If you’re like me, then you found it or still find it hard to read books for pleasure while in college. Who can blame you? There is always homework to do, tests to study for and books to read for class. Throw in a part-time job, an internship and having a normal social life, and reading can easily fall to the bottom of your endless to-do list.

If you do find time between all of the excitement of college, there are three great books that you should put at the top of your reading list. These short reads will not only help you navigate your first couple of jobs out of college, but they can also guide you through a self-awareness journey many millennials won’t discover until their 30s.

  1. “Now, Discover your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham: Ever been asked in a job interview for a couple adjectives that describe yourself? Marcus Buckingham’s “Now, Discover your Strengths” gives you the language to put your strengths and talents into words through the Clifton StrengthsFinder test. This test identifies the top five talent traits unique to you from a list of 34. After reading this book in my senior capstone class, I discovered my top five talents lie in my strengths in achiever, futuristic, belief, relator and positivity profiles.The book also explains Buckingham’s theory that one’s greatest potential for growth lies within their areas of strength. This theory challenges popular belief that individuals should focus most of their energy on improving their weaknesses. This book is a great read for seniors transitioning out of college in need of direction to choose a career in which they can truly excel.
  2. “The Defining Decade” by Dr. Meg Jay: The Defining Decade” debunks the growing belief that “30 is the new 20,” which causes millennials to brush aside the real world amidst a decade of soul-searching and partying. Dr. Jay uses a series of short stories through her work with 20- and 30-year-olds to explain the importance of growing one’s intellectual capital and developing meaningful relationships throughout your 20s. The book is broken into three sections: work, love, and the brain/body. These sections dive deeper into the importance of using your 20s to their full potential to define your long-term professional success and future family.Dr. Jay’s book is a fascinating read for recent graduates who play into the hype of taking extended time off to discover who they really are. “The Defining Decade” gives you the motivation you need to hit the ground running in your professional career. The earlier you can read this book in your 20s, the better.
  3. “Go Put your Strengths to Work” by Marcus Buckingham: Countless articles and studies are published on the growing job-hopping tendencies of the millennial generation. “Go Put your Strengths to Work” is the sequel to Buckingham’s “Now, Discover your Strengths” and is a fantastic tool for 20-somethings who will inevitably hold multiple jobs by the time they are 30. The book uses the five talents identified in “Now, Discover your Strengths” and provides a step-by-step process to determining how effectively you use your strengths in your job. The book also explains how to talk to your manager about activities you excel in and how to quit the ones you don’t.“Go Put your Strengths to Work” will prove to be a valuable guide for anyone who is working toward finding a job that plays to his or her strengths. I know I will reference the book throughout my career to measure whether a job is a true fit for me.

If you find a spare moment to crack open any of these books, you will not regret the afternoon you invest reading them. Self awareness is a powerful tool that will help you communicate your strengths to potential employers. If anything, be sure to put these three books on your summer reading list if you are looking for great inspirational reads for the millennial generation.

What books do you recommend for recent graduates and 20-somethings?