Here’s something incredible and wildly fascinating: there is a very clear theme in the books below. In fact, 90% of the books I considered for the September-December list circled around the same few topics/themes . . . this is, apparently, what we really need to hear right now.
And of course we do.
Fun fact: Book deals are generally signed 1.5-2 years prior to when the book is available for purchase, which means the books releasing right now were, by and large, likely signed right before (and then written during) the beginning of the pandemic. Authors and publishers couldn’t have known what 2021 would look like, but if you need a book about hard-fought hope, walking through loss and grief, longing for community, holding onto faith or searching for beauty and goodness? Well, you’re in luck.
Since the January-April and May-August lists each have 12 titles, I was determined to keep this list at 12 as well. I narrowed it down from FORTY-THREE, so cut me a little slack on the devotions that I absolutely “snuck in” at the end. (I read/am reading early copies of all 4 and they’re all very good.)
The nonfiction books below are listed in order of release date and include a blurb pulled from Amazon descriptions. 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! I really love hearing which books you’re looking forward to, so please let me know in the comments or on social media!
P.S. if a book grabs your attention―for yourself or a friend―I’d suggest preordering now! This not only helps the author… it helps you as well. Retailers typically don’t charge until the book releases and Amazon offers a lowest-price guarantee. Say you preorder in September when it’s $18.00, then it drops to $13.00 mid-October and it’s listed as $16.00 when it releases in December. You would pay $13―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 September-December of 2021 . . .
Help, I’m Drowning: Weathering the Storms of Life with Grace and Hope :: Sally Clarkson
Life is filled with unexpected storms that take you by surprise. It’s easy to feel helpless, exhausted, afraid and alone. Beloved author Sally Clarkson understands deeply. Through almost seven decades of life, she has found herself tossed about in overwhelming life storms through many different seasons.
In Help, I’m Drowning, Sally identifies the challenges that took her by surprise and then leads you to the wisdom she gathered from her experiences. Finding grace to walk through the darkness and hope to make it through will give you the comfort and encouragement you need in knowing you are not alone. Though there are no easy, formulaic answers that apply to every situation, Sally leads us to the One who is with us and will see us through.
Sally found the anchors that held her steady in the midst of every storm, and she wants to help you find your anchors too. She invites you into her own personal story of anchoring well, and then—with honesty, grit, and her trademark wisdom—she will help you heal and move forward with courage and strength.
Do you look back and long for what used to be, or are you looking ahead and have no idea what’s coming? Are you stuck in the middle of a mess because life has not turned out as you expected? When you run to God for answers, do you often feel like you aren’t getting them―or at least aren’t getting the answers you want? Are you holding on . . . but not sure how much longer you can?
In times of not knowing, Sheila Walsh offers a lifeline of hope. With great compassion born of experience and hardship, Walsh comes alongside the hurting, fearful, and exhausted to remind us that we serve a God who is so much greater than our momentary troubles, no matter how insurmountable they feel.
She doesn’t offer a quick fix. She offers a God fix. Sharing from her own painful struggles and digging deep into biblical stories of rescue, hope, and miracles, she gives you the strength to keep going, to keep holding on to God in a world turned upside down.
One Good Word a Day: 365 Invitations to Encourage, Deepen, and Refine Your Faith :: Julie Fisk, Kendra Roehl, and Kristin Demery
If you were to pick one word for the year, what would it be? Invite… Abide… Balance… Simplify…?
Every January, many of us proclaim our word for the year, choosing something inspiring that will help us set our intention for the coming months. But what would happen if rather than choosing one word for an entire year (because let’s face it, some of us forget by March), we focused on one good word each day—one thought-provoking, spiritually relevant, and encouraging word that reveals the many lovely and delightful truths of who Jesus is in our lives?
One Good Word a Day offers simple but deeply spiritual meditations that will help readers linger on one word each day so they can identify and reflect on how Jesus as the Word influences their daily lives. Jesus offers us abundance, hope, peace, kindness, courage, mercy, and so much more. One Good Word a Day reminds readers that in Christ, we find all we need to live encouraged and uplifted every day.
In an age of distraction and overwhelm, finding the words to meaningfully pray for our children―and for our journey as parents—can feel impossible.
Written with warmth and welcome, To Light Their Way gives voice to your prayers when words won’t come. Filled with more than 100 modern liturgies, this book guides you into an intentional conversation with God for your children and the world they live in. From everyday struggles like helping your child find friends or thrive in school to larger issues like praying for a brighter world rooted in peace and truth, these pleas and petitions act as a gentle guide, reminding us that while our words may fail, God never does.
At the core of To Light Their Way is the deepest of prayers: that our children will experience the love of God so deeply that their lives will be an outpouring of love that lights up the world.
