While I am an author, I am also an avid reader of other authors’ books, and am frequently asked for resources to help my patients, friends, and family with situations they encounter. So I thought you might like to see my Top 25 list of favorite books (truly life changing books) I’ve read in the past year.

(When you use the links included here to purchase any of these items, as an affiliate, I will receive a small bonus without any additional cost to you. Win-Win!)

Best Book for Victorious Living

Have you ever been plagued by doubt, disbelief, or uncertainty? Does it ever seem like you get through one trial or battle just to be knocked down by another? And another? Me too! I’ve been there and have gotten weary being on the defensive when these battles hit. That’s why I’m recommending, “Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt, and Live Victoriously” by Kelly Balarie. Battle Ready helps pro-actively prepare you to fight back against doubt, disbelief, and uncertainty in order to live from a stance of determination, resiliency and faith to be all that God has called us to be. Kelly offers 12 warrior mind-sets in order to align our mind with Christ as we proceed into battle from a place of victory. Battle Ready provides tangible suggestions of ways to take heart and keep our minds focused on His truth for victorious living.

Read more about Battle Ready here: 5 Battle Tools to Help in Hard Moments.In Battle Ready, Kelly Balarie shares twelve easy-to-implement mind-sets that will build your confidence and transform your thoughts.

Best Book for Overcoming Betrayal and Loss

In “Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God, by Athena Dean Holtz gives a vulnerable account of the path we may travel down when we attempt to fill “God-shaped holes” with anything but Him. Athena reveals how despite our misguided decisions and the lure of the enemy, God is always at work wooing His children back to Him, where He can faithfully be the healer, the provider, the sustainer, the protector, and the redeemer we all long for. This is a vital message for anyone who feels lost or abandoned by God, or who needs the assurance that nothing separates us from the love of God.

Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God, a book on overcoming betrayal and loss.

Best Book for Living Life to the Fullest

Has fear ever held you back? Have you always felt that there was more for you in this life that seemed just beyond your grasp? Have you ever felt like giving up or giving in when life just seemed to hard? Then you will enjoy reading, “Fierce Hearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely” by Holley Gerth. Holley shares from her own personal experiences how we can experience freedom from fear and insecurity to accept God’s invitation to live fully and love bravely.

Fierce Hearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely, how to experience freedom by accepting God’s invitation to live fully and love bravely.

Best Book for Living Life Empowered With the Holy Spirit

Have you ever longed to better understand and embrace the power of the Holy Spirit? Have you ever wondered how to stop living in your own strength and invite the Holy Spirit to help you in every area of your life? “The Spirit Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith Without Borders” by best-selling, Proverbs31 author Suzanne Eller, is like an invitation to spend time with the Holy Spirit so we can know Him and experience a greater sense of intimacy with Him. Suzie teaches powerful truths from God’s word, while sharing her own transparent and powerfully encouraging real-life experiences.

The Spirit Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith Without Borders, an invitation to live life empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Best Book When You are In Need of Encouragement or Want to Encourage Others

Have you ever been in need of an encouraging word from God, or perhaps you wanted to know how to better encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ, family, and friends? Then you’ll want to read “The Gift of Prophetic Encouragement: Hearing the Words of God for Others” by my friend Debbie Kitterman. I proudly no only gave my stamp of approval in the endorsement section, but after reading it, I shared it with my husband and sons for them to read as well. God longs to encourage each of us, and in The Gift of Prophetic Encouragement, you’ll see how. And here’s a little secret: the book hasn’t even released yet, but it releases August 21, 2018, and is available for pre-order now.

The Gift of Prophetic Encouragement: Hearing the Words of God for Others, a book when you need encouragement and want to encourage others.

Best Book for Embracing Your God-Given Identity

When you read the account of Mary and Martha during Jesus’s visit to their home, do you resonate more with Martha’s personality but feel ashamed or embarrassed as a result? As a “Martha personality” but a self-proclaimed “Mary Wanna-Be,” I’ve been there: feeling like my go-getter personality and take-charge tendencies were somehow frowned upon and perhaps even inferior to my “Mary sisters.” If you can relate, I have good news for you! “Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done” by Katie M. Reid invites us to stand in our true identity as daughters of the Most High God, find hope-filled freedom from striving, but still enjoy life as the doer God created us to be. Made Like Martha is an encouraging, pleasant reminder that God created us in His image, worthy of His love and salvation regardless of what we do or don’t do.

Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done, a book on embracing your God-given identity.

Best Book for Living Life with Fearless Authenticity

Do you ever find yourself believing that you are good enough, acceptable enough, or worthy enough of others’ acceptance, or even God’s? Do you ever fear what would happen if others saw behind the mask to see the real you? “Unafraid: Be You. Be Authentic. Find the Grit and Grace to Shine” by Carey Wiggins Scott shares how we can shed our fears of being vulnerable and authentic, so that we can be the best that God created us to be. Carey covers 9 ways we can find the confidence we need in order to shine with fearless authenticity.

In Unafraid: Be You. Be Authentic, author Carey Scott shares how to shed fears to be who God created us to be.

