Look around you: Everywhere you turn, early 20-something-year-olds are posting emotional statuses, tearful graduation photos and wondering what the hell they are going to do now. Yes, folks, it’s graduation season, and rather than give your graduate a copy of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go (they know where they’re going — it’s the real world, and they’re probably not particularly happy about it), opt for one of these 10 more appropriate gifts:
For your sister whose biggest qualm with graduating is leaving her college boyfriend and friends behind, a tiny book packed with advice to make all those goodbyes just a little bit easier: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
For your friend who absolutely, definitely, 100 percent will be successful (just as soon as she gets her shit together), a reminder that even the most accomplished women get it wrong sometimes: Mistakes I Made at Work Edited by Jessica Bacal
For your niece who dreams of one day saying “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night,” a book of advice, insight and stories from the queen of SNL herself: Bossypants by Tina Fey
For your brother who would have much preferred his graduation speaker to, like, talk about the real world, man, a collection of essays featuring the equal-parts pragmatic and touching commencement speech that Jonathan Franzen gave at Kenyon College: Farther Away by Jonathan Franzen
For your family friend who hopes to become the next great novelist, a transcript of the speech the 2013 National Book Award-winner gave at Syracuse College: Congratulations, by the Way by George Saunders
For your nephew who spent his senior year not partying, but finishing Infinite Jest, a transcript of David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech: This Is Water by David Foster Wallace
For your sister who just graduated from fashion school, an inspiring memoir about how one woman went from dumpster diving and shoplifting to founding one of the biggest e-commerce sites in the country. Think of it as Lean In for creative types: #GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso
For your cousin who wants to use her BA in Creative Writing to reinvent the personal essay, a series of essays from the woman who, you know, reinvented the personal essay: Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
For your little sister who obviously doesn’t have a plan because she’s an artist, a book to remind her that, yes, artists need plans too: Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
For your family friends who are freaking out and sending you emails every other night about whether or not they should go to grad school, a book that will give them 41 answers (and clear your inbox): Should I Go to Grad School? Edited by Jessica Loudis, Bosko Blagojevic, John Arthur Peetz and Allison Rodman
Remember what your graduate actually wants: a job! Just kidding! (... Sort of.)
What they’re really looking for is guidance and support as they wade through this new, murky territory. Let them know what you and your friends were thinking when you graduated, offer to look over their resume and remind them that it will all turn out OK. Yes, really, it will all be OK.
Michelle King grew up in South Florida and now lives in Brooklyn. Her contributions have appeared on BULLETT, Refinery29, xoJane and The Huffington Post. Harriet M. Welsch is still her role model and probably always will be.
About the Book:
Hypnotizing us with the deceptively simple rhythm of the ordinary, We Were Flying to Chicago offers a moment of change: the view over the cliff, the breath before a decision, a sidelong glance of impending news. Award-winning writer Kevin Clouther skillfully slows time to note the visceral, emotional impact of an everyday moment.
A man drives to the wrong mountain, a hubcap cleaner moonlights as a karaoke star and a woman trusts a stranger on the bus. Each of the 10 stories in We Were Flying to Chicago is contemporary without being ironic or glib, offering a glimpse of stark vulnerability, faith and shared experience.
About the Author:
Kevin Clouther was born in Boston and grew up on Cape Cod and in South Florida. He holds degrees from the University of Virginia and Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he completed his thesis under Marilynne Robinson and won the Richard Yates Fiction Award for best short story. He has worked at The Iowa Review, Meridian and The Virginia Literary Review, where he served as fiction editor. He teaches creative writing at Stony Brook University, where he coordinates the Program in Writing Reading Series, and at John Hopkins. He has previously taught at Bridgewater College in Virginia, the University of Michigan Dearborn and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Floral Park, New York with his wife and two children.
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