Annnnnnnd we’re back! The first book list of 2023 is here and, well, sorry not sorry for including 15 this time. I promise I trimmed it down. (I began with 55 bookmarked titles so truly, this is not too shabby.) As always, I’ll share more book recommendations, along with what I’m currently reading, in Thursday Things (you can sign up here) . . . but if you’re looking for a new read for 2023, there are many to get you started here!
I’ve read an early copy of almost all of the books below, but for those still on my To Be Read list, they come highly recommended from friends I trust or are written by authors I’ve read (and loved) before. The books 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 Goodreads/To Be Read list, or share on Facebook if you think your friends might be interested!
P.s. If a book grabs your attention, I’d suggest going ahead and pre-ordering now. Most retailers don’t charge you until the book releases and Amazon offers a lowest-price guarantee! Say you preorder in January when the book is $16.99, then it drops to $13.00 mid-March and it’s listed as $14.25 when it releases in April . . . you would pay $13.00 because you locked in the lowest price by pre-ordering.
P.p.s. I limited the list to nonfiction because otherwise this would be crazy long, but I often share book recommendations/what I’m currently reading (both fiction and nonfiction) with email subscribers and on Instagram. There’s room for you there, if you’d like to follow along!
15 New Books I’m Looking Forward to This Spring . . .
Grace in the Gray: A More Loving Way to Disagree :: Mike Donehey
In a culture where constant offense and polarization dominate so many interactions, here is good news about a more productive way to disagree: God desires for us to become better at loving others . . . not better at debating.
Grace in the Gray helps us see the grace and good that’s often hidden by our own limited perspectives and assumptions. Through a collection of personal stories and biblical insights, Mike Donehey reveals a four-stage process to help you subjectify those you’ve objectified, empathize with those you’ve vilified, humanize those you’ve deified, and see why your posture is as essential as your position.
In relationships, professional settings, and social situations, discover how to focus on the person standing before you more than the argument set against you. Doing so gives you the rare ability to face any conflict with better questions, kindness, and the calming posture of curiosity.
The Book of Common Courage is a collection of prayers, poems, and blessings to help you find a flicker of strength in the small and hard moments of life. Author and therapist K.J. Ramsey invites you to journey word-by-word through Psalm 23 to experience how the Good Shepherd is with you and for you, especially in the valleys of life. When you struggle to find the words to hold your pain or trauma, be encouraged to cultivate the compassion and courage to believe that your story will, in fact, end in joy.
Through K.J.’s lyrical and emotive writing, readers are invited to surrender their anxiety and tears to a faithful God, replenish their soul with the life of Christ and the promises of God, refresh their faith with a peace that lasts, experience newfound confidence in prayer, and remember that even when pain is not past-tense, God is still present.
Endless Grace: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms :: Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt
The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains seventy-five prayers drawn from Psalms 76-150, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Whitaker Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms.
While each prayer corresponds to a particular psalm and touches on its themes and ideas, it is not a new translation of the Psalms or an attempt to modernize or contextualize their content or language. Rather, the prayers are responses to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and remember the Lord’s daily mercies. This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and beautiful hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.
The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days :: Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie
We live in a world that demands relentless perfection. Happy marriages and easy friendships. Bucket list–level adventures and matching family photos. But what if our actual lives don’t feel very #blessed? Might our everyday existence be worthy of a blessing too? Even an average Tuesday?
Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie offer creative, faith-based blessings that center gratitude and hope while acknowledging our real, messy lives. Formatted like a prayer book, The Lives We Actually Have is an oasis and a landing spot for weary souls, with blessings that focus on the full range of human moments: garbage days, lovely days, grief-stricken days, and even (especially) completely ordinary days. These heartfelt blessings are a chance to exhale when we feel everything from careworn to restless, devastated to bored. Let’s have a reminder that we don’t need to wait for perfect lives when we can bless the lives we actually have.
Never Cast Out: How the Gospel Puts an End to the Story of Shame :: Jasmine L. Holmes
Body shaming. Marriage shaming. Single shaming. Mom shaming. Lifestyle shaming. Religious shaming. It seems no matter which direction we turn, women can’t shake the shame that is constantly piled on top of us. Author and podcaster Jasmine L. Holmes knows this struggle all too well. Though shame has been a constant companion (and even a snare) throughout her life, God has broken the chains of shame in Jasmine’s life through the power of the gospel.