Best Book for Help Ridding Negativity From Your Life

My life is spent working with patients teaching them how to analyze the path from their thoughts to their feelings, and then ultimately to their attitudes and behaviors. I help them identify the causal relationship between what they think and their resulting emotions, ultimately impacting the quality of their life. In “Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live” by Tracie Miles shares from a place of being there, so that others can learn how to break the impact of negativity by intentionally choosing our thoughts in order to win the battle of our minds to walk in the positive, victorious life Christ came to give.

Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel, and Live, a book when you need help ridding negativity from your life.

Best Book for Growing in Holiness

Have you ever longed for simple ways to express your love to God and enjoy your life at the same time? Then you’ll want to read, “Holy in the Moment: Simple Ways to Love God and Enjoy Your Life” by Ginger Harrington. Ginger explores the practical power of our choices to grow in holiness without the pressure and shroud of perfectionism.

Holy in the Moment by Ginger Harrington, a book on growing in holiness.

Best Book for Work-Life Balance

As a working mother, who feels called both to ministry and providing for my family, it can sometimes be difficult to accommodate both the admonitions to “Work harder!” and the caution to “rest more.” “Holy Hustle: Embracing a Work-Hard, Rest-Well Life” by Crystal Stine offers a fresh perspective suggesting God’s plan for us isn’t necessarily either/or. Crystal’s perspective offers a place where we can do both, in the midst of a “Holy Hustle” where we are free to experience renewed peace, reawakened potential, and redefined purpose all within the framework of the person God made us.

Holy Hustle: Embracing a Work-Hard, Rest-Well Life, a book on work-life balance with renewed peace, reawakened potential, and redefined purpose.

Best Resource for Personal Healing

“Chained No More: Breaking the Chains One Link at a Time” is a powerful and effective process of healing from childhood brokenness, written by author Robyn Besemann. Readers answer deep questions while exploring and discovering the issues that have affected their lives. They will find healing as they shed the lies that have shaped their identity and learn who God truly made them to be.

“Chained No More: Breaking the Chains One Link at a Time by Robyn Besemann

Best Book for Dealing Effectively with Impossible People

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t encounter people who share about the “difficult” people in their life. You know the kind I’m talking about: those friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances that you just want to limit your interactions with because nothing you do is right, and nothing will make them more amiable. “Foolproofing Your Life: How to Deal Effectively with the Impossible People in Your Life” by Jan Silvious is your guide to more effectively manage those relationships! It is not a new release. Rather, I first read it several years ago, but it’s one of those books that I return to regularly for the reminder when new relationships come into my life that are suboptimal to my well-being.

Foolproofing Your Life: How to Deal Effectively with the Impossible People in Your Life

Best Book for Dealing with Toxic Relationships

In 30 years as a mental health practitioner, I’ve had the privilege of working with patients who have struggled with and suffered through relationships akin to those detailed in “The Seven Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy,” Mary E. DeMuth highlights the traits and tactics of the most toxic relationships we all encounter in life, based on Proverbs 6:16-19 and helps us also see how we may have been one or more of these types of friends toward others. Seven Deadly Friendships helps us identify those toxic relationships and then points us to seven life-giving practices to help us receive and extend healthy friendships. This book releases October 2, 2018, and is available for pre-order now.

The Seven Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy

Best Book for Overcoming Spiritual Burnout

Have you ever grown burned out in your attempt to live for God that you’ve been too weary to focus on living with God? Sometimes ministry life, and even our daily walk is filled with so much striving that it leaves us weary and wanting in our relationship with God. “Running On Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Achievers” by Fil Anderson is one of my favorite books. Fil shared his experience and healing insights as a once burned-out believer that restored his zeal and guided him back to an intimate relationship with God.

Running On Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Achievers, a book on overcoming spiritual burnout.

Best Book for Developing Habits for Happier, Healthier Living

Would you like to be happier than you are? Have you ever wondered if God cares about your happiness? Have you ever questioned how you could pursue a life of greater happiness in a manner that pleases God? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I not only invite you, but I encourage you to read “The Happiness Dare: Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire” by Jennifer Dukes Lee. The Happiness Dare will help you understand the five different happiness styles and what you can do to maximize yours, while helping you overcome the four most common obstacles that prevent you from experiencing happiness. Jennifer teaches how you can be happier in just five minutes a day! That’s a pretty good return on your investment.

The Happiness Dare: Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire by Jennifer Dukes Lee, a book on developing habits for a happier, healthier life.

Best Book for Hope in the Midst of 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 Book for Battling Suicidal Thoughts

I am thrilled to read another book that, like “Hope Prevails,” underscores that the only answer to the devastating epidemic of depression and suicide is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which promises a reason to live, hope for eternal life, release from guilt, and so much more. What a great impact Ray Comfort’s book, “How to Battle Depression and Suicidal Thoughts,” will be as a resource for so many who need to know that despite how they feel, there IS hope which is found in a saving relationship with Jesus. Scripture tells us we have an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, but we are not defeated when we have a Savior who came so give us an abundant life free from depression and suicide!

How to Battle Depression and Suicidal Thoughts by Ray Comfort, a book on how to battle suicidal thoughts.

Best Bible Study for Those Struggling with Depression (or have friends or loved ones who do)

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.

