COLLEGE PARK, MD - MAY 17: Graduates of Bowie State University put messages on their mortarboard hats during the school's ...

5 great reads to give to new graduates

Graduating from high school or college is a uniquely bittersweet moment (for both the graduate and the people who helped them get there).

After college, you’re hit instantly with the sense of freedom that comes with putting classrooms behind you, and eventually, the gravity of adulthood.

As a parent, friend, mentor or supporter, you may think: “How can I impart heartfelt wisdom or advice that’s not trite? What’s a meaningful gift that will help them navigate this new phase?”

I attended college in Chicago, the location of my favorite bookstore, The Book Cellar. I hammered out many a paper and cover letter within their warm, comforting walls, always with a cup of their delicious coffee. The Book Cellar’s recommendations are always spot-on, so I wanted to hear what they suggest new graduates read this summer.

The Book Cellar’s Nathen Cantu and Portia Turner gave us their five top picks for recent graduates.In their words:

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

by Samantha Irby

“Samantha Irby is one of the best comedic writers. [She] needs to start showing up on everybody’s radar. Every essay in this collection feels like a piece of the rich and chaotic tapestry that is Samantha’s life, making you stop and continuously wonder, ‘What could be worse that?’ And then being politely reminded, ‘Oh, this.'”

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

by Elan Mastri

“Campy, self-aware, and insightful, Elan Mastai’s debut novel is time travel done right as we follow a deadbeat chrononaut that somehow finds a way to mess up his world’s “perfect” timeline. This is the perfect read as a reward for all those years of required academic writing, as well as being a great reminder that “perfect” isn’t nearly as great or fun as the real world.”

The Nix by Nathan Hill

by Nathan Hill

“Use your brand spanking new education to find the different literary influences in this amazing debut novel by Nathan Hill.  This novel has something for everyone: history, mystery, political intrigue, choose your own adventures, video games, as well as a great sense of humor. It may seem long but it reads fast because you won’t want to put it down.”

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy

“If you’ve ever felt like being normal is overrated, it’s because it is, and Jenny Lawson is leading the charge with this sentiment.  “Furiously Happy” is a hilarious, yet deeply personal self-reflection on the quirks and qualms that emerge out of living with mental illness and depression.”

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

by Jeff Vandermeer

“If you haven’t gotten on the Jeff Vandermeer train yet, then I am so happy that you have the chance to experience his writing for first time.  Intelligent, aloof, and just the right amount of weird, “Borne” is the story of a little creature that is created out of a turbulent, dystopian fantasy where humans have decided to put all of their effort into biotechnological research. It’s Vandermeer’s not-so-subtle critique on the way we see and interact with nature.”