Welcome to Book Riot’s 2019 graduation gift guide! We’ve got bookish gifts for all the graduating readers in your life (high school, college, and beyond!), from useful books to planners to decor for first apartments, for budgets of all sizes. Get shopping!
From coffee-fueled study sessions to way-too-early Monday mornings at the office, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine for a new graduate. Arm your grads with a banned book heat reactive mug from Out of Print. As they fill it with their favorite caffeinated beverage, each banned book title is revealed in all its glory. It’s just what they need to keep their eyes open, their brains alert, and their ideas flowing. Plus, every cup comes with an extra shot of courage. After all, if a banned book can rise again, then so can a bright and deserving new grad.
Postcards are an excellent gift to the grad who is moving away. With the postcards, also give some postcard stamps and the addresses of loved ones. If you’re feeling extra sassy, address a few of the postcards to yourself (or grandma) and save the grad the hassle. These Bibliophilia postcards are beautiful and stylish, suitable for a wide range of family and friends.
There is one lesson that I have learned above all else as an adult, and it’s that celebrating personal creativity is a foundational element for fulfillment. Beginning my own work as a creative writer has shifted everything in a way that has made my work life and family life healthier, too, and made me more compassionate toward both others and myself. I only wish I had found this creative outlet for my life earlier than I did, which is why I find this celebration of creativity from Elizabeth Gilbert—in all its forms, for its own sake, with total abandon—to be such a perfect and incredible graduation gift.
Your bookish graduate may be upgrading to real-life furniture soon and could use some help keeping it looking sharp. Enter these composition notebook coasters, which will bring back (hopefully good, writerly) school memories while making sure that cup of coffee or pint of beer doesn’t mess up a nice, new—or new-to-them—coffee table. Both nostalgia-inducing and visually striking, these coasters make the perfect graduation-slash-apartment-warming gift.
This tiny little gem from the great George Saunders is sort of the perfect gift for a graduate, and not just because it’s based on a commencement address he gave in 2013. It’s a honest, funny, and heartfelt meditation on the importance of kindness. I’ve read it 20+ times and the message resonates more each time: always be kind, and beware of swimming in monkey poop.
When I graduated from college, I was really excited to spend more of my reading time on books I chose instead of books assigned by professors. A custom library stamp is the perfect gift for a book-loving grad starting their own personal library. It’s reasonably priced, personalized, and something they can treasure for years to come. There’s something that feels very adult about marking a book as your own when you add it to your shelves. A library stamp will also ensure that the books they treasure find their way back after being loaned out to friends and family.
I’m definitely a Book Person, and I was an English Lit major, but even for grads who do not plan to go into English or writing of some sort, Dreyer’s English still makes an excellent gift. It’s a witty approach to language, and every student, no matter what subject they’re studying, will be writing so many papers it will feel like their fingernails will fall off from typing by the end of freshman year. They’ll be confused at first, but they’ll thank you later when they’re praised for their writing skills by the most critical professors.
I’ve tried every app and tool on my phone, but I’ve never been able to stay organized and focused as much as when I have a physical, paper-filled planner. Something about carrying around a big notebook for the purpose of keeping my shit together helps me do exactly that. Between reading assignments, papers due, upcoming tests, intramural games, and that fundraising night, these LifePlanners are not only literally made for organizing everything, but they are also beautiful, fun, and personalized. (I won’t tell if you’d rather doodle in here and play with the stickers than pay attention in that boring seminar lecture.)
Perfect for the bookworms! This bucket list poster consists of 100 classic novels across a range of genres, including much-loved authors like Roald Dahl, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Malorie Blackman, J. K. Rowling, Khaled Hosseini and the Brontë sisters. Simply scratch off a novel once you’ve read it to reveal the beautiful image hiding beneath. Are you up for the challenge?
This is such a great resource for people who are new to sex as well as those who did not have a comprehensive sex education experience. While some of the language is gendered (ugh) and yes, there is a whole lot of straight, cis gender sex talked about, the information and techniques are pretty sound. It’s a hefty book but written in a way that is humorous and easy to understand. It’s super handy as a reference source for questions that a new grad may not want to ask in person.
Buying a gift for a recent grad can be tricky. You want to get them something they can use since (unless they’re graduating from kindergarten) there’s a good chance they’re thinking about how to start and fund their next chapter of life. On the other hand, there’s no fun in a gift that’s too practical. That’s where these notebooks come in: even graduates need to write stuff, but since these are homemade and come in a variety of sizes and styles, you’re giving a useful gift with some personality.
If there’s one single book about how to adult for the modern graduate, this is it.
This first book from the creators of the Daily Skimm newsletter is intended to set Millennials on the right course for adulthood. It covers a wide range of topics from day-to-day budgeting, to long-term investing, negotiating your first salary, reading wine lists and much more of the common challenges that come with trying to life an adult life. And it all in the Skimm’s signature snarky, savvier-than-you big sister tone.
It releases June 11, but you can pre-order this for the graduate in your life any time.
Transitioning to life after graduation can be tough. Unlike academic environments, life doesn’t offer goalposts, tests, and grades to let you know how you’re doing. A carefully crafted and checked off to-do list can take you far in school, but it doesn’t always lead to happiness in your career, family, and love life. This essay collection from notoriously Type A writer Mary Laura Philpott feels like a conversation with a kind and wise older sister, full of thoughts on the moments that count and how our best laid plans can leave us feeling empty. This is the perfect book for a grad looking at the world and thinking, “What happens now?”
You know what no one tells you about your entrance into the working world? The joys of office AC wars! If the grad in your life is headed towards any sort of office environment (or, you know, actual cold weather), these gorgeous writing gloves help keep hands warm when the temps get low. They come in assorted literary prints inspired by classic lit (the Jane Eyre pair are my fave). They’re super soft and they’re fingerless too, making typing, filing, writing, etc a breeze.
When my older brother bought me a Kindle as a high school graduation gift, I admit I was skeptical at first. He said it was so I wouldn’t have to carry around so many textbooks, and he was right. I was able to read most of my English major-assigned reading. This will help your reading graduates, from high school or college, and save them some back pain. It also means when they’re traveling they will always have something new to read.
When Kobi Yamata’s What Do You Do With an Idea? came out a few years ago, almost everybody on my Christmas list received a copy. It was a poignant and succinct reminder for children and adults about the beauty of our ideas. Yamata’s What Do You Do With a Chance? provides the same hopeful, beautiful view of failure and perseverance and gently admonishes the reader to remember just how precious chances are. It’s a perfect gift for grads and an alternative inspirational book for those who are Dr. Suessed out.