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book week: favorite faith-based reads

Today’s book week topic is books about faith.


I have to be honest with you: I’m not crazy about Christian books {they can get a bit cheesy}. I’m not crazy about self-help books, either. At this point in my life, if I’m going to read, I want a well-written novel that sweeps me away to another time or place with interesting characters that I grow to love and miss dearly when the story is finished. I suppose that makes me more of a read-for-entertainment-reader rather than read-for-growth-reader.

However, I do value the wisdom and perspective of chrisitan authors and have found a handful of books that have made a huge impact in my life.


So here are my favorite Christian books:


I’ll add commentary about each one, because even though I said I don’t always love Christian books, these are truly great:

1. the voice bible // This is a brand new translation of the bible that helps both new readers and the seasoned bible-scholars read scripture with a fresh perspective.   “Scripture is presented not as an academic document, but as an engaging story. The intention of the scholars and authors who collaborated on The Voice is to enable readers to hear God speaking, to experience His presence in their lives.” {from the voice website} This is the bible used at our church and I really like how it reads as a story, without taking away the integrity of scripture. Click here to learn more.

2. love and respect // Men and women approach life differently, see things differently, hear the same comment differently and this book helps decode those differences in a really practical way. Ryan and I did this book/dvd series several years ago and it has made a difference in how we understand each other. As a society, we put a lot of emphasis on love, but this book shows that for men respect is just as important. A must read.

3. i will carry you // Angie’s blog was the first I read and I completely fell in love with her and her family. This is the story of God’s faithfulness through unimaginable grief. You’ll cry. But in a good way.

4. so long insecurity // I probably could have filled up each of these spaces with something by Mrs. Moore. She’s just incredible. I wish it were not so, but insecurity is such an issue with women and this book is truly a way to find freedom.

5. inside out // Beware: this book will make you look at the ugly parts of yourself that you like to keep hidden. It will pull them right out and make you address them. You will not like what you see, but you will love the results if you allow yourself to dig deep. My best friend and I did this together – I highly recommend going through the questions with someone you know well, who loves you even when you admit ugliness and who can help identify some areas of weakness. It was invaluable to work through this with K.C.

6. jesus calling // A daily devotional with simple, but poignant thoughts with scripture to back them up. You can download the app and read from your phone if you’re lazy like me and prolong getting out of bed each morning for as long as possible.

7. jesus calling for kids // Same as the above, but worded for school-aged kids. I probably get more out of this one each day than the grown up version. Also comes as an app.

8. the jesus storybook bible // What is it about this bible that makes me cry every time I read a story to the kids? It’s beautifully written, beautifully illustrated. Hits on all of the major bible stories, but always comes back around to the fact that Jesus is part of it all.

Those are my picks for favorite christian literature. What are yours?

82 thoughts on “book week: favorite faith-based reads”

  1. just came back to this series to look for new books to read in 2014. we just bought The Jesus Storybook Bible for our kiddos for Christmas. I love how it makes me think about Bible stories in a new way. And I’m adding Jesus Calling to my “to read” list. Thanks for the suggestions!!

  2. Catherine Weidenbach

    I must suggest a book that has truly been, for me and countless others, a life changing book of devotions entitled “My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. This man was dedicated to knowing Jesus Christ and we are so fortunate he was willing to share with us his wisdom and insight which I believe could only come from a faith that is indescribable and being filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

  3. So fun & encouraging to see that you love the Jesus Storybook Bible! I am actually the designer of that book (look on the copyright page :) It was a THRILL to work with Sally & Jago. The favorite book I’ve designed to date. I loved concepting each piece of art. Now when reading my Bible, I picture Jago’s art in my mind if pertaining to that story.

  4. Also enjoyed Redeeming Love and some of the series by husband & wife writers, Thoene & anything by Dee Henderson. A few of my other favorite authors are Lynn Austin, Melody Carlson, Tricia Goyer, Jan Karon – the Mitford series, Maureen Lang, Louise Gouge, Sharon Foster, Terri Blackstock, Irene Hannon, Noel Hynd, & Kim Vogel Sawyer.

