The best books for recent graduates

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a faculty member at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. I put my heart and soul into creating and teaching the course Becoming a Changemaker which teaches students how to lead positive change, to go beyond themselves, and to live a life of impact. I spend countless hours meeting 1-1 with students throughout the semester, helping them think through big life decisions and encouraging them to create a life that they are proud of. I also know how to support students in making big decisions in a way that’s true to who they are, the person that they hope to become, and the impact they can make in the world.  


I wrote...

Becoming a Changemaker: An Actionable, Inclusive Guide to Leading Positive Change at Any Level

By Alex Budak,

Book cover of Becoming a Changemaker: An Actionable, Inclusive Guide to Leading Positive Change at Any Level

What is my book about?

In Becoming a Changemaker, Alex Budak provides a fresh, inspiring, and research-backed guide to developing the mindsets and leadership skills needed to navigate, shape, and lead change and to make a positive impact in our lives, career, and communities. Through a diverse series of case studies, and brand-new insights from his original research on the traits the most successful changemakers have in common, Alex provides an actionable, inclusive guide for people of all backgrounds, levels, ages, and industries to get unstuck and to start leading change from wherever they are.

The book is based on Budak’s wildly-popular class of the same name at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business that changemakers like Olympic athlete Alicia Wilson describe as "life changing."   
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Alex Budak Why did I love this book?

This is one of my favorite books that I assign in all of my classes at UC Berkeley and regularly recommend to people embarking on life transitions. Dweck makes a compelling case that those of us who develop a growth mindset (and it absolutely can be developed!) are able to unlock our full potential. This means learning to embrace challenges, learn from failure, and find joy in the successes of those around us. She’s a Stanford professor, so it’s empirically grounded, but the insights are so actionable and can help each of us see the world in a brand new way. This book sets you up for success no matter what’s next for you.  

By Carol S. Dweck,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Mindset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the renowned psychologist who introduced the world to “growth mindset” comes this updated edition of the million-copy bestseller—featuring transformative insights into redefining success, building lifelong resilience, and supercharging self-improvement.

“Through clever research studies and engaging writing, Dweck illuminates how our beliefs about our capabilities exert tremendous influence on how we learn and which paths we take in life.”—Bill Gates, GatesNotes

“It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.”

After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this…


Book cover of Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives

Alex Budak Why did I love this book?

No book has had a greater impact on my life than this one. It tells the stories of everyday people–folks like you and meand shows how they were able to craft beautiful, meaningful lives of all types. While so many books focus solely on one’s career, this book, refreshingly, helps you think holistically about your whole life in surprising and invigorating ways. It’s impossible to finish this book and not feel inspired to go create the life you are capable of living.

By Christopher Gergen, Gregg Vanourek,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Entrepreneurs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An inspirational and practical guide for anyone who wants to incorporate the dynamic skills of entrepreneurs into their own lives and work. A new generation of "life entrepreneurs" is emerging: people who apply their vision, talents, creativity, and energy not only to their work but to their entire lives, changing the world for themselves and those around them. In this book, successful entrepreneurs Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek draw on numerous interviews with fifty-five leading entrepreneurs worldwide as well as the wisdom of multiple thought leaders to provide vivid examples, moving vignettes, concrete frameworks, and practical strategies for revving up…


Book cover of Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd

Alex Budak Why did I love this book?

This is my surprise pick! It’s technically a book about marketing and branding strategy written by one of the leading experts in the field (a Harvard Professor). But it is absolutely filled with life lessons, large and small, about how you can stand out, question the status quo, and go your own way (even when the pressure to conform is strong). You’ll walk away with new insights on marketing and branding, but more importantly, you’ll get new insights about creating a life and career that you can be proud of.  

By Youngme Moon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Different as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of The Alchemist

Alex Budak Why did I love this book?

This is a beautiful, mystical fable about a shepherd boy in search of treasure. Along the way, he learns the importance of following one's heart and listening to the language of the world to find one's destiny. The book is filled with omens, dreams, and encounters with mystical individuals, and readers are left with a resounding message of hope, and a jolt of encouragement to pursue your dreams. 

By Paulo Coelho,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked The Alchemist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A global phenomenon, The Alchemist has been read and loved by over 62 million readers, topping bestseller lists in 74 countries worldwide. Now this magical fable is beautifully repackaged in an edition that lovers of Paulo Coelho will want to treasure forever.

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. This is such a book - a beautiful parable about learning to listen to your heart, read the omens strewn along life's path and, above all, follow your dreams.

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is…


Book cover of How Will You Measure Your Life?

Alex Budak Why did I love this book?

This book combines personal anecdotes, business concepts, and academic research to explore how individuals can find happiness and fulfillment by aligning their personal, professional, and societal goals, and making choices that reflect their values. In challenging times, I’ve personally referred back to the lessons of this book often, especially as a reminder to lean into my values. If you’re just charting your course for the life you want to live, this will be a guidebook that helps you travel with confidence.  

By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, Karen Dillon

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked How Will You Measure Your Life? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do you lead a fulfilling life? That profound question animates this book of inspiration and insight from world-class business strategist and bestselling author of The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen.

After beating a heart attack, advanced-stage cancer and a stroke in three successive years, the world-renowned innovation expert and author of one of the best selling and most influential business books of all time - The Innovator's Dilemma - Clayton M. Christensen delivered a short but powerful speech to the Harvard Business School graduating class. He presented a set of personal guidelines that have helped him find meaning and happiness…


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I Am Taurus

By Stephen Palmer,

Book cover of I Am Taurus

Stephen Palmer

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Philosopher Scholar Liberal Reader Musician

Stephen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The constellation we know as Taurus goes all the way back to cave paintings of aurochs at Lascaux. This book traces the story of the bull in the sky, a journey through the history of what has become known as the sacred bull.

Each of the sections is written from the perspective of the mythical Taurus, from the beginning at Lascaux to Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, and elsewhere. This is not just a history of the bull but also a view of ourselves through the eyes of the bull, illustrating our pre-literate use of myth, how the advent of writing and the urban revolution changed our view of ourselves, and how even bullfighting in Spain is a variation on the ancient sacrifice of the sacred bull.

I Am Taurus

By Stephen Palmer,

What is this book about?

The constellation we know as Taurus goes all the way back to cave paintings of aurochs at Lascaux. In I Am Taurus, author Stephen Palmer traces the story of the bull in the sky, starting from that point 19,000 years ago - a journey through the history of what has become known as the sacred bull. Each of the eleven sections is written from the perspective of the mythical Taurus, from the beginning at Lascaux to Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Greece, Spain and elsewhere. This is not just a history of the bull but also an attempt to see ourselves through…


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Interested in entrepreneurs, Spain, and marketing?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about entrepreneurs, Spain, and marketing.

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