15 Great Gift Ideas For Graduates

Finding a good graduation present can be a chore, so we have made a brief annotated list of suggestions -- some are standards and others are new; six are by or about Mississippians; several offer a sort of commencement guidance; and a couple are just for laughs.   We have made a special effort to identify reasonably priced and very nice books.
•    With its three chapters on “Listening,” “Learning to See,” and “Finding a Voice,” Eudora Welty’s classic memoir, One Writer’s Beginnings (Harvard University Press, $15 pb) is about as apt a graduation gift as there is.
•    A new Eudora Welty publication is a pretty and inexpensive hardcover edition that combines her classic short novels,  A Delta Wedding and The Ponder Heart, into one volume (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22.00).
•    Pat Conroy explores the origins of his love for reading and the power of books to shape a life in My Reading Life (Doubleday, 25.00 hb).
•    Two books that have captured the attention of the nation this year include the present number one bestselling novel, The Tiger’s Wife (Random House, 25.00 hb), by 25 year-old Tea Obreht, who visited us in April.
•    The other is The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Random House, $30.00 hb), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and signed by the author, Isabel Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize.
•    Tao Te Ching is considered to be the most terse and economical of the world’s religious texts, and this hardcover edition (Everyman, $18) with a ribbon marker is very nice.
•    Another inexpensive hardcover classic that will fit in any dorm room or briefcase is The Quotable Thoreau (Princeton University Press, $19.95).
•    Good Poems – American Places (Viking, $28.95), selected and cleverly divided into 15 topical sections by Garrison Keillor.
•    Willie Morris composed his classic North Toward Home (Vintage, $15.95 pb) in his early 30s and I received it as a graduation gift when I completed high school, and it’s still good for the occasion.  (I also got a towel that you wrap around your torso and snap at the waist, a sort of mini-toga.)
•    20 Under 40: Stories from the New Yorker (FSG, $16.00) is a paperback with French flaps containing the best from new young writers.
•    Dean Faulkner Wells wrote a beautiful memoir with lots of great Oxford history in Every Day By the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi (Crown, $25.00), and it’s made more special by her signature.
•    And One Was a Priest: The Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray (University Press of Mississippi, $40.00 hb) is an accomplished biography of a great man and inspiring figure, written by Oxford native Araminta Stone Johnston.
•    No list of this sort is complete without something for the sports minded, and here it’s I Beat the Odds (Gotham, $26.00), signed by its author, the great football player and star of The Blindside, Michael Oher.
•    You were wondering where the laugh stuff is.  One is Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon ($12.00 pb), which is NOT a book on how to write a thank-you note.
•    The other is appropriate for many graduates, F In Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers (Chronicle, $9.95 pb).  Q: What is a fibula?   A: A little lie.