I can hardly believe it is May. We have been getting a few requests for ideas to give as gifts for college students. Many of our customers know of young adults graduating and a very special book would be a great sign of care and encouragement. Some churches give gifts to honor their graduates and these are some great ideas. (Let us know if you have grad students or PhDs you are honoring; perhaps we could find a book to offer Christian insight into their particular field.)
For ordinary undergrads, any of these sorts of titles would be great for a church to share, helping honor college grads for their special accomplishment. It’s a big time in the life of a graduate: the church should somehow say that God cares and that they are there in this important transition.
We will suggest some high school gift ideas, soon.
Serious Dreams: Big Ideas for the Rest of Your Life edited by Byron Borger (Square Halo Books) $13.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $11.19
Most years I announce this, always with a little trepidation, since, well, yes, it is my book. I pulled this together a few years ago and got it very handsomely designed by Ned Bustard of Square Halo Books because we just didn’t have anything to recommend that was ideal for Christian graduates that amplified visions of vocation, the dream to make a difference, the call to take callings seriously, to be faithful in all of life. There just weren’t many books like that, written for the post-college transition. These are a handful of very lively commencement addresses (one by me, but even better ones from the likes of Amy Sherman, Richard Mouw, John Perkins, and more) so it is perfect as a gift for a college grad. There are some reflection questions and a pretty powerful introductory chapter. Frankly, there is nothing like it on the market. I could autograph them for you, too, even personalizing them if you thought that would make it extra special.
Read a longer review and the backstory of this little volume here. Read the introduction here.
After College: Navigating Transitions, Relationships and Faith Erica Young Reitz (IVP) $18.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40
We are so, so glad to recommend this stellar book by our good friend Erica Young Reitz. (Erica has a very nicely written, quite practical afterword in Serious Dreams by the way.) When she did full time campus ministry with CCO at Penn State University she ran a semester-long mentoring program to help zealous Christian students prepare for their transition out of college. It was exceptionally well put together and important in the lives of young adults coming out of the college experience with their faith intact. Word got out and she was asked to write a book sharing some of her good content and telling some of the stories and lessons learned. It is very good, especially for evangelical students who have been involved in some kind of religious programing on campus… Again, there is nothing like it in print.
Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want It, and What You’re Going to Do About It $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59
I hope you know the incredibly energetic and visionary speaker and author Bob Goff. Maybe you gave his zillion-selling Love Does out as a high school graduation gift. If so, you know about his winsome style, his outlandish capers, his poignant stories. This book is fabulous, inspiring and helpful guidance that emerged from the popular “Dream Big” workshops he does. It is both fun, engaging, inspiring, and yet very practical. Highly recommended.
Undistracted: Capture Your Purpose. Rediscover Your Joy. Bob Goff (Thomas Nelson) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59
Yes, yes, this also would make a terrific gift for a young adult in this post-college time of transition and new beginnings. In a way, Undistracted is a sequel to Dream Big, exploring the obstacles that are often in the way as we are distracted from our ambitions and goals. Naturally, he gives us great stories and examples and principles for overcoming these distractions and recovering a sense of purpose.
Live in Grace, Walk in Love: A 365 Day Journey Bob Goff (Thomas Nelson) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99
I often list this when customers ask for suggestions for a daily devotional — especially if the reader is not one who is used to the holy habit of reading a bit each day like this. Goff is fun and funny and yet this is overtly Biblical, with solid Scriptural storytelling and lots of modern-day application. This works as a good gift for all sorts of recipients. It’s a solid hardback without a dust jacket — very nicely done.
Means of Grace: A Year of Weekly Devotions Fleming Rutledge (Eerdmans) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99
Rev. Dr. Rutledge writes in a different style than the whimsical Goff (above) as she is a no-nonsense, elegant and eloquent Episcopalian pastor, theologian and legendary preacher. This beautiful hardback includes 52 exquisite, thoughtful sermons so a reader can work through one a week for a year. Or gulp them down, and then revisit them over and over. This makes for a very classy gift.
The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love and Learning, Worship and Work (IVP) $20.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00
I have a blurb on the inside of this, insisting that it is one of my favorite collections of short essays I’ve ever read. I stand by that — Garber has a way with words unlike any writer I know and he weaves together stories and profound insights, examples of people living well, doing good, embodying the vision of what he has called “common grace for the common good.” Who doesn’t want a life of inner and outer cohesion, of integrity, of seamlessness? These captivating, thoughtful, wise ruminations are accompanied by full color photos, offering in a handsome, compact sized hardback. Even the dusk jacket is a bit textured. Perfect.
