Books and literary gifts for that newly minted graduate

If you have a smart young graduate in your life, a book always seems like a thoughtful gift.

But, you shouldn’t buy just any old book, says Ron Charles of the Washington Post’s Book Club. In his most recent newsletter, he notes that there are better options than the nostalgic “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” from Dr. Seuss.

WTOP talked with Charles to get some suggestions for some grad-worthy reading material.
If you are a gift-giver who wants to keep on giving well past graduation day, consider enrolling your student in a Book-of-the-Month style club from a local bookstore like Politics and Prose.

“It’s kind of an expensive idea, but you can choose from three months, six months or 12 months,” Charles said. “You can tell them about your graduate and what they like to read, and each month, they’ll personally select a book for that person and mail it to them.”

If you’re looking instead for a book-themed gift, Charles said it might be fun to consider a tote bag that looks like a giant library checkout card.

“It’s a great gift for anybody who is even mildly bookish, or if you a re a bookish person and you want to give a book that says something about you. I’ve ordered many of these to give gifts in,” he said.

For a student who may have a stack of novels saved up to read, you could consider a magazine subscription which might require a little less time investment. He suggests a subscription to The New Yorker for an English major or Business Week for an entrepreneur.

For someone who does want to lose themselves in a novel, Charles endorses “Homeland Elegies” by Ayad Akhtar. He said it is “a brilliant novel that came out last year that explores the power of money and debt in modern society and I thought it was the best novel of last year.”

If you know a student who is about to go off to Silicon Valley to try their hand at coding for a big tech company or venture capital, think about the irreverent “U is for Unicorn: The ABCs of Silicon Valley,” which Charles said “is one of those silly adult alphabet books, and it runs through all the Silicon Valley jokes in a child’s A-B-C version.”

And finally, if you don’t know the target of your gift that well, but know the person is a reader, consider something like a book journal from Moleskine. It’s set up to be, as the company notes, “a detailed and uniquely personalized record of every book you read, from novels to nonfiction.”

WTOP’s Sandy Kozel contributed to this story.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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