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Serious Dreams: Bold Ideas for the Rest of Your Life edited by Byron Borger (Square Halo Books) $13.99                                                   OUR SALE PRICE = $11.19

Long time readers of BookNotes may tire of me plugging my own book, but for those who are less familiar with our work here at the bookstore, you might find it interesting to know that I edited a book in which I’ve got two chapters. I’m mostly over the awkwardness of telling people about it as we have become increasingly aware that God has used it in the lives of many young adults. We highly recommend it as a thoughtful, small gift to honor the transition of college students out into the work world, helping them commence with a robust Christian vision and thought-provoking guidance.

Here’s the short version: Serious Dreams is a collection of seven lively graduation speeches given by Christian leaders we admire. Some you may know from their wonderful books – Richard Mouw, John Perkins, Amy Sherman, Steve Garber. We love the contribution of the eminent philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff who was the graduation day speaker at Calvin College a few years back, although I sometimes say that Amy Sherman’s good talk about using one’s work to serve the common good (delivered at Malone College In Ohio) captures what we hoped from the book as clear as any. I have written before that Claudia Beversluis’s beautiful use of a Wendell Berry poem in her commencement speech inspired me to put this anthology together. Graduating or not, her talk, and the others here, are inspiring and well worth reading. I’m told my chapter isn’t too bad, either.

We added questions to ponder after each chapter, which invite readers to process the upbeat messages. I added a long introductory chapter about the normal stuff of moving home, finding a job, starting small. One person said it helped them more than any of the admittedly breathy and passionate talks.

As we were putting this together a few years ago, our friend Erica Young Reitz was working on her own book on the practicalities of transitioning out of college. She was kind enough to write a helpful epilogue for Serious Dreams loaded with solid ideas of next steps and wise choices for those leaving their college years. It is a nice closing afterword, helping Serious Dreams not only be a big inspiration about Kingdom living and a catalyst helping young adults take faith into the marketplace, making a difference in their careers and callings, but a down-to-Earth resource with some sensible practical advice.

Obviously, we’d be honored if you consider sharing this with college graduates you know. We’d sure appreciate it if you’d tell your church about it, too. Spread the word. Thanks.

The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love & Learning, Worship & Work Steven Garber (IVP) $20.00                                                                OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

Again, this is a book I’ve recommended often, and had we not been in the thick of Covid quarantining, I’d have named it as one of the very best books of 2020. I love Garber’s eloquent and elegant writing style and how he imbues small things with big meaning. This compact-size, small hardback is a very handsome book – there are artful, full-color photographs for every chapter – and it makes a perfect little gift.

For those that know Garber’s Visions of Vocation you may know that his heart is heavy to share the joy of a life well lived; the examined life, yes, but more, — given to service and a unique sort of integrity. In this collection of talks, essays, and messages collected in a bunch of short chapters, he uses the language of being seamless. You can catch it in the subtitle – there is an integral connection between worship and work. Our love spills over into life and learning and this book is a testimony of those who embody this seamlessness. It helps model and thereby evoke a longing for greater integrity and wholistic Christian living. Garber is a great storyteller of a somewhat intellectual sort and he tell us about those who bear witness – often without being that vocal about it – to a life that makes sense, that coheres, that is missional and purpose-driven and that becomes a joy to behold.

Steve knows a lot of people who are worth hearing about, although he tells their stories quietly, without breathy sensationalism. He tells, here, about his own life, his foibles and fears, his work and witness, movies and songs he’s appreciated, books he values. There are some truly wonderful essays here as he takes us around the world and lets us look over his shoulder as he helps others relate belief and behavior, Sunday and Monday, living well in work and play, family life and public life. I can hardly imagine a college grad who doesn’t deep down long for this kind of coherence, meaning, integrity and in this book, in short, readable chapters, Steve shows that we can actually live this way, seamlessly.

The Seamless Life is lovely, thoughtful, with short chapters enhanced by photos, almost like a fun travelogue as Steve shares stories of his own efforts to respond to God’s grace in this holistic and honest way, inviting us all to care for what matters most.

The reports we have received from his three books and the significant impact they’ve made on readers rival such testimonials by readers of any books by any author we know – it is notable the remarkable stories people have shared after reading his work. This little one is a great choice for a gift for morally serious young adults and while you’re at it, get one for yourself, too.