In The Soul of Desire, psychiatrist Curt Thompson suggests that underneath all our longings is the desire to be known—and what’s more, that this fundamental yearning manifests itself in our deep need to make things of beauty, revealing who we are to others.
Desire and beauty go hand in hand. But both our craving to be known and our ability to create beauty have been marred by trauma and shame, collapsing our imagination for what God has for us and blinding us to the possibility that beauty could ever emerge from our ashes.
Drawing on his work in interpersonal neurobiology and clinical practice, Thompson presents a powerful picture of the capacity of the believing community to reshape our imaginations, hold our desires and griefs together, and invite us into the beauty of God’s presence.
In this hustling, image-forward age of opportunity, we feel more anxious than ever. Despite the affirming memes and self-reflections that dominate social media feeds, approval and worth often seem assigned to what we do rather than who we are. And we end up constantly feeling like we’re behind, lacking, and failing—at home, at work, with friends, with God.
Ruth Chou Simons knows something about feeling measured by achievement, performance, and the approval of others. As a Taiwanese immigrant growing up between two cultures, Ruth was always on a mission to prove her worth, until she came to truly understand the one thing that changes everything: the extravagant, undeserved gift of grace from a merciful God. In When Strivings Cease, Ruth guides you on a journey to find freedom from the never-ending quest for self-improvement as you.
With personal stories, biblical insights, practical applications, and touches of original artwork by Ruth, this transformational book helps you see the beautiful truth that God’s favor is the only currency you need—because in Christ you are enough.
Seeking Out Goodness: Finding the True and Beautiful All around You :: Alexandra Kuykendall
Most of us feel the world is more contentious and less civil than it was a generation ago, or a few years ago, or maybe even last week. We long to be reassured that everything is going to be okay, that God is still at work, even in small ways. The good news is, even when our circumstances change, God does not. He is still in control, and He still offers us good gifts. We just have to know where to look for them.
Exploring the beautiful admonition found in Philippians 4:8 to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy, Alexandra Kuykendall encourages us to keep seeking out goodness even when we are mired in a time of fear, division, and negativity. Through personal stories and clear biblical insight, Alex helps us see God at work right now, right in our midst, no matter how messy life feels. She helps us appreciate other people even when we disagree with them, move past false dichotomies, celebrate goodness in others when we find it, and hope for a brighter tomorrow even as we celebrate the good gifts we receive today.
The God of the Garden: Thoughts on Creation, Culture, and the Kingdom :: Andrew Peterson
There’s a strong biblical connection between people and trees. They both come from dirt. They’re both told to bear fruit. In fact, arboreal language is so often applied to humans that it’s easy to miss, whether we’re talking about family trees, passing along our seed, cutting someone off like a branch, being rooted to a place, or bearing the fruit of the Spirit. It’s hard to deny that trees mean something, theologically speaking.
Award-winning author and songwriter Andrew Peterson, shares a story of childhood, grief, redemption, and peace, by walking through a forest of memories: “I trust that by telling my story, you’ll encounter yours. Hopefully, like me, you’ll see that the God of the Garden is and has always been present, working and keeping what he loves.” Sometimes He plants, sometimes He prunes, but in His goodness He intends to reap a harvest of righteousness.
Carved in Ebony: Lessons from the Black Women Who Shape Us :: Jasmine Holmes
Elizabeth Freeman, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Maria Fearing, Charlotte Forten Grimké, Sarah Mapps Douglass, Sara Griffith Stanley, Amanda Berry Smith, Lucy Craft Laney, Maria Stewart, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
These names may not be familiar, but these women worked to change laws, built schools, spoke to thousands, and shared the Gospel around the world. And while history books may have forgotten them, their stories can teach us so much about what it means to be modern women of faith.
Through the research and reflections of author Jasmine Holmes, you will be inspired by what each of these exceptional women can teach us about the intersections of faith and education, birth, privilege, opportunity, and so much more. Carved in Ebony will take you past the predominantly white, male contributions that seemingly dominate history books and church history to discover how Black women have been some of the main figures in defining the landscape of American history and faith. Join Jasmine on this journey of illuminating these women—God’s image-bearers, carved in ebony.
Wholehearted Faith :: Rachel Held Evans, with Jeff Chu
Rachel Held Evans is widely recognized for her theologically astute, profoundly honest, and beautifully personal books, which have guided, instructed, edified, and shaped Christians as they seek to live out a just and loving faith.
At the time of her tragic death in 2019, Rachel was working on a new book about wholeheartedness. With the help of her close friend and author Jeff Chu, that work-in-progress has been woven together with some of her other unpublished writings into a rich collection of essays that ask candid questions about the stories we’ve been told—and the stories we tell—about our faith, our selves, and our world.