    All historical fiction, edge of your seat type mysteries or see yourself in the mirror fun novels… maybe 1 or 2 cheesy moments here and there but that’s just because there are cheesy moments in life and it fits the plot. All the books have made me want to get to the end as soon as I could and then be sad when I got there and then wish it wasn’t over quite so soon. It’s hard to say good-bye to friends in real life and well-written fictional ones. :)

  5. Just stumbled across your blog, and think I’m in love!

    I’d have to add to your list:

    “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne — great book on counter culture living; I found it really challenging and inspiring

    “Out of the Saltshaker” by Becky Pippert — my all-time favorite; destroys negative connotations about “evangelizing” and shows how to love and be a light in everyday situations and relationships

  6. I just finished reading Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker – great suspenseful novel. Not your usual “predictable” fiction.
    Also have to reccomend Dave Ramsey and his Financial Freedom books. Life changing, although really just good common sense!

  7. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 By W. Philip Keller… I could read this every month for the rest of my life and just savor the love of our Shepherd. The perspective of a shepherd to his sheep is such a beautiful story, told verse by verse of what the history and meaning is behind the words.

  8. I’m so glad you chose the Jesus Storybook Bible! I also LOVE that one!! I tell everyone who has kids it is a must have. Even a minister’s wife like me gets sooo much from every story. :)

  9. “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers is absolutely one of the BEST Christian fiction books ever! It is based on the Book of Hosea. I have since read many of Francine Rivers’ other books (historical series books are very good) but Redeeming Love is the best. If you haven’t yet read it, GO GET IT!!!

  10. Have you read Vienna Prelude by Bodie Thoene? And have you read The Ezekiel Option by Joel Rosenberg? If you love fiction that sweeps you away in the story and that is not one bit cheesy, you’d likely love these! I’ve bought extras at the used bookstore to loan to friends…and every single time I have loaned these out, whoever has borrowed them comes back looking for the next book by Thoene or Rosenberg!

  11. Last year I was on a spiritual journey to find more love in my life. I was very close to wanting to run away from everything (life just gets too overwhelming sometimes and when you don’t know how to cope, this is the solution). However, after some soul searching and some help and support from people in a better place than I, I found my heart softening and my ability to love grow. That’s when I found this book: Doing What We Came To Do – living a life of love by Ardeth G Kapp http://deseretbook.com/Doing-What-We-Came-Do-Living-Life-Love-Ardeth-G-Kapp/i/5086669

    It was AMAZING for me and is one I will read again and again.

  12. “Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive” by John Eldredge. Used a highlighter often in that one.
    Also, since we’ve been going to ECC this past year, I’ve enjoyed being introduced to ‘The Voice Bible’. It is great!

    PS. Forgot to mention the “Gooney Bird Greene” chapter books with my other kid books suggestion. These are fun too. :)

  13. I absolutely LOVED the book The Hiding Place. Yes, it’s a book about the holocaust, but even more about God’s grace. Have a box of tissues nearby… and I mean a box, not just a little travel pack.

  14. Best book in the Christian author genre is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I fell in love with the main character. I sat on my moms porch in the Mts of Colorado and read it out loud to my husband. It made such an impression on me, that all these years later I can still picture us together on the porch. I also read Perettis “oath” that summer-on the same porch. Liked it too. This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness were very exciting and entertaining and scary. Old books.

  15. I would also add “Raising a Modern Day Knight” by Robert Lewis. It is outstanding for cultivating & training your sons to become men…teaching them to 1)accept responsibility, 2) reject passivity 3) lead courageously 4) expect the great reward. Has some insightful, thought-provoking ideas…highly recommend (book or audio cd) for families with sons.

  16. I agree with everyone else– I have basically loved anything by Francine Rivers. I’m a sucker for Christian fiction, and I spent my childhood/teen years reading Janette Oke books. I still have a soft spot for a good Christian love story! (Or let’s face it, any good love story.)

    My favorite marriage book so far (and I read the Love/Respect one, too) is The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. I felt like I got so much amazing advice and perspective from that book that I could apply to my marriage right away.

  17. This is a great list! I have 2 more books to add, when God Whispers your Name by Max Lucado and When your Prayers seem to go unanswered by S Michael Wilcox. I have re read and referred to them many times since I first read them!

  18. Emily, I’ve enjoyed your blog this week. And the comments. Many of my favorites have already been mentioned here, but I don’t think I saw Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall. Are you familiar with it? Another favorite of mine.