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life Os Guinness (Thomas Nelson) $16.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

I suggest this book most years as college graduation rolls around and any other time I get a chance. It is one of my all time favorite books and should be in the hands of every young adult who reads seriously, who cares about the trajectory of their life, or who wants a sturdy Christian vision for vocation, calling, purpose and meaning.

The Call is important as it makes the case as eloquently and thoughtfully as any I know that all of us (not just priests and nuns, clergy and missionaries) are called by God to take up holy vocations in the world. We do all we do for and with God, and there is no “secular” career that can’t be considered as a redemptive avenue for God-glorifying witness. All areas of life matter and God’s clarion call rings out in everything. This book has meaty (but short) chapters laden with stories of historical figures, writers, artists, scientists, statesmen, and others who embody this whole-life vision of “all of life redeemed.” It shows the most Biblical and sound way to discover the joy of a well-examined and deeply devoted life. It is transformational and challenging and it makes an impressive gift.

Younger adults – teens and collegiates – may have heard of a hip and cool, conversational version of some of this in the great Garden City: Work, Rest and What It Means to Be Human by John Mark Comer (Zondervan; $19.99.) Or even a bit, at least implied, in Bob Goff’s upbeat books, like his very helpful 2020 release, Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do about It (Thomas Nelson; $26.99.)

Now that they are entering the adult work force and more existentially searching for their next steps and piecing it all together, they ought to have this intellectually lively book under their belts. Os Guinness is one of our great Christian spokespersons of the last 50 years. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life is wise and mature, thoughtful and very well written, not sentimental or silly. As Tim Keller has written “In modern Christian literature, there is nothing quite like Os Guinness’s classic The Call…” It is very highly recommended.

Worked Up: Navigating Calling After College Paige Wiley & Luke Bobo (Made to Flourish) $10.00                                                            OUR SALE PRICE = $8.00

This is a slightly oversized, thin, workbooky sort of resource, full of color and good graphics on the inside, a prefect tool for today’s vivid readers. (In fact, the covers come in several different colors!) It isn’t heady or hard, but offers great (and, too often, rare) insight informed by the likes of the above books; it is so solid. (Truly – this little post-college tool is sharp looking and fun but deeply influenced by Guinness and Garber and the sorts of authors found in Serious Dreams.)

Made to Flourish is an organization dedicated to helping church leaders think about ways to equip parishioners to live life meaningfully and wisely “in but not of” the culture at large. Most keenly in this project they help folks think about living out faithfulness in the work-world, bearing witness in the marketplace, connecting Sunday and Monday as their founder Tom Nelson puts it in his great book Work Matters.

Worked Up invites young adults transitioning out of college to consider what story they are a part of, how to think about vocation and calling, and it has brief and colorfully presented units with titles like “Work is Service. Passion is Privilege” and “Cultivating Virtue.” I can’t say enough about this great book – that almost resembles a little magazine or journal – and even if you don’t find it substantial enough as a gift, I think it would be fabulous as a small group study or young adult class. Buy a few of these and see if you can get them into the hands of those who could start a little study/support group. It’s tremendous and will be incredibly helpful, I’m sure.

After College: Navigating Transitions, Relationships and Faith  Erica Young Reitz (IVP) $17.00                                                                   OUR SALE PRICE = $13.60

I mentioned above our very dear friend Erica Reitz as one who graciously wrote a small chapter for my Serious Dreams book. I describe it almost every year as a great and useful gift idea for young adults you know.

Erica lives in State College, Pennsylvania, home to Penn State University where she has conducted semester-long classes for seniors as they prepare to transition out of their colleges, their convenient clique of friends who are all the same age, their local churches that are often driven by young-adult ministry. I say this to assure you that she has spent years honing this material and this book is exceptionally wise and on-topic, with real life stories of students she knows well. Blurbs on the back include striking endorsements from the likes of Katherine Leary Alsdorf (founder of the New York Redeemer Center for Faith & Work and co-author of the magisterial Every Good Endeavor), Steve Garber, and Shirley Mullen President of Houghton College.

I like the observations of Derek Melleby (Director of OneLife Institute) who says, “Erica is a keen listener: she listens well to God, recent research and student stories to offer a roadmap for success in today’s world.”

