1. The Purpose Driven Life-Rick Warren
Content: Mr. Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Southern California, lays out the keys to living a Christian life.
Gist: The Purpose Driven Life is familiar to most WORLD readers. Recently it motivated one woman to confront with the gospel the man who held her hostage after murdering four people. Since then sales have soared-reaching 22 million-as more people have heard about the book, where they'll face the question: "What on earth am I here for?"
2. The World is Flat-Thomas Friedman
Content: Mr. Friedman, focusing on the internet and high-speed communications, writes about how technological change is shrinking the world.
Gist: Mr. Friedman so tightly focuses on technology that he ignores more fundamental cultural factors like religion. Astoundingly, he visits modern corporate citadels in Bangalore, India, then visits a village of untouchables, and still doesn't ask questions about Hinduism.
3. Blink-Malcolm Gladwell
Content: Sub-rational, snap decisions are often as accurate as those made rationally and scientifically.
Gist: Mr. Gladwell illustrates the ability of the brain to make snap decisions, often based on slices of information too subtle for the rational mind to grasp. With examples drawn from the military, emergency rooms, car sales, the art world, tennis, and psychology, the book demonstrates the power of the "adaptive unconscious" and the need to keep it from being hijacked by false presuppositions.
4. Winning-Jack and Suzy Welch
Content: The former head of GE offers advice on how to beat the competition within corporate environments.
Gist: Some people will reject this book out of hand because its author dumped his wife of many years to marry the former editor of Harvard Business Review, now his co-author. Mr. Welch can't offer sound advice on godly living, but to corporate employees he offers non-sugar-coated insights into what's important to managers-and thus what should be important to those beneath them.
5. And One More Thing . . . -Maria Shriver
Content: An expanded version of a commencement speech aimed at high-school girls going off to college.
Gist Although she's the mother of four children, Maria Shriver sounds more like an approachable older friend. Those looking for a booklet of spiritual advice for a graduate should keep looking. Others will find usefulness in the book's lessons-be flexible, learn from your mistakes, you'll need courage-and enjoyment in its chatty style.
In the spotlight
With one school year coming to a close, first-timers considering homeschooling for next year will want to read Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum (Broadman & Holman, 2005). Not only does it offer lots of specific suggestions, arranged by subject, but it provides tools so families can determine what kind of homeschool to have and what materials to use.
Faerie Gold, edited by Kathryn Lindskoog and Ranelda Mack Hunsicker (P&R Publishing, 2005), will expose your family to a wide variety of fairy tales that are good as read-alouds or for kids to read to themselves.
Bret Lott writes essays about the writing life in Before We Get Started (Ballantine, 2005). High-schoolers need to ponder his essay, "The Ironic Stance and the Law of Diminishing Returns," which shows how the fear of appearing "cheesy" when writing non-ironically about love robs writing of its heart.