Book Review: Starting Now, A 30-Day Guide to Becoming Who You Want To Be in College
My oldest daughter is headed off to her third year of college in less than four weeks. So when I received an email asking if I would take a look at a new book called, Starting Now: College is Hard - This Can Help, I was intrigued. The description states it’s a “30-Day Guide to Becoming Who You Want to Be in College”. The authors, Crystal Chiang, and Gerald Fadayomi, both have extensive experience working in student ministry. Though I was provided a copy of this book, at no cost to me, the following review is my opinion alone.
-This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on and buy through one of these links, I do receive a small percentage. Thank you.
Starting Now is meant to begin on the very first day of college, and contains six weeks of devotions on the topics of community, identity, faith, integrity, freedom, and service. If you’re reading this, my guess is, like most of my readers, you’re probably not a college student. But maybe you’re a parent, like me, or perhaps you play an essential role in the life of a college student. If so, then keep reading, and I’ll tell you why I think Starting Now would be a great gift to give that student.
I believe this is a valuable book for a young adult audience. The short (five days a week) devotionals focus on becoming who you want to be. They’re a practical combination of illustrations and relatable stories, scripture and biblical principles, thought-provoking questions, and suggested tasks. These devotions will help students zero in on deciding what they will do and who they will be.
The organization of the book and a few of my favorite takeaways are as follows:
Community- here is where I found useful information, not only for students but for those of us who are older and effectively support them. Students are encouraged to seek out someone who can mentor them, and the authors also made it easy for potential mentors. They created an email list you can sign up for that will provide weekly tips and reminders about how to help a student navigate the first few months of adult life. You don’t even need to buy the book to sign up. You only need to go to www.OnMyTeam.org
Identity- “Where you are doesn’t change who you are.” Readers are reminded of who they are in Christ. Creating a vision board is part of this week’s tasks.
Faith- ”When it comes to your faith, deeper is about doing- not just knowing.” Dealing with doubt and rethinking faith are addressed within these devotionals.
Integrity- “Make sure what you believe matches what you do.”
Freedom- This week’s devotionals could be summed up well with 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV), “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Service- “You were made for doing good.” These five devotions are all about purpose.
I think the authors did an excellent job in writing a book for college students that is both engaging and practical. I’m happy to be able to send it along with my daughter to school, and I recommend Starting Now with a double thumbs-up. You can purchase it HERE.
As a bonus, I’ll share a few more titles that I have recommended to my teens over the past years. These are books that will encourage them in their faith:
1. The Holy Bible- there’s no other book as precious or valuable as this one is. This book always goes at the top of the list.
2. The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey: Philip Yancey offers a new and different perspective on the life of Christ and his work—his teachings, his miracles, his death and resurrection—and ultimately, who he was and why he came.
3. Graceful: (for young women) Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman: transform faith from a list of things to do to a personal relationship with Jesus
4. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together
5. More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell: examines the evidence about Jesus. Is he really the Lord he claimed to be? How can we know for sure?
6. Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics by R.C. Sproul: clearly argues that at its core, Christianity is rational. He focuses on defending the basic truth claims for two of the most crucial issues of apologetics: God's existence and the Bible's authority.
7. L’Abri by Edith Schaeffer (my daughter’s favorite): the story of the Schaeffer’s and how God began opening doors, and how people with questions about life's meaning began finding the way to their home.
8. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan: the answer to religious complacency isn't working harder at a list of do's and don'ts—it's falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same.
9. A Young Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George: What does it mean to live God in your everyday life? It means knowing and following God's perfect plan for you as a young woman.
10. God’s Graffiti, by Romal Tune: Rev. Romal Tune details how obstacles can become opportunities through faith.
11. Live in Light: 5 Minute Devotionals for Teen Girls: practical, fun, relatable, and quick daily devotions.
I hope these resources will encourage you and/or your student and will serve as a seed to strengthen a deeper trust in God.