The Book Tiger Mothers Don't Want their Soon-to-be Graduating Kids to Read
May 10, 2013
This time of year everyone has book suggestions for soon-to-be graduates.
I recently came across 10 Advice Books for Graduates, From the School of Life. It was posted on The Daily Beast and compiled by Roman Krznaric, author of How to Find Fulfilling Work, and John-Paul Flintoff, author of How to Change the World. I liked their list, especially their choice of Studs Terkel's Working, Oliver James' Affluenza, and Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. They all have something to offer today's new graduates and some of us not-so-new ones, too.
That got me to thinking. What book would I suggest new graduates pick up this summer to read this summer as they consider their future?
My suggestion is Chris Guillebeau's The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World. As you can gather from the title, this book would not be popular among Amy Chua and all the devotees of her book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, who expect their children to become neurosurgeons and future corporate CEOs.
I picked up The Art of Non-Conformity a couple of years ago on a whim. At first I thought Guillebeau was nothing short of flaky. A world traveler and Internet entrepreneur, Guillebeau talked about just earning enough to get by, following your passion, and enjoying life. As a suburban mother with a husband, two kids, two dogs, and a cat, this was crazy talk. We have a mortgage and an orthodontist to support.
But I kept reading and Guillebeau philosophy of non-conformity calling for creative self-employment, unconventional living arrangements, and listening to that call to adventure started to grow on me. Not so much that I plan on moving into teardrop trailer, launching a career as a folk singer, and hitting the road, but it did raise some very good questions.
What's wrong with making a modest living doing what you love, whether that's singing, writing, or creating software? Who said we all had to be Bill Gates, James Patterson, or Justin Bieber? How much do you really need to spend on college to follow your dreams? Do you own your possessions or do they own you? Is happiness really a corner office, working to build someone else's dream? Are the Joneses really worth keeping up with? Is there a way to live your dreams and do well in the world?
These are all good questions for soon-to-be graduates to ask themselves.
Just watch out. You might hear a roar from some of their parents.