Somehow I managed to narrow it down from 40 to 12 last time (here’s the January-April list) and I’ve kept it at a dozen again, but odds are slim I’ll be able to go three times in a row. Y’all. As of right now, I have 32 titles bookmarked to potentially be part of the September-December list. Bless it.
What I will say is that I’ve read almost every book below and highly recommend them. For the few that I haven’t had a chance to read yet, they come highly recommended by friends (who have early copies) or are from authors I’ve read (and loved) before.
Because most book deals are signed 1-2 years prior to when the book is available for purchase, I find it fascinating when a theme emerges. Authors and publishers couldn’t have known all of the titles that would release this summer, but nearly every book below either covers a heavy (and important) topic or is all about hope. Interestingly, I don’t see the same themes carrying into this fall!
The nonfiction books below are listed in order of release date and include a blurb pulled from Amazon descriptions. Be sure to pin to Pinterest if you want to come back later while adding to your To Be Read list, or share on Facebook if you think your friends might be interested! It’s always fun to hear which book(s) you’re looking forward to, so please do share in the comments or on social media.
P.S. if a book grabs your attention―for yourself or a friend―you might want to preorder a copy. This is an incredibly practical and effective way to support an author (preorders tell retailers how many books to order so they don’t run out of stock) but also helps you. For example: on Amazon, you won’t be charged until the book releases and you’re guaranteed to pay the lowest price advertised.
Say you preorder in May when it’s $15.00, then it drops to $11.00 mid-June and is back to $15.00 when it releases in July. You would pay $11―the lowest price advertised. Because preorders matter so much, many authors offer freebies/incentives on their website as a thank-you. Be sure to check after you preorder!
12 Can’t-Miss Books Coming May-August of 2021 . . .
Faithful :: By twelve authors with an introduction from Amy Grant
As they examine the stories of incredible women of the Bible, readers will find hope, encouragement, and a strong sense of community in this beautiful, eclectic collection of writing, photos, and lyrics that reflect God’s faithfulness.
Bringing together some of the most beloved Christian authors and songwriters of today, Faithful guides readers through the pages of Scripture to increase understanding of how God has always valued the integral role of females and how that shapes the lives of women today.
A keepsake book that celebrates the lasting impact of women in the Bible in response to God’s faithfulness, join Ann Voskamp, Lisa Harper, Kelly Minter, Ruth Chou Simons, and others as they share their own stories and praise God for His work in the lives of women—from the distant past to the present.
Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-Hurrying Your Heart from an Accidental Farm Girl :: Jennifer Dukes Lee
We long to make a break from the fast pace of life, but if we’re honest, we’re afraid of what we’ll miss if we do. Yet when going big and hustling hard leaves us stressed, empty, and out of sorts, perhaps this can be our cue to step into a far more satisfying, sustainable pace. In this crafted, inspiring read, beloved author Jennifer Dukes Lee offers a path to unhurried living by returning to the rhythm of the land and learning the ancient art of Growing Slow.
Jennifer was once at breaking point herself, and tells her story of rude awakening to the ways her chosen lifestyle of running hard, scaling fast, and the neverending chase for results was taking a toll on her body, heart, and soul. But when she finally gave herself permission to believe it takes time to grow good things, she found a new kind of freedom. With eloquent truths and vivid storytelling, Jennifer reflects on the lessons she learned from living on her fifth-generation family farm and the insights she gathered from the purposeful yet never rushed life of Christ. Growing Slow charts a path out of the pressures of bigger, harder, faster, and into a more rooted way of living where the growth of good things is deep and lasting.
I Love Jesus, But I Want to Die: Finding Hope in the Darkness of Depression :: Sarah J. Robinson
What happens when loving Jesus doesn’t cure you of depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts? You might be crushed by shame over your mental illness, only to be told by well-meaning Christians to “choose joy” and “pray more.” So you beg God to take away the pain, but nothing eases the ache inside. As darkness lingers and color drains from your world, you’re left wondering if God has abandoned you. You just want a way out.
But there’s hope. In I Love Jesus, But I Want to Die, Sarah J. Robinson offers a compassionate, healthy, practical, and shame-free guide for Christians struggling with mental illness. With unflinching honesty, Sarah shares her story of battling depression and fighting to stay alive despite toxic theology that made her afraid to seek help outside the church. Pairing her own story with scriptural insights, mental health research, and simple practices, Sarah helps you reconnect with the God who is present in our deepest anguish and discover that you are worth everything it takes to get better.
Beautifully written and full of hard-won wisdom, I Love Jesus, But I Want to Die offers a path toward a rich, hope-filled life in Christ, even when healing doesn’t look like what you expect.
