It’s graduation season! Inspire the recent grad in your life with this ultimate list of books for your fresh-faced degree holder. Full of all the wit and wisdom they need to help them take on the future, these novels and nonfiction reads are sure to be a hit!
In 2018, Jesmyn Ward, the New York Times bestselling-author of SALVAGE THE BONES and SING, UNBURIED, SING, offered an illuminating and moving commencement speech to Tulane University. Now available to people about to embark on new beginnings everywhere, Ward’s speech is both a stirring reflection on her own journey as a first-generation college student and novelist and an uplifting meditation on the importance of hard work and dedication in times of impossible hardship. Family ties and perseverance serve as the backbone of Ward’s invaluable advice for generations to come.
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A revelatory, uplifting, and gorgeously illustrated meditation on dedication, hard work, and the power of perseverance from the beloved, New York Times bestselling, and two-time National Book Award–winning Jesmyn Ward.
For Tulane University’s 2018 commencement, Jesmyn Ward delivered a stirring speech about the value of hard work and the importance of respect for oneself and others. Speaking about the challenges she and her family overcame, Ward inspired everyone in the audience with her meditation on tenacity in the face of hardship. Ward’s moving words will inspire readers as they prepare for the next chapter in their lives, whether, like Ward, they are the first in their families to graduate from college or are preceded by generations, or whether they are embarking on a different kind of journey later in life.
Beautifully illustrated in full color by Gina Triplett, this gorgeous and profound book will charm a generation of students—and their parents. Ward’s inimitable voice shines through as she shares her experience as a Southern black woman and addresses the themes of grit, adversity, and the importance of family bonds. Navigate Your Stars is a perfect gift for anyone in need of inspiration from the author of Salvage the Bones, Men We Reaped, and Sing, Unburied, Sing.
Is your graduate a fan of The Good Place? If so, Michael Schur’s HOW TO BE PERFECT is, well, perfect. It offers a practical guide to living an ethical life by answering life's biggest moral questions with hilarious, mind-expanding answers. Offering advice for readers of all ages, Schur leans on insights from top philosophers translating their sometimes-dense wisdom into easy-to-access recommendations. In addition to life advice for living in modern times, Schur also provides explanations to concepts like deontology, utilitarianism, and existentialism.
From the creator of The Good Place and the cocreator of Parks and Recreation, a hilarious, thought-provoking guide to living an ethical life, drawing on 2,400 years of deep thinking from around the world.
Most people think of themselves as “good,” but it’s not always easy to determine what’s “good” or “bad”—especially in a world filled with complicated choices and pitfalls and booby traps and bad advice. Fortunately, many smart philosophers have been pondering this conundrum for millennia and they have guidance for us. With bright wit and deep insight, How to Be Perfect explains concepts like deontology, utilitarianism, existentialism, ubuntu, and more so we can sound cool at parties and become better people.
Schur starts off with easy ethical questions like “Should I punch my friend in the face for no reason?” (No.) and works his way up to the most complex moral issues we all face. Such as: Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people? How much money should I give to charity? Why bother being good at all when there are no consequences for being bad? And much more. By the time the book is done, we’ll know exactly how to act in every conceivable situation, so as to produce a verifiably maximal amount of moral good. We will be perfect, and all our friends will be jealous. OK, not quite. Instead, we’ll gain fresh, funny, inspiring wisdom on the toughest issues we face every day.
Some of the most valuable advice you could hope to bestow upon a young person is that involving failure—how to deal with it, how to learn from it, and how to do it well. Thankfully, bestselling author and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world, Neil Pasricha, has written YOU ARE AWESOME, a guide to changing our perspective on failure in an effort to encourage us to build resilience. Filled with research-backed secrets and delivered in a conversational format, with plenty of engaging, personal anecdotes, this book will teach readers and new graduates to live an intentional life.
INSTANT #1 BESTSELLER
From Neil Pasricha—New York Times million-copy bestselling author of The Book of Awesome series and The Happiness Equation, thought leader for the next generation, and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world—comes a revelatory and inspiring book that will change the way we view failure and help us build resilience.
Why is life getting harder instead of easier?
How do I get back up after life knocks me down?
And how do I grow stronger and live more intentionally?
We no longer have the tools to handle failure…or even perceived failure. When we fall, we lie on the sidewalk crying. When we spill, we splatter. When we crack, we shatter. We are turning into an army of porcelain dolls.
Cell phones show us we’re never good enough. Yesterday’s butterflies are tomorrow’s panic attacks. Record numbers suffer from anxiety, depression, and loneliness. What do we need to learn? RESILIENCE. And we need to learn it fast.
