Okay, before we get started I need you to know something … writing posts like this is super hard for me because, really and truly, books are like friends for me and choosing my favorites is akin to asking me to leave people off the list for a big party! Life would be so much easier if you all lived on my street instead of in my computer and then you could just come over and browse my bookshelves and I could tell you why every book on them is amazing and how it might encourage you.
But since that isn’t an option (for most of you anyway), here are some of my favorite books of 2016.
Oh, but before we get to the books, let me make note of a couple of things.
- These are in no particular order, I promise. Let’s face it, if I can barely stand to leave any books out, I certainly don’t have the heart to rank them.
- Many of these are written by my real life friends and as much as I’d like to say that doesn’t impact my love for them, the truth is, it probably does. Because when you know the author, you know the words are real and true and that makes them even more beautiful.
- The links are affiliate links because I need you to be enablers for my massive book habit. So, if you end up clicking on one of these links and buying the book, I’ll receive a small commission for which my husband will be eternally grateful since if I have to choose between food and books, I’ll always buy the book.
Now … here are some of my favorite books of 2016.
Fresh Out of Amazing: Opening Your Heart to God’s Unexpected Invitation by Stacey Thacker
Stacey has truly become one of my dearest friends. While we live in different states and different time zones, we manage to talk almost every day via Voxer. Fresh Out of Amazing is her story of reaching the end of herself and finding God waiting for her to experience His amazing. In my endorsement I wrote, “Stacey is the friend you call when you are at the end of yourself and you need someone to speak equal parts truth and grace over you.” This book is just that—truth and grace wrapped up in Stacey’s heartfelt writing and generous sharing of her own experiences. This is a book you read and then recommend to basically everyone else you know.
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned that Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes by Kristen Welch
It’s no secret I am a huge Kristen Welch admirer. I’ve met Kristen a couple of times and my experience with her is that she is just as humble and kind in person as she seems to be on the pages of her books. So when she announced this book, I immediately preordered because of course I want a grateful child and I have such deep respect for her family and what they do. (Read more about that on her blog and visit The Mercy House website to learn even more.) But can I tell you Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World was even more than I expected. Kristen is deeply honest about how hard it is to live sacrificially in a greedy world and she is equally honest about how truly hard it is to raise grateful kids in a world that tells them they are entitled to anything and everything they want. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst
Just get this one. For real. Because it starts with reminders like this: “God’s love isn’t based on me. It’s simply placed on me. And it’s the place from which I should live … loved.” And it ends with this truth: “Rejection never has the final say. Rejection may be a delay or distraction or even a devastation for a season. But it’s never a final destination. I’m destined for a love that can’t ever be diminished, tarnished, shaken, or taken. With You, Jesus, I’m forever safe. I’m forever accepted. I’m forever held. Completely loved and always invited in.” And all the words in between are just as comforting and challenging. Lysa reminds with story and Scripture how deeply we are loved by God. Uninvited is for all of us who have ever felt alone in a crowded room, left out when we look at social media, and less than enough when we look at everyone around us.
The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp
Ann’s new book is, as everything she writes is, poetic and rich. But The Broken Way also carries a rawness, as if Ann has peeled back the layers of skin and muscle to let us see the scars on her heart. And in that invitation to see her scars is the challenge to see our own. If One Thousand Gifts was Ann’s declaration of faith in Jesus’ love and provision, then The Broken Way reveals her determination to follow Him wherever He leads, even if it hurts. I’ll be reading this book again during January, slowing down and savoring the challenge to give God my own “unspoken broken” and trust Him with the pieces and places of me I’ve tried to hide and ignore and even heal on my own. If you are struggling with how to navigate through the suffering in this world or wonder if God cares about your own broken places, get The Broken Way.
Come, Lord Jesus by Kris Camealy
I know Kris. I know her family. I’ve stayed in their home and played with her children. And every word she writes comes from her fervent desire to live wholly committed and obedient to the Lord. This book is no exception. Come, Lord Jesus is for Advent … but it’s also for now. For every day. Because isn’t this the cry of every believer’s life? Come, Lord Jesus, come into this place, this space, this broken heart and broken world … Come, Lord Jesus, because we need You and only You. So don’t wait until next December to read this one … read it now and then read it again.
