I'm not sure why exactly but I've been smelling a hint of college in the air. Is it because it's just about the beginning of our young president's sophmore year? Because of the ! exciting ! acceptance letters young seniors are just beginning to receive? Or maybe just the NYTimes' awesome pull-out about higher education (http://www.nytimes.com/pages/education/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=education&st=cse)? Whatever it is, I think it's a feeling worth chasing down...
And with that in mind here are some books to give, or suggest on that college-bound, college-searching, college-pining student. For help with the distance, the people, that elusive sense of direction (not that it's necessary...), and so on -- books that just feel right for this time.
Dubliners by James Joyce (Oxford UP, 9.95 etc.) -- A great book. Literally the best book of short stories ever written. Short. Elegant. Young Joyce, perfect thoughts, brief and aching glimpses into ordinary lives. Good for anybody, but best for a young somebody.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Anchor, 14.99) -- You've probably read it, your friends have read it, your grandmother and her bridge partners have read it, and you listen to the movie's soundtrack when driving to the mall. Well whatever, we say. It's still one of the great books about young people, and yearning, and the glories and pitfalls of a romantic life well-led.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (New Directions, 8.95, etc.) -- Another well-loved book that's been around the block, and still very, very worth the countless readings and re-readings your philosophy teacher asked of you. A tall tale. An allegory. A religilo-spiritous-adventure of the highest, brightest cast. And, not to mention, a true classic.