Best Bible Study to Help You Walk in God’s Will

Do you desire to know what Jesus desires of you? Do you long to know and operate in God’s will for your life? Are you tired of striving to do good? Do you desire to leave a legacy that garners God’s pleasure and blessing? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then I invite you to go through Kelley Latta’s Bible Study, “Tested by Fire: Will What You Build Survive?” In this study, Kelley provides a compelling and yet practical challenge to help you deepen your Christian walk with purpose.

Tested by Fire: Will What You Build Survive, a Bible Study to help you walk in God's will.

Best Book for Battling Clutter in Your Mind and Your Home

If you are anything like me and find that when your physical space is cluttered and disorganized, than your mind and heart are too, then you’ll want to read “Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle With Stuff” by my friend Dana K. White. This is your must-have guide to help identify mindsets and emotional challenges that make it difficult to declutter. Dana is otherwise known as “a slob who comes clean,” and her humor is infused throughout this easy but practical read.

Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle With Stuff, a book on battling clutter in your mind and home.

Best Devotional for Experiencing God in the Dark Places of Our Lives

Have you ever been beaten down by life, left feeling like you are wandering around in the dark? “God in the Dark: 31 Devotions to Let the Light Back In” by Sarah Van Diest offers you a month of devotions to share the hope and light she found in her own season of darkness, in order to remind you that we never face our battles alone. Sarah speaks with authenticity and vulnerability as she addresses many real issues such as faith, identity, and victory. She uses Scripture and her own experience to compassionately but also confidently encourage us that God is always with us, waiting to hold, guide, and even carry us at times, as we walk into a more intimate relationship with Him.

Read more about God in the Dark here: When It Feels Like You are Walking Alone in the Dark 

When you are in the dark places of your life, Sarah Van Diest offers a companion for the path you are walking. A collection of 31 devotions.

Best Devotional for a Fresh Encounter with God and His Word

Have you ever found yourself thinking that God answers others’ prayers but not yours? Or that His promises were meant for everyone else but feel like they exclude you? “Unblinded Faith: Gaining Spiritual Sight Through Believing God’s Word” by Elisa Pulliam is a 90-day devotional to help you realize that you can take God at His Word, embrace all of His promises, and fully experience His love, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness despite what your daily life throws at you. Unblinded Faith offers relatable stories, applicable scripture, and leading questions to help us dispel some of the lives we’ve believed that have held our faith captive far too long.

Unblinded Faith: Gaining Spiritual Sight Through Believing God’s Word, a book on a fresh encounter with God and His word.

Best Devotional for Those Experiencing Grief and Loss

If you’ve never experienced the pain of losing a loved one, it’s hard to relate to those who have. In those times, we long to know we aren’t alone. In “Love Has Come: A 30-Day Journey of Hope and Encouragement for Those Experiencing Grief and Loss,” Melinda Gordon shares from her place of pain, loss, and brokenness to reveal how God healed her heart with His grace, and goodness, and faithfulness after her young daughter died. She shares the hope that can be yours despite your loss, because of a God who not only adores you but wants to mend your broken heart. This devotional will encourage anyone who is experiencing grief and loss.

Love Has Come: A 30-Day Journey of Hope and Encouragement for Those Experiencing Grief and Loss, a book on experiencing grief and loss.

Best Devotional Journal

Do you ever find yourself wishing you could come out beneath the shroud of feelings of insecurity, timidity, or inadequacy and live boldly in your God-given identity and calling? “Live Bold: A Devotional Journal to Strengthen Your Soul” by Andrea Tomassi and Cynthia Cavanaugh is a 52-week devotional journal that shares Andrea and Cynthia’s authentic personal examples as they embraced living bravely and boldly for God, with applicable and relatable devotions. This journal will help you step out of your comfort zone and walk each day more boldly with Christ. Each chapter provides you a place to journal as you determine which areas of your life you no longer want to live small.

Live Bold: A Devotional Journal to Strengthen Your Soul

Best Children’s Book

I’ll admit that now that my children are now teens, I don’t read many children’s books. But when this one came across my desk, I knew I had to share it! “The Woman Who Loved Shoeboxes: Thinking Inside the Box” by Peg Stormy Bradley is a beautiful tale about a woman who provides for many children every year at Christmas through the Samaritan’s Purse organization’s “Operation Christmas Child.” This book teaches children (and their parents) about how a little gift can go a long way to encourage children who have nothing.

The Woman Who Loved Shoeboxes: Thinking Inside the Box, a children's book about Samaritan’s Purse organization’s “Operation Christmas Child.”

I’d love to hear some of your favorite books you’ve read this year, which ones were life changing books, and the best books about living life to the fullest. Then, share why in the comments below. And can I just share a little secret? As an author, I can tell you, authors have enough pens, highlighters, and notepads. The best gift for an author is an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other book retailer.

As an author, neuropsychologist and avid reader, I’m often asked for advice on how to deal with life’s circumstances. I’ve compiled this list of my Top 25 must read, life changing books (the best books about living life to the fullest) from books read this past year. #mustreadbooks #mustread #booksforChristianwomen #bestbooks