In this Christ-centered, empowering book, you’ll discover: the story of shame (where it comes from, what it is, what makes it different from guilt or conviction, and why it’s so pervasive), the problem with shame (why the typical methods of throwing off shame don’t actually work), the end of shame (how Jesus puts an end to shame by offering a better covering, a better image, and a better message than the world can), and the way to fight shame (how to use practical and powerful ways to fight shame in daily life, breaking its chains in the power of the gospel and resting in the One who has taken all your shame away for good). The story of shame is a powerful one. But even stronger are the arms of the One who carried your shame and will never cast you out.
You Are Only Just Beginning: Lessons for the Journey Ahead :: Morgan Harper Nichols
Sometimes it’s difficult to take that first step into your future and embrace the unknown. In this illustrated collection of art and poetry, Morgan reimagines the classic heroine’s journey—from the very first call to adventure, through trials, hardships, and new relationships, all the way back home—and offers key lessons and affirmations to encourage and equip you every step of the way, empowering you to embrace your next adventure with confidence and grace.
As you travel your own journey, you’re invited to cultivate the courage you need to follow your passions, develop curiosity about the natural world around you, find comfort and inspiration for the inevitable trials on your journey, reflect on how your past has prepared you, and step out in wonder and faith, knowing there is more for you.
By Bread Alone: A Baker’s Reflections on Hunger, Longing, and the Goodness of God :: Kendall Vanderslice
Bread is central to God’s story, and to your story too. Our spiritual lives are deeply connected to bread―the bread we break with family and friends and the Bread that is Christ’s Body, given and broken for us. Kendall Vanderslice, a professional baker and practical theologian who spends her days elbow-deep in dough, has struggled with hunger ever since she can remember―hunger for bread, yes, but also for community and for the ability to “taste and see” the goodness of God. In By Bread Alone, she weaves her own faith-filled journey together with original recipes and stories about the role of bread in church history, revealing a God who draws near to us and creatively provides for our daily needs.
When words fail, when we cry out in longing and loneliness, when God feels impossibly far away, By Bread Alone displays the tangible expression of God’s presence and provision for us in the form of bread. It’s the story of hunger and family, of friendship and unmet longing. It’s the story of a God who meets us in both sacred and mundane ways. In the mixing and kneading, in the waiting and partaking, may God also meet you.
Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age :: Katherine May
Many of us feel trapped in a grind of constant change: rolling news cycles, the chatter of social media, our families split along partisan lines. We feel fearful and tired, on edge in our bodies, not quite knowing what has us perpetually depleted. For Katherine May, this low hum of fatigue and anxiety made her wonder what she was missing. Could there be a different way to relate to the world, one that would allow her to feel more rested and at ease, even as seismic changes unfold on the planet? Might there be a way for all of us to move through life with curiosity and tenderness, sensitized to the subtle magic all around?
In Enchantment, May invites the reader to come with her on a journey to reawaken our innate sense of wonder and awe. With humor, candor, and warmth, she shares stories of her own struggles with work, family, and the aftereffects of pandemic, particularly feelings of overwhelm as the world rushes to reopen. Through deliberate attention and ritual, she unearths the potency and nourishment that come from quiet reconnection with our immediate environment.
Women were there. For centuries, discussions of early Christianity have focused on male leaders in the church. But there is ample evidence in the New Testament that women were actively involved in ministry, at the frontier of the gospel mission, and as respected leaders. When we understand the world in which Jesus and His followers lived and what the New Testament actually attests about women in the churches, it becomes clear that women were active participants and trusted leaders all along.
Nijay Gupta calls us to bring these women out of the shadows by shining light on their many inspiring contributions to the planting, growth, and health of the first Christian churches. He sets the context by exploring the lives of first-century women and addressing common misconceptions, then focuses on the women leaders of the early churches as revealed in Paul’s writings. We discover the major roles of people such as Phoebe, Paul’s trusted coworker; Prisca, strategic leader and expert teacher; Junia, courageous apostle; and Nympha, representative of countless lesser-known figures.
When it comes to difficult circumstances, we’ve all heard the platitudes: “No pain, no gain.” “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But if we spend our lives trying to be “the strong one,” we become exhausted, burned-out, and disconnected from our truest selves. What if it were different? Could strength mean more than pushing on and pushing through pain, bearing every heavy burden on our own? What if, instead, true strength were more like the tide: soft and bold, fierce and gentle, moving together as one powerful force?
