caps, gowns, and books, oh my!

Graduation season is upon us and with each graduation announcement acquired, another gift is added to the list! Last weekend I attended my little sister’s graduation from college, next weekend my intern graduates from design school, and at the end of the month, all of the high school graduates will be thrust upon the world.  It’s an exciting and sometimes anxious time for graduates as they embark on their next steps of life. But what better way to encourage them, than with an inspiring book. [pro tip: write a thoughtful inscription inside the book and accompany the book with a cash gift, trust me they’ll love it.]

So get your “Oh the places they’ll go” messages ready, practice your sorority squats (for all the group photos you’ll take), and don’t forget the sunscreen if you’re attending an outdoor graduation (coming from someone who recently forgot sunscreen for an outdoor graduation).

Here are a few books that make my short list that will inspire, surprise, and delight your newest college (or high school) graduate!

1) What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada
Skip the traditional children’s gift book – Dr. Suess’ Oh The Places You’ll Go – and gift this book to your graduate. The first time I read it, I sat in total awe that someone had thought to analogize such an abstract thought like ideas. The concept and art work together to create a sense of wonder that stirs our inner creative. This pick is perfect for vocational creatives, hobbyists, and people who enjoy saying “I’m not creative” because at the end of the day we all have ideas if we open ourselves to them.

2) You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
I’ll admit that I’ve never read this book but I recently gifted it to my sister (the one who graduated last weekend) because who doesn’t want to be called a badass. And trust me, she is. The subtitle says it all – How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life. As a college (or high school) graduate, you’re often in a fragile, sometimes uncertain time of life and adulting is no joke. So believe in them even when they don’t know how to believe in themselves.
Also, as I write more (and you read more) you’ll learn that curse words in stationary (and gift) products is practically my love language. The phrase “Get Shit Done” is my life mantra.

3) Rules of the Red Rubber Ball by Kevin Carroll
I saw Kevin speak at a marketing conference recently and was completely blown away by his concept that the act of play is a key to inspiration. This book is a quick read and has a neat design to it.

If you want to see more before diving in, meet Kevin:

4) Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy’s book is a comedic memoir full of hilarious storytelling and anecdotes about her time on SNL and as Leslie in Parks & Rec. It’s funny, inspiring, and one of my most gifted books. Additionally, Amy brought Leslie Knope to life and Leslie Knope is a national treasure. In reality, she used to drive me crazy and then I realized that there were parts of me that I could see in her character. I’ve read the book, listened to the audio book, and plan to reread the book again soon. It’s that good.

5) Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow
If you’re a creative in any sense of the word (which arguably we all are), you should be reading this book. Filled with decades of interviews with comics, writers, directors, and actors, Judd Apatow shares inside stories, how-tos, and stories that remind you that you’re not alone in the trenches. I read this book with a pencil (for all my underlining), gifted it to a Grammy nominated artist friend of mine (who also loved it), and quoted it to my boss. I gift this book every chance I get, and most recently gifted Sick In The Head to a talented, guitar-playing, almost-accountant, college grad.


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