7 Incredible Books for Exceptional Graduates

By Kaitlyn Johnston

Grad on your gift list? We know just what to get them.

Graduation season is upon us — and what better way to celebrate your grad’s achievement than with a brilliant new book? Whether your grad plans to save lives, fight for the planet, or teach the minds of tomorrow, we’ve got the perfect gift for them.


By Mya-Rose Craig

Twenty-one-year-old ornithologist Mya-Rose Craig is a leading voice in today’s environmental movement, and her soaring memoir makes the ideal gift for eco-conscious grads. In Birdgirl, Craig interweaves a passion for birdwatching with stirring reflections on mental health, social justice, and environmental activism. The renowned birder chronicles her family’s travels around the globe as they search for rare birds and precious landscapes — and captures the comfort that their adventures provide in the face of her mother’s deepening mental health struggles. Suffused with passion and insight, Birdgirl encourages readers to celebrate nature’s splendor and join the fight to save it.

The Book of Hope

By Jane Goodall

A New York Times bestseller, The Book of Hope by the world’s most famous living naturalist, Jane Goodall, is the perfect gift for newly minted graduates with a deep love of nature. Across its pages, Goodall looks back on her extraordinary career as a naturalist, revealing the life experiences that transformed her into the environmental advocate she is today and sharing the four reasons why she remains hopeful about the future. Thoughtful and timely, The Book of Hope is both an inspiring narrative about the natural world and an essential guide to finding solace in our uncertain present.

Never Enough by Mike Hayes

Never Enough

By Mike Hayes

While your grad’s post-schooling plans probably don’t include negotiating international arms treaties or leaping out of a building rigged to explode (just yet), they’re sure to find plenty of wisdom and guidance in former Navy SEAL Commander Mike Hayes’s acclaimed leadership book. In Never Enough, the author presents hard-earned lessons on leading a life of excellence, whether in the boardroom or on the battlefield. With a lifetime of harrowing experiences under his belt, Hayes knows how to get the job done. Here, he reveals the keys to becoming an effective leader — and it all starts with lifting up those around you.


By Abby Wambach

Olympic gold medalist and soccer superstar Abby Wambach delivers a rousing meditation on teamwork and leadership in her bestselling book Wolfpack. Wambach’s message to her readers is based on her viral commencement speech at Barnard College and mirrors the culture of excellence that she created as co-captain of the 2015 Women’s World Cup championship team: We have never been Little Red Riding Hood. We are the wolves. We must wander off the path and blaze a new one: together. A stirring read for athletes and nonathletes alike, Wolfpack insists that women unleash their power to create a new era of inclusive leadership that serves us all. It’s sure to get your grad on their feet and charging into a brighter and better tomorrow.

The Genome Odyssey

By Euan Angus Ashley

This eye-opening narrative is a fascinating summer read for healthcare-focused graduates. In The Genome Odyssey, Stanford professor of genetics and medicine Dr. Euan Angus Ashley delves into the medical mysteries of the human genome and champions the patients, doctors, and researchers at the forefront of precision medicine. Enriched by incredible accounts of medical breakthroughs in genome sequencing, many of which were made by Dr. Ashley and his team at Stanford, The Genome Odyssey is an accessible and illuminating examination of the future of medicine and what it means to be human.

Her Honor

By LaDoris Hazzard Cordell

Her Honor is a must-read for any graduate interested in criminal justice or America’s legal system. In it, Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, the first African American woman to sit on the Superior Court of Northern California, guides readers through the halls of justice to witness the state of crime and punishment in present-day America. Using true-life cases as illustrations, Cordell discusses the successes and failures of our current legal system. Though she acknowledges that American justice is far from perfect, especially when it comes to entrenched racial biases and the courts’ concerning tilt from rehabilitation to punishment, Cordell sets forth a plan to change the system for the better. Invigorating and informative, Her Honor offers a rare perspective from behind the bench.

Permission to Feel

By Marc Brackett

Marc Brackett is the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor at Yale University’s Child Study Center. In Permission to Feel, he lays out a roadmap to understanding our emotions and improving the well-being of students, teachers, and parents as well as our relationship with education. Brackett’s approach is called RULER, a highly effective system that prioritizes emotional health and has transformed classrooms across the country. Here, the author shares the evolution of his practice and the many lessons he’s learned along the way. Honest, compelling, and impassioned, Permission to Feel is an insightful guide to harnessing the full potential of our emotions and improving the mental health of children and adults. It's sure to edify and enthrall the future educator in your life.

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