This book is for the doubter and the dreamer, the seeker and the sojourner, those who long for a sense of spiritual wholeness as well as those who have been hurt by the Church but can’t seem to let go of the story of Jesus. Through theological reflection and personal recollection, Rachel wrestles with God’s grace and love, looks unsparingly at what the Church is and does, and explores universal human questions about becoming and belonging. An unforgettable, moving, and intimate book.
Divine Disruption: Holding on to Faith When Life Breaks Your Heart :: Dr. Tony Evans, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Priscilla Shirer, Anthony Evans, and Jonathan Evans
Divine Disruption explores the many hardships we experience in life and how God breaks through with the power of hope. Dr. Tony Evans and his four children discuss their faith-shaking experiences: from the deep grief of losing six loved ones in less than two years’ time, with the most devastating blow being the death of Lois Evans, the matriarch of the family, to a deep dive into dealing with the various hard, unexpected things we all face. Life throws many curves—whether the loss of a job or health due to the ongoing worldwide pandemic, or marriage and relationship issues, problems with children, even the recent racial and political unrest.
The authors step together into a unique Kingdom Legacy partnership, opening themselves to the honest questions, raw emotions, and solutions they learned to cling to amid their various struggles. Through their bond and individual strengths, they demonstrate how even the most devastating tragedies can bring glory to God as He continues to meet their needs and build their faith.
In Atlas of the Heart, five-time #1 New York Times bestselling author Dr. Brené Brown takes us on a journey through eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. As she maps the necessary skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection, she gives us the language and tools to access a universe of new choices and second chances—a universe where we can share and steward the stories of our bravest and most heartbreaking moments with one another in a way that builds connection.
Dr. Brené Brown writes, “If we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and to be stewards of the stories that we hear. This is the framework for meaningful connection.”
Bonus: Four Devotionals . . .
Stress is inevitable, but letting it control your life is optional.
As a bestselling author, counselor, and life coach, Holley Gerth has learned a lot about dealing with stress and what truly helps. What Your Soul Needs for Stressful Times is your invitation to pause for a few moments of encouragement, peace, and strength each day.
This 60-day devotional offers spiritual truth to soothe your soul alongside practical tools to apply that will truly make a difference. Each day, Holley offers Scripture, a prayer, questions for reflection, and inspirational quotes to help you learn to live with more peace and less pressure, more calm and less chaos, more worship and less worry.
Grace Upon Grace Journaling Devotional: Trusting God No Matter What :: Sophie Hudson
Today’s teen girls are coming of age in a world full of shallow distractions and divided communities. To counter these crazy days, bestselling author Sophie Hudson offers Grace Upon Grace, a journaling devotional to encourage young women to spend time engaging with Scripture, insightful devotional thoughts, and the wild gift of God’s grace.
For much of her career, Sophie has worked with teen girls, so she knows not only their struggles but how to reach their hearts as well. These 100 devotions offer the right balance of wise words, thought-provoking journal prompts, and plenty of Sophie’s trademark wit.
Elegantly designed, this new book will be a sister devotional to Sophie’s first teen journaling devotional, All in All. This new collection will have a similar format and feel, but it will focus on God’s grace in the day to day, and His grace in the hard stuff too. Teen girls and young women will read, write, and walk away with tons of encouragement and a new understanding of God’s goodness toward us.
When difficult or unwanted change enters our lives, it can cause fear, anxiety, and anger to bubble up from within. We want to quiet that simmering stress, but how do we do that, especially when we know our circumstances aren’t going to calm down any time soon? By regularly meeting with God and exchanging our worries and fears for His assurances that He is using our difficult change for us, not against us.
Offering thoughtful, humorous anecdotes and powerful prayers to recite, Kristen Strong invites you to think and feel differently about change on the inside so you can live and love differently on the outside. As the tender companion she is, Kristen will show you how not to get over difficult change but rather to get through it. She’ll help you acknowledge your change, give your anxieties over to God, and abide well in the days to come—no matter what transitions life brings.
Whether it’s a dream that isn’t coming true, a stretch of the journey that feels especially dark, or just the basic “busy and tired” each of us braves in the crazy chaos of the ordinary, have you ever faced a season where “life to the full” feels just out of reach, light seems like it it’s just over the horizon, or lies seem to crowd out the truth?
If you’re anything like Ellie Holcomb, the answer is yes. For her in these seasons, God’s Word has been a shelter, a comfort, a song, a balm, and an anchor. In Fighting Words, you’re invited to come alongside Ellie as you ponder the power of God’s promises together and speak them into the darkest corners of your soul.
Filled with encouraging and honest reflections, beautifully designed Scripture memory pages, and questions to help you process, Fighting Words is a place where you can wrestle, respond to, and take hold of precious truths in God’s Word. As you journey along with Ellie, you’ll find that little by little, you’re fighting the lies with the truth, kicking back the darkness, and living in the light.
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 come highly recommended 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.
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