It is a great, great privilege to have the opportunity to be the commencement speaker for the graduate school programs at Geneva College this weekend. This isn’t the place to talk much about that, but wanted to share this news with our BookNotes friends. I am happy to note that my own Master’s degree in the philosophy of higher education is from Geneva. I love the folks there, and it is an impressive school, with quite a legacy — it was a stop in the underground railroad, an early place for women to earn degrees, the venue where Francis Schaeffer gave one of the two historic lectures that became the book Art and the Bible, back in the mid-70s. I am honored to be a part of their celebration and thank them for their hospitality.
Which is a happy little segue for this list.
I put together a list of my favorite, most-often recommended books that would be fabulous gifts for college graduates.
I’ll list some for high-school grads soon, although I can tell you now that my go-to, nothing-like-it, favorite little gift book for high school grads who are college bound is Making College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life + Learning by my good friend, the always thoughtful Derek Melleby (Baker Books; $12.99.) If your church gets a batch of books for students, tell them about this right away. It is without a doubt the best such one I’ve seen. More on that, later. Now, some for college grads, on sale. Just click on the order form link shown below.
EIGHT GREAT BOOKS PERFECT FOR COLLEGE GRADUATES
A Journey Worth Taking: Finding Your Purpose in This World Charles D. Drew (P&R) $12.99 While I sometimes compare this to Purpose Driven Life that isn’t quite right. It is more theologically interesting and better written. It really is about discovering a life of meaning as one enters into God’s redemptive story for the world which is so loved. One learns a bit about the covenantal flow of the drama of Scripture, from creation to fall, from redemption to new creation. Anyone should thrill to learn about their role as agents of restoration and hope and healing, but college graduates are particularly open to this invitation to purpose, meaning, vocation and service. Highly recommended, especially for those a bit unsure of this leg of their faith journey.
The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life Os Guinness (Nelson) $17.99 This handsome volume is, doubtlessly, one of my all time favorite books. It is eloquent and elegant, radical and influential, important and good. The chapters are mature, but short, interesting and instructive, inspiring and very, very helpful. Much of what is taken for granted about vocation and calling in recent years dates to the publication of this splendid, must-read classic. A nearly perfect graduation gift.
Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work Timothy Keller & Katherine Leary Aldsdorf (Dutton) $26.95 This handsome, solid hardback is Biblically-grounded, perhaps the best and most substantial book on a Christian view of the work-world. Visionary, culturally-relevant, theologically mature and yet very practical, this is great for anyone entering any career, but especially for those in the professions, working in corporations or businesses. Very, very impressive and highly recommended.
Liberating Tradition: Women’s Identity and Vocation in Christian Perspective Kristina LaCelle-Peterson (Baker) $24.00 Although it should go without saying that all of the books on this list are suitable for thoughtful Christian women, this one focuses particularly on the challenges and unique context of women who are discerning their vocation, involved in this conversation about calling, and wanting “renewed minds” as they approach the many implications of this topic. It’s an important contribution, especially useful for women who are pondering all this through the lens of their identity.
Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good Steven Garber (IVP) $16.00 I’ve mentioned more than once that this has been, in my experience, the best book I’ve read in years. It is so eloquent, thoughtful, interesting, important. Garber’s call to care deeply about the world, even as we sense its hurts and brokenness, and to be responsible agents within the contours of history, is beautiful and vital. If you know young adults who are idealistic and care deeply about the world, this would be a significant gift to honor them at this season of their life. And how about that lovely cover design, featuring a Van Gogh?
Following Jesus in the Real World: Discipleship for the Post-College Years Richard Lamb (IVP) $17.00 This wonderful author is very solid, really wise, very helpful as he guides evangelical students who have been active in religious groups on campus to find a new identity as more ordinary church members in more ordinary places. From finding a job to getting involved in a church, from spiritual disciplines to common advice for daily living, this is a great guidebook as young adults transition from campus to the so-called real world.
This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown) $15.00 I wanted to list this gift book edition of this prestigious speech because it is nearly legendary with its moving call to take life seriously, to figure out what one worships, to live life meaningfully in the mundane day to day of life in the daily grind. That this eloquent, award-winning young novelist and essayist took his life after delivering this commencement address at Kenyon College a few years ago makes it that much more poignant. This small hardback makes a very cool gift, especially if a more conventionally religious book isn’t appropriate.
Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World Bob Goff (Nelson) $16.99 I’m always looking for an excuse to get people to give away copies of this fun, funny, stimulating and uplifting book. Goff is glorious in telling stories about his wild “capers” and offers tales from his own life with vivid and often hilarious detail. He is active in all kinds of good stuff — including building an orphanage in Uganda, and mentoring the likes of his younger friend, Donald Miller. This is a perfect gift to inspire anyone to live large, make a difference, serve Jesus by loving others. Fun, upbeat, enjoyable. Great for one who isn’t much of a reader. I promise.
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