Texting Pomp and Circumstance

Kasey Cox
Bookmatchmaker. Lover of cats, old quilts, ugly sweaters. Proud wife, sister & auntie, daughter.
Arts And Entertainment

May 08,2018

Ah, it’s that time of year again: lawnmowers roaring up and down at every hour of the day and night; flowers in profusion from every tree, bush, prom-goer’s wrist, and grocery store display; and “Pomp and Circumstance” being practiced in band rooms and on high school football fields in anticipation of the big day. And, while most new graduates like to see the gift of green bills in “Congratulations” cards, most givers also like to give something a little more concrete, something that lasts a little longer than a gallon of gas to drive to one day’s work at the summer job. Books are often the next choice, since we are hoping that the graduate learned to read and perhaps may use this skill again in the near future.

Books from the “inspirational” section are, of course, an excellent choice for a graduation gift that hopefully keeps on giving. Words of comfort and wisdom to reflect on, at this major crossroad and milestone, and for all those in the future. Timeless titles, often passed on with words like “my mother gave this to me when I graduated”, include Anne Morrow Lindberg’s “Gifts from the Sea”, Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet”, Antoine St-Exupery’s “The Little Prince”, and more recently, Mitch Albom’s books like “Tuesdays with Morrie” or “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.”

When I graduated, the newest book on this scene was Robert Fulghum’s “All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, still a favorite of mine. Certainly, I’ve also mentioned several times now how much I love Ruth Gendler’s lovely and transcendent descriptions in “The Book of Qualities.” I’m also very partial to the gift of a highlighter and Barbara Ann Kipfer’s “14,000 Things to Be Happy About”.

All of these books serve readers well to remind them what’s important in life, to lift them up a little, to help them refocus when the way seems cloudy and the path steep. My review and my words about these books are trite, but the books themselves and the words they share breathe life and beauty across the years. 

There’s usually some good advice in graduation speeches, but who remembers what was said at their graduation? Luckily, some of the best of that advice has been captured. Choose one of your favorite writers, like the inimitable Dr. Seuss, whose “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” was penned as a graduation speech; or Ann Patchett’s “What Now?” Or, avoid choosing one favorite and embrace parts of many with Sandra Bark’s collection: “Take This Advice: The Best Graduation Speeches Ever Given.”

If you’re looking for something a little more practical for your graduate, think cookbooks. Once given only to women about to be wed, families who are afraid their young loved ones may only ever eat fast food or Ramen noodles have many gift options. For some college-bound folks, the Better Homes & Gardens or Fanny Farmer Cookbook your family always relied on may need to wait a few years when an apartment replaces a dorm room, but there are things that can be cooked in a dorm kitchen, and ways to eat healthy from the college cafeteria, as attested to in books such as: “The Smart Student’s Guide to Healthy Dorm Living” and “College Cooking: Feed Yourself and Your Friends.”

Although I have not yet had a chance to read this book, I’m betting the advice-and-inspiration guide “No More Ramen: The 20-Something’s Real World Survival Guide: Straight Talk on Jobs, Money, Balance, Life, and More” to be a pretty solid choice. (Even though my last 20-something birthday is a few years behind me, I might just have to buy a copy of this book for myself). For the truly desperate, or for those with a weird sense of humor, perhaps Paladin Press’s tome on “Survival Poaching” is the just the ticket for your graduate.

The last kind of book I usually recommend that people consider gifting to those about to fly the nest is a book about the nest. We have some wonderful local authors, and a lot of special books about the area. What better way to send them on their way then to remind them where they came from?

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