  19. Lovely list Emily! I love, love, love the Beth Moore’s book ‘so long insecurity’ and I am definitely adding ‘Jesus calling for kids’ to my list of books to purchase. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Calm My Anxious Heart – Linda Dillow
    The Power of a Praying Wife – Stormie Omartian
    and When Perfect Isn’t Enough By – Nancy Kennedy This one is probably my favorite because it is based around The Proverbs 31 Woman, it’s SUPER FUNNY, and real!

  21. I absolutely LOVE Beth Moore… I read So Long Insecurity, and it was truly such a truth filled book with such amazing encouragement to find freedom and not remain in insecurity…so good!:) Thanks for sharing your list!

  22. You have listed many of my favorites – our list is close to the same! My all time favorites are The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. I’ve read them many times myself and read them to each of our kids when they are around 9. Three down, one child to go. They are all great stories but are filled with amazing pictures of who God is, our relationship with Him, etc. They are spiritually rich books!

  23. One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp!!!! Life-changing! Heart-changing! I have bought so many copies of this book for loved ones!! Highly recommend! <3

  24. My favorite Christian authors are Elyse Fitzpatrick (Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety), Carolyn Mahaney (Feminine Appeal), and John MacArthur! :) All of these authors have written wonderful books that are so informative and convicting!

  25. One Thousand Gifts has revolutionized the way I approach the groundhog day that is SAHMothering. I’m with you on the cheese factor turning me away from Christian reading. #8 gets me! Have you heard the AUDIO VERSION?! Incredible! Atonement Child by Francine Rivers was the 1st Christian novel I read & I ate it up. Redeeming Love & Her Mother’s Hope were great too.

  26. Sorry to keep posting, but I forgot to add a link to The Chuppies blog. She is an avid reader and just blogged about her favorite devotionals for kids. Some of them were in my response earlier – some of them I’ve never heard of.


    As far as raising daughters, I have heard great things about, That’s My Girl: How a Father’s Love Protects and Empowers His Daughter. *Note, I’m not sure if it’s written from a Christian perspective. Finally, Dr. Dobson wrote Bringing Up Girls a few years ago after his wildy popular, Bringing Up Boys.

  27. I’m LOVING book week! Is anyone else’s wish list on Amazon growing by the day!? Thank you Emily! :)

    Books that have most impacted my walk with Christ: “Hind’s Feet On High Places” by Hannah Hurnard (not typically my style but it was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life), also “The Divine Romance” by Gene Edwards, “The Father Heart of God” by Floyd Mclung, Jr., and a biography on Hudson Taylor. Now I enjoy reading books by Anne Lamott. Some find her style to be a bit irreverent but that’s probably why I love them, so honest (and humorous) about life and living as a Christian she’s refreshing. My husband is currently raving about a book called “Raising a Modern Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood” by Robert Lewis. If anyone has suggestions on books for raising girls please speak up! :)

    One more side note…many mentioned “The Hiding Place.” If you ever get a chance to get to The Netherlands you MUST visit Corrie Ten Boom’s home in Haarlem. It has been preserved and they give tours. The tour guides are amazing and they give a solid gospel presentation at the end. I used to live in Amsterdam and brought all my guests to visit. We always left feeling challenged, inpsired, and strengthened. God’s work through her continues to live on!

  28. love the voice bible! my pastor, greg holder, was actually one of the writers/scholars involved with writing this. it’s so good!
    i’ve just finished reading the book love story, by nichole nordeman. very real, very gut wrenching. not cheesy at all. puts a more human perspective on several key characters of the bible. i totally recommend!

  29. Redeeming Love is a MUST read! One of my favorite books of all time!! I’ve also read her (Francine Rivers) series called Mark of the Lion – a little hard to start (lots of history) but FABULOUS once you get through that!! :)