When We Stand: The Power of Seeking Justice Together :: Terence Lester
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the injustices that we see in the world. We don’t know what to do and might think that we don’t have anything to offer. But by using our gifts in collaboration with others, we can do more together than we ever could on our own.
Activist Terence Lester knows it’s hard to change the world. But mobilizing and acting together empowers us to do what we can’t do as isolated individuals. Lester looks at the obstacles that prevent us from getting involved, and he offers practical ways that we can accomplish things together as groups, families, churches, and communities. He helps us find our place in the larger picture, discerning the unique ways we can contribute and make a difference.
By connecting with our neighbors and discovering our own paths of service, we can drastically change how we follow Christ and see God moving in the world. Togetherness and community give visible testimony of the power of the gospel. In this broken world, the body of Christ can transform society—when we stand together.
Dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism With Grit and Grace :: Osheta Moore
Dear White Peacemakers is a breakup letter to division, a love letter to God’s beloved community, and an eviction notice to the violent powers that have sustained racism for centuries.
Race is one of the hardest topics to discuss in America. Many white Christians avoid talking about it altogether. But a commitment to peacemaking requires white people to step out of their comfort and privilege and into the work of anti-racism. Dear White Peacemakers is an invitation to white Christians to come to the table and join this hard work and holy calling. Rooted in the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus, this book is a challenging call to transform white shame, fragility, saviorism, and privilege, in order to work together to build the Beloved Community as anti-racism peacemakers.
Dear White Peacemakers draws on the Sermon on the Mount, Spirituals, and personal stories from Osheta Moore’s work as a pastor in St. Paul, Minnesota. Enter into this story of shalom and join in the urgent work of anti-racism peacemaking.
This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Breaks into Our Darkness :: Sarah Clarkson
We live in a broken world. Amid the daily realities of sickness and isolation, disappointment and pain, it can be profoundly difficult to grasp the real goodness of God. But this is where God breaks into our darkness with beauty. In the wonder of creation, in art or film, story or song, in the kindness of His people and the good they create, God breaks into our pain in a tangible way, teaching us to trust His kindness and hope for His healing. Beauty is a voice singing into our suffering, beckoning us toward restoration.
In This Beautiful Truth, Sarah Clarkson shares her own encounters with beauty in the midst of her decade-long struggle with mental illness, depression, and doubt. In a voice both vulnerable and reflective, she paints a compelling picture of the God who reaches out to us in a real and powerful way through the “taste and see” goodness of what He has made and what He continues to create amid our darkness. “To recognize and trust God’s gift in pain,” she writes, “empowers us to create and love as powerful witnesses to God’s healing love in a hopeless world.”
If you want to renew your capacity to recognize and encounter God’s beauty in your life, this hope-filled book will show you the way.
It’s one thing to know in your head that you were created in the image of God. Yet it’s quite another to experience this belief in your body, against the cultural ideals of a woman’s worth. And between the two lies a world of frustration, disappointment, and the shame of somehow feeling both too much and never enough in your body.
The truest thing about you is that you are made and loved by God. And the truest thing about Him is that He cannot make bad things. This book will help you believe it with your whole self, as Jess guides you through an eye-opening, empowering process of: Renaming what the world has labeled as less-than, resting in God’s workmanship, experiencing restoration where there has been injury, and becoming a change agent in partnering with God to bring revival to a generation of women.
Far from a superficial issue, self-image is a spiritual issue, because God has named your body good from the beginning. Whether your struggle is with eating and exercise habits, stress or trauma, infertility or injury, this book makes space for you to experience God meeting you in this tender place. You were made for more than a love/hate relationship with your body.
Taylor Schumann never thought she’d be a victim of gun violence. But one spring day a man with a shotgun walked into her workplace and opened fire on her. While she survived, she was left with permanent wounds, both visible and invisible. In When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough, Taylor invites us to see what it means to be a survivor after the news vehicles drive away and the media moves on.
Healing is slow and complicated. As she suffered through surgeries, grueling rehabilitation, and counseling to repair the physical injuries and emotional trauma, she came face to face with the deep and lasting impact of gun violence. As she began grappling with the realities, Taylor experienced another painful truth: Christians have largely been absent from this issue. Gun violence undercuts God’s vision of abundant life and community—and the silence of the church rings loudly in the ears of survivors and families of victims.
Taylor weaves her own incredible story of survival and recovery into a larger conversation about gun violence in our country. With compassion and honesty, she encourages readers to reconsider their own engagement with the issue and to join her in envisioning a more hopeful, safer future for our nation. Move beyond thoughts and prayers and enter into grace-filled dialogue and action.
Unexpecting: Real Talk on Pregnancy Loss :: Rachel Lewis
When your baby dies, you find yourself in a life you never expected. And even though pregnancy and infant loss is common, it’s not common to you. Instead, you feel like a stranger in your own body, surrounded by well-meaning people who often don’t know how to support you.
