Filled with beautiful photos, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking by Jane Brocket is not just for quilters – anyone will be able to find ample inspiration in the designs, colors and presentation of these glorious quilts.

Ideal for beginners as well as more experience quilters, instructions are given for 15 quilts and emphasize simplicity. Descriptions are clear and written in a chatty and encouraging tone. These quilts are more European in style; many take full advantage of the lovely large floral fabrics that are becoming more popular, and have a softer, less defined overall look and feel than many traditional American patchwork quilts. They are undeniably lovely.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this book though, is the design and inspiration process that Brocket takes us through for each quilt. The author shows us what has inspired a particular quilt – a favorite summer dress, flowers from the garden, a backyard hammock, tiles from Lisbon or a shawl from Russia – and then demonstrates how she translates this starting point into a quilt. Besides the usual section on how to make a quilt, Brocket lists favorite inspirations – books, shops, blogs, museums – and gives valuable insight on how to translate your vision into a finished object to be loved and cherished.

Let’s face it.  What most graduates want (and get) is money.  Hard, cold cash.  Not microwaves, techno gadgets or pillows for the dorm, but dollars with which they can select their own microwaves, techno gadgets and pillows for the dorm.

Still, if you’re looking for something a little more meaningful or sentimental, there’s plenty of inspirational, faith-based guides available.  Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life comes to mind.  It’s subtitle is, “What on Earth am I Here for?” so it’s appropriate for any age group, not just graduates.

If you’d rather pick a more secular title, something that has credible advice, but with a short enough format that most teens will still actually read it, try Maria Shriver’s And One More thing Before You Go.  It’s only 61 pages long and has 10 quick chapters, including these topics:

  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Have a little gratitude
  • Keep a childlike quality

Interestingly enough, it ends with advice from teenage girls to their moms.  Hmmm, perhaps that’s really the intended audience all along!

A final suggestion is What I Know: Uncommon Wisdom and Universal Truths from 10-year olds and 100-year olds. by Roger Emerson Fishman.  This small, square gift book has lots of photos and could be enjoyed by both young and old.

The audiobook, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch,  read by the author,  is bittersweet because he and the audience know his time is short. A computer professor who is aware that he has less than a year to live wants to leave his children and students a legacy of the principles, ideas and beliefs he has gathered over the years.

In this lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch is brutally honest about himself and his disease, yet he never loses his sense of humor.

Parenthood, marriage,education, science and Walt Disney are all examined. He is not falsely modest, and attributes his success to being able to learn from others and his mistakes.

It makes you wonder – what lessons you would impart to the next generation?