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This is Water David Foster Wallace This Is Water by David Foster Wallace: Book Cover
In 2005, DFW gave the only commencement speech he ever gave. It was at Kenyon College in Somewhere, USA. Never heard of it? Me either. Neither had he.  No, I don’t really know that.  This book is a pocket-sized manual-esque handbook with the words of that speech. He’s a captivating speaker; speaks about half as brilliantly as he thinks, I’m guessing. Which means, he can raise any one of our IQ’s by just saying “hello”.

Graduation speeches are all about the same, I imagine. I’d bet you don’t remember yours.

Wallace isn’t like all graduation speeches, though. He makes a satire out of graduation speeches, to start. About how they all praise the way college teaches you how to think rather than what to think. Then he goes into a long series of illustrations and descriptions about how our ability to choose what to think can actually…change the world. He touches on the simple choices we have at the grocery store. About how we can be mad about long lines and traffic and this and that. Or, we can not be mad. The parallels to Christ are strong (almostd certainly unintended, because this isn’t a facet of DFW’s life), the logic is sound, the delivery is swift and clever.

Forgotten God Francis Chan The Forgotten God by Francis Chan: Book Cover
It’s been a long time since an author commanded me to put down the book I was reading. Francis Chan did this numerous times while discussing the infinitely complex person of the Holy Spirit and, though he wasn’t sitting next to me to enforce his ruling, I felt compelled to obey. When he sent me away in prayer before continuing, I left to pray. When he told me to leave and read John 14-16 before moving on, I did. And this sort of engaging opened me up to more chances at application, I think. Instead of storing up everything I read to be used at a later date, I began to apply my new knowledge of the Spirit as I was reading the book.

Chan supports his investigations Biblically, historically, and focuses intently on the way these foundations show up practically in our real lives. This aspect of “practicality” is crucial. It often gets lost in theoretical “church talk” and I appreciate the awareness that Chan has for this very “church talk” stuff that we do as Christians. He sees our areas of weakness as the Body of Christ; there’s no reason to pretend we have it all together. I absolutely have to be more aware of the Spirit in my life and more engaged with Him. Read this.

The Poor Will Be Glad Peter Greer & Phil Smith The Poor Will Be Glad by Peter Greer: Book Cover
A book that was recommended to me months ago finally made it to the top of my reading queue, woot! It was appropriate, too, because I had just heard a pitch about an intricate business and development plan and was worried that I didn’t understand much of it. Enter: this book. With utmost clarity, Greer and Smith explain the problem of cyclic poverty, the issues with our current methods of aide, the solution of microfinance, the implications of such a program on various levels, and the steps towards implementing the change in practical ways. For someone like me, this is just the beginning of education. But for someone with more connections and capabilities, this book is an even more powerful tool for changing the way we change the world.

Just Do Something Kevin DeYoung Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung: Book Cover
Talk about a quick read. I started this book at ten o’clock at night, got a full eight hours of sleep, squeezed a cup of tea in before bed, a leisurely breakfast upon waking, and finished the book all before ten in the morning. A lightning read [88 pages!] with an astounding number of Aha! moments for so few words. In an in-between season of my life, I’m trying to be patient. But my time of patience is slowly turning into passivity and I’m beginning to feel handicapped by indecision. This book affirmed with Scripture my need to walk daily by the Spirit of God rather than wait for Him to send me in some sort of elusive direction. As an integral part of my sanctification, I need to determine what seems best, make a choice, and act on it. Good, good practical advice – especially for someone in this middle, deciding season of life, but not only for those folks.