While I am an author, I’m also an avid reader—reading somewhere between 50-100 books a year. Several friends come to me frequently for my “best picks” for what to read next. So if you’re looking for books to put on your Christmas wish list, or books to buy for your reader loved one, you’ll definitely want to check these out.

(There are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).

Best books to give as gifts

Best New Book for Learning to Take Care of Yourself

Soul Care When You’re Weary: Embracing God, Exploring Creativity” by Edie Melson
With the busyness of life, it’s easy to make our own soul care lowest priority. In “Soul Care,” Edie uses devotions, prayer, and creativity prompts to help the reader tap into creativity to reconnect with God. Just what the weary soul needs, especially during and after the holidays.

Soul Care by Edie Melson is just what the weary soul needs, especially during and after the holidays.

Best New Book for Learning Stress-Free Living

It’s All Under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible” by Jennifer Lee

I started to read “It’s All Under Control” because I love Jennifer’s authentic writing style and I wanted to support another author. Little did I know how very much I needed the message! Sometimes we get so busy trying to keep control of every aspect of our lives that we lose sight of the fact that that is not how God intended us to live. What a beautiful reminder that we don’t have to keep everything under control, but instead rest in the One who is in control.

It's All Under Control - best book for learning stress free living.


Best New Book for Embracing Deeper Faith

Into the Deep: Diving Into a Life of Courageous Faith” by Lauren Gaskill
Most Christians desire to grow in their faith and deepen their relationship with God. Into the Deep highlights, through Lauren’s experience as a swimmer, how our intimacy with God fuels our faith and helps us weather life’s dark and turbulent storms. Through her conversational tone, Lauren shares how she’s been in the abyss, questioning God and His purposes and plans, and how she’s learned to dive deep with abandon into the current of life, safe in her Savior’s arms. For anyone desiring to get off the safety of the shore and dive deeper into a more intimate daily experience with God, Into the Deep is for you.

Into the Deep - Best new book for embracing deeper faith

Best New Stand Alone Devotional

Come With Me Devotional: A Yearlong Adventure in Following Jesus” by Suzanne Eller
Can you imagine what it would be like if Jesus appeared to you and invited you to follow Him just like He did with the disciples? This devotional invites you into a deeper walk with Jesus, and a life transformed by walking closely following Him. Enjoy this study alone, or in conjunction with Suzie’s book “Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads.”

Come With Me by Suzanne Eller - best new stand alone devotional.

Best New Devotional Bible

This Christian Standard Bible includes weekly reading plans and contains ten themes, such as Beautiful Brokenness, Better Together, Daily Grace, Everyday Leadership, and Friendship on Purpose. It includes 52 devotions which include reflection questions and space for journaling. The devotions are written by 122 (in)courage community writers, many of whom are well-known and loved authors in their own right. Sold in hard cover, soft cover, and leather touch binding.

CSB (in)courage - Best new devotional Bible.

Best Book for Coping With Depression

I treated patients for 20 years with conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and everyday stress, before I, too, suffered and then realized that unless we treat the spiritual root of disease, we are effectively only attempting to put a band aid on an infection and hoping it will get well. “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” is written from a dual-perspective of a board certified clinical neuropsychologist, but also someone who has walked through depression’s valley. It explains where depression comes from, what keeps us trapped in its valley, how to break free, as well as the limits God places on depression’s impact. It also offers end of chapter application “prescriptions,” encouraging song playlist recommendations, and a prayer for the reader. For those who purchase the book, there is a link for a bonus chapter regarding how to help a depressed loved one. By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide, and one in four will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Even if you don’t struggle with depression, you have a friend or loved one who does and who would benefit from this resource! “Hope Prevails” won the 2017 Christian Literary Award.

Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor's Personal Journey Through Depression by Dr. Michelle Bengtson. For those who struggle with depression and those who want to help them, "Hope Prevails" offers hope for the future.

Best Bible Study When Struggling With Depression or Anxiety

In response to reader requests following the release of “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression,” there is now a new companion “Hope Prevails Bible Study” to take you even deeper into God’s word for greater help, hope, and healing. The “Hope Prevails Bible Study” was written for those struggling with depression, or those who desire to better understand depression to support their friends, loved ones, and fellow church members who suffer. It was written so that it could be a side-by-side accompaniment to the original “Hope Prevails,” or could be studied independently. It was also intentionally written so that an individual could study it by themselves, or in a small group environment. True to the original “Hope Prevails,” it also offers end of chapter application “prescriptions,” encouraging song playlist recommendations, and a prayer for the reader.

Hope Prevails Bible Study by Dr. Michelle Bengtson with hope for depression.

Hope Prevails Collection

Need a beautiful bookmark or piece of jewelry for yourself, a friend, or a loved one who needs a tangible reminder to maintain their hope despite what they see? Then consider a limited edition piece from the Hope Prevails Collection.

