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Posts: 442
Registered: ‎04-07-2007
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#21 Happy trails to them: books for graduates

[ Edited ]

Greetings, Book Explorers:


In my mind there are only three things to give graduates:


  1. a meaningful family or personal possession

  2. cash (or a gift certificate) so they can buy what they want

  3. a book


I give books –- okay, okay, big surprise. And I try to give a lot of thought not only to the actual book but also how that book might useful or expand the mind of the graduate.


I also give this piece of advice in the note I write with each book: Don’t worry about making the right decision all the time. Don’t be paralyzed by choices. Give whatever it is a shot because you will learn as the years go by that life is really about knowing when to leave for whatever reason and to go on to the next thing. Deciding to do something and then deciding not to keep doing something is a wonderful way of staying open to possibilities and challenges. It keeps you free.


Back to the books:


Young graduates who text too much and rely on spell check get a copy of The Elements of Style. Make that two copies -- the original and the newer illustrated Maira Kalman version. They will be grateful to have it as they will eventually have to write a resume and cover letter to people who don’t know what :smileywink: means and think a representative of their company ought to know how to write in English.


The bashful ones, the lost souls and the non-conformists get copies of Mary Oliver’s Dream Work. And I make sure that a bookmark with the words “read this first” is stuck in at “Wild Geese.”


The ones who want to make the world a better place get copies of Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder's book about the achievements of Partners in Health through the eyes and experience of Paul Farmer and/or Monique and the Mango Rains, Kris Holloway’s memoir about Peace Corp experience in Mali assisting a young midwife.


And if I know they haven’t read it already I give grads copies of Dreams from My Father, by Barak Obama. Anyone in the process of figuring out who they are can’t help but be moved and to learn from a man from many places and no place at all who finally found himself.


How about you, Book Explorers?


What have you given to graduates that you can recommend to the rest of us?


And those of you graduating: what did you get?



Message Edited by ande on 05-19-2008 05:54 PM
New User
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎06-19-2008
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Re: #21 Happy trails to them: books for graduates

I wrote a book aimed at engineering school graduates, one that would give them a jump start on a skill that I found most engineers lacked in the real world.  "Debugging" came out in 2002 and has sold steadily since then, racking up positive reviews and becoming the textbook for several college computer science courses.
Most technical books would be hit-or-miss for any particular graduate, and quickly become obsolete.  But this one is universal and timeless -- to demonstrate that, I used real-world debugging war stories that cover a span of 25 years and a number of disciplines, from various software and hardware platforms, to houses, cars, plumbing and even human bodies.  Of course, the fact that it's an inexpensive, funny, fast read helps a lot.
Dave Agans
Posts: 442
Registered: ‎04-07-2007
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Re: #21 Happy trails to them: books for graduates

Thanks for the tip!
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 140
Registered: ‎06-20-2008
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Re: #21 Happy trails to them: books for graduates

For those graduating, studying or just interested in international affairs, Kingmaker would make a good present. It is an espionage thriller that deals with African politics and shows how multinational conglomerates manipulate foreign policy. I like to think of Kingmaker as a light read that stirrs up questions in the reader's mind.

Powerful transnational commercial interests manipulate the War on Terror and news media. Cynical former CIA operative John Trager’s search for the truth leads him to Africa and the mysterious anthropologist Simone Loriot. Her passionate quest to save her adopted Central African country from looters of natural resources draws Trager into a violent whirlwind of mercenaries, tribal rivalries and a traitor in The White House. Facing disaster, Trager finds his true self and reason for self-sacrifice.


A former spook, Braguine writes with authority about international skulduggery.
Alexey Braguine, author of Kingmaker