Graduation season is upon us, and the best gifts you can give to a young graduate are wisdom, courage, and inspiration! Such treasures are of course rare, but can be best found in any of these top 10 rare books for graduates:
1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Albee Edward
Albee Edward’s play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is an essential for anyone pursuing a liberal arts education, especially those focusing on the humanities or theatre. The title is a pun from the song, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” from Walt Disney’s Three Little Pigs, and the song is repeatedly sung throughout the play. Arguably one of the greatest works of American theatre, the play smashes societal conventions of the 1950s, challenging the notion of “the perfect family,” that was idolized at the time. A poignant, often humorous read, this timeless work is re-modernized over and over again both on the stage and in film.
2. Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
For every graduate leaving home, Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou brings nostalgia, wisdom, and endless inspiration. One of Maya Angelou’s New York Times Bestsellers, the book chronicles her fascinating life, showcasing the struggle, resiliency, and big dreams that led Angelou down her path to fame. A great way to remind a graduate to be proud of where they came from and firm in where they’re going in life.
3. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett is another important read for new college students, especially those interested in theatre or philosophy. Samuel Beckett presents us with the perfect example of existential literature, and often referenced across course studies. This play is the kind of read that makes you think without being dense in its content. An excellent gift to jumpstart your graduate’s mind into less traditional modes of thought.
4. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Good Earth dramatizes life in a Chinese village before World War I. The book follows a young man, Wang Lung, and his fall from fortune after his arranged marriage to a young slave and their birth of three children. It’s a fascinating story that ignites thought on other cultures, political-mindedness, and stereotypes surrounding race, gender, and religion. A great base for a young, educated mind!
5. Don Quixote de la Mancha by Saavedra Cervantes
Graduation is a life adventure and there is no better example of that than Don Quixote de la Mancha! This classic story follows a nameless hidalgo who loses his mind after reading too many romances decides to revive chivalry and bring justice back into the world. His journey is a fun, humorous, and inspiring read that touches on important college-level themes like metatheatre and intertextuality. The story will undoubtedly come up in college or graduate level literature courses. A great reminder to take chances, follow your heart, and have adventure!
6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is the perfect read for someone embarking on a new stage of life and hoping to do some soul searching. The novel follows a young shepherd boy on his pilgrimage in through Egypt to find his life’s purpose based on a dream he had. This riveting story is a page-turner, one that reveals important lessons about the temptation to settle for what’s easy and get stuck in a pattern that was never your path. It’s also an easy, light-hearted read that brings relief from dense university textbooks and literature.
7. Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Losers is a wonderful introduction to Leonard Cohen, an important author for any graduate looking to get involved in activism or politics. The book is also a great example of post-modernism, an essential term for any graduate’s vocabulary. What could be a better break from your life or studies than delving into the mystical era of the 1960’s?
8. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
Winner of the U.S. National Book Award, The Moviegoer is another great, though very different introduction into existential literature. The story is about a young stockbroker who struggles to find meaning in any of his relationships, and so finds solace in a search for his inner self. “What is the nature of the search?” the book asks. This novel also offers important insight into U.S. history in the south after the Korean War. A story about a young stockbroker who struggles to find meaning in his relationships and so finds solace in a search for his inner self. A light yet very inspiring read for anyone immersed in higher education.
9. The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand’s novels offer essential teachings on philosophies about individualism and self-sufficiency. Her name will most likely come up in any college course as well as after graduation, and can be a great gift to those looking to find a different outlook towards achieving a successful life.
10. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Pulitzer Prize winning novel American Pastoral by Philip Roth is considered one of the greatest works of American Fiction. A plot filled with crime, death, and turmoil make this book a thrilling read for any young graduate. Following the time after the Vietnam War, the story offers a more contemporary approach to understanding U.S. politics and social movements. Give the gift of an exciting break from college course literature that inspires political thinking about activism, human rights, and other pressing issues of today.