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You may know me as an author, but I also love to read! Each year, I read between 50 and 100 books. My friends often ask me to share about my favorites so I’ve put together this list. 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.
Best New Book for Planning for Christmas
“The Christmas Project Planner: Super Simple Steps to Organize the Holidays” by Kathi Lipp
Ready or not, Christmas is coming. Who wants to approach the holidays with stress and chaos? None of us, right? Author Kathi Lipp, (and author of Clutter Free) has written a new book to help us organize the holidays so that we can enjoy them with a minimum of stress.
Best New Book for Keeping Calm in the Midst of Chaos
“Unruffled: Thriving in Chaos” by Edie Melson and Rhonda Rhea
Life is busy, our to-do lists are longer than our day, and our stress is at an alarming high. We’re told to slow down, decrease our stress, and let go of the pressure. But authors Edie Melson and Rhonda Rhea suggest that sometimes the answer is not to escape the chaos but to step into it and learn to live unruffled.
Best New Book for Overcoming Grumbling, Complaining and Negativity
“The Grumble-Free Year: Twelve Months, Eleven Family Members, and One Impossible Goal” by Tricia Goyer
Who doesn’t grumble, complain, or lapse into occasional negativity now and then? Author Tricia Goyer and her family realized this was a real problem in their family of eleven (!!) and they took on what seemed like an impossible challenge of overcoming grumbling and complaining. In The Grumble-Free Year, they invite the reader into their mess, their victories, and their challenge to become grumble-free as well.
Best New Book for Overcoming Comparison
“Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison” by Richella Parham
As a clinical neuropsychologist, one of the greatest issues I see among patients is that of comparison. We compare who we are, what we’ve done and what we want to those we know and those we aspire to be. But how much more peace we would have if we’d focus only on being who God designed us to be and what He says about us. Richella shares her own journey as she comes to realize she’s created a mythical me, a woman she can never measure up to instead of the woman God created her to be and loves her completely as she is. I suspect you’ll find a bit of yourself between the covers of Mythical Me as well.
Best New Book for Learning How to Control Your Thoughts
“Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus” by Sarah Geringer
One of the greatest issues that I see is people not realizing the power of their thoughts and their words. There is a reason God commands us to take every thought captive, yet so many don’t understand what this really means. Author Sarah Geringer helps unpack this and helps the reader understand the importance of transforming our thought life. [insert Amazon Affiliate Link Here]
Best New Book About How the Church Can Address the Sexual Abuse Crisis Helpfully
“We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis” by Mary DeMuth
So many have been hurt by sexual abuse. The numbers are staggering. Yet the church is often at a loss for how to address this sensitive issue. Author Mary DeMuth shares of her own experiences and helps address how the church can respond redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis. This is a book that should be in every church leader’s resource library.
Best New Book for Understanding Highly Sensitive People
“Sensitive and Strong: A Guide for Highly Sensitive Persons and Those Who Love Them” by Denise J. Hughes & Cheri Gregory
One in five people are considered HSPs—Highly sensitive persons—and tend to experience high sensory sensitivity. But what if I told you that you aren’t “too high maintenance” but that God designed you as sensitive and strong—a very good thing. That’s what Sensitive and Strong addresses, and is a great read whether that describes you or someone you love.
Best New Book for Conquering Worry, Fear, and Anxiety
“Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Ours is an age of anxiety. We worry about our children, jobs, homes, health, and finances. News and social media feed our fears. Even the fear of missing out leads to anxiety. The solution isn’t to rid ourselves of the sources of anxiety but to recognize that anxiety originates from a spiritual influence–and then use the weapons of power, love, and a sound mind to fight back and live in God’s peace. This book provides tools to cope with the crushing emotional burden of anxiety now, and, more importantly, shows you how to reclaim God’s peace as a way of life so that you can break anxiety’s grip.
Best Book for Coping With Depression
“Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson
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.
Best Bible Study When Struggling With Depression or Anxiety
“Hope Prevails Bible Study” by Dr. Michelle Bengtson
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.
Best New Book for Restoring Mother-Daughter Relationships
“Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters” by Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh
This book is a treasure for those who desire to deepen their mother/daughter relationship in a healthy, biblical way. It offers conversation starters to heal wounded hearts, and restore fractured relationships.
