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Graduation season has come and gone and new graduates are well on their way toward… well, whatever comes next. But whatever comes next is the beginning of what will be the bulk of their lives. In short, there is a lot of living left to do.
So here is a list of 10 audiobooks for the rest of their (and our lives). Some cover things school probably should have covered, some are reminders of things they probably learned, and some are things that might actively contradict what most of them were taught.
Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury
If you deal with other people who don’t immediately have to do what you want them to do, you will be spending a great deal of your personal and professional life negotiating. Not just salaries and contracts, but who should take the garbage out, what movie you are going to go see, and hundreds of micro-negotiations almost everyday. Getting to Yes is about getting better at negotiating, but not it a hostile, zero-sum way. It is about getting better agreements for all parties that are fair, valuable, and humane.
Getting Things Done by David Allen
One thing school doesn’t prepare us for is the sheer volume of stuff we have to do and variety and complexity of that stuff. Getting Things Done suggests structures and habits of mind that not only help you get more done, but to feel better about the doing of it.
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
The strange inversion of getting good at what you do is that the better you get at it, the more prone you are to make certain kinds of mistakes. Gawande, a surgeon himself, uses examples from medicine that are extreme, but his larger point about codifying and revising the routine things we have to do, from cardiac surgery to packing for a vacation, can make our lives materially safer and more efficient.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Sadly, we are going to forget most of what we learned in school, especially those things that don’t at least tangentially relate to what we end up doing. A Short History of Nearly Everything is a witty, curious, and entertaining CliffsNotes for all of human understanding to help you remember what you might have forgotten (or never learned in the first place).
Thinking Fast and Slow By Daniel Kahneman
A magesterial, dense, and hugely influential look about how we think and make decisions, Thinking Fast and Slow is my bible for trying to be smarter about being smart. Using decades of behavioral science research, Kahneman outlines an array of fundamental mistakes we make, why we make them, and suggests how to avoid them.
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
I get to kill two birds with one tome here. Not only does Bad Feminist add the reminder to think about gender and sexual orientation in your future life, but it also provides a stunning example about how to live a real life that cares about ideals. How are you going to apply what you think and believe to how you live? What are you going to to hold onto and what are you going to let go? Are you going to consciously revise what you believe? And if so, what does it look like to do that?
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Things aren’t going to go as planned. Perhaps worse, some things will go as planned but still be terrible and painful. This book is for those times. It is about being in pain and being flawed and still getting through. This is your emotional “break glass in case of emergency” book.
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
All of us probably have a sense that something about who we are and what we do is treated unfairly by that world. I include The Fire Next Time as a reminder to think about the injustice that other people experience. It can be easy to be complacent or hopeless or resigned. And if you find yourself any of those things, turn to Baldwin.
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
How we treat the Earth is already incomprehensibly important, and the stakes only seem likely to rise. Climate change seems to me the first time in history where humanity shares a common fate that will be determined by common action. Don’t miss your chance to be a part of that action.
The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver
We live in a unprecedentedly information-dense world. What information should you pay attention to? And how should you evaluate that information. Whether you are deciding to vaccinate your kids or to risk living west of I-5, The Signal and the Noise is about making sense out of the din of knowledge ringing in our ears.