Ready to Rise: Own Your Voice, Gather Your Community, Step Into Your Influence Jo Saxton (Waterbrook) $16.99                                                 OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

We heard and met Jo Saxton several years ago at a Fresh Expressions conference and immediately became huge fans. We’ve reviewed and promoted her previous books, including the great book for women called More Than Enchanting: Breaking Through Barriers to Influence Your World and another on vocation, daily choices, and our truest identity The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For. She’s upbeat, inspiring, practical and pretty dang vibrant.

Saxton’s 2020 release, Ready to Rise seems to bring her various insights in her other books together as the subtitle says. This really is about finding oneself, gathering a community of others, and learning to make a difference – “stepping into your influence” as she puts it.

Megan Tamte (founder and co-CEO of Evereve) says it is “a winning combination of an honest friend, challenging preacher, and inspiring leadership coach.” That’s it! I’ve been waiting for this graduation season to help promote this book that I think would make a swell gift for anyone needing some coaching and encouragement to explore gifts left unwrapped and a purpose to embrace.

Ready to Rise is written mostly to women – as one blurb on the back by Rev. Gail Song Bantum says, it is an “empowering alternative to the often-toxic narrative that have shaped many women.” So give it to young ladies you know. But, you know, I enjoyed it a lot, so maybe these 14 chapters would be exciting for some guys, too. It’s good for those who are hoping to become leaders, working for change, or finding their potential in new roles as rising women leaders.

Chasing Wisdom: The Lifelong Pursuit of Living Well Daniel Grothe (Thomas Nelson) $24.99 hardback OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99 – OR – $18.99 paperback OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19                                  please let us know which you prefer

Considered “one of the most powerful communicators of our generation” (Esther Fleece, of No More Faking Fine) this author is a fabulously fascinating character. Damiel Grothe is a mega-church pastor (in Colorado Springs) and yet a bit of a mystic. He’s young-ish, but rooted in ancient wisdom and the writings of the sages. He’s a pastor but interested in the wider world, curious and engaged and helpful. It all made sense to me when I realized he was mentored by Eugene Peterson, to whom this fine book is dedicated.

In Chasing Wisdom Grothe appeals to younger adults (and others who especially feel the world’s joys and heaviness.) The introduction which talks about his first-hand experience of a mass shooting is called “Bullet Holes and Broken Hearts.” It’s hard not to keep turning the pages after that!

Grothe is conversational, direct, and upbeat even as he cites the creative likes of mod artist Banksy and poet Mary Oliver, Bible guys Brueggemann and Buechner, writers Dorothy Sayers and Thomas a Kempis. It’s a great book, interestingly written.

I think this would make a great gift for college grads because of this theme of chasing wisdom, living well, pursuing the things that matter most. It’s not weird or arcane, though: there are sensible chapters about loving Scripture, going to church, creating space for a quiet life; you’ll love a great chapter called “The Wisdom of an Old Library” and there’s stuff about rest and lament, action and service. You will be investing in the sustainable long-term habits of faith of others as you share this with them. Highly recommended.

God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life Timothy & Kathy Keller (Viking) $20.00                                               OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00

I hope you know about  Tim and Kathy Keller’s lovely, compact-sized, hardback devotional called The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms (Viking; $20.00.) If so, I need only say that this one is just like that, but on the Biblical book of Proverbs. It’s a solid hardback with a ribbon marker, with thoughtful daily devotionals arranged for a whole year’s worth of reading.

It may be obvious, but let me say it: this an ideal gift for anyone in a life transition because of the unusually practical sensibility of Proverbs, offering wisdom and vision in a way that spells out healthy ways to “navigate life.” I can’t imagine a young adult who wouldn’t benefit from this whether they are particularly religious or not.

As the Kellers put it, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life offers an artful vision of life that is “at once moral, realistic, and just.” What a great gift this would be…

Be Kind To Yourself: Releasing Frustrations and Embracing joy Cindy Bunch (IVP) $15.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $12.00

What a sweet little resource this is, a handsome, small book that is loaded – and I mean loaded –with practical practices, meditative disciplines, ideas and suggestions about taking care of one’s interior life. That contemplative leader and teacher Ruth Haley Barton wrote the forward should give you a hint that this is serious stuff, transforming, empowering, real tools for making space for God so God can bless us with Christ-like sanity and hope.

I suppose not every young adult feels a need for these sorts of experiences of quiet time and meditative practice. But I’m sure many, many do.

