by far, the best books of 2016

For several years now, I’ve shared my favorite books of the year. I’m not sure I’ve ever read more books in 12 months than I did this year (55, people. I read 55 books.), so narrowing the list down was a bit, um, difficult.

No worries though, because I could talk/think/write about books for days. And so here I present to you the 10 best books of 2016. They didn’t necessarily come out this year, but at some point in 2016 I read and truly enjoyed each one.

I’ve included a short “about” the book (pulled from Amazon) as well as who the book is written for.

And BONUS, at the end I’ve included info on how to save $5 off $15 worth of printed books from Amazon!

In no particular order…

The best books of 2016:

Find Your Brave: Courage to Stand Strong When the Waves Crash In by Holley WagnerFind Your Brave :: Holly Wagner

About the book: Holly examines the dramatic shipwreck faced by the apostle Paul in Acts 27. There she uncovers profound truths that will guide you safely through life’s most difficult moments. Through solid biblical teaching and relatable personal stories, Holly offers an uplifting, friendly voice in the midst of the gale-force winds and overpowering critical voices. She shows you how to anchor your trust in the God who remains faithful in every storm and in whose strength you can find your brave.

For: anyone facing a battle they wouldn’t have chosen or walking a path filled with bumps in the road. Holly takes one chapter of Scripture and pulls out both life lessons and encouragement for the journey.




Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four SeasonsRoots & Sky :: Christie Purifoy

About the book: Through stories of planting and preserving, of opening the gates wide to neighbors, and of learning to speak the language of a place, Christie invites readers into the joy of small beginnings and the knowledge that the kingdom of God is with us here and now.

For: anyone who has felt the longing for home, who yearns to reconnect with the beauty of nature, and who values the special blessing of deep relationships with family and friends. (Those words are from Amazon too, actually, but I totally agree.)



Brazen: The Courage to Find the You That's Been HidingBrazen :: Leeana Tankersley

About the book: The word brazen means without shame. Leeana wants women to be just that–to unapologetically move from shame and fear-based living toward lives that are based on love and belonging. With moving personal stories of the longings we all experience–to know we are loved, to feel comfortable in our own skin, to be heard–Tankersley calls women to honor that voice deep down inside of them rather than bowing to outside influences that push them to become someone they’re not. Gritty and overflowing with grace, Brazen will set women free to be truly themselves in a world bent on molding them in its image.

For: for the one who isn’t sure how to be her true self, the one who longs to be comfortable in her own skin.



Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan MartinFalling Free :: Shannan Martin

About the book: Shannan had the “perfect” life. But when the bottom dropped out through a series of shocking changes and ordinary inconveniences, the Martins followed God’s call to something radically different: a small house on the other side of the urban tracks, a shoestring income, a challenged public school, and the harshness of a county jail (where her husband is now chaplain). And yet the family’s plunge from “safety” was the best thing that could have happened to them.

For: a push to look for God’s more in the less and encouragement to push past insecurity, fear, and the assumptions we hold just a bit too close. You cannot read this book without being changed and challenged in the best sort of way.



Colors of Goodbye by September VaudreyColors of Goodbye :: September Vaudrey

About the book: Combining literary narrative and raw reflection, Vaudrey walks through one of life’s worst losses―the death of a child―and slowly becomes open to watching for the unexpected ways God carries her through it. It’s a story of love and tragedy in tandem; a deeply personal memoir from a life forever changed by one empty place. And at its core, Colors of Goodbye calls to the deepest part of our spirits to know that death is not the end . . . and that life can be beautiful still.

For: anyone learning to hold on while letting go or walking through grief while trying to live with joy. This is one of the most beautifully tragic and tragically beautiful books I’ve ever read – exquisite, moving, and comforting.



I Was Blind (Dating), But Now I See: My Misadventures in Dating, Waiting, and Stumbling into LoveI Was Blind (Dating), But Now I See :: Stephanie Rische

About the book: Stephanie Rische tells the charming, vulnerable and often mortifying true story of a girl who tried really hard to find someone to fall in love with―even when she mostly just ended up falling flat on her face. But amid the most cringeworthy setups and awkward encounters, Stephanie found God’s grace and love meeting her there in ways she never could have imagined―once she opened her eyes to see.

