Many of you have been asking me relentlessly what some of my favorite books are. So here they are! This list is not exhaustive, but I would consider these books to have powerfully shaped and changed my life. I hope they do the same for yours!
You still have time to order your stories for stocking stuffers in time for Christmas!!
You will find links to all the books on Amazon below!!!
A Severe Mercy – Jeremy and I have made the commitment to read this book every year. If you have been following my blog for any length of time you’ve probably heard me talk about it many times. This was Jeremy’s favorite book prior to dating me. Soon into our dating relationship he insisted that I read it. He read it to me out load when I went on vacation with his family for the first time. It easily became my favorite book as well, and we have adopted some of the principles that we discovered through this book. Our “Navigator’s Council” (Our 6 Questions for Marriage blog post), was derived from this book! This love story is bound to pour out passion and inspiration that you can’t help but absorb as you read it. The author, Sheldon Vanauken, has a way of writing that is so beautifully articulated and poetic. Jer and I have found ourselves giving this book as a gift to a lot of our married friends or friends that are in dating relationships.
Redeeming Love – A real tear jerker… It’s actually a retelling of the Biblical story in Hosea. Set during the mid 1800’s, this romantic story is bound to reveal more of God’s love for you. Francine Rivers tells the story of a girl whose endured all kinds of hardships and then is sold into prostitution. All she knows of men is evil intent. And then she meets Michael Hosea. Michael wants nothing from her, and everything for her. He pursues her with the intention of loving her selflessly and unconditionally. Overtime she lets her walls down and allows herself to be loved, but each time she does, she is crippled by fear and feelings of worthlessness. Michael’s redeeming love continues to patiently pursue her, even when she relentlessly runs from it. This book showed me what it means to be pursued by God, and by man of God.
The Meaning of Marriage – First off I want to say that this book is not just for married people. It is for engaged couples, dating couples, and even singles! Our culture is obsessed with romance, and we define the success of our relationships by its ability to last. This book is aimed at redefining the meaning of marriage, and facing the complexities of commitment with the wisdom of God. Timothy Kelley and his wife share their triumphs and trails through marriage, and what they have learned after 37 years of faithful commitment to one other. This book challenges all of our selfish inclinations about what we should get out of a relationship, and compels us to consider what you should give to it. Jeremy and I read this book before we got married and it prepared us very well for what marriage looks like.
Love Does – Love is not just a word or emotion. Love does stuff. This book is a call to “do love” better. It is full of stuff worth underlining, writing on your bathroom mirror, and quotes that will change the way you live. Bob Goff’s life is a testament of ambitious adventure, risk taking tenacity, and the kind of love that changes people. “I don’t think anyone aims to be typical, really. Most people even vow to themselves some time in high school or college not to be typical. But still, they just kind of loop back to it somehow. Like the circular rails of a train at an amusement park, the scripts we know offer a brand of security, of predictability, of safety for us. But the problem is, they only take us where we’ve already been. They loop us back to places where everyone can easily go, not necessarily where we were made to go. Living a different kind of life takes some guts and grit and a new way of seeing things.” – Bob Goff. This book will force you to take action on chasing your dreams.
One Thousand Gifts – Ann Voskamp wondered,“ How do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? When your days are filled with the mundane, disappointment, or even darkness, how can you break the bondage of self-hatred and fear that has white-knuckle control on your life and instead embrace the everyday blessings that will immerse you in Christ’s fullness? How can you live your life with a heart overflowing with delight?” Ann tells the story of that joy that floods into our lives when we live with gratitude. As you get glimpses of the raw and immense beauty in her life as she chronicles one thousand things that she is thankful for. One thousand gifts. Ok so not only should you read this book because Ann has a way with words that is unmatched…. but you should listen to it on audio. Her voice is powerfully inspiring, passionate, and incredibly emotionally connected to the story she is telling. This book will leave you full of thanksgiving and joy.
Essentialism – Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized? Are you often busy but not productive? Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas? If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist. Greg Mckeown completely nails it in this book about “the disciplined pursuit of less.” If any of you are anything like me…. We need to read this book one hundred times over until we learn how to actual say no. Good is the enemy of best.
Pagan Christianity – You have to be in a seeking truth, season of your life when you read this book. It questions all the preconceived notions we have about church, the Bible, and how to live they way of Jesus. This book reveals that most of what Christians do in present-day churches is not rooted in the New Testament. If you have ever found yourself sitting in church frustrated with what it has become, if something in your soul just keeps telling you that we are doing it wrong…. Then this book is for you. You will discover the historical evolution of certain practices and rituals that we uphold in church, without any basis for them in the New Testament. This book has the power to change what you may have believed and bought into for a lifetime.
Mere Christianity – You will definitely have to reread a few pages here and there in order to fully understand and follow C.S. Lewis’s brilliant mind. Mere Christianity is the perfect book for anyone questioning their faith in God. It’s for Christians and those who deny Christianity completely. Lewis rejects the boundaries that divide the many denominations of Christianity. This book seeks to establish the common ground that all believers can stand together on.
The Shack – A father looses his daughter tragically while on a family vacation, and evidence that she was found and brutally abducted and murdered was found in an abandon Shack in Oregon. This is the story of a man who is experiencing extreme grief and finds himself relentlessly questioning how God could allow something like this to happen to him. He gets a letter instructing him to go back to the shack, and what he finds there changes his life forever. If you know anyone that has suffered tragic grief, you will demand them to read this book.
Loveology – Written by the pastor of my church in Portland, John Mark Comer, Loveology will radically change the way you view marriage, dating, sex, relationships, romance and love. This book was the outline for my dating relationship with Jeremy, and it shaped much of what we believe to be true about relationships, marriage, sex, ect. Comer deals with sexuality, romance, singleness, and what it means to be male and female; ending with a raw, uncut, anything goes Q and A dealing with the most asked questions about sexuality and relationships.
The Power of Habit – If you have ever wanted to burn a bad habit, or ignite a good one, you need to read this book. This book contains substantial scientific evidence that explains why habits exist, and how they can be changed. The main argument of the book is this: “The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.”
Bread and Wine – Author Shauna Niequis is also know for her two best selling books, Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines. The heart of Bread and Wine is connection and community. It’s a collection of stories about family relationships, friendships and the meals that bring us together.
Forgotten God – Common among many Christians in our world today is a life that is modeled after God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy Bible. We forget that our lives were meant to be radically transformed the living God, the Holy Spirit, alive in us. Jesus even said himself that it was better for him to go, so that we could all receive the Holy Spirit. But we forget and deny this power and divine wisdom that lies within us. We don’t listen to the Holy Spirit nudges because we forget that we have access to God through his Spirit. And not just access to God, but access to his capabilities. This book completely changed they way that I live, and affirmed my life mantra “Always More.” With Christ, there is always more that we can do, see, be, give, celebrate, share, rejoice in, learn, and love.
What To Do When It’s Your Turn – Godin has a way of being so frank in his writings, that you can’t help but accept the fact that you just got slapped in the face and called out to be someone better, someone on a mission, to leave a legacy. In this book Seth talks to the entrepreneurs, the starters, and the doers of the world. Those that are still dormant and hiding behind their fear, but just need a little push and shove to get started on finishing! Reading this book is the equivalent to drinking 5 cups of coffee in a ice cold shower with a blow horn in your face. It’s sure to wake up up and get you goin.’
Please share your favorite books in the comments! I would love to hear them! And if you read any of these books I would love to hear what you think!
Cozy reading to all!