Best Bible Study About Heaven
“Heavenly Minded for Earthly Good” by Karen Chaffin
This is an 8-week inductive Bible study on heaven that changes your life on earth. I’ve lost many friends and family this year, and my mind has wandered to more and more questions about heaven. Author Karen Chaffin tackles many of those questions and more.
Best New Book for Becoming Confident in Your God-Given Calling
“You are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You” by Jess Connolly
We all wonder from time to time if maybe we aren’t the one for the job, if we’ve mis-heard God, if we aren’t equipped enough for the call we thought was on our life. Author Jess Connolly helps the reader see that the call on our lives has nothing to do with our own capacity, and everything to do with God’s capacity and our willingness and obedience. If you’ve been doubting your future, take a seat and delve into this treasure.
Best New Book About Making Decisions
“The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions” by Emily P. Freeman
It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by decision fatigue with the constant demand of decisions pressed upon us. Author Emily Freeman helps takes the pressure off by helping us learn to do the next right thing and in doing so, let go of the fear of making a wrong choice, and find the courage to decide without regrets or second-guessing. [insert Amazon Affiliate link here]
Best New Devotional Emphasizing Gratitude
“Each Day a Gift: A Gratitude Devotional for Women: 90 Devotions to Make a Habit of Praise and Thanks” by Sabrina Lawton
Scripture tells us to be thankful in all things, but are we? Sometimes we need a guided reminder of the importance of daily praise and thanksgiving, and what better way than starting off our daily devotions with a mind set on gratitude and praise? Author Sabrina Lawton reminds us through a simple devotion, gratitude-filled prayer, and application of the importance of developing a habit of praise and thanks in all things.
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.
Best Multi-Media Study Bible
Life Essentials Study Bible
A recent gift from a friend. The side notes include QR codes that will pull up short video tutorials on the subject. 250 hours of video total over 1500 subjects. Also available in Kindle version.
Best Book for Learning the Rhythms of Renewal
“Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose” by Rebekah Lyons
Stress and anxiety bring havoc to our lives. Author Rebekah Lyons shares from her own experiences about four profound rhythms: rest, restore, connect, and create to help the reader begin an intentional journey toward emotional, relational, and spiritual health
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.
Best New Book for Discovering the Art of Everyday Worship
“Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship” by Ruth Chou Simmons
Every day we are in the process of becoming, and we become what we behold. When we behold more of Him, we become more like Him. Author and artist Ruth Chou Simmons gives us more than 850 pieces of beautiful artwork to help us gaze our eyes on the One who created all things, to help us experience more of Him in the mundane and ordinary.
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.
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.
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.
Best New Christian Who-Dunnit
“Mind Games” by Nancy Mehl
This is the first in the Kaely Quinn profiler series, and once you finish this one, you’ll quickly return to find the next and the next. Author Nancy Mehl does a beautiful job keeping up the intrigue while weaving in a little light romance. I’m ready for her next book to come out!
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.
Best Book for Southern Gardeners
“The Grumpy Gardener: An A to Z Guide from the Galaxy’s Most Irritable Green Thumb” by Steve Bender
A perfect blend of gardening know-how and humor from the south’s most irritable green thumb featured in Southern Living Magazine, this makes for a humorous but educational read for any gardener coast to coast.
Best Socks for Readers
Do Not Disturb Reading Socks
Ever the fan of novelty socks, I had to include these on the list of items for readers. They are the most humorous, if not subtle, way of letting any passerby know not to disturb a reader enjoying a good read.
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.
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.
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!
This is AWESOME!!! Even down to the gifts for readers. My daughter Tamara is an avid reader too. That girl has SO MANY books and that is her relaxation every evening after a stressful day at work!! Thanks so much for sharing this every year. I know it takes time to prepare but it is so worth your effort, Michelle!! You are a blessing!!!
I love to see what others are recommending and the scarf and pillow give me good ideas for my librarian mom! laurensparks.net
What a fun list! I’m looking forward to digging into my copy of Transformed Thoughts. I think it’s going to be a game-changer!!
What a treasure trove of ideas here, Michelle. I’ve heard of several of these books and authors but haven’t actually read many of them. They all look good! And those socks. I need those. 🙂 Thanks for compiling this list for us.
I saw those socks on Amazon yesterday and almost ordered a pair for my son (or myself!).
Such a wonderful list, Michelle! More books for my to-read list…
Peace and grace,
This list is awesome! I am definitely getting my daughter the pillow. She will love it! I am also going to order, “You Are The Girl For The Job”. I cannot wait to dive into it.