The Best Graduation Advice: 2023

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsIt’s that time of year when excited graduates don their cap and gown and patiently sit on folding chairs on an expansive lawn to listen to the sage advice of the guest speaker invited to their commencement ceremony. Book publishers are very aware of this annual event and publish books that they hope will be purchased as keepsakes of graduates’ academic milestone. Although most books in this category contain complete commencement speeches or long excerpts, Clarkson Potter took a different approach with their recent book, Carpe Every Diem: The Best Graduation Advice from More Than 100 Commencement Speeches. The beautifully-designed, small-format book contains 100 quotations and short passages from speeches of famous academics, actors, athletes, authors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, poets, politicians, and poets. The book poses the question: “Okay, you’ve graduated. Commencement is over. But how will the rest of your life commence? I should note: advice from real people should be truly cherished because it is only a matter of time when commencement speeches will be written by ChatGPT. Without further ado, here are some pearls of wisdom from true mortals:

Michael Dell: “As you start your journey, the first thing you should do is throw away that store-bought map and begin to draw your own.”

George Saunders: “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded… sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly… As a goal in life… Try to be kinder.”

Toni Morrison: “You are your own stories and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing, and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox. And even though you don’t have complete control over the narrative… you could nevertheless create it.”

Anna Quindlen: “Don’t ever confuse the two: your life and your work. The second is only part of the first.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Life is short really means do something… Life is short really means have a purpose. And purpose does not need to be grand. I think that the smaller the purpose, the more meaningful. To be kind. To have empathy. To avoid sanctimony. To think of the humanity of other people — to try.

Steve Jobs: “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions down out your own inner voice.”

Billy Collins: “The corollary to carpe diem is gratitude, gratitude for simply being alive, for having a day to seize.”

ENJOY THE BOOK. If you love reading Atkins Bookshelf, you will love reading the book — Serendipitous Discoveries from the Bookshelf. The beautifully-designed book (416 pages) is a celebration of literature, books, fascinating English words and phrases, inspiring quotations, literary trivia, and valuable life lessons. It’s the perfect gift for book lovers and word lovers.

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