What you need during this time is not a book offering easy answers. You need a safe place to help you navigate tough issues, such as coping with a postpartum body without a baby in your arms, facing social isolation and grief invalidation, having faith when you feel let down by God, dealing with the overwhelming process of making everyday decisions, learning to move forward after loss, and creating a legacy for your child.
In Unexpecting, bereaved mom Rachel Lewis is the friend you never hoped to need, walking you through the unique grief of baby loss. When nothing about life after loss makes sense . . . this book will.
Hope Anyway: Welcoming Possibility in Ourselves, God, and Each Other :: Leeana Tankersley
When we are in the darkness—whatever that is in our own particular story—the temptation is to believe that it’s over, it’s always going to feel this way, we will never be anywhere else or feel anything other than we do now. We fear the darkness, and for good reason. But it is in the darkness that new life begins.
With an openhanded spirit and openhearted vulnerability, Leeana Tankersley reveals the darkest chapter of her own story, the thing she never thought would happen and could do nothing to prevent. Along the way she shares how waiting patiently in the darkness allowed something incredible to take root within her: a defiant and hard-won hope that is not dependent on happy endings.
If you have lost your faith, your family, your health, your home, your security, your business, or your very self, Leeana wants you to know that you are not alone or forgotten. You are not doomed to stagnation or stasis. You are not worth less than you once were. Against every last odd, you can hope anyway.
Set Apart: Stop Comparing, Own Your Giftedness, and Rest in Jesus :: Denisse Copeland
What do you do when that voice in your head tells you you’re not enough? Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not capable enough, not present enough. Where do you turn when the world’s promise that you can have it all becomes a crushing expectation that you must do it all, at all times, and keep a smile fixed on your face while you wither inside?
Unpacking the biblical story of Mary and Martha as she shares her own story of recognizing her unique giftedness, Denisse Copeland shares the liberating truth that you have a right to be you. Just you, at the feet of Jesus. She shows you how to embrace your identity as a woman set apart, not to do it all but to be exactly who God created you to be. No apologies. No guilt. No compromise.
If you’re tired of comparing your life to others as you strive to be all things to all people, Set Apart is your invitation to lay your burdens down and abide in Jesus—faithful, free, and fulfilled.
When it comes to disagreement, we are in perpetual fight-or-flight mode. Rather than respond with a posture of compassion and connection, we are encouraged to “resist” others personally and politically. Either we engage in fruitless arguments with people who refuse to see things our way or we retreat to our echo chambers where everyone agrees with us. But the real resistance, the kind that helps us grow, is learning to love others—especially those who disagree with us.
If you’re tired of seeing your real-life and online communities in turmoil and you long to be an agent of peace, understanding, and reconciliation, it’s time to join a new kind of resistance movement—one that pushes us toward personal transformation. Grounded in Scripture and illustrated with compelling true stories, Love Is the Resistance will help you gain the confidence to communicate and connect with others, stop avoiding necessary tension, and resolve your internal and external conflicts.
When we make love our habitual reaction to the conflicts and divisions in our lives, we’ll find that we can stay true to our convictions without sacrificing our relationships.
Stay Tuned . . .
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As mentioned, I bookmarked many other upcoming releases. When narrowing it down, if I wasn’t able to read an early copy, I chose titles that were highly recommended by friends (who have early copies) or are from authors I’ve read (and loved) before. There will be many releases that top the charts over these four months (ask me in person and I’ll share my Book Launch Manager predictions), but I’m confident these 12 will encourage, inspire, and challenge readers.
Affiliate links have been used in this post.
My mouth dropped open at the number on the screen. A few minutes earlier, a friend sent a text that a gift was on the way. “It isn’t much . . . but it’s something!” she said, knowing that medical bills were starting to show up and add up. Her “not much” brought me to...
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I'd like to begin by saying you're welcome for only including 12 books. I narrowed it down from a list of 40 titles, but based on the books I already have filed away for May-August, I make no promises for stopping with a dozen next time. But after 2020, "too many"...
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I'm sure the pandemic and sheltering-in-place had something to do with it, but I've read more books this year than ever before. This weekend, I finished book 80 for 2020. Right now, I'm reading advanced copies of books that will release in 2021. My December reading...
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I’ve been asking God where He is. On Sunday, my church family sang these words: I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who You say I am. I hung my head and raised my hands and wondered if faith sometimes looks like...
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I should know by now that narrowing the list down each season is NOT going to get easier, but every time forget all over again. It feels like an actual accomplishment that I landed on these 14 because I started with, umm, 38 titles bookmarked on my computer. I would...