It must be May, because Dr. Seuss' perennially popular graduation gift book, Oh, the Places You'll Go is creeping back up the bestseller list. Not only that, but there's a new batch, or batchlett, of books designed for the market which must be known in the publishing world or gift world as what-the-heck-can-I-get-for-a-graduation-gift? niche market. Maybe they call it simply the grad market, I don't know. Here are a couple of additions to the sub, sub, genre of the recycled commencement address/advice book: the much hyped, Just Who Will You Be by Maria Shriver (in New Non-Fiction 170.44 SHR at BHPL) and Ann Patchett's What now? (also in New Non-Fiction 158.1 PAT at BHPL.) Writing these short gift-type books is a nice safe little money maker for established authors and their publishers, much as the holiday books by famous authors or children's books by celebrities are. It's hard not to be skeptical about their literary value. The funniest one I ever read, maybe the only one I ever read, was Oh! the Things I Know (2003) by Al Franken, a satire on the advice book genre.
Here's my (absolutely free) advice to graduates and parents and friends of graduates: don't buy these books, just borrow them from the library (absolutely free...)
I'll be off for the weekend in a couple of hours, frantically trying to find a gift for my daughter who graduates on Sunday... maybe a nice little book about student loan consolidation wrapped up in Tarheel blue gift paper?