This modern life often feels fragmented. Steve Garber’s new collection of words and writings, The Seamless Life, gently weaves coherence and grace from the far corners of vocation, friendship, and spirituality. A skillful storyteller, Garber puts himself forward effortlessly. The Seamless Life is like good conversation, and it reads as if you are sitting with an old friend across the table. These chapters can be savored daily, as each page is filled with sacred questioning, wisdom, and hope. —Sandra McCracken, singer-songwriter and recording artist
The Merton Prayer: An Exercise in Authenticity Steven Denny (ACTA Publications) $19.95 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.96
It isn’t every day that a conversation I share with somebody ends as a footnote, but it’s fun to see here my story of an older friend who knew Tom Merton. Much more importantly, this book is a groundbreaking work, reflecting on how the famous “Merton Prayer” influenced the author in his own struggles and complex journey in life. Somewhat like the more famous “Serenity Prayer” many people know the basic gist, but not the full prayer and backstory. Steve Denny explains the spirituality of Father Merton when he prayed for the grace to desire to follow God’s will, even though it isn’t fully revealed. This “unknowing” can be a comfort, as Steven explains, and forms us in the deep art of listening and trusting.
In each chapter of The Merton Prayer Mr. Denny offers the Biblical basis for and some personal stories about each phrase of the prayer. I hope to write about it more but wanted to suggest it here, now. Let’s face it —many college grads, especially these days, have no idea what is coming next. This could help.
Congrats to my friend Steve Denny for getting this book published and to ACTA for doing such a nice job — glossy paper and all. Kudos.
Here is the prayer itself, taken from Merton’s book Thoughts in Solitude.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.
By the way, for real fans or those wanting to give a somewhat nicer edition, we can order this also in hardback. It goes for $24.95.
Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers Dane Ortlund (Crossway) $19.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99
If the literary and mystical Thomas Merton, above, isn’t quite your style, how about this? Gentle and Lowly is an exquisitely produced hardback that has become one of the top selling religious books of the last two years. If you know The Gospel Coalition or Crossway books you have heard the remarkable testimonies of those who have been blessed by this gentle study of the mercy of Jesus and his heart for those weighted down. It is fairly intense, a bit deep, and draws almost exclusively on the God-drenched piety of the Puritan intellectuals and preachers. Crossway has published a little journal to go with it and even released a leather-bound edition of the book. It means a lot to a lot of folks although, granted, it may not be the sort of thing most young adults are used to.
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society Eugene Peterson (IVP) $18.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40
Not as intense and spiritually pious as Gentle and Lowly and not as raw about personal brokenness as The Merton Prayer and, although lively, not written with quite as much joie de vivre as Goff, Eugene Peterson is, yet, some unique combo of the best of these kinds of contemporary authors. He is deeply Biblical, authentically spiritual, full of missional energy for down-to-Earth, long-haul, real-world discipleship. Nothing is simple, things take time, we are on a joyous journey with others moving along the way, awake and aware of this stuff God is up to.
A Long Obedience, now part of the classy “Signature Classic”series of IVP, is truly one of the great books of its kind, a classic reflection on the Psalms of Ascent by one of our all-time favorite writers. This is always a richly literate and thoughtful gift and the title seems perfect for such a time in one’s life. Even if Eugene swiped it from Nietzsche.
Waymaker: Finding the Way to the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of Ann Voskamp (Thomas Nelson) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59
This is brand new and, again, the title speaks volumes to a nervous graduate wondering if God will make a way. Voskamp is a moving, gushy writer — she’s written a lot and her beautiful One Thousand Gifts remains a go-to gift book for many, younger women, especially — and this handsome hardback (with a die-cut design on the cover) would make a great gift. It is for those who may be discouraged, facing what seems like insurmountable odds. A great, passionate, tender reminder of God’s great love.
Young, Gifted, and Black: A Journey of Lament and Celebration Sheila Wise Rowe (IVP) $18.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40
I fully believe that any of these books listed would be fabulous for anyone of any race or ethnicity. Still, sometimes it is helpful to know of something designed specifically for the unique experiences of people of color. We have promoted this excellent book before (and have often recommended the author’s previous work Healing Racial Trauma.) Rowe is a sharp, Christian, black therapist and knows the research on resilience and success. This book is highly recommended for any reader, but it is, as the line from Nina Simone’s popular 1960s anthem that has become the title for this, it is ideal for those young, gifted black leaders looking to make their way in the world. There is some hard, honest talk here, good suggestions that, in the blurb from Juanita Rasmus, offer “embodied practices that become like lief preservers on uncharted waters” Rowe is a trauma-informed leader, as they say, but this offers stories, reflections and tools. for moving on and through towards celebration.
The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction Justin Whitmel Earley (IVP) $20.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00
We have promoted this among college students and in other young adult groups and, believe me, Justin is a hero among many who have heard him. Other churches have given this out and formed study groups around it (and, also, the sequel, written for families, called Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms.) It is a winner.
