8 Books for The Graduate

May 15, 2019

Books for a reader are the best gift, and an even better gift is just the right book for that particular person at that particular moment in their life. Knowing which book to choose in such a situation is not easy.

Today I have compiled a list of eight books for graduates – some for high school and some for college and all for readers looking for inspiration.

Each year students I have taught graduate from high school and fly off in all sorts of directions to start their next chapter. This year I know a few college graduates who I have kept in touch with who are also stepping into a brand new chapter, and I couldn’t be more excited and confident and tickled that they are joining the world of post-college life (psst – it’s pretty awesome – full of challenges – yes, but full of awesome opportunity as well).

If you find yourself looking for a book for a graduate in your life with commencement nearing (and in some schools, already past), perhaps one of the books below will speak to your graduate’s predilections. There are many more books I could recommend (just to name a few – Tuesdays with Morrie, The Last Lecture, The Alchemist and the list goes on and on), but this is the list for 2019.

1.Way More Than Luck: Commencement Speeches on Living with Bravery, Empathy and other Essential Skills by various authors such as Nora Ephron, Ira Glass, Tom Wolfe, and David Foster Wallace to name a few

I am a fan of searching for commencement addresses on YouTube each year during the spring and sitting back to listen for words of inspiration. Anna Quindlen, Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Jobs and so many others have shared magnificent speeches worth listening to which is why Way More Than Luck, with its compilation of commencement speeches is a wonderful idea for the graduate who is eager to listen to those who have expertise to share.

2. How to Cook Everything The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food — with 1000 Photos by Mark Bittman

I couldn’t share today’s list without sharing a book for either the high school or college graduate who will be moving into their first kitchen away from either their parents’ cooking for the college life fare. Mark Bittman’s original book How to Cook Everything is one I have and recommend, but his follow-up is perfect for the new cook – How to Cook Everything The Basics and even shares with readers the tools needed in one’s kitchen to get set up for cooking the basics you will learn about in the book.

3. Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be: An Antidote to College Admissions by Frank Bruni

Every year I find myself recommending this book to my students as they are beginning their journey of college exploration. Frank Bruni wrote this book in 2015 when he observed his niece going through the college application process. As a columnist for The New York Times, Bruni shared his writing prowess to offer some peace of mind when it comes to knowing and trusting which school is best for you when you graduate from high school.

4. The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna

While we may not all know with clarity our true calling, we often know what feels forced upon us and what feels true, yet uncertain, to our inner nature. Neither are necessarily comfortable feelings, but the more we dance with follwing our intuition and letting go of the “should”s, the more we realize we are making the right decision for our lives. Inspired by The Hero’s Journey outlined by Joseph Campbell, the book is divided into four chapters – The Crossroads, The Origin of Should, Must, and The Return – The Crossroads of Should and Must “explains the importance of mistakes, of ‘unlearning,’ of solitude, of keeping moving, of following a soul path” . . . hmm . . . sounds like a life of living simply luxuriously to me.

5. Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling

Speaking of favorite commencement addresses, J.K. Rowling’s speech to Harvard graduates in 2008 was turned into this book Very Good Lives, and it is perfect for anyone – graduate or not – who is at a turning point in their lives.

6. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman

Curiosity is the key to staying young and enjoying the everyday. Academy Award winning film producer Brian Grazer shares how curiosity brought about many of the ideas for the films that are now household names – Splash, A Beautiful Mind, Arrested Development – and many of these ideas were sparked with the curiosity conversations he would have with spies, royals, scientists, politicians, moguls, Nobel laureates, and artists. He shares it all and hopefully sparks something within you as well to bring your next idea to fruition.

7. Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — and the World by Rachel Swaby

The more stories we hear of people, in this case women, who look like us, when we are young, we are more apt to believe we too can achieve success when we pursue our dreams. Written in 2015, Rachel Swaby shares the stories of 52 women across centuries of history – “Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day”.

8. The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey

Recently released earlier this spring, Oprah Winfrey’s new book The Path Made Clear shares inspiration and guidance for living a life of significance. Sharing anecdotes from her own life in each chapter, she also shares wisdom from Eckhart Tolle, Brene Brown, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jay-Z, and Ellen DeGeneres. Organized into ten chapters, paired with 100 “awe-inspiring photographs” to shed light on the “important milestones along the road to self-discovery, laying out what you really need in order to achieve personal contentment, and what life’s detours are there to teach us”, this book is a book for everyone.

~View all of the books recommended by TSLL here of which there are MANY!



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