If you’ve hung around the blog long enough, you know I love books. Since graduation time is upon us, I’m sharing some great reads for the high school or college senior. Whether you are looking for a meaningful gift for the graduate in your life, or are looking to beef up your summer reading, look no further than this post.

For the High School Graduate

University of Destruction

Books for the graduate: University of Destruction

This books is like a spiritual B vitamin shot for the graduating senior. I read it my senior year and loved it. David Wheaton does a great job of addressing the attitudes and the heart behind common decisions that face incoming freshmen, which is important to me. It’s not all about do’s and don’ts. Lists don’t change hearts, but relationships do. No matter what the fall looks like for the graduating senior in your life, they can benefit from this book.

Jesus Calling

Books for the graduate: Jesus Calling

Devotionals are a great way to build quiet time habits, even more necessary as graduates are heading off into the world of dorms, freedom, and date parties. Jesus Calling entries are short, so it’s easy to fit it in the morning or in between classes. In everyday language, scripture jumps out and meets the reader right where they are. I read through portions of it every couple of years or so, and I’m always refreshed when I do!

Soul Keeping

Books for the graduate: Soul Keeping

I’ve featured this book on the blog before, but felt it deserved mentioning again. College is a time like no other, a season that can feel crammed to the top with no breathing space. Soul Keeping addresses ways to take care of the most important part of us, our soul, in the midst of a crazy and stressed-out world. There’s no better timing for freshmen-to-be to prepare for the attacks that seek to steal their peace, hijack their purpose, and damage their souls. This book helps to do just that!

The Case for Series

Books for the graduate: The Case for Christ

Lee Strobel has multiple books in his “Case For” series. I’ve read three or four of them. Whether the student in your life has been walking with the Lord for a while, or they have just started walking with God, this series will bolster their faith. Addressing scientific, historical, and theological hot button issues, Strobel interviews leading experts in a variety of fields to shape the case for Christ and what Christianity stands for. I’ve loved each one that I’ve read, and appreciate the detail and lengths Strobel goes to research each topic. Prime journalistic work.

It’s Not About Me

Books for the graduate: It's Not About Me

So as we build the high school graduate up and celebrate all their accomplishments, here is a humbling read. Not, it’s not about you. Or me. Or any of us. As they leave the bubble of high school where maybe it did feel all about them (even for those that are a part of the church), Lucado gently reminds us who gets the glory. As students prepare to step on campus, it’s good to be focused on who we represent, and what this journey called life is all about. A good read for anyone, really.

For the College Graduate

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (Greg McKeown)Books for the graduate: Essentialism

Kurtis and I have both read this book last year, and it’s really inspired us to take stock of what we buy, and what we define as “need.” This isn’t about a minimalist lifestyle per se, but helpful mindset shifts to focus on the true priorities in your life. If you want to maximize your impact (and we all want to change our corner of the world), sometimes you have to minimize what you focus on. You simply can’t do it all. Quietly counter-culture.

The Power of Habit

Books for the graduate: The Power of Habit

This book is a little more research heavy than the other ones, but well worth the read. As graduates seek to set up healthy habits as they exit the familiar cocoon of school, this book is a helpful tool to peek into your own mind, find out what makes you tick, and finally find out why it’s so hard to STOP biting your nails.


Books for the graduate: Quitter

This may seem like an odd choice for the graduate, especially for those about to enter the workforce. Stick with me. Jon Acuff deftly addresses the messy middle between a day job, and dream job. We’ve all been there. Our dreams and aspirations reach so much further than the little cubicle we find ourselves in day in and day out. Not a lot of books address the “in-between” as well as Acuff does. He give practical tips, as well as addressing the attitudes that lurk behind our decisions. You won’t be sorry you read this.


I also recommend “Do Over,” by Jon Acuff. Again, from the title alone, you might not pick it up coming off your last week of finals. Or maybe you would. Anyway. This book equips you with relevant tools to face today’s job market, from your attitude toward networking, your own strengths and weaknesses, and pursuing new ideas. Highly recommend.

Unveiling Grace

Books for the graduate: Unveiling Grace

There are a lot of “Christian living” books I could recommend, but I went with an off-the-wall choice. Lynn Wilder’s story is about coming out of the Mormon church, and how she and her family came to a saving knowledge of Christ. Very moving. Very revealing. Not only will you better understand the position LDS members come from, you’ll be better able to defend the points of your own faith.

3:16 The Numbers of Hope

Books for the graduate: 3-16

Sometimes it’s best to start at the beginning. You can’t get more basic than this book. Whether you have been walking with Jesus for a while, just joined us on this journey, or still have doubts and questions, this book is for you. In the way only Max Lucado can, he paints a beautiful picture of God’s love through one verse, John 3:16. I found myself in tears, thanking God, smiling, and in awe all at some point throughout this book. I know this verse. I’ve known it for a long time. But it came alive for me like never before in the pages of this book. So for the graduate about to launch out on their own, it never hurts to turn up the flame on our faith and remember that we are a part of the greatest love story ever written. It never hurts to go back to the beginning, and remember how it all began.

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