In Strong like Water, author and trauma therapist Aundi Kolber offers a framework for true flourishing. You’ll learn how your nervous system shapes your experience so that you can move through pain instead of being stuck in it, explore various practices, rhythms, and resources to support you in challenging circumstances with compassion and hope, and discover how to internalize connection, love, and safety―empowering you with greater resilience. A different, more expansive way of healing, wholeness, and strength is possible. We were made to be strong like water.
Although there are moments of beauty and goodness, more often than not, life is marked by fear, struggle, disappointment, and loss. We’ve tried to find hope and security in various people and places―but each has proved unworthy of our trust. We need more. Something―or Someone―who won’t fail us when our world falls apart.
In A Faith That Will Not Fail, Bible teacher Michele Cushatt presents ten practices to help you deepen your confidence and certainty in the God who can be trusted with your worry, questions, confusion, and grief. As a woman who has been through immeasurable suffering, she writes with both deep compassion and practical insight as she guides you to practice lament and process grief without guilt or shame, understand what keeps you from trusting God and how to navigate doubt with truth, learn simple ways to foster shalom and gratitude on a daily basis, and savor daily “faith-builder” practices to strengthen your confidence in God’s love and purposes for you, no matter what happens.
Motherhood and creativity can coexist. You have creative dreams swirling in your heart, but pursuing them while changing diapers and managing the carpool schedule feels impossible. You have no time. No space. You can mother, or you can create. You certainly can’t do both (right?!). But what if you stopped viewing creativity as a selfish act, and started to see it as essential to your own flourishing as a mother?
This book is a much-needed permission slip to do just that―through the pictures you take, the stories you write, the meals you make, the music you play, the gardens you grow. Filled with rich storytelling and stunning photographs, Create Anyway helps you set aside the guilt and discover the sacred connection between creating and mothering. One-part commissioning, one-part pep talk, Create Anyway will propel you forward with a renewed sense of energy, purpose, and enthusiasm for stewarding the creative dreams God has planted in your heart―right alongside the diapers and carpool. Here’s to creating in the margins of motherhood. Here’s to creating anyway.
Safe All Along: Trading Our Fears and Anxieties for God’s Unshakable Peace :: Katie Davis Majors
As a missionary, wife, and mom of fifteen, Katie Davis Majors knows how hard it can be to receive God’s peace instead of giving in to fear and worry. In Safe All Along, she offers reflections and stories to help you leave behind your anxious thoughts and embrace a steady confidence that you are never beyond the reach of God’s loving hand.
Every chapter leads us deep into Scripture as we learn what it looks like to break free from anxiety and take hold of peace. Rich in biblical explorations of lament and praise, forgiveness and hope, service and surrender, Safe All Along asks, What practical choices can we make to experience the peace Jesus promised amid disappointment and uncertainty? How can we live with joy and confidence even when we’re pulled into the rapids of life? Our God has promised us a peace that transcends all understanding. And we can accept His promise, trusting that in Him we are safe all along.
A God Named Josh: Uncovering the Human Life of Jesus Christ :: Jared Brock
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” It’s a question that still needs an answer today. With deft, insightful, and humorous strokes, award-winning biographer Jared Brock weaves archaeology, philosophy, history, and theology to create a portrait of Jesus we’ve never seen before.
This is a groundbreaking biography about the historical Jesus we don’t usually think about: The child refugee. The “carpenter” who most likely worked with stone. The adult who walked at least 21,525 miles in His lifetime and yet never tasted tomatoes or potatoes. The itinerant rabbi whose real name wasn’t Jesus. The political revolutionary whose brutal murder was secretly masterminded by a power-hungry mafia family. More than a fascinating biography, A God Named Josh seeks to illuminate Jesus of Nazareth from new perspectives, grounded in history, that will surprise Christians and atheists alike.
The Life Council: 10 Friends Every Woman Needs :: Laura Tremaine
You’d love to have a “ride or die” posse like you see on social media, but instead you have a host of really good acquaintances. After all, trying to find a soul friend in the midst of dirty dishes, deadlines, and, oh, a crazy busy life can be overwhelming. But what if developing great friendships was actually easier than we thought?
Offering a path for a new way to think about friendships, The Life Council will inspire and equip you to be a better friend, make new friends, and appreciate how different types of friendships can bring a richness to your life like never before. This fun and practical guide by Laura Tremaine gives you what you need to create your own “life council” with the friends you already have, understand the ten kinds of friends every woman needs―and how to find them, learn how to evaluate your friendship circle for what’s working and what might need to change, navigate tough conversations with friends, and get excited again about the possibility of new friendships.
For more book recommendations . . .
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