Tis the season for graduation and yet another copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Gifts for grads are big business for publishers, but if you’re trying to figure out a different way to impart some wisdom without reverting to cliche (or if you are a new graduate and don’t want a million copies of Dr. Seuss), take a page from one of my family members who recently graduated from high school. She asked everyone to send their favorite book with an inscription about why it’s their favorite or why they think she should read it. (She’s a beautiful little nerd.)
We thought that was pretty genius and came up with a list of the books we’d give to the graduates in our lives, along with the inscription we’d write.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
For when you need a reminder that imagination is everything, good people exist in the world if you’re brave enough to ask for help (be brave), and comfort can always be found in a library. And that there is such a thing as too much chocolate cake.
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Bossypants by Tina Fey
This memoir gave me strength to be funny when I wanted to be and tough when I needed to be, even as a young girl who people expect to be demure and quiet. Fuck that, I say.
Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown
Heroes and Monsters by Josh James Riebock
Because we all have a hero and a monster inside of us. Read this when you need a reminder of the struggle between the two, and how to find the hero in yourself.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
For those times when you need a wise friend who will gently tell it to you straight. Sometimes, life sucks. This book is a good reminder that no matter how hard your struggle, there is someone who understands.
-Amanda Kay Oaks
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself. (Sing this to yourself to the tune of “Be Our Guest” from Beauty & the Beast.) Be yourself even if it costs you jobs and friends. (Those are not the jobs you want, those are not the friends you need.) Be yourself even if it does not lead you down the path of least resistance. (There is a pit of boring crocodiles at the end of that dull path, anyway.) Don’t believe anyone who tells you that you don’t belong, or are not important. It may be harder, and sometimes it may not seem worth it, but one day you will realize you love everything you have in your life. Remember that you got there by being you. Always go with the wrench, because fuck them, that’s why.
Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
It’s all a myth, this thing they call adult-ing. Who are “they” anyway?