The Common Rule invites us to be intentional about our habits and use time. It uses some colorful charts and lists, also with online applications, almost like a hip and fresh application of the old monastic vows of stability and “a rule of life.” This book is user-friendly and helpful for anyone, but certainly when a recent graduate is going off to a new job, a new place, perhaps finding new friends and a new set of life rhythms, it is an ideal time to be purposeful about lifestyle habits. There are things we should monitor and do less of (using devices, for instance) and some things we need to embody more — daily, weekly, monthly. It’s a fun and wise book, very cool and could even be, as the author’s own dramatic story explains, life saving.
The Great Quest: Invitation to an Examined Life and a Sure Path to Meaning Os Guinness (IVP) $16.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $12.80
Perhaps your college graduate isn’t the sort of person who would appreciate an overtly religious book, cool as they may be these days. Perhaps you still do not want to let this moment pass without offering some friendly advice and encouragement to live well. This book is a systematic, thoughtful, step by step riff on that phrase by Socrates about how “the unexamined life” is hardly worth living. Guiness knows that not everyone these days wants to live the examined life but he makes a case that a good life is considered, reflective, honest about seeking satisfying answers to the deepest questions. If your recipient longs for a more intentional life asking the classic questions about why we are here and now we know, this invites readers on the quest. It is not pushy; it is not apologetics, it is an earnest call to be serious about universal questions and the pursuit of meaning and purpose. It is a fairly thin paperback but has some gold embossing making it a very suitable gift.
Carpe Diem Redeemed: Seizing the Day, Discerning the Times Os Guinness (IVP) $22.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60
I have reviewed this before and applauded it loudly; in many ways, it is a long-awaited sequel to one of my all-time favorite books, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life. It uses the popular language of “carpe diem” and asks what it exactly means — from a Christian perspective, framed by the eternal truths of Scripture and a Biblically-informed view of calling, purpose, time, and historical relevance — to actually do that in this harried, modern world. How do we faithfully live with robust gusto, relevant and timely, but not fall prey to passing trends or shallow analysis? Life is short and there is much to consider.
I like how the publisher puts it when they say that Dr. Guinness “calls readers to consequential living, reorienting their notion of history not as cyclical nor as meaningless, but as linear and purposeful. Christians can seek to serve God’s purpose for their generation, read the times, and discern their call for this moment in history.”
Oozing wisdom, this is a book that I suspect will get deep under the skin of readers, inspiring them for years. Os Guinness helps us amid our busy-bored culture to think hard about the time we have. If we do that, he shows the rewards are immense: we can live meaningfully and with unassailable hope. — Michael Reeves, author, Delighting in the Trinity
Every Moment Holy Douglas McElvey, illustrated by Ned Bustard (Rabbit Room) leather-bound hardback; $35.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $28.00 compact-sized, flexible leather; $25.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $20.00
I sure hope you know that we carry these rare, remarkable prayer books. They include prayers for all sorts of moments and activities, allowing for a prayerful liturgical moment through the day. There are striking linocut illustrations, two-color ink, ribbon markers. Both the very handsome leather-bound hardback (which is just a tad larger than 9″ x 7″) and the compact sized soft leather one are exquisite gifts and send a vital message — that there is no moment in which God is not present and that we can honor that reality with these prayers. There are prayers before morning coffee, for before viewing movies, before shopping. There are many that are for two or more readers (some for husbands and wives.) Some are about hard stuff, sickness, death, lament. The prayers are curiously down to Earth and yet lyrical — Douglas McElvey is himself an artist and song-writer so has a gift. (We also have, by the way, Every Moment Holy Volume 2 which includes liturgies and prayers of grief, lament, and hope, also in a larger leather-bound hardback and a flexible, soft leather version in a compact size.)
Angels Everywhere: Poems Luci Shaw (Iron Pen/Paraclete) $19.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.20
I’ll admit that not every college graduate would appreciate a volume of poetry as a gift. But some would, so do consider that as a way to honor their academic achievements and their new season of life. Luci Shaw has been an admired writer and acquaintance and we so appreciate her wise, good words. This new one was written during the pandemic so is especially timely. The theme of God’s sacred presence in all times and places — well, who doesn’t need an allusive reminder of that! Angels Everywhere is arranged in three main sections, “Out of Darkness”, “Through Shadow”, and “Into Light.” Sounds like how many graduates may feel, finally.
Call Us What We Carry: Poems Amanda Gorman (Viking) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99
Many young adults (and many older ones, too) were mesmerized by Amanda Gorman’s moving recital of her poem “The Hill We Climb” during the inauguration of the new President in 2021. She became a bit of a sensation — a young, black woman, a rising poet, a new voice. This first major book of her collected work came out this fall and it is a solid, potent collection of socially relevant verses, poems for our time. Much is about the grief of the losses during the time of Covid; as one reviewer put it, “At once heartbreaking and deeply healing, Gorman’s collection calls readers to their best selves…”
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It is complicated for us, but we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (not to mention the safety of our staff and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average and the hospitals are still crowded. We have concerns about this new variant appearing in some places in April 2022. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation so we are trying to be wise and faithful.
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