Listen. Love. Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman
Karen’s latest book, Listen. Love. Repeat both challenged and inspired me. Her winsome writing style coupled with solid biblical truth pushed me to evaluate my life in light of the way Jesus lived. Honestly, I set the book down after reading the first chapter because it was definitely all up in my business, so to speak. I deeply appreciate Karen’s authentic tone and willingness to share her own experiences—good and bad— in order to encourage others to “other-centered living in a self-centered world.” If you are looking for a book full of biblical teaching and practical application for living aware of the needs of those around you, Listen. Love. Repeat is the best book on the topic I’ve ever read.
A Different Beautiful: Discovering and Celebrating Beauty in Places You Never Expected by Courtney Westlake
Y’all, I had the privilege of meeting Courtney a couple of years ago at She Speaks. She is the gentlest soul. Her daughter Brenna has Harlequin Ichthyosis and this book is their family’s story of learning to see beauty in a new way. Courtney writes with such transparency but also grace and a dash a humor. You’ll wish you lived on her street and you’ll want to meet Brenna. One of my favorite chapters in the book was chapter 12, “Everyone Understands a Smile.” In this chapter, Courtney reminds us we are all far more alike than we ever realize. These words, in particular, stood out to me and I’m still feeling the weight of their truth in my heart: “When we compare and compete, we divide … But when we connect, we bridge. “(p. 104) I don’t know about you, but I want to be a bridge-builder! A Different Beautiful is a poignant challenge for all of us to see all the different beauty in the world around us.
Word Writers: Philippians by Denise J. Hughes
I LOVED this Bible study! Denise’s gentle teaching through one of my favorite books in the Bible was awesome. But my favorite part (and the reason I’ve recommended this Bible study and the whole Word Writers series to so many people) is the blank pages in the back where you are able to write out every word of what you’re studying, By the time you have finished the Bible study, you’ll have written out Paul’s whole letter to the church at Philippi. There is something especially meaningful about writing out Scripture and I love that Denise has created a series of studies, rich in biblical truth and application, that also includes this component. Check out Word Writers: Philippians if you are looking for a great study to kick off 2017.
Open Your Bible by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams
Open Your Bible is a Bible study written by the founders and leaders of She Reads Truth. I am a huge She Reads Truth fan and use their studies as one of my primary resources for my daily quiet times. So when our women’s ministry leader asked me for a recommendation about what study to do at the end of 2016, I immediately told her to check out Open Your Bible. We did it and all the ladies loved it. Each week includes only four days of actual “homework” so it is definitely doable even for the busiest women. We did not use the videos but our discussion times were full of insight and encouragement. I highly recommend Open Your Bible for your small group study.
So there you go … my favorites from 2016. But I also thought I’d share a few of the books releasing in 2017 that I’m excited to read …
Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears by Kelly Balarie — I’m on the launch team for this one and excited to share it with you next week!
Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Encouragement — The first (in)courage book is coming in January and I think we are all going to love it. Be watching for my review.
Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard by Jennie Allen — Jennie’s heart for the Church and for community continues to inspire and challenge me. This book releases in January and I’ve already preordered my copy.
Adorned: Living Out the Gospel Together by Nancy Wolgemuth — Nancy (DeMoss) Wolgemuth has been one of my favorite writers for the past fifteen years so of course, her book releasing in February is on my must read list.
Grace Is Greater: God’s Plan to Overcome Your Past, Redeem Your Pain, and Rewrite Your Story by Kyle Idleman — Another February release I can’t wait to read.
And, of course, I can’t leave off these books written by two of my dearest friends and releasing later in 2017 …
The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard by Kristin Schell — I’ve eaten a meal with Kristin while seated at the original turquoise table and I’ve loved her heart for hospitality and encouragement for years … so of course I’ll be sharing this book over and over because I’m pretty sure we could all use a little more community and connection in our lives.
Is Jesus Worth It? Igniting Your Faith When You Feel Like Quitting by Stacey Thacker — The first in Stacey’s new “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Scripture” series, this book on Hebrews needs to be on everyone’s must read list.
And one last book I’m excited about in 2017 …
Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most by Teri Lynne Underwood (hey! I know her!) releases on July 18, 2017. You can already preorder! How fun is that!!
So, now you know the books I loved in 2016 and the books I can’t wait to read in 2017. Now tell me, what was your favorite book of 2016? And, what do I need to add to my must read list for 2017??