“There is a sweet space where wisdom and innocence meet in the relationship between those who have given themselves to the rhythm of spiritual formation for a long time and those whose commitment is new. Cindy Bunch found it and then set the table for all of us to come together, using the same practices, to explore who we are in God and who we can become.”–Suzanne Stabile, author of The Path Between Us and host of The Enneagram Journey podcast

Morning and Evening Prayers Cornelius Plantinga (Eerdmans) $19.99                             OUR SALE PRICE – $15.99

This is a brand new, small-sized hardback (without dust jacket) that is handsome in a sober, no-nonsense style. I am sure many Hearts & Minds friends appreciate the wordsmithery gifts of writer and theologian Cornelius Plantinga. (He is president emeritus of Calvin Theologian Seminary and senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.) You may know him from the remarkably beautiful Engaging God’s World: A Christian Vision of Faith, Learning and Living or his wonderfully provocative theology of sin nicely called Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be. At workshops I do on reading widely I regularly tell about his must-read book for preachers that any life-long learner will enjoy, Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists. Anyway, he’s a favorite author, an astute thinker, a good theologian, and a very good writer.

Here, in Morning and Evening Prayers, Plantinga offers well written but dignified prayers, in a little volume offering a month’s worth of prayers for morning and evening each day. In a way, this reminds me of the classic by John Ballie, Diary of Private Prayer.

The almost two page-long morning prayers, naturally, look forward. The evening ones look back over the day. In this simple rhythm, a life-long practice could take hold of reflecting well on one’s life, one’s whole life, by bringing it all regularly before the gracious and sovereign Triune God.

This little prayer book just came out and has been called “earnest and unassuming” as it expresses essential Christian longings and hopes and dreams, “making space for any state of heart or mind…” Could be a nice gift, eh?

God Above All: 90 Devotions to Know the Life-Altering Love of God (Zondervan) $16.99       OUR SALE PRICE = $13.59

I am so taken with this, both its handsome and artful presentation, its well crafted heft, (blue flyleaves, glossy paper, a ribbon marker) and, of course, that it offers upbeat and contemporary reflections by a modern woman reflection on quotes by the ancient African church leader. Many young adults I know are on a August kick – think of Austin Gohn’s introductory A Restless Age: How Saint Augustine Helps You Make Sense of Your Twenties (GCD Books; $11.99) or James K.A. Smith’s spectacular and very popular On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts (Brazos Press; $24.99, hardback -OR- $19.99, paperback.) So this very nice chunky, new devotional could be very appropriate to some of your young friends.

I’m not unrealistic, though – many church kids, even smart college grads have little knowledge and even less interest in the significance of this towering figure from the fourth century. However there are churches that would love sharing a book just like this. On the left hand page there is a sizable August quotation, under an intriguingly art piece, the same design as the cover. The following pages are short reflections explaining a bit about the context of that quote and it’s relevance for our own daily lives as restless seekers in this new millennium. It’s a beautiful devotional making Augustine’s ancient writing accessible for today.

Love Is the Way: Holding on the Hope in Troubling Times Bishop Michael Curry (Avery) $27.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.60

When we reviewed this a year ago, almost, we were delighted at how many non-Episcopalians purchased it. Curry is, as you may know (perhaps from his famous homily that he did at the royal wedding a few years) the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA. And this is his wide-ranging, wonderfully vivid, lively book about love. As journalist and historian Jon Meacham says, it is “a profound and essential book.”

Every chapter of Love is the Way is phrased as a question. From “How Do I Find God’s Love” to “What do Dolly Parton and Desmond Tutu Have in Common” to “I’m just a regular person – can my love have an impact?” each chapters tells stores, is laden with good quotes, and develops an expansive and generous sort of faith rooted in core values and big dreams. He is, in many ways, a public theologian and we are delighted to suggest it as a great book for open-minded and searching young adults.

It is very helpful if you would tell us how you prefer us to ship your orders. Although we can’t say here exactly what your order would cost since the weight and destination varies, you can use this as a thumbnail, general guide.

There are generally two kinds of US Mail options, and, of course, UPS. If necessary, we can do overnight and other expedited methods, too. We’re at your service.

  • USPS has the option called “Media Mail” which is cheapest but slow and may be delayed. For one book, usually, it’s about $3.25.
  • USPS has another option called “Priority Mail” which is about $7.00 for one or two books and that gets more attention than does “Media Mail.”
  • UPS is more reliable but about $8.00 for one book or two to most places.



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