Best Book for Deepening Your Prayer Life and Reclaiming Your Life from the Enemy

Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer” by Priscilla Shirer
This is one of those books that is so rich that I’ve gone through it multiple times and taken a group through it in a weekly study. This book focuses on the battle plan necessary to fight the enemy of our soul and win! The enemy targets our identity, family, regrets, pressures, temptations, fears, attitudes and more. Each chapter highlights the enemy’s tactics and specific prayer strategies to fight back and win!

Best Book for Improving Your Personal Time With God

Secrets of the Secret Place” by Bob Sorge
Have you ever felt like you spend time with God but don’t get as much out of it as you could? Or maybe you’ve found it hard to get in a habit of a personal quiet time with God. “Secrets of the Secret Place” will inspire your intimate alone time with God and take you into a deeper, more intimate, and more rewarding relationship with Him. It’s one of those books that I have tabbed, highlighted, written in the margins, and reread at the start of every year.

Improve your personal time with God with Secrets from the Secret Place by Bob Sorge.

Best Book for Finding Peace in a Season of Waiting

Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans” by Wendy Pope
I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone through more waiting seasons than I care to remember. I’m a take charge, let’s get er done kind of gal. Sometimes in the midst of waiting for God to act, I can become prone to doubt what I thought He promised. Wendy helps us to use our waiting seasons to focus on God, get to know Him better, become more confident in His plans, and to find peace in the unknown.

Wait and See - est book for peace in the waiting season.

Best New Book for Coming to Terms with Being an Imperfect Parent

Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors: How Less-Than-Perfect Parents Can Raise (Kind of) Great Kids” by Jami Amerine
“As moms, we know we’ve messed up in so many ways. Royally. Maybe you think you’ve failed your children, your spouse, and your God.
But did you know that in the midst of your failures and fears, you are still loved—royally? As a child of noble birth? Do you believe your children are in better hands than your own and that you don’t need to hold on so desperately? It is not a how to book… it is a how He book. How he loves, protects, corrects, and restores. It is sticky because of me, it is sacred because of Him.”

Sacred Ground Sticky Floors - best book for coming to terms with imperfect parenting.

Best Book for Recognizing That Your Ordinary Life is Important

Rocking Ordinary: Holding it Together with Extraordinary Grace” by Lea Ann Garfias
We all have those times when we get so beaten down by what we perceive to be our failures, or our seemingly small influence in a big world, that we wonder “What’s the use?” Lea Ann shares from personal experience and in a humorous manner how our seemingly ordinary life has extraordinary significance. She takes us beyond the myth of all we “should do” and reminds us that none of us are perfect, but we have a perfectly loving Father who accepts and loves us just as we are.

Rocking ordinary - best book for recognizing your ordinary life is important.

Best Book for Starting Off the New Year Clutter Free

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind” by Dana K. White
I don’t know about you, but something about putting all the holiday decorations away after the first of the year just makes me want to get the rest of my house in order also. Well known as “a slob comes clean,” Dana speaks from experience, in a humorous style, as a decluttering expert, and walks alongside the reader as she helps us establish healthy habits, learn how to tame the chaos, and gives practical tips that are immediately implementable.

Start off the year cluter free with How to Manage Your Home without Losing your Mind.

Best Book For Someone Grieving or Heavily Burdened

Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms: Hope and Encouragement from Psalm 23” by Max Lucado
I first came across this book when I was deathly ill and losing hope. Based on a well-known Psalm, Lucado helps us to really understand how we can rest safely in the shepherd’s arms regardless of what we are going through. As soon as I finished reading it, I bought more copies in bulk and have given away many to those in need of hope and encouragement.

Safe in the Shepherd's Arms - best book for grieving.

Best New Memoir

The Polygamist’s Daughter” by Anna LeBaron
I could not even begin to imagine what it would be like to grow up in a home with a father who had thirteen wives and more than fifty children. Anna shares her story, as daughter of notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron, and her search for love, faith, and a true home.

The Polygamist's Daughter - best new memoir.

Best Christian Novel

Sensible Shoes: A Story About the Spiritual Journey” by Sharon Garlough Brown
I’ll admit, I read relatively few novels compared to nonfiction. But when a friend suggested that this was more than a novel, it was a new way at looking at our faith and our religious traditions, I had to read it. This novel is the first in a four-part series about four women as they embark on a spiritual formation journey. It’ll give you pause to think about your own spiritual walk and ways to take it even deeper.

Sensible Shoes - best new Christian novel.

Best Book-Related Gifts

Best Pillow for Book Lovers

Book Lover Pillow – This pillow is a must-have for readers like me who just can’t stop until they finish the chapter. It’d make a perfect gift for avid readers amongst your family or friends.

Just one more chapter pillow - best gift for a book lover

Best Scarf for Book Lovers and Readers

Literary and Book-Themed Lightweight Scarf
What a clever idea to pair our love of reading with clothing to make these creative lightweight scarves. Many styles and colors to choose from! You might even get creative and wrap your book lover’s favorite book in one of these scarves to make the perfect gift.

Best gift for book lover - book themed scarf.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite books you’ve read this year, and why, in the comments below. Who knows—maybe they’ll be featured in one of my upcoming “Best Of” series!


A doctor, author and avid reader shares her “best picks” for what to buy the book lover on your shopping list.