Practical Graduation Gifts: A Book List

We have a robust list of book recommendations for graduation gifts. Why another?

This book list is all about practical graduation gifts: books that offer some down-to-earth advice for starting off on one’s own (with some philosophy and Christian wisdom thrown in!).

Note: If you haven’t seen our other graduation gift lists, see Janie’s post on Tools for Fledgling Adults and our big Graduation Gift List for more ideas. Those lists overlap a bit with the books below, but they contain more resources related to spiritual and worldview development (many of which are excellent reading for adults whose own graduation days are long since gone).

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practical graduation gifts

Practical Graduation Gifts: A Book List

Adulting 101, Book 1: #wisdomforlife by Josh Burdette and Pete Hardesty.

  • Burdette and Hardesty took the material they used for counseling and mentoring countless young people at Chick-Fil-A and Young Life, distilled it down into pithy sections with unique hashtags, and created a valuable resource for anyone about to fledge the nest. Whether or not a high school student has learned this content from his or her parents, Adulting 101 is a handy resource with reminders of email etiquette, how to dress for success, budgeting tips, lessons on leadership, and even some relationship advice thrown in. Read our review.

Adulting 101, Book 2: #liveyourbestlife by Josh Burdette and Pete Hardesty.

  • Adulting 101, Book 2 is all about knowing yourself: what is your vision? how do you create healthy boundaries? lead others? care for others? what is depression? The majority of the book reads much like any other wise guide to knowing oneself and setting healthy boundaries. But the book ends with ultimate Truth. Read our review.

Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer. 

  • A manifesto, of sorts, on the beauty and necessity of living out our callings as creative image bearers in the space we call home. Schaeffer offers plenty of practical examples; some are dated, but most will prompt readers to envision ways in which they might contribute in their own home spaces. Girls will probably enjoy this more, but the content is relevant for both genders.

An All-Purpose Cookbook

A Quick-and-Easy Cookbook

  • If your new grad will be in a dorm or sharing an apartment/house with several friends, consider a “quick-and-easy” or 5-ingredient cookbook. Betsy still uses her 20-year-old, dog-eared copy of a Better Homes and Gardens Quick and Easy cookbook (it was a great tool when teaching her own children to cook!).

An Allergy-Friendly or Special Needs Cookbook.

  • If your new grad suffers from food allergies, or must follow a particular diet, consider giving him or her a cookbook that’s geared to those needs. We often settle into “auto-adapt” patterns with our existing cookbooks, knowing when/how to sub in various ingredients, but your new grad might not remember crucial information on the fly. And, by all means, let us know your favorites in the comments!

Do More Better by Tim Challies.

  • Tim’s short, readable guide to time management and productivity is excellent. Even if your grad only internalizes the first philosophical groundings on how we should manage our time in light of our identity in Christ, the book will be worth it. Tim spends half the book discussing his approach to gathering information, scheduling his day, and the tools he uses. Read our review.

Quiet by Susan Cain.

  • If your new grad is an introvert, this book will be a helpful primer on understanding his- or herself. If your new grad is an extrovert, reading this will be a gift for his or her future roommates! Read our review of the young readers version.

Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. 

  • OK, if your new grad is graduating from high school (as opposed to college), this might feel a little hasty. But what a gift to our fledgling adults for them to have a healthy understanding of marriage before getting involved with “the one.”

Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson. 

  • At least three of the RR team have this one their shelves. It’s a terrific (door-stop sized) resource for all things home related: laundry, grocery shopping, etiquette, linen storage, …. Reassure your new grad that you’re still just a phone call or text away, and you don’t expect him or her to read through this cover-to-cover, but that it will earn its place on a new bookshelf.

Reading for the Common Good by C. Christopher Smith. 

  • Yes, reading is important! But how does it connect to your community? This book has answers.

My Tech-Wise Life by Amy Crouch and Andy Crouch.

  • Writing directly to her (presumably) young readers, Amy is honest about her struggles, her gains, and her peers’ use of device-related technology. Probably better for high school grads than college grads. Read our review.

A Budgeting/Money Management/Personal Finance Book.

  • Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is quite well-known, but other Christians have also contributed to the field (Larry Burkett was a standard recommendation for many years, and his information is still solid, if a bit dated).

**List updated April, 2023.

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Betsy Farquhar

Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Southeast.

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  1. Leslie on April 27, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    I love the suggestion of gifting cookbooks to graduates with food allergies. Here are a few cookbooks that our family uses often: Eat Dairy Free: your cookbook and guide for everyday meals, snacks, and sweets by Alisa Fleming; Gluten-free family favorites: the 75 go-to recipes you need to feed kids and adults all day, every day by Kelli and Peter Bronski. I also use Lisa Leake’s 100 days of real food cookbooks because most of the recipes are allergy friendly for our family (we avoid, egg, nuts and wheat) and she has an index at the back of the cookbooks and on each recipe to indicate whether the recipe is free of particular allergens.

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