December 12, 2012

13 Book Recomendations for the New Year

With the end of the year coming to a close, it's time for me to start constructing my reading list for next year (which makes me very excited to plan believe me). But while I'm figuring that out, here are my favorites reads of this past year (including a couple of all-time favorites) that I'd highly recommend to you all. Also, if your an avid bibliophile, in the comments tell me what some of your favorite books have been this past year and what you're looking forward to reading in the new year.

#1. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler. Hands down, THE best book of the year in my opinion. Anyone who has faith conversations with me over coffee knows I'm kind of a (huge) "fan" of Chandler and have been for a few years now. Pretty much anything that comes out of his mouth I find myself convicted and encouraged by (which is hard to wrap those two together in one). I kept wondering when he'd get around to writing a book, and can I just be honest here, I might have squealed and gone into my calendar to mark down the release date. It's pure gospel, and everyone should read it.

#2. Desiring God by John Piper. If you've never read Piper, you need to start. He's a fantastic author. Theologians, pastors, and laypeople everywhere have been changed by the message in this book: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

#3. The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias. Up there with Chandler's book, it's been another favorite of this past year. Naomi, the daughter of well-known apologist Ravi Zacharias shares her story of finding purpose and beauty in her brokenness by entering into the brokenness of other women around the world... women who have been trafficked, women who are living as prostitutes in red light districts, victims of bride burnings, orphans, and more. It's beautifully written, and it shook me... but in a good way. Naomi shows the reader how beauty is always to be found in the broken.

#4. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. This most definitely does not fall into the category of "light reading." I found myself having to re-read whole sections and sentences in order to get my brain around what was being said, and I'll be honest, there are still parts where I have no clue what Chesterton was explaining. But at the same time, it's like eating a great steak. It's so juicy and so meaty... and so... good. It's worth reading (especially if you're into philosophy), but don't be fooled by it's length. You'll want to take your time with this one.

#5. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It's a classic. If you haven't read it shame on you. You really do need to read it if you haven't. My copy is tattered and filled with all sorts of little notes. It's one of only a handful of devotional books I've enjoyed or would bother to recommend to anyone.

#6. The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. Buchanan has a knack of combining humor, theology, and beautiful word pictures in his writing in a convicting, but practical and hopeful way. (I'll be buying more of his books in the future for sure.) In this book he tackles the subject of resting, and how we can gain back the practice of Sabbath.

#7. Through His Eyes by Jerram Barrs. If you're looking for a great book on Biblical femininity then this is probably the best I've read in a long, long, long time. Unlike many of the books on Christian femininity, Barrs introduces the reader to nearly every woman of the Bible and seeks to answer the question "'What does God think about women, and how does he treat them?'" This book primarily focuses on women in relation to God, rather than a woman's role in church or marriage, which I found completely refreshing and different from all the other Christin femininity books out on the market. The chapter on the Proverbs 31 woman alone is worth the purchase.

#8. Redemption by Mike Wilkerson. It doesn't matter how much baggage or sin you carry, be it a little, or a lot, this is my favorite recovery book and has much to offer to anyone and everyone. I love how it's deeply rooted in the gospel and scripture. Well-written, to the point, and extremely helpful. If you've struggled with any kind of abuse or addiction, this is a fantastic book to go through. It really works to build a gospel-based framework in tackling those things, as well as finding healing, and one I try to go through once a year.

#9. A Meal with Jesus by Tim Chester. If you love Jesus, like people, eat food, then you're already "on mission," and this book is for you. If you love hospitality and fellowship then you'll really love this book. The author walks through all the meals that Jesus shared during his ministry that we read in the gospels, and how sharing a meal is the simplest, easiest way to minister to others.

#10. Love Does by Bob Goff. I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with a book that opens up with the line, "I do all my best thinking on Tom Sawyer Island at Disneyland." Right from the introduction, I was hooked. Goff has lived a life full of whimsy, adventure, and capers, and he does it all for the purpose of "leaking Jesus" to his family, friends, and strangers... and hopes his readers will too. It's a fast-paced, relaxed, inspiring read, and I love how before each story Goff gives one key truth about God he learned. Goff is a wonderful storyteller who's laces humor and Jesus into his tales.

#12. 7: And Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. This book has kinda ruined and given me a lot to think about lately in terms of how excessive we can be. To me, this book was mainly about stewardship... and how in reality none of us are as great at it as we think we are. I think there's a lot of confusion on stewardship amongst Christians and what it means or what it looks like at a practical level, and true to form, Jen, addresses the subject with her craziness, humor, and love for Jesus

#13. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. In some ways this book is structured like Miller's Blue Like Jazz. It's a compilation of essays, or snapshots, of Shauna's journey to understanding change, growing and grace. So if those are the types of books you enjoy, then you can add this to your reading list. And I have to say, Shauna is quite the wordsmith when it comes to describing the wonder and amazement of good food ;D (Really looking forward to her upcoming book next year on the topic!) This quote I think summarizes this book perfectly:
Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich with it contains a splinter of sadness. Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. ~Shauna Niequest


  1. Chandler's book has been on my list for a while - I will definitely read it next year. And I think Through His Eyes might make a good Christmas gift, thanks!

  2. I love that I've read a lot of these! I just started Love Does and I'm hooked! I'll have to add the rest to my list too!

  3. My dad has 'My Utmost for His Highest' but I don't think I've ever read it.

  4. this is an awesome list... really wanting to read bittersweet, through his eyes, and the scent of water! :D

  5. The Scent of Water -still glad you recommended this a few months back, it is definitely going on my list of favorite books from this year! Oh and so is Love Does. Such a great one! Oh and 7. :) So many good books on this list! Bittersweet was on my list last year, I really enjoyed that one, have you read Cold Tangerines? Definitely going to be adding some of these books to my to-read list for 2013!

    1. Cold Tangerines is on my reading list for this upcoming year =)

    2. That's awesome! I think I preferred Cold Tangerines over Bittersweet though I really did enjoy both of them.

  6. I love this list! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  7. excellent list, I'm going to show this to my hubby!!

  8. Natalie, thanks for the recommendations! I put most of them on my list for next year. :) Can't wait to search the library!


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