  30. My favorites for my boys are: The Action Bible (great comic-like illustrations that really draw in my 5, 7, & 9 yr olds), Little Pilgrim’s Progress (great read-aloud), Chronicles of Narnia series, Long Story Short by Marty Machowski (another fantastic devotional), Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd Jones has blessed my family tremendously. Song of the Stars is a Christmas story by Sally Lloyd Jones also — it is also fantastic! You are Special & Because I Love You are both excellent reads by Max Lucado. OOH, Sports Trivia Devotional: Inspiration for Kids from Sports and Scripture has been a great read for my oldest, sports-fanatical son!
    For my precious 2 yr-old daugher, we love Gigi, God’s Little Princess by Sheila Walsh. Also, His Little Princess: Treasured Letters from Your King is a great faith-based book for girls.
    OK..now for me. :) I devoured Jen Hatmaker’s book called 7. I am currently starting Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. Kisses from Katie was one last year’s favorites as was Tim Keller’s marriage book called, “The Meaning of Marriage’. I loved Sheparding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. What Women Fear by Angie Smith has also greatly blessed me. As was mentioned previously, The Hiding Place, Redeeming Love, and Loving the Little Years are a few of my all-time favorites!
    Thanks for reading this long entry – can’t wait to see what others say!

  31. I’m with you, I’m more of a read-for-entertainment kind of reader and some Christian books a little too cheesy for my taste. But, I also really love a book that stirs my affections for the Lord.

    You’ve gotta check out “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken (not sure I mastered that spelling). It’s a beautifully written love story of a couple falling in love (which they later call their pagan love) as unbelievers and how The Lord used various relationships and leaders to reveal to them the epitome of Love in Jesus. It’s beautiful, heart wrenching, and incites praise of a God who has his hands in every little thing. Oh, and did I mention its true, and the man who taught them who Jesus was CS Lewis, via letters. They started writing to each other before they had ever met.

    It’s awesome.

  32. I LOVE Jesus Storybook Bible and just ordered the new devotional by the same author. I am on a CS Lewis kick right now. Just finished Mere Christianity and am about to start Screwtape Letters. Give them Grace by Fitzpatrick is the BEST PARENTING BOOK EVER!

    I have read your blog for a long time and am a JDC subscriber, so please know that I say this out of love…but beware of Jesus Calling. There is a good review on this website. http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/jesus-calling
    I trust his opinion (always based on Scripture) and always look there first for the books to be careful about. I don’t have time to waste on book with questionable theology.

  33. Terri in South Carolina

    I recently read “Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It” by Paul David Tripp. Absolutely shifted my perspective on EVERYthing about life. I so highly recommend this one!

  34. Jeannette from Central California

    I am a great fan of Christian novels, but am very particular which authors I read. I do not care for fluff. A few favorite authors are Davis Bunn , Joel Rosenberg, Kristin Heitzmann, and Angela Hunt. I have learned so much on many subjects from their exhaustive research and attention to detail. Amazing authors and stories!

  35. I agree that Love and Respect is a must read for any married or soon to be married couple. It’s been a tremendous help for creating a great relationship.
    I also like books by Yancey and Ravi Zacharias. Heavier reading but great for helping learn about important christian topics. I’m looking for a devotional, so may have to try out your suggestion.

  36. I have read all of Francine Rivers’ books and fell in love with each and every one of them. Her style of writing made it to where I was absolutely captivated by the characters. I would highly recommend the following: Mark of the Lion series; Lineage of Grace series; Marta’s Legacy series; Redeeming Love; And the Shofar Blew; The Scarlet Thread…to name a few. I cannot wait for her to come out with a new book. Just beware because you won’t be able to put them down once you start! :)

    1. I wanted to ditto this. The series is AMAZING. My disclaimer is: give the first book 5 chapters. The first four chapters provide background info. I love the characters that Francine Rivers creates – Hadassah being my fav. Must read series!

      1. I meant the Mark of The Lion Series by F. Rivers…sorry for not being specific. Also, I would add For Women Only by Shante Feldman…about the inner lives of men…insightful read.

    2. I have so many favorites in this category! I also love the Jesus Storybook Bible.

      I noticed some already mentioned a few of my favorites, so I’ll add my agreement with Redeeming Love, Mere Christianity, and Kisses from Katie! I’ll also added The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot.

    3. I was actually not crazy about Redeeming Love, even though everyone (really – every single person) that I talked to that had read the book absolutely loved it. It was still in that cheesy genre to me.

      But I do recommend the “Experiencing God” studies by Blackaby. Very thought-provoking. And right now my small group is starting My One Word by Mike Ashcraft. So far it’s really good and not at all self-helpie (like the title sounds). It’s a great one to read early in the year!

    4. Love your list! I love Beth Moore too and really enjoyed So Long Insecurity. But have you read Believing God? This book changed my life. You’ve got to put it on your list! Thank you for sharing!! I just adore your blog!