Let this #1 international bestseller teach you:
-The 2-minute morning practice that helps eliminate stress
-What every commencement speech gets wrong
-3 questions that help tell yourself a different story
-The single word that keeps your options open after failure
-Why you need an Untouchable Day (and how to get one)
…and much, much more!
Because the truth is, you really are awesome.
If you gift this book to a new graduate, prepare them to be ready to laugh out loud and then maybe shed a few tears with this heartwarming memoir in essays. Author John Paul Brammer, a popular queer advice columnist, brings his best wisdom to the table in this collection. With his straightforward, profound words, he dives into issues we all face, such as regret, confrontation, and heartbreak, while chronicling his experiences of growing up as a queer Mexican American kid in Oklahoma.
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LGBTQ advice columnist John Paul Brammer writes a “wise and charming” (David Sedaris) memoir-in-essays chronicling his journey from a queer, mixed-race kid in America’s heartland to becoming the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” of his generation.
“A master class of tone and tenderness.” —The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“Should be required reading.” —Los Angeles Times
The first time someone called John Paul (JP) Brammer “Papi” was on the gay hookup app Grindr. At first, it was flattering; JP took this as white-guy speak for “hey, handsome.” But then it happened again and again…and again, leaving JP wondering: Who the hell is Papi?
Soon, this racialized moniker became the inspiration for his now wildly popular advice column “¡Hola Papi!,” launching his career as the Cheryl Strayed for young queer people everywhere—and some straight people too. JP had his doubts at first—what advice could he really offer while he himself stumbled through his early twenties? Sometimes the best advice comes from looking within, which is what JP does in his column and book—and readers have flocked to him for honest, heartfelt wisdom, and more than a few laughs.
In this hilarious, tenderhearted book, JP shares his story of growing up biracial and in the closet in America’s heartland, while attempting to answer some of life’s most challenging questions: How do I let go of the past? How do I become the person I want to be? Is there such a thing as being too gay? Should I hook up with my grade school bully now that he’s out of the closet? Questions we’ve all asked ourselves, surely.
¡Hola Papi! is “a warm, witty compendium of hard-won life lessons,” (Harper’s Bazaar) for anyone—gay, straight, and everything in between—who has ever taken stock of their unique place in the world.
There’s nothing better for a new graduate than a cookbook, of course! This book has been a bestseller for a years because it is just that good. Whether cooking fuels your fire or you are just learning how to sauté, Samin Nosrat’s SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT is the perfect gift. Samin not only shares delicious recipes but also offers tips on how to prepare the ingredients for any dish. With this book, new graduates will be pros at prepping their meals for years to come.
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All anyone can hope to offer to a new graduate is wisdom hard-earned through experience. In which case, you can’t do better than David Von Drehle’s THE BOOK OF CHARLIE, which explores the life of David’s 109-year-old neighbor as a model for living a long, fulfilling life. Born in 1905, Charlie White endured tragedy to begin his life and was forced, quickly, to adapt and adopt a survival mentality—an ideology that would allow him to engage in terrific adventures and relationships until his late stages. This personal history unlocks Charlie’s secrets in hopes of passing them on to the next generation, to show how they too can live a “remarkable American life.”
One of our nation’s most prominent writers finds the truth about how to live a long and happy life in the centenarian next door.
When a veteran Washington journalist moved to Kansas, he met a new neighbor who was more than a century old. Little did he know that he was beginning a long friendship—and a profound lesson in the meaning of life. Charlie White was no ordinary neighbor. Born before radio, Charlie lived long enough to use a smartphone. When a shocking tragedy interrupted his idyllic boyhood, Charlie mastered survival strategies that reflect thousands of years of human wisdom. Thus armored, Charlie’s sense of adventure carried him on an epic journey across the continent, and later found him swinging across bandstands of the Jazz Age, racing aboard ambulances through Depression-era gangster wars, improvising techniques for early open-heart surgery, and cruising the Amazon as a guest of Peru’s president.
David Von Drehle came to understand that Charlie’s resilience and willingness to grow made this remarkable neighbor a master in the art of thriving through times of dramatic change. As a gift to his children, he set out to tell Charlie’s secrets. The Book of Charlie is a gospel of grit—the inspiring story of one man’s journey through a century of upheaval. The history that unfolds through Charlie’s story reminds you that the United States has always been a divided nation, a questing nation, an inventive nation—a nation of Charlies in the rollercoaster pursuit of a good and meaningful life.
Colleen Hoover’s work in the new adult genre is perfect for that recent grad in your life. HEART BONES, specifically, can be an essential guide as it captures a young romance and how love can overcome very different economic circumstances. When Beyah Grim’s mother dies of an overdose she is forced to find refuge with her father in Texas. There she finds his second family, including a daughter, Sarah, only slightly older than herself. To bring her into the fold, Sarah introduces Beyah to Samson. She immediately assumes, because of his wealth, that he’s not the right fit but after sharing their painful childhood memories the two begin a summer fling.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us and It Starts with Us!
