I have been to 5 high school graduation open houses this season, and in each case I decided to give wisdom instead of money. You might think that made me unpopular… and you’d be right. However, I believe that’s only temporarily and in the long term my gifts will be fondly appreciated.
In spite of the incredible amount of information at our fingertips, thanks to the Internet, there are still some things you can only get from reading a book cover to cover — a value sorely underestimated in our declining culture. Kids get little real skill and wisdom in school these days, even in private schools, so it is up to us to help fill the
Here are 5 books every high school graduate should read whether or not he is going to college. I selected these books not only for the life-long wisdom they impart, but also for their ease of reading, since so many teens don’t read anything over 140 characters before their brain glazes over.
The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White
Your child may think, now that he has graduated from High School, he knows how to write, but he probably doesn’t. Not only have texting and other social media killedallpunctuationandtheabilitytowirteinfullgrammaticalsentences, but even before we started rigorously training our minds to be stupid with the internet, writing was not well taught in school — not since the Progressives took over education anyway. Have no fear! The Elements of Style is here! This skinny little book is well-written, an interesting read, and will provide the Graduate with some basics that will help him get A’s on all his papers, and/or the gratification of his future boss. If you can write you can think and communicate. If you can’t write you can’t do neither all that well.
The Richest Man In Babylon, by George Clason
Another, thin, easy read, this book teaches common sense money management principles in the form of stories. The basic message is live beneath your means, save, and invest in order to get ahead and live well. Sage advice for the kid who is about to be inundated with credit card offers, 0% financing on home theater systems, and of course, all that college debt for his Bachelor of Science in Puppetry.
Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman, by Richard Feynman
This fun-to-read, anecdotal account of a life well lived is great just for its glimpse at Feynman’s attitude and approach to life. The ever curious, rule breaking, genius physicist can be said to have that genuine joie de vivre we all crave. His stories show how one can be a grown-up, mature man and still enjoy childlike joy in one’s approach to the world. This book is pure fun and inspiration.
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
The ultimate book celebrating the Individual and the independent mind is a must read for every fresh young brain about to be pummeled with collectivist, soul-tearing, happiness-crushing philosophy he’ll find in every single department across every discipline in college, and in almost every news paper, tv show, and movie. You can’t change the culture overnight for these youngsters, but you can give them an intellectual flak jacket. This book gives the kid the moral right to be true to himself, and shows how it is the only way to achieve happiness. Atlas Shrugged would be just as good, and maybe better, but its sheer size can intimidate a non-reader
Economics In One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt
Economics, we are told, is really too complex to understand unless you’re a computer, or Ben Bernanke. And when we plug facts into our modern computer models we get theories like: if aliens invaded Earth and blew up New York it would be good for the economy, or if our money has no standard it allows market “flexibility” (translation: government despot flexibility), or how some companies are just too big to fail. I could go on. You can’t pick up any newspaper without seeing an economic fallacy. How do I know? In part because I’ve read Economics in One Lesson. It is a powerful thing to enter the adult world having a basic understanding of economics, because no statist politician or college professor can put one over on you. This short book gives you that gift in easy to understand story form and arms the youngster in your life intellectually against much of the flawed thinking in our confused and complicated world. No computer model necessary.