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Five Great Books for Graduates

Updated on February 27, 2014

Why You Should Buy Books for Graduates

A graduation marks a transition to a new chapter of life. This can be terrifying, even if the grad has an idea of what they will be doing next! Books make a great graduation gift, whether that graduation is high school, college, or beyond! Use this list as a jumping off point to start thinking about what book would be the best choice.

While these five are my top suggestions, the most important part of choosing a graduation gift is to make it meaningful. Think about the books that have inspired you throughout your life. Would one of those make a good gift? Write an inscription in the front of the book to let your loved one know why you thought of this book as gift and what you got out of it. Something from the heart will always be the best book for graduates.

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What gets a book on this list?

All five of these books are ones that I own and enjoy. But, more importantly than that, a book is a great gift when it is fitting to where a person is in their life. Choosing a book that you have read and loved with increase the chances that it will be appreciated by the recipient.

So here it is, my list of the top five books for graduates:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

What Color is Your Parachute?

The Joy of Cooking

Who Moved My Cheese?

Oh, The Places You'll Go

Read on for information about why I recommend each one and who it might be a great graduation gift for.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

When I graduated from high school, my cousin gave me a copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He wrote me a note in the front of the book, explaining that it had helped him get through some hard times.

Well over a decade later and I still treasure my copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It is inspirational and motivational. The method of the book is to be yourself and strive to be the best you can be, no matter what anyone else says. Jonathan was alone in his flock, different from all the rest of the seagulls in his pursuit of speed and knowledge about flight. They exiled him from the group, but ultimately he had to follow his heart.

What Color is Your Parachute?

For graduates who are looking for full-time work, What Color is Your Parachute is a valuable resource on every aspect of job hunting - networking, resumes, interviews, and finding out what you really want to do with your life. One core part of the book is identifying what you are passionate about and what kinds of skills you have that you could bring to a job.

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers
What Color Is Your Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

One of the best parts of this book is that a new edition comes out every year. The job market changes rapidly, as does technology. After all, ten years ago sites like Facebook and LinkedIn played no part in the job market. Now, managing your online presence is critical and can be a part of networking.

Of all the books for graduates looking for work, this is by far the best.


The Joy of Cooking

Do you know how many high school graduates have no idea how to feed themselves? Dorm food only goes so far, and he or she will probably get an apartment at some point during college. Dining out constantly isn't possible on a limited budget and there is more to life than ramen noodles. So think about buying a good cookbook as a graduation gift.

Joy of Cooking
Joy of Cooking

The Joy of Cooking is one of my go-to cookbooks because it covers all the basics. Anything a novice cook might want to make is in this cookbook. It's one of the best books for graduates who are just starting out in the world or moving out on their own for the first time.


Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

The first time I picked up a copy of Who Moved My Cheese? I was skeptical. I've always been someone who is terrified of change and reacted very badly to it. While reading a book hasn't completely cured my fear, it has provided some new techniques for dealing with it. It is a short book, written in metaphors which makes it a quick read. But it gives the reader a lot to think about later.

If you are looking at books for younger graduates, there is also a special teen edition of Who Moved My Cheese?


Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Any list of books for graduates is probably going to include the Dr. Seuss classic, Oh, the Places You'll Go! I thought about bucking tradition and leaving the book off the list, but there is a reason that the book is always including on lists.

Oh, the Places You'll Go Pop-Up
Oh, the Places You'll Go Pop-Up

Dr. Seuss has always been one of my favorite authors. As a young child, I loved the pictures and rhymes. But as I grew older, I realized how deep his work really is. Each book has a message about the important things in life, and this one is no difference. A new grad can do just about anything with their life and is on the edge of a great change. "You'll be on your way up! / You'll be seeing great sights! / You'll join the high fliers / who soar to high heights."


Time for you to weigh in!

Which of these books is your favorite?

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Looking Beyond Books?

If you can't find the perfect book, or you want to give multiple small gifts to your graduate, there are plenty of other options! A piece of jewelry can be a reminder of their achievement for years to come.

What was your favorite graduation gift? - Or, what was your least favorite? Tell people what not to buy!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Graduated too long back to remember... I like all your suggestions though! Nice list.

    • theholidayplace profile image

      theholidayplace 5 years ago

      Oh, The Places You'll Go is onw of my favourite readings, recommended!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very interesting and thoughtful suggestions

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      I got not one, but two copies of Oh the Places You'll Go for my graduation - great piece of literature!