5 Books to Give the Grad in Your Life

Your soon-to-be-graduate is stellar in every way and beloved by all, including Beyonce. They rescue kittens trapped in trees, extinguish fires, and write A+++ papers in their spare time. Which poses a challenge to you: with everyone in their orbit heaping presents upon them in celebration of their great accomplishment, what can you give that they won't also receive from seven other people? 

We have some ideas. All titles on this list were published within the past few months. Although they're certain to find a place alongside Oh, the Places You'll Go and This Is Water, they're not part of the classic graduation cannon. . .yet.

1. For Everyone by Jason Reynolds

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

In For Every One, Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true. However, he does know that dreams take time and resilience to transform into reality. He knows the importance of drive and passion and hope never fully extinguish. And he knows that, eventually, every dreamer must take a leap of faith, or else continue sleeping.


2. You Can Do Anything by George Anders

For more than a decade, the national spotlight has focused on science and engineering as the only reliable choice for finding a successful post-grad career. Quietly, though, a different path to success has been taking shape. In You Can Do Anything, George Anders explains the remarkable power of a liberal arts education - and the ways it can open the door to thousands of cutting-edge jobs every week. The key insight: curiosity, creativity, and empathy aren't unruly traits that must be reined in. If you know how to attack the job market, these traits can open the door to vast opportunities.

In this book, readers learn why resume-writing is fading in importance and why "telling your story" is taking its place. Readers learn how to create jobs that don't exist yet, and to translate their campus achievements into job qualifications. Readers discover why people who start in eccentric first jobs - and then make their own luck - so often race ahead of peers whose post-college hunt focuses only on security and starting pay. Readers of You Can Do Anything will be ready for everything.

3. In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It by Lauren Graham

In this expansion of the 2017 commencement speech she gave at her hometown Langley High, Lauren Graham, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, reflects on growing up, pursuing your dreams, and living in the here and now. “Whatever path you choose, whatever career you decide to go after, the important thing is that you keep finding joy in what you’re doing, especially when the joy isn’t finding you.” In her hilarious, relatable voice, Graham reminds us to be curious and compassionate, no matter where life takes us or what we’ve yet to achieve. Grounded and inspiring—and illustrated throughout with drawings by Graham herself—here is a comforting road map to a happy life.

4. Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood by Mari Andrew

Mari Andrew started doodling when she worked at a bakery--she took some license with the display case labels. When customers told her the drawings brightened their days, Mari realized she could use that hobby to connect with people. She hit a professional rough patch in her late 20s and began to chronicle her work on Instagram. Nearly overnight, she became a sensation. 

This book is organized by universal themes of becoming an adult--for example, loss, adventure, ambition. Within each chapter, Mari shares her personal experiences in never-before-seen essays, accompanied by spreads of her signature illustrations, 90 percent of which are brand new. Readers are bound to see some of themselves in this book, whether seeking advice on how to handle growing up, or just looking for a friend who can commiserate.


5. Love by Matt de la Pena and Loren Long

In this heartfelt celebration of love, author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience the universal bond of love, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that's soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

"Everything that can be called love -- from shared joy to comfort in the darkness -- is gathered in the pages of this reassuring, refreshingly honest picture book."—The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice / Staff Picks From the Book Review