For: any woman who is single or has a friend who is single. Rische writes about feeling invisible and broken, refusing to sugar-coat singleness, yet manages to balance humor and honesty by vulnerably sharing her own story.



Subversive Jesus: An Adventure in Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness in a Broken WorldSubversive Jesus :: Craig Greenfield

About the book: Subversive Jesus is the story of one family’s experiment in putting the most counter-cultural teachings of Christ into practice. When Jesus says invite the poor for a meal, Craig and his family welcome homeless friends, local crack addicts, and women from the street corner over for dinner. When Jesus teaches love for enemies, they make homemade cookies and lemonade for the local drug dealers. This adventure takes Craig’s family from the slums of Cambodia to inner city Canada and back again.

For: anyone who wants to learn more about what it means to say yes to this subversive Jesus for the sake of justice, mercy, and faithfulness in a broken world.



The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction by Adam S. McHughThe Listening Life :: Adam S. McHugh

About the book: How would our lives change if we approached every experience with the intention of listening first? In this noisy, distracting world, it is difficult to truly hear. People talk past each other, eager to be heard but somehow deaf to what is being said. Listening is an essential skill for healthy relationships, both with God and with other people. But it is more than that: listening is a way of life.

For: anyone who wants to listen better in a noisy world. I stand by what I’ve previously written: this book is not a how-to list but a you-can gentle challenge to place listening at the heart of our spirituality, our relationships and our mission in the world.



Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard WayBittersweet :: Shuana Niequist

About the book: Bittersweet is a collection of stories that examine the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness. Niequist, a keen observer of life with a lyrical voice, writes with the characteristic warmth and honesty of a dear friend: always engaging, sometimes challenging, but always with a kind heart. The book revolves around this sentence: when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.

For: anyone who is desperate to find the sweet amongst the bitter and the grace to walk through life changes while still thanking God in the middle of the story.



The Atonement ChildThe Atonement Child :: Francine Rivers

About the book: Dynah Carey knew where her life was headed. Engaged to a wonderful man, the daughter of doting parents, a faithful child of God, she has it all. Then the unthinkable happens: Dynah’s perfect life is irrevocably changed by a rape that results in an unwanted pregnancy. Her family is torn apart and her seemingly rock-solid faith is pushed to the limits as she faces the most momentous choice of her life: to embrace or to end the life within her. This is ultimately a tale of three women, as Dynah’s plight forces both her mother and her grandmother to face the choices they made. Written with balance and compassion, The Atonement Child brings a new perspective to [one of] the most controversial topic of our times.

For: everyone. (Seriously.)



It would be more than a bit strange to include my own book in the top 10… but it did come out in 2016 and it is in my personal top 10 because #IWroteABook…. so:

Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in BetweenEven If Not :: Kaitlyn Bouchillon

About the book: If you find yourself in between one thing and another, changing from who you used to be into who you are becoming, how will you live in the messy, beautiful middle? And what if the middle pages hold storylines that wound and surprise? Is God with us on those pages, too? In Even If Not, Kaitlyn Bouchillon invites you to let go of trying to figure out the ending of your story and instead lean into the faithfulness of God. With honest and vulnerable storytelling from her own in betweens, Kaitlyn encourages you to say – no matter what page of the story you find yourself on – that although you believe God could come through how you’re asking, you’ll trust Him… even if not.

For: anyone who is or knows a broken hopeful, anyone living a story they wouldn’t have necessarily chosen or walking through an in between season while desperately looking for God’s goodness.

Save $5 off $15 worth of printed books from Amazon!

Just use the code GIFTBOOK when you checkout! But make sure you use the code before December 17th at 2:59 EST (you can read the fine print here). I used the code to preorder Sweeter Than Honey, the first coloring book from Lindsay Letters.

P.S. One of my most popular posts ever is 12 Can’t-Miss Books Coming in 2016. The 2017 version is coming next week, so stay tuned! There is so much goodness coming.

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