    5. C.S. Lewis is the most wonderfully intelligent and insightful (and non-cheesy!) Christian author ever, in my opinion. I would recommend his book Mere Christianity to anyone, Christian or not! I have been looking for a good daily devotional, I will have to try Jesus Calling, thanks!

    6. We love Jesus is Calling for kids too. It’s actually become the book we use for family devotional time. I’m going to have to order “The Jesus Story-Book Bible”.

    7. My Utmost for His Highest (also Jesus Calling) And a subscription to The Upper Room. I just bought a daily devotional book for my 4 year old granddaughter, “God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible.” And, now that I know there is a Jesus Calling for kids, I will order that for my soon-to-be 8 year old granddaughter.

    8. The Jesus Story Book Bible makes me cry too! Every single story is so beautifully (and accurately) written and the illustrations are amazing. We also loved Love and Respect so much . – it is fun to read and has great principles for marriage. I love The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and anything by CS Lewis

    9. Thank you for this list, Emily! I am with you on the cheese factor of so many Christian books. Glad to know I’m not the only one that feels this way. I haven’t come across a couple of these, so I’ll have to check them out!

    10. Also have to agree with Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Amazing story of God’s love for us! Also the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers is a favorite.

    11. A faith-based book I’ve read recently is ‘Kisses from Katie.’ It’s an auto-biography by a young woman who left her comfortable life in America to minister to the people of Africa. She tells her story (which is incredible), but then she goes on to say that this book is not about her. It’s about Jesus and who He is and what He has been doing. It’s an incredible book that made me cry several times. I’d highly recommend it.

    12. He Speaks to Me by Priscilla Shirer, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp, Jesus Calling for me and the kids and Streams in the Desert are some of my favorites. I need to add Inspired You by Marian Parsons because this book spoke volumes to my heart and my talents and how I view my gifts from God. I didn’t want to put it down.

    13. “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. Truly amazing and when I finish reading my resolve to be a better, kinder, more grateful Christlike person is strengthened tenfold.

      1. My 14 yr old son and I read “The Hiding Place” at the beginning of the school year for a school project, and that is one that will stay with me from now on. I have several highlighted portions and marked pages in that precious piece of work.

    14. If you love “The Jesus Story-Book Bible” (makes me cry too), then you might also love the new kids’ devotional she wrote, “Thoughts That Make Your Heart Sing.”

      I agree – not a fan of cheesy, which is why I loved Wendy Alsup’s study on Ephesians (“By His Wounds You Are Healed”). She just wrote a new book too but I haven’t read it yet. You should check out her blog (http://www.theologyforwomen.org/).

    15. Emily, you might enjoy Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. It would definitely fit with what you like about a novel, but also teaches beautiful spiritual truths about family, faith, suffering, parenting… it’s one of those books I re-read every year or so just to be blessed and refreshed!

    16. Thanks for sharing your list! Some favorite inspirational books of mine are: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, Joni: An Unforgettable Story by Joni Eareckson Tada, and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. All of these have challenged me to stretch my thinking and actions. I’m looking forward to hearing about other Christian books!

    17. Also, Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel, Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitspatrick and her daughter, and Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic were all incredibly inspiring and instructive on Gospel-centered parenting.

    18. Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago (forward by Tim Keller) just wrote a devotional for school age kids. We bought it for our boys for Christmas. The pictures are enchanting and the writing is just as wonderful. We love it!

    19. I totally agree with the previous comment. You must look into the book Redeeming Love. I read a lot and still think ten years later that it is hands down the best book I have ever read. I also agree about the Jesus Storybook – I am always amazed when I read it to my kids how much I actually take away from it. Such a wonderful bible for kids!

    20. What a great list, Emily. I am going to check out the Jesus Calling for kids. I have used the adult version for a few years now and it truly helps me connect with the Lord. There are two more books that I often recommend to people. 1. Streams in the Desert – a daily read for those who are going through suffering. 2- The Prayerful Life by Paul Miller- A complete 180 to my prayer life after this one!

    21. Couldn’t have a list of faith based books without Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Best. book. ever.
      Also, I am now reading Lineage of Grace by her and it is also amazing!
      I love the Jesus Storybook Bible, too. I think I look forward to reading it more than my daugher! Beautiful

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