6 Books to Give as Graduation Gifts

From the Job Hunt to Etiquette to Social Consciousness

Close-up of teenage girl with mortar board holding gift
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Looking for gift ideas to give someone for high school or college graduation? A book is an ideal gift for graduates because it helps them reflect on where they have been and where they are going. A book can be sentimental, practical, or entertaining. For the perfect book to give, look no further than this list.

"Breaking Night" is the true story of Liz Murray, a girl who went from homeless teenager to Harvard graduate. More than a memoir, "Breaking Night" is an eye-opening account of the realities of poverty and drug use in our cities, what it does to children, and how difficult it is to break the cycle. Not only will it help graduates count their blessings, but it will inspire them to make a difference in the world.

"Freakonomics" or its sequel, "SuperFreakonomics," is an especially good graduation gift for anyone interested in economics or social issues. "Freakonomics" will inspire graduates to apply their knowledge in practical ways and think creatively. It is also a very entertaining read. If the student enjoys the tome, "Freakonomics Radio" airs on public radio and SiriusXM and is also available as a podcast. Consider it a gift of lifelong learning. Other books by the authors include "Think Like a Freak" and "When to Rob a Bank...and 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants." 

"What the Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell is good in two ways: It will help grads win at trivia nights, and it will help them learn the importance of a fresh perspective. "What the Dog Saw" is a collection of the essays from The New Yorker that range in topic from ketchup to plagiarism to failure. They're each about 15 to 25 pages long, are self-contained, and can be read in any order.

Until students live on their own, they don't really realize what parents did every day to keep their home running. This "Life Skills 101: A Practical Guide to Leaving Home and Living on Your Own" guide aims to help the new young adults with skills such as etiquette, how to save and stretch a buck, and how to plan their time. It also includes advice on essentials such as finding a place to live and negotiating a lease, as well as maintaining their home and car.

"What Color Is Your Parachute" by Richard Nelson Bolles has been the job-searching book to use for more than a decade. Know a college graduate who is still not sure how to apply his or her major in the real world? This graduation gift may be more practical than glamorous but may be appreciated more in the end than even gifts of cash.

"Do What You Are" is another classic read that will help a graduate choose a career after graduation based on his or her personality type. This is a practical graduation gift for any recent grads who want to be more self-aware. It also contains information on hot job markets.