Moving, passionate, and unforgettable, Colleen Hoover's novel follows two young adults from completely different backgrounds embarking on a tentative romance, unaware of what the future holds.
After a childhood filled with poverty and neglect, Beyah Grim finally has her hard-earned ticket out of Kentucky with a full ride to Penn State. But two months before she’s finally free to change her life for the better, an unexpected death leaves her homeless and forced to spend the remainder of her summer in Texas with a father she barely knows.
Devastated and anxious for the summer to go by quickly, Beyah has no time or patience for Samson, the wealthy, brooding guy next door. Yet, the connection between them is too intense to ignore. But with their upcoming futures sending them to opposite ends of the country, the two decide to maintain only a casual summer fling. Too bad neither has any idea that a rip current is about to drag both their hearts out to sea.
Have you ever achieved something, expected to feel content, but still felt anxious or lost? Sometimes success isn’t enough to combat feeling stuck because of overflowing calendars, never-ending responsibilities, and the unrealistic pressure to achieve. Everyone can relate to this memoir-in-essays on the struggles of modern adulthood!
A charmingly relatable and wise memoir-in-essays by acclaimed writer and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott, “the modern day reincarnation of…Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwin—all rolled into one” (The Washington Post), about what happened after she checked off all the boxes on a successful life’s to-do list and realized she might need to reinvent the list—and herself.
Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.
But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right” but still felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?
Taking on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood, Philpott provides a “frank and funny look at what happens when, in the midst of a tidy life, there occur impossible-to-ignore tugs toward creativity, meaning, and the possibility of something more” (Southern Living). She offers up her own stories to show that identity crises don’t happen just once or only at midlife and reassures us that small, recurring personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary. Most of all, in this “warm embrace of a life lived imperfectly” (Esquire), Philpott shows that when you stop feeling satisfied with your life, you don’t have to burn it all down. You can call upon your many selves to figure out who you are, who you’re not, and where you belong. Who among us isn’t trying to do that?
“Be forewarned that you’ll laugh out loud and cry, probably in the same essay. Philpott has a wonderful way of finding humor, even in darker moments. This is a book you’ll want to buy for yourself and every other woman you know” (Real Simple).
Set your new graduate up well with a lifetime of happiness—and no, we don’t mean to just throw money and networks at them. Give them THE GOOD LIFE! This book proves the case that relationships are the key to happiness, and it uses valuable insights received from a Harvard Study that followed participants through years of their adult lives. Compiling life stories included in the study, it shows countless examples of how to have a good life.
New York Times Bestseller
What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? According to the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize.
What makes a life fulfilling and meaningful? The simple but surprising answer is: relationships. The stronger our relationships, the more likely we are to live happy, satisfying, and overall healthier lives. In fact, the Harvard Study of Adult Development reveals that the strength of our connections with others can predict the health of both our bodies and our brains as we go through life.
The invaluable insights in this book emerge from the revealing personal stories of hundreds of participants in the Harvard Study as they were followed year after year for their entire adult lives, and this wisdom is bolstered by research findings from this and many other studies. Relationships in all their forms—friendships, romantic partnerships, families, coworkers, tennis partners, book club members, Bible study groups—all contribute to a happier, healthier life. And as The Good Life shows us, it’s never too late to strengthen the relationships you have, and never too late to build new ones.
Dr. Waldinger’s TED Talk about the Harvard Study, “What Makes a Good Life,” has been viewed more than 42 million times and is one of the ten most-watched TED talks ever. The Good Life has been praised by bestselling authors Jay Shetty (“Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz lead us on an empowering quest towards our greatest need: meaningful human connection”), Angela Duckworth (“In a crowded field of life advice and even life advice based on scientific research, Schulz and Waldinger stand apart”), and happiness expert Laurie Santos (“Waldinger and Schulz are world experts on the counterintuitive things that make life meaningful”).
With warmth, wisdom, and compelling life stories, The Good Life shows us how we can make our lives happier and more meaningful through our connections to others.
GRIT is a leadership book, a business book, a parenting book, and more than that: it’s an illuminating pop-psychology handbook for Angela Duckworth’s theory of success. Growing up as the daughter of a scientist she was frequently told she lacked “genius,” which is certainly ironic since she was awarded a “genius grant” by the MacArthur Foundation. Once she moved into roles of teacher, business consultant and neuroscientist, she developed her theory of what really drives success, and (spoiler alert!) it’s not genius. She found the secret lies in a combination of passion and long-term perseverance. In GRIT, she shares fascinating insights and anecdotes from her studies visiting cadets struggling through West Point, young finalists in the National Spelling Bee, and understandings learned from history.
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