Four Kinds of Grads, Four Great Gifts

Ed Catmull's Creativity, Inc.

The graduate in your life is standing on a precipice, between the familiar comforts of college and the wild blue yonder of life beyond (which, in their imagination, probably looks like a cross between a bread line and their childhood bedroom). While you may not be able to offer them the thing they most want (that would be a job), you can give them something they need: inspiration, perspective, and mental refreshment, in the form of a great postcollegiate read. Here are 4 books that will remind your grad that the world is huge and full of possibility, and not just the scary kind:

For the creative grad who wonders where they’ll fit in

Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull
Kids raised on Pixar movies and the creations of Steve Jobs will be fascinated by Pixar Animation cofounder Catmull’s look inside his company’s revered dream machine. It’s a great reminder that not all corporate cultures are straight out of Office Space, and is full of proven leadership lessons and insights into how creatives get stuff done.

For the grad who wants to be empowered

Lean In For Graduates, Sheryl Sandberg
Not just a catch phrase, and not just for women, Sandberg’s groundbreaking book has been updated and expanded by six chapters, with fresh info meant specifically for the newest members of the workforce. The book blends inspiration (finding your voice, getting excited about your future) with hard advice (negotiating your salary, landing a job), and should be given with a stack of Post-Its and a highlighter: your grad will be revisiting its pages again and again.

For the grad who might be just a little bit freaked out

The Ecstasy of Surrender, by Judith Orloff
And then there are the grads who need to surrender before they can forge ahead. For them, Orloff offers permission to let go, one by one, of the twelve contentious points that keep us from true inner calm. By dropping obsessions and attachments, psychiatrist Orloff claims that the way between you and what you want will be cleared. Whether or not this path leads your grad to the material markers of success they may seek, it will open their mind to new ways of defining and seeking those successes.

For the grad who wants to know how others have done it

I Just Graduated…Now What, by Katherine Schwarzenegger
First off, yes. She’s the daughter of that Schwarzenegger. I Just Graduated culls advice from luminaries across a number of fields, whose divergent paths to success will inspire recent grads looking to answer questions like, “What the heck do I do next?,” or…well, that first question pretty much covers it, and this book answers in illuminating ways.

What book should every grad read?

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