17 Must-Read Books

September 24, 2018

My idea of the perfect day would be a quiet house, a mug of warm green tea, an empty to-do list (ha!), and a really good book.

As most of you can probably relate to, those days don’t come often! In fact, I’m pretty sure I haven’t had one in the past 6-1/2 years — which just so happens to be the age of my son.

Though I don’t read as much as I’d like, I sometimes sacrifice a little sleep for that satisfying feeling of having new worlds, enlightening ideas, and fresh insight seep into my brain via a great book. Below are 17 of my favorite reads from the past year or two. I thought about putting them in order from most to least favorite, but I quickly realized that would be impossible!

I hope this list inspires you to pick up a good book. If you have any book recommendations yourself, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.



Life Inside the “Thin” Cage by Constance Rhodes

I pick up a lot of books from Mardel’s bargain books section. It’s a great way to introduce myself to lots of new topics for just a few bucks. I bought this book and had it over a year before I actually started reading it.

I honestly thought I probably wouldn’t be able to relate to this book much seeing that I’m definitely NOT in the “thin cage.” Ha! But it ended up being a GREAT book, one I think 95% of ladies would benefit from reading. If any book ever put me in a healthier mindset about body image, it was this one.

The Journey of a Lifetime by Larry L. Booker

I’ve actually read this book twice in my life: it’s that good! Bro. Booker’s testimony is AMAZING, and you’re just left with a sense of how good and amazing God is.

Do yourself a favor and make reading this one a priority!

God’s Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty by Rice Broocks

Many of us have no problem believing that the Bible is God’s Word, and the academic opinion of the day doesn’t sway that conviction. However, there are also many who have been heavily influenced by humanistic and agnostic worldviews, and they struggle with faith. This book answers many of the objections the doubting heart has about God.

It’s similar to Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ and related books, but much more basic and pared down. A great read that will benefit both you and those whose paths you may cross.

Sacred Privilege: Your Life and Ministry as a Pastor’s Wife by Kay Warren

Youth pastors’ wives, associate pastors’ wives, ministers’ wives, senior pastors’ wives . . . You’ll be glad you read this book! As with many books, I wasn’t 100% on the same page as the author on every issue, but I did very much enjoy this read.

Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze

After reading this book, I resolved to read at least one book a year on finances.

If you keep up with Dave Ramsey, you’ve probably heard most of the advice in this book. It had been ten years since I’d read any of his material, however, so this book by his daughter Rachel was an effective motivator for me to make better choices with money.

Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off by Karen Ehman & Ruth Schwenk

Great book for moms who have kids at home. It took me a while to read because, strangely, I have a hard time getting into parenting books! But the advice was on point. As moms, we often have a lot of peer and societal pressure to do mommy-hood a specific way. This book gives you permission to parent the way that’s best for your family, and it debunks myths that produce unnecessary mommy-guilt.

I recommend for moms who still have children/teens at home.

Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff by Chip Gaines

Capital Gaines was a spontaneous gift from my husband who knew I’d been eying this book. I enjoyed the light-hearted tone of the writing, Chip’s personal stories, and the book-long theme of maintaining good priorities.

The Devil in Pew Number Seven: A True Story by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

Could you forgive someone who maliciously caused the death of your loved one?

This book will have you asking that question.

I stayed up past 2 AM reading The Devil in Pew Number Seven. As a mom, this tragic, true story tore me up as I read. How is it possible that the heart of man can become so dark? It’s hard to fathom, but the deeper the darkness, the brighter the light of Christ can shine.

The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel

I love absolutely anything (nonfiction) by Lee Strobel. He is incredibly thorough about every topic he researches, leaving no stone unturned. This is the kind of book you read little by little, letting it sink in slowly.

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa Terkeurst

So good! This book gives you permission to say no to activities, obligations, to-dos, and requests that, good as they may be, aren’t the best choice for you or your family. After reading this book, I resolved to read it again in a year or two.

The Prisoner in the Third Cell by Gene Edwards

“Will you follow a God who does not meet up to your expectations?”

This book narrates what could have happened in the life of John the Baptist, following him from childhood until death. It has a powerful ending — an exceptional read for anyone dealing with suffering. I think it took me less than an hour to read the whole thing.

Kidnapped by the Taliban: A Story of Terror, Hope, and Rescue by SEAL Team Six by Dilip Joseph, M.D.

I love intriguing true stories, so that was one element I enjoyed about this book. I also liked how it showed the villains as real humans instead of painting them in a completely negative light. One great thing about reading is that they say it expands your capacity for empathy, and this book certainly did that for me.

Vanish by Tom Pawlik

One day, I felt like I needed to give my brain a break, so I picked up this fiction novel I’d grabbed from Mardel’s bargain books section.

I knew it was a thriller, and I expected something along the lines of Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti. It was similar to those authors, but toward the end, it caught me totally off guard.

I read the whole book in one day, staying up till 1 AM to finish. Afterward, I couldn’t immediately fall asleep because the spiritual theme resonated with me so much: a judgment day is coming for each of us, and when it’s time, there will be no second chances. This one will make you think!

H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle. by Brad Lomenick

An excellent book for leaders. On my to-read-again list!

The Bait of Satan by John Bevere

I am so thankful I had the chance to read this book. Unlike the other books on this list, I read The Bait of Satan several years ago.

I’m actually not sure why I even picked it up! The topic is forgiveness — or the lack thereof — and I didn’t feel I had much to forgive. Definitely nothing serious!

As I read the book, however, I was amazed to realize there were so many things in my daily life that had the potential to cultivate roots of bitterness, if I let them.

Later on, when someone did hurt me deeply, I had the foundation necessary to make it through the situation with the freedom that comes with forgiveness. I wasn’t in the least tempted to hold a grudge, because through this book, God had spoken to me so deeply about the power and importance of forgiveness.

Every person should read this book.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

An engaging, inspiring read about a Muslim’s journey to Christianity. Even though I was sad the author came to an understanding of God as three beings instead of God as One, I was inspired by and thoroughly engaged in this book.

Gods at War by Kyle Idleman

I think I may be Kyle Idleman’s biggest fan! I recommend pretty much anything by him, though I believe he’s written a few books I haven’t had the chance to read yet.

Gods at War was like looking in a mirror and being shocked at how disheveled I was. It opened my eyes to so many ways I was letting things become idols in my life.

Add this to the list of books I want to read again in a few years!