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It’s that time of year again. Perhaps this year there’s a graduate for whom you’d like to do more than just write the obligatory check. How about a book? Yep, a real, hand-held, ink-and-paper book. Sure, it’s old school, but it’s also small, inexpensive, and it might just offer a lifetime of inspiration.

Make College Count: A Faithful Guide to Life and Learning
by Derek Melleby

Melleby decided to write this slim, easy-to-read volume after his wife’s younger cousin complained, “All the advice I was given at graduation only told me what not to do: don’t get drunk, don’t have sex! I need to know what to do.” Melleby took that comment to heart. Through interviews with lots of college students, he came up with a guidebook that challenges students to think through who they want to be, what it means to follow Jesus, and how the answers to those questions should inform what they do throughout their college careers and beyond. (Baker)

Acceptable Words: Prayers for the Writer
edited by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney

Any graduate who enjoys writing will treasure this collection of prayers from writers past and present, including poets and hymn writers, novelists and essayists, pastors and professors, theologians and scientists. Gary D. Schmidt (author of several young adult novels, including The Wednesday Wars) and Elizabeth Stickney (author of a collection of Bible stories for children called The Loving Arms of God) join their love of God and their love of words in this lovely resource for writers. (Eerdmans)

Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year
by Philip F. Reinders

This prayer book is different from a devotional; it’s meant to be used for “the daily office,” the practice of praying and meditating on Scripture throughout the day. Each day is numbered; though the book begins with Advent, readers can jump in at any point in the year using the dates on each page. The compact version makes a great gift. For more information on using a prayer book, see the author’s article on the subject here. (Faith Alive)

Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC
by Frederick Buechner

When I received this book as a gift in the early 90s, it had already been around for over 15 years. At that time it was subtitled “A Theological ABC,” but shortly afterward it was revised, expanded, and renamed. Another 20 years have not diminished its subtle power. In Wishful Thinking, Buechner navigates his musings on theological and faith issues by way of the alphabet. His light touch belies the depth of wisdom in many of the short entries in this book. (HarperOne)

How to Boil Water: Life Beyond Takeout
by Food Network Kitchens

Okay, this one may not be so inspirational, but it is exceedingly practical. If you are concerned that your graduate is headed off with minimal working knowledge of a kitchen, this is the guide you are looking for. Based on the Food Network show by the same name, it teaches readers the basics, including how (and how long) to store food, and how a given vegetable should be prepared. Simple recipes will make use of newly-acquired knowledge. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

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