Essential Books for High School (and College) Seniors

I have realized how vital books have been in my life, particularly in high school and then as I entered college. I was recently asked for some good books for the high school senior, and five books that have shaped my own thinking came to mind.

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Thriving At College by Alex Chediak

I’ll be honest, I actually haven’t read through this entire book, but I have read a good bit of it and have really enjoyed it. It is written by a college professor who also remembers what it was like to be a student. He gives excellent advice to young men and women who are about to enter their time at college, and carefully corrects the many ways that high schoolers think about college.

The Enemy Within:Straight Talk about the Power and Defeat of Sin by Kris Lundgaard

I cannot commend this book enough. It radically changed the way that I fought sin and understood what “sanctification” is all about. This book made me more like Jesus in many, many ways. I am indebted to Kris Lundgaard for introducing me to John Owen, the faithful puritan who inspired this book. Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.

Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris

This book written by my good friends Alex and Brett Harris has inspired thousands of teenagers around the world to rise about the low expectations of culture. Every teenager should read this book because it is encouraging and though-provoking. The stories in the book are from real teens who have done great things. My only warning is to remember that doing hard things does not mean doing “great” things all the time. Focus carefully on their section on “Doing Small Things” and pick up their sequel book as well.

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

It’s hard to say how fantastic a book this is. It will radically change the way you think and look at life, from college to retirement. I would not only encourage high school seniors to pick up this book, I would encourage everyone to pick up this book. John Piper as usual hits a home run.

No Little People by Francis Schaeffer

Few books have totally and completely set the course for my life like this book. Few men have influenced me more than this man, Francis Schaeffer. The first chapter of this book is worth the price of the rest of the book, a collection of sermons for the late and great thinker Francis Schaeffer.

Does anyone else have any suggestions?


My Summer Reading List: 2012

I just graduated from the esteemed Boyce College, the undergraduate wing of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, so my “free” time seems to have exploded. There’s something special and important about picking up a few books and reading them for your own pleasure. Like some others in the blogosphere, I’m picking up a few specific books this summer and diving in:

1. The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

Incredible resource been Jean Twenge . From the description on Amazon: Narcissism—an inflated view of the self—is everywhere. Public figures say it’s what makes them stray from their wives. Parents teach it by dressing children in T-shirts that say “Princess.” Teenagers and young adults hone it on Facebook, and celebrity newsmakers have elevated it to an art form. And it’s what’s making people depressed, lonely, and buried under piles of debt.

Jean Twenge’s influential first book, Generation Me, spurred a national debate with its depiction of the challenges twenty- and thirty-somethings face in today’s world—and the fallout these issues create for educators and employers. Now, Dr. Twenge turns her focus to the pernicious spread of narcissism in today’s culture, which has repercussions for every age group and class. Dr. Twenge joins forces with W. Keith Campbell, Ph.D., a nationally recognized expert on narcissism, to explore this new plague in The Narcissism Epidemic, their eye-opening exposition of the alarming rise of narcissism and its catastrophic effects at every level of society. Even the world economy has been damaged by risky, unrealistic overconfidence. Drawing on their own extensive research as well as decades of other experts’ studies, Drs. Twenge and Campbell show us how to identify narcissism, minimize the forces that sustain and transmit it, and treat it or manage it where we find it. Filled with arresting, alarming, and even amusing stories of vanity gone off the tracks (would you like to hire your own personal paparazzi?), The Narcissism Epidemic is at once a riveting window into the consequences of narcissism, a prescription to combat the widespread problems it causes, and a probing analysis of the culture at large. WARNING: Some of the research is not all child-safe.

2. Outliers: The Story of Success

This is a fascinating book by Malcolm Gladwell.  From Amazon: “Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. This is the book with the 10,000 hour principle.”

I am starting a new job here very soon and as a college graduate, I need any and all advice I can get.

From Amazon: “Fully a quarter of all managers in major corporations enter new leadership roles each year. Whether their assignments involve leading a work group or taking over a company as CEO, they face very similar challenges–and risks–in those critical first months on the job. How new leaders manage their transitions can make all the difference between success and failure.

In this hands-on guide, Michael Watkins, a noted expert on leadership transitions, offers proven strategies for moving successfully into a new role at any point in one’s career. Concise and practical, The First 90 Days walks managers through every aspect of the transition, from mental preparation to forging the right alliances to securing critical early wins. Through vivid examples of success and failure at all levels, Watkins identifies the most common pitfalls new leaders encounter and provides tools and strategies for how to avoid them.”

4.Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology

Looking forward to diving into this pastoral treatise by Southern Seminary faculty member Thom Schreiner. From Amazon: “Thomas Schreiner’s substantial New Testament Theology examined the unifying themes that emerge from a detailed reading of the New Testament canon. This student-level digest of Schreiner’s massive work explores the key themes and teachings of the New Testament in a more accessible and concise way. The book summarizes the findings of Schreiner’s larger work and provides answers to the “so what?” question of New Testament theology. Comprehensive and up to date, this survey is arranged thematically and includes careful exegesis of key passages. It offers students, pastors, and lay readers a big picture view of what the New Testament is all about.”

Runners Will Stop Running

Runners always seem to run. But I guess I had never stopped to think that they slow down, walk, and even, well, stop moving. I find it odd to think that the sweat and grind that trot by me each day will come to a glorious, and hopefully, victorious end. Maybe a cool drink. A hot shower. A dog racing to greet him as he opens his front door. Or the smell of fresh cooked food waiting for him as he enters the kitchen.

Yes, those runners, joggers, and the occasional awkward trot-and-waddle folks do stop. Their breath slows. Their hearts level. The sweat is washed away.

One day we too, us heavenly runners, will finally stop. Gloriously and triumphantly stop. It will all come to a final end.

We will walk through gates and find sweet rest and comfort in The only One who gives rest. He has bought us with his blood, reconciling us to himself so that our running may turn to resting in that final day when all is made new.