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Buying a gift for a graduate is kind of hard. You know that they probably just want money (let’s be honest), but you want to give them something with a little meaning. If you’re not ready to break out your checkbook, try one of these six books that will make them think, make them feel or, even better, make them do both.

grad solnit

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Finishing college is kind of terrifying. It’s confusing and uncertain and scary as hell. Enter Solnit’s excellent collection of essays about self-discovery, wandering and being lost. No, she won’t find a job for you, but she will make you feel way better about the prospect of not knowing.

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grad mentors

Getting There by Gillian Zoe Segal

Thirty successful people across generations and professions (think Warren Buffett, Jeff Koons and Rachel Zoe) give their best career advice, especially on the importance of mentors. (We love Sara Blakely's bit about selling fax machines door-to-door before creating her Spanx empire.) Their messages are wise, honest and engaging, and could probably benefit folks at all stages of their careers.

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grad saunders

Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders

A transcript of writer Saunders’s widely shared commencement speech to students at Syracuse University, this slim volume talks about the power of kindness. It’s an excellent reminder for recent grads who are probably pretty focused on jobs and money and how the hell they’re going to use that degree in Eastern Religious Studies.

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grad didion

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live by Joan Didion

We couldn’t choose just one of Didion’s books, so we went with this anthology that includes seven of her essay collections. (It’s got our favorite, “Goodbye to All That,” about moving to New York in one’s 20s.) Grads will relate to Didion’s gorgeous prose and quirky free-spirit vibe.

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RELATED: What Memoir Should You Read Next?

grad wonderland

Graduates in Wonderland by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Laugh-out-loud funny and relatable, Kapelke-Dale and Pan are best friends documenting their post-college lives in New York and Beijing, respectively. They stay in touch through intimate and brutally honest emails as they experience the high highs (getting into grad school in Paris) and low lows (ending things with the guy you were sure was "The One").

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grad bittman

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

If practicality is your goal, how about more than 2,000 recipes and countless pieces of culinary advice from New York Times food columnist (and really good dad) Mark Bittman? Here, your loving nephew will get nearly impossible to screw up recipes (say, simple omelets, vegetarian chili and flaky piecrust) and important life lessons on everything from how to frost a cake to how to cut and eat crabs. Maybe he’ll even thank you with a meal or two.

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RELATED: Spring's Best Cookbooks

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