A crowdsourced list of literature for the new alum

With graduation looming around the corner, many Portland State grads will find themselves with extra down time. Not to worry, though! C.J. has you covered with a list of summer reading recommendations to help ease you through the transition.

I recently went to Facebook to find book recommendations for new college graduates. One respondent was Obadiah Baird, owner of independent bookstore The Book Bin and publisher of literary journal The Audient Void. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy weirdly enough was the first thing that popped into my mind,” Baird wrote. “[It’s] important not to take things too seriously. Plus fresh outta college and you can finally read whatever you want; it should be fun.”

Reading for fun might sound like a foreign concept to current students, but don’t worry—you’re good at adapting to new ideas.  While we’ve all seen Zooey Deschanel adorably laser-slicing toast in the 2005 adaptation by Garth Jennings, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first a hilarious novel by hilarious Brit Douglas Adams. And if you can’t get enough of the suicidal robots and amusing proto-iPads imagined by Adams in the 1970s, there are two more books in the series. Just remember to bring a towel.

Books series can be so comforting. Once you finish one, you can turn to the next. It’s sort of like moving class-to-class in a university until one day, you’re done, cut off and closing the final cover with a tear in your eye. Well, if you like series, poet and soon-to-be PSU master of fine arts candidate Nitya Prem recommends the Otherland books by Tad Williams.

“The audiobooks are particularly well done,” Prem wrote. “I listened to all of them immediately upon graduating this past December. Otherland is like if Ready Player One was more than nostalgia junk food, and it came out in the ’90s.”  You might not have your own full-immersion VR set yet, but this sci-fi tetralogy (a series of four!) should keep you immersed in futuristic tech adventures until at least mid-summer.

Jennifer Eidahl is also a recent PSU grad who suggested something a bit more practical: Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want by Jenny Blake. It’s a manual, a journal and a motivator, and it’s written by a life coach just for you. You’ll probably receive this book as a graduation present, so crack it open this summer and start planning your life.

Carla Kaminski is the owner of The Spoiled Cat, a successful pet toy business, and she recommends another book often found at a graduation parties: Dale Carnegie’s old school 1936 self-help classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. You can point to this title when your parents appear baffled that after five years of education, your goal is to be a social media influencer. Many people are now striving to present an authentic image to their internet followers, and Carnegie’s classic advice can help you become a genuine personality. How to Win also emphasizes ways to find common ground—a skill every college grad is going to need.

PSU master’s of business administration student Meredith DeLoca wrote: “As someone who is about to graduate again and after spending a lot of time mentoring undergrad seniors this year, this is one of my go to philosophies: The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.” Written by Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön, this guidebook gives new meaning to the word meditation.

Scott Von Rocket is a local punk musician who recommended, “Anything by [Kurt] Vonnegut.”  Rocket cites a quote from Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater as his “own personal 10 Commandments:”

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

Here are a few more crowdsourced book suggestions for upcoming PSU grads:

“All My Friends are Going to be Strangers by Larry McMurtry.” – Eric Ramon, local musician.

“The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau.” – Linda Robertson, artist, entrepreneur and author.

Mindset: the New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.” – Sarah Logan, local punk rock singer.

Just Kids by Patty Smith.” – Lisa Kraushaar, product quality program manager at Etsy, Inc.

Siddhartha and Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.” – Bill Huntzinger, international high school English teacher.