Updated: Jan 25
Photo Credit: YUTTANA JAOWATTANA / EYEEM
You can't go wrong with advice from the Dalai Lama, the most powerful speeches that changed the world, and more.
BY ASHLEY LEATH
JUN 15, 2021
These 5 Best-Selling Authors Share the Best Books to Give to New Grads
Inspiring, instructional, and humorous, books are possibly one of the most useful gifts for a high school or college graduate. And who better to ask for book recommendations from than a best-selling writer? So we chatted with the founding authors of Friends & Fiction, the popular weekly Facebook Live webcast that celebrates reading, books, and the art of storytelling.
Fan-favorite authors Kristy Woodson Harvey, Kristin Harmel, Patti Callahan, Mary Kay Andrews, and Mary Alice Monroe started Friends & Fiction at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to connect with fans and support independent bookstores across the U.S. Since April 15, 2020, they've produced more than 50 episodes and have chatted with authors like Kristin Hannah, Delia Owens, Brit Bennett, Elin Hilderbrand, and more (wow!).
These five New York Times–bestselling authors—with more than 80 published titles to their credit—gave us the scoop on their favorite new-grad book recommendations. From advice from the Dalai Lama to the most powerful speeches that changed the world, these five books will offer your new graduate a fresh perspective, a dash of humor, and a set of new skills that will better equip them to take on adulting with ease. Pair it with a graduation celebration to remember and an inspiring quote, and you'll have a heartfelt graduation gift they're sure to love.
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
amazon.com$26.00$12.37 (52% off) SHOP NOW
Author Kristy Woodson Harvey (Under the Southern Sky, Gallery) shared that The Book of Joy is a "charming, life-affirming book. Two of the world’s greatest minds and most important spiritual leaders share eight Pillars of Joy: lessons garnered from more than 50 years of oppression. Despite their hardships, these two men managed to find life’s most important gift—true inner happiness—and offer invaluable advice on how anyone can do the same. Especially during what can be a tumultuous time of re-creation and envisioning a future for themselves, graduates will find not only a moment of peace but also real tools to help find their true joy no matter what is happening in the ever-changing world around them."
Speeches That Changed the World
amazon.com$10.66 SHOP NOW
Kristin Harmel, author of The Book of Lost Names (Gallery), tells us that Speeches That Changed the World is the pick for any new grad. "This collection of world-changing speeches, from Jesus to Mohammed, Washington to Churchill, Reagan to Obama, is both a succinct reminder of the course of the last two thousand years of human history and a reminder about the power of words to change the world. Recent grads are at the beginning of their journeys through life (most of them without a great deal of power or influence yet) and this book serves as a reminder that the simplest of tools—our ability to express our thoughts and our passions through the art of stringing sentences together—can mean everything. It's an inspiring reminder that they, too, can change the world."
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
amazon.com$30.00$18.99 (37% off) SHOP NOW
"No list for a graduate would be complete without poetry, a balm to the soul," explains Patti Callahan (Surviving Savannah, Berkley). "As poet and author David Whyte says, all poetry attempts to 'say the unsayable.' And Mary Oliver does it like no one else, with an eye toward the natural world and a grace of language that says the things we feel. For a graduate, these poems open up a new and astounding world outside their checklists and grades and logic. This book spans the work of Mary Oliver over 50 years with more than 200 poems. She is here to remind us, over and over, of the interconnectedness of our world. With lines like 'Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life,' Oliver is here to bring us back to ourselves."
Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together (Broke Millennial Series)
TARCHERPERIGEEamazon.com$15.00$10.96 (27% off) SHOP NOW
Mary Kay Andrews, author of this year's The Newcomer (St. Martin’s Press), says that Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together is what to give when you want to give your recent graduate a gift "that can put them on the path to self-sufficiency. Save the C-note and instead give them this frank, funny, and highly relatable guide to financial adulting. Chapters with titles like 'Is Money a Tinder Date or Marriage Material?', 'Credit Reports and Scores: The Report Card for Life,' 'Getting Financially Naked with Your Partner,' and 'How to Negotiate Salary (or Anything Else) By Learning to Ask for What You Want' help Broke Millennial keep readers’ eyes from glazing over when the discussion turns to potentially dry topics like budgeting, banking products, and investing. In truth, unless you’re a trust fund baby or a newly minted tech billionaire, almost everyone could benefit from Erin Lowry’s clear-eyed advice."
Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You'll Never Hear
KNOPF amazon.com$15.95$10.70 (33% off) SHOP NOW
Mary Alice Monroe (The Summer of Lost and Found, Gallery) says that a beautifully bound leather journal, preferably with the graduate’s initials, is a true keepsake gift—empty pages for the graduate to write his or her own words upon, but because "we all have to laugh" in life, she also includes Assume the Worst: The Graduation Speech You’ll Never Hear, "Carl Hiassen’s cynical but witty advice, with illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast."