By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd 

It is graduation season — an exciting time for young adults as they celebrate a major milestone and prepare to begin a new life chapter. Whether the next step is heading off to college or launching a career, graduates will be venturing into uncharted waters. Books can provide needed direction and insight during these times, sometimes in an uncanny way.

When I graduated from college many moons ago, I received a copy of What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles. I have to admit, I did not immediately read it as I honestly did not think it would be interesting or helpful. I was wrong. After a particularly challenging period early in my career, I picked this book up and read it in one sitting. As a young professional navigating a new world, I found it to be both interesting and helpful. Although I thought I was filled with knowledge and great insight after earning my college degree, I realized I still had a lot to learn.

I often give books as graduation gifts in hopes that the recipient will have an experience similar to the one I had when I read What Color is Your Parachute. I trust that people find their way to the right words at just the right time and truly believe the right words can often change the trajectory of someone’s life.

Here are some great books to consider giving as gifts this graduation season. Congratulations to the graduates in your life — may they all experience great success and much happiness as they turn the page and start the next chapter of their life.

  • What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles
  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
  • Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… and Maybe the World by Admiral H. McRaven
  • The Hero Code: Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived by Admiral William H. McRaven
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • Gmorning, Gnight! By Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Way More Thank Luck — Commencement Speeches (by well-known people with inspirational quotes)
  • The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
  • The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen
  • Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
  • Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Whatever You Are, Be a Good One: 100 Inspirational Quotations hand-lettered by Lisa Congdon
  • Do Over by Jon Acuff
  • What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential by Robert Steven Kaplan
  • Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self by Susan O’Malley
  • I Just Graduated. Now What? By Katherine Schwarzenegger
  • Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
  • In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham
  • All Along You Were Blooming by Morgan Harper Nichols
  • Your Turn: How to Be and Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims
  • Hello World! by Kelly Corrigan
  • Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole by Tiffany Aliche
  • The ABCs of Adulthood by Deborah Copaken and Randy Polumbo
  • Welcome to the Real World by Lauren Berger
  • You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt
  • The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay, PhD.
  • Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening by Becky Blades
  • Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8AM by Hal Elrod
  • Napkin Finance: Build Your Wealth in 30 Seconds or Less by Tina Hay
  • Ask a Manager: How to Navigate Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work by Alison Green
  • Build Your Dream Network by J. Kelly Hoey
  • The Beautiful Chaos of Growing Up by Ari Satok
  • Now What?! Interviews with recent and older college graduates
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Ellen Bryant Lloyd is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue. Please visit and to learn more about Freckles. Ellen writes a blog about her perspectives on life and parenting at and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She lives in Greensboro with her husband and two children.

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