High school graduation is upon us. Most Triangle-area high schoolers will be walking across that stage over the next several days. And for those of you struggling with what to get your high school senior, I checked around with some area booksellers to see what they had to recommend.
- "A Short Guide to a Happy Life" by Anna Quindlen. A short and thoughtful volume on how to get the most out of your life (and that doesn't mean possessions).
- "Poetry Speaks Expanded." Poetry collections are popular graduation gifts - in any collection, there's much to speak to each individual. Well, this collection truly 'speaks' - with CDs of 47 of the world's greatest poets reading 107 of their most famous works. Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, and others bring their wisdom alive. For ages 16 and up.
- "You Don't Have to Learn the Hard Way" by J.R. Parrish. Pure common sense advice, what everyone wishes someone had sat them down to hear, told in a straightforward, non-preachy style. You don't have to be a graduate to learn something from it. Geared to high school graduates, it's suitable for younger teens as well.
- "Zen Shorts" or "The Three Questions" by Jon Muth. Both are beautifully illustrated picture books, one based on Zen principles, and one on Tolstoy. Both are suitable for young teens and will lead to many an "oh, wow" moment.
- "Best of the Small Presses," edited by Bill Henderson. This annual short story anthology with almost 600 pages of engaging contributions from 62 writers is the perfect antidote for several semesters of all-night term papers, AP cramming, college applications and school reading lists. Discover Lydia Davis, Ted Kooser, Greil Marcus, Rita Dove and Joyce Carol Oates on your own time. An added bonus: Chapel Hill author, Ashlee Adams, has her first published story included in this prize winning collection.
- "USA," by the Lonely Planet. Soon after high school, I discovered Jack Kerouac. His "On the Road" and "Dharma Bums" were like signposts.Lonely Planet has the youthful eyes and ears of a generation of curious travelers who all have iPod’s, Facebook accounts and MapQuest apps on their phones but still want to actually go somewhere. Lively text, great tour guides. Local food blogger Emily Matchar, an LP veteran, contributes North Carolina tips from the coast to the mountains.
- "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
- the bestselling book "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer, who chronicles his climb up Mount Everest in May 1996 when eight climbers died.
- "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke" by Suze Orman. A great beginning book on personal finances is always a great idea.
- "The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run into in College" by Harlan Cohen. A great title on handling all the crazy situations that come along with any trip to college.
- Carr also recommends a regional travel or nature guide to the area your graduate is going.
- "1000 Places To See Before You Die" by Patricia Schultz. There's so much more to the world then big cities and famous museums.
- "Humor Me: An Anthology of Funny Contemporary Writing" plus some great old stuff too, edited by Ian Frazier. I hate to say it, but life is going to start getting much more serious and humor is a great asset to have.
- "Shop Craft as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work" by Matthew B. Crawford. A beautiful paean to the physical as opposed to the cerebral. Our hands are just as intelligent as our minds.
Congratulations to all the graduates!