My to-read list always seems to be getting longer and longer, but for me the summer is when I can finally tackle some books I’ve been eager to read. And in case you’ve been looking for a good book (or several!) to encourage your heart here’s a few of my recent favorites in no particular order.
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Non-fiction Books and Bible Studies:
1. A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. Man oh man, did this book help me deal with some insecurity issues I didn’t even know how to tackle. It was an encouraging read that I actually read several years ago, but reread recently and gleaned so much from it both times I’ve read it!
2. Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. I think all of Lysa TerKeurst’s books are awesome, but this one is definitely my favorite. This book is great for anyone who struggles with eating in any capacity: for me it was turning to food (especially chocolate and other junk food) whenever I was bored, sad, angry, etc. Food is meant to nourish our body, not our emotions and the ache in our heart for something that only God can fill. An excellent and encouraging read that I’ve read a few times as well.
3. Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. This book is awesome for anyone dealing with a lack of peace in their heart, their mind, or their circumstances. This book will challenge you and encourage you in ways you didn’t even know you needed to be challenged and encouraged!
4. The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. If you’re looking for a Bible study to do with your small group or by yourself, add this to your list! It is so encouraging! I thought I already knew quite a bit about the armor of God when going through spiritual battles, but there’s always more to learn and you learn a lot from Priscilla!
5. Me, Myself, and Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Jennifer Rothschild. Similar to A Confident Heart, this book is great for anyone struggling with insecurities. This one is just more focused on the way we talk to ourselves, replacing the negative things and the lies we think about ourselves with God’s truthful and kind words. And as if the chapters aren’t packed with enough awesomeness and things to challenge and encourage your heart, each chapter ends with reflection questions and additional resources you can download from her website, making this an excellent book you could read with your small group or an accountability partner.
6. Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth. I love everything Holley has written, but this one sooo resonated with my heart that feels fearful much more often than fiercehearted. Every chapter is beautiful, encouraging and inspiring. I wanted to savor every chapter, every word, but sometimes I found myself flying through the chapters, desperate for her truths and encouragement.
7. Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer. Another fantastic Bible study by Priscilla Shirer. I think I highlighted more in this book than I didn’t. So so so very good. This Bible study did wonders for helping me grow closer to God and let go of some fears and doubts I had that were keeping me from being obedient to God’s will. If your Bible study group is trying to figure out which Bible study to do next, this one is it!
8. Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul by Bonnie Gray. This was such a treasure to read and savor this beautifully written book. Packed with prayers, quotes, stories, scriptures, journaling prompts for reflection, soul care tips and so much more, you and your soul need this book and to hear God’s whispers of love and rest.
9. The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman. I love everything Emily P. Freeman writes, and love hearing her voice (her podcast rocks!) so getting this book on audio was definitely my next right thing. 😉 I adored how simple she makes overcoming the stress and pressures of decision fatigue and overwhelm and how beautiful she made it to simply do your own next right thing.
1. Embrace Me by Lisa Sampson. I find this book haunting and amazing and fabulous and so many adjectives I cannot describe it adequately. I could not put it down. The two main characters have their own wounds that lead to them hiding in shame in their own unique ways. The chapters alternate between their perspectives until finally we see their lives intersect and see a beautiful picture of how redemption is possible. I was captivated by the unique circus setting and the characters who are so well developed I did not want their story to end.
2. Alaskan Courage series by Dani Pettrey. If you like romance and you like suspense, then you need to get your hands on each and every book in this series. Each book takes you on a journey with one of the McKenna siblings who has a mystery to solve, someone to fall in love with, and a flaw they must learn how to overcome by trusting in God.
3. Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. I’ve read this series twice, and loved it just as much the second time as the first. I learned so much about ancient Roman culture (mostly the bad and the ugly) which helped me further understand the culture Paul grew up in and preached to about God’s grace. Hadassah will grow to be one of your favorite book characters of all time, her faith is simply amazing and encouraging to remain true to your faith, regardless of personal fears about sharing your faith.
4. A Lineage of Grace: Five Stories of Unlikely Women Who Changed Eternity by Francine Rivers. I have enjoyed all of Francine River’s books, but this series was amazing. There are five books in this series, one for each of the women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus. We experience the scandal, the struggles, and the faith of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary.
5. Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar. This is the story of the woman with the issue of blood who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. We have no idea what this woman was like, what her backstory was, but Afshar creates a compelling story starting from the woman’s childhood and continuing on after her encounter with Jesus that demonstrates the power of healing and redemption not just for the body, but for the heart as well. (Edited to add, I’ve since read EVERY book written by Tessa Afshar, and all are phenomenal!!)
There’s so many books I could have chosen, but I’m gonna end there. What books do you think I should have added? And which ones are you now planning to read?