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12 Essential Books to Give Your Graduate

  • Inside BST Thoughts from the Editors of
  • Updated Sep 17, 2021
12 Essential Books to Give Your Graduate

You have so much you want to tell your graduating senior—whether a child, grandchild, or friend. Although you’ve spent years sharing the wisdom you’ve gleaned from life, somehow that doesn’t seem to be nearly enough. There’s always something else you meant to say, some piece of advice you forgot to mention, some story from your past that could definitely help.

Instead of loading them down with everything you think they’ll need, sometimes it’s better to supply them with solid books that can shape them over the long run. But which ones should you choose? We’d love to help. These books have made an impact on us as editors and Christians, and we believe they are essential for any graduate’s library.

We’re assuming here that they already have a solid Bible for study (and know a good website for in-depth reading on their smartphone). None of these recommendations matter if there’s no solid foundation in Scripture. But if that’s there, then here are 12 books to give your graduate to help them in their journey.

Personalize your gift book with one of these Bible Verses for Graduates

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

This classic explanation and defense of the Christian faith has stirred up men and women for decades. The conversational style and vivid prose make chewing through even complex theological concepts enjoyable. You may not agree with Lewis on all points, but Mere Christianity will challenge you to examine what you believe and why you believe it. Every grad needs to take a look inside.

Every Young Man’s/Woman’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker, and Shannon Ethridge


Sex. Every graduate will face an onslaught from the world when it comes to sex. Porn is more common on the Internet than cat memes, smartphone apps encourage hooking up with a simple swipe, and temptations have become nearly constant. In fact, the battle they face will likely only grow more intense. They need help, and the Every Man’s Battle series gives them the weapons to overcome. Both Every Young Man’s Battle and Every Young Woman’s Battle tackle this topic in a way that will stick with them.

The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller

Considered by many an instant classic, The Reason for God by Pastor Tim Keller often appears on lists of the best Christian books of all time. There’s a good reason for that. This well-reasoned volume has become the go-to book for answering the skeptics of our day. With his firm grasp of Scripture, Keller will provide your graduate with a new trust in God’s unfailing Word.

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Millions of Christians have responded to the passionate appeal Francis Chan unleashed on the world in the form of Crazy Love. This book has become fodder for small group studies and awakened many to the need to do more in their love for God than just “trying not to cuss.” Easy to read, but impossible to put down, Chan’s short book will charge your graduate up to pursue a wild love for Jesus.

Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence by Jenni Catron

Every teen and young adult longs to be significant, to do something that matters. That’s why it’s often so hard for many to “settle down” into one decisive career choice or major—and why they often doubt their influence. In Clout, Jenni Catron examines the life of Jesus to see exactly what His Philippians 2 leadership looks like. She wants us, as Christians, to follow His example in unleashing our “clout” and using our gifts to impact the world.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

Pastor David Platt has become widely known for his multi-hour sermons during special “secret church” events. But his fire for sharing the gospel is the true engine that drives him, and you can see that in his best-selling book Radical. Most grads take the comforts of home for granted—security, money, convenience. But this book will challenge them to see beyond the world to what it truly means to take up their crosses and follow Jesus.

The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell

For many Christians, Josh McDowell’s timeless defense of the faith has answered the skeptical questions of the world and given them a renewed sense of confidence. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict isn’t a casual read, to be sure, but the in-depth research from science, history, archaeology, philosophy, and more will provide some serious food for thought. Any grad can return to this reference book over and over to get answers for the questions posed in classes and by friends. (Bonus: The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel makes an excellent companion book.)

Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy Sherman

Too often, Christians make a distinction between “holy work” and “secular work.” Some jobs, the argument goes, have a Kingdom impact, and some don’t. But Jesus never presented vocation as an impediment to sharing the gospel—He worked through fishermen, tax collectors, soldiers, and doctors. In Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman shows how any job can be a launching pad for advancing the Kingdom. Plus, there’s practical advice on how it works in daily life.

(The Cost of) Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thanks to recent biographies, Bonhoeffer’s stature among Christians has risen once again. And that’s a good thing because his classic work Discipleship (also called The Cost of Discipleship) is a must-read for any believer. Although the core of the book is a study of the Sermon on the Mount, the true power of this work is its insightful (and sometimes devastating) explanation of what it means to follow Jesus—no matter the cost.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

True, Redeeming Love is fiction, and not what you might expect in a list of books to help send grads into the journey of life. But Rivers’ novel goes beyond simply an engaging retelling of the book of Hosea. It helps us catch a powerful glimpse of the amazing, pursuing love of God. For many grads, knowing that God loves us and truly believing that are two different things. This story weaves them into one.

Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge

Good examples of manhood in our culture are few and far between. In fact, even the church can sometimes try to make men feel like their masculinity is out of place. With all that, most guys don’t really know what to do with the passions they have, the wildness. Enter Wild at Heart. For many men (young and old), this book has been the call to godly adventure that they’ve been desperate for.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of bad information floating around out there about heaven and not nearly enough careful study of what the Bible actually teaches on the topic. That’s why Pastor Randy Alcorn’s Heaven is such an important book. This in-depth look at what Scripture teaches should be in any Christian’s library—and it will help your graduate to remember that a much better graduation is coming.

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