availability we have within our grasps at all times. While exploring the attention-economy concept, she comments on how much of our lives are affected by a constant stream of branding (both personal and professional), capitalization and consumerism. Odell helps explain and break down her method of how to slow down and create meaningful connections amongst the technological chaos without entirely opting out. This book is excellent for college students or grads who need to overcome the power of habit and re-learn to connect more personally.

This book is an excellent pick if:

  • you have trouble detaching yourself from your phone and staying present in the ‘real world.’
  • you communicate more through your phone rather than face-to-face
  • you find yourself easily distracted and referring to a screen while ‘bored’ or ‘awkward’.

 Review: “The path to freedom lies within the covers of this book.” -Lauren Goode, WIRED

 2. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

by Lori Gottlieb

Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist, a national advice columnist and best-selling author. So it’s safe to say her words have some serious wisdom and knowledge behind them. This novel is a personal account of being a therapist also undergoing therapy, and why it’s so important to talk about the experience. This novel explores the human psyche and how easy it is to not realize your own self-deprecating behaviour. More importantly, it gives readers a truthful insight into the therapy process and how central it is for many people to reach deeper self-understanding and acceptance.

This book is an excellent pick if:

  • you want to gain some understanding of the therapy process
  • you’re interested in mental health and the learning process of dealing with related issues
  • you want to explore what it is to be human and the complicated nature of our emotions.

Review: “If you have even an ounce of interest in the therapeutic process, or in the conundrum of being human, you must read this book. It is wise, warm, smart and funny, and Lori Gottlieb is exceedingly good company.” – Susan Cain, New York Times best-selling author

3. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

by David Epstein

Have you ever been discouraged by the theories that “to be excellent at anything you need to put 10,000 hours of practice into that thing?” Have you thought that you “needed to start when you were younger?” Then this book is for you.

Epstein rejects and totally flips the common idea that to be special, you need to be a master at one (or only a few) things. He argues that generalists – those who try things late and dabble in many specialties in many fields – are the real success stories. This book presents the case that those who fail and seem ‘inefficient’ do thrive in the long run, creating a whole new road-map for the ‘generalists’ among us.

This book is an excellent pick if:

  • you feel like you’re not sure what you want to do or are confused about what fulfilling life should be
  • you often find it challenging to commit to singular activities, and would rather test them all
  • you’re interested in a blend of scientific research and explored theory about the human potential.

 Review: “As David Epstein shows us, cultivating range prepares us for the wickedly unanticipated… a well-supported and smoothly written case on behalf of breadth and late starts.” – Wall Street Journal

4. More than Enough

by Elaine Welteroth

Welteroth is a successful journalist, editor and best-selling author, and this is her memoir. Welteroth has broken many gender and race barriers within the corporate world. She became the youngest, and only the second African-American to hold the role of editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue – this woman knows how to win. This book follows her journey and creates a road-map of her career thus-far, dissecting the complicated reality of race, identity and overall success in the business world. A compelling and courageous read, this book will leave you feeling inspired.

This book is an excellent pick if:

  • you want to read something uplifting and inspiring
  • you’re interested in how race and gender are still an issue in the modern workplace
  • you’re looking for advice and lessons about being a woman in the contemporary workplace.

 Review: “The perfect read for any woman just starting out in her career . . . An anthem for the modern woman.” – Brit + Co

5. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

by Austin Kleon

It’s scary when your studies come to an end, and you realize you have to step into the world of ‘grown-up’ employment. Often, uni students or new graduates become overwhelmed when faced with the realities of the world and just general life. This book by Kleon is a guide of sorts to help readers push through those moments of immense confusion or lack of inspiration and find what it is that’s worth doing. This book is the perfect read to help you through those road-blocks in life to allow your creativity to continue to flow, and why it’s so valuable to do so.

This book is an excellent pick if:

  • feeling overwhelmed or uninspired
  • have just finished or are currently studying a qualification in a creative field
  • you need help realizing what’s important to you, and slowing down to appreciate it.

Review: “Anyone living any sort of creative life needs this pep talk on their bookshelf.” – BookPage


Whether you’re a new graduate yourself, still studying or you’re looking for the perfect gift, these books of 2019 are a must-read!


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Sabrina Sutton

Sabrina Sutton

Freelance Writer

Sabrina is currently studying her Bachelors of Arts/Music while freelance writing. When she’s not by her computer you can find her by the piano or enjoying a coffee in the sun.