It’s no secret that I love to read. I believe books have the power to challenge us and change us. I also believe the best books are ones that can – and should – be reread!
As I grow older, my reading style continues to evolve. I find myself branching out to different genres instead of reading only fiction (my first love). I’ve also discovered some gems along the way that I want to share.
Over 4 years ago, my brother-in-law challenged me to track the books I read. He basically said that if he read as much as I did – and as quickly as I did – he’d be reading lots of different things! I took his advice to heart and started creating book lists for myself that focused on different areas of my life as a Christian woman, wife and (now) mom. I still read a lot of fiction but I also read a wide variety of non-fiction as well.
Since I started this challenge, I began tracking the books I read every year as well as the books I want to read. That list is constantly growing! Some times I read a book and it wasn’t what I expected, but other times it exceeds my expectations. I recently looked through my book lists (numbering 339 since I began counting in 2012) and found the ones that challenged me most.
This list is the result. This list didn’t come together lightly because I take book recommendations very seriously! These books, however, are ones that I would recommend to any woman. It should also be noted that these books influenced me as a Christian reader – and many are written by Christians.
I broke my recommendations into five areas: time management / life, motherhood, financial, non-fiction, and of course, fiction. The 20 books that follow are some of my absolute favorite books that have changed me. It is my hope and prayer that you will discover some new favorites as well!
Please note that this post does contain affiliate links. You can read more in my disclosure policy. That said, I am only recommending books that I absolutely love. Feel free to purchase them and read them wherever and whenever you are able!
Time Management / Life
The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica Turner was truly a life-changing book for me. If you only read one book from this whole list, make it this one! The Fringe Hours is an encouraging way to look at finding time for yourself, especially in this busy world where we try to do so many things! Jessica encourages you to find pockets of time to use for yourself, so that you can serve your family better. You can read my full post on finding my fringe hours here.
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin was a book I read a couple years ago. It was Gretchen’s second book after The Happiness Project. I enjoyed both of them but this book had some interesting ideas on how to be happier at home. There are some things I didn’t buy into (as a Christian homemaker) but it was a thought-provoking read with good overall concepts.
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese was one of the first books I read that challenged me to look at the food we were eating, making and buying. I liked this book because Jennifer looked at the financial aspects of dozens of foods and tried making them herself. Then, she shared her thoughts on whether it was better to make or buy the item. You’ll be surprised by some of her discoveries!
Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp was a new discovery. This was a practical way at helping me get organized – ahead of time – for one of my favorite times of year. I shared 7 ways I get ready for Christmas early here.
Motherhood / Parenting
Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker is my go-to book for all mothers. Lisa-Jo writes with such honesty about the ups and downs of real life as a mom. There is something in this book for every mother. I read a friend’s copy and then bought myself one when I was finished so I could reread it again.
Mothering from Scratch by Melinda Means & Kathy Helgemo is one of the first parenting books I read that I felt could be useful to everyone. The authors truly encourage you to find what works for you and your family and mother in that style. God created all our children differently, as He did their mothers. There were lots of helpful parenting tips for everyone, too.
The Baby Companion: A Faith-Filled Guide for Your Journey through Baby’s First Year by Jessica Wolstenholm & Dr. Andrea Johnston was a unique parenting book, written by a doctor and mom. I enjoyed this book because it worked through baby’s development month by month, as well as the challenges for mom and baby. It focused on physical things as well as emotional and yes, encouragement for faith. I was glad I stumbled across this book when I was pregnant with Nathan and would give it to any new Christian mom.
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan is a book I recommend when you need an honest – and funny – look at life as a parent. Jim’s look at life as a dad of 5 children (in New York City) is sure to make you laugh out loud…because he says the things we’ve all learned as parents!
Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life by Ruth Soukup focuses on how to have a rich and fulfilling life without the trappings of stuff. It’s a personal look inside Ruth’s life as she honestly shares the lessons she has learned (and is learning) about living more frugally, and relying on God. She is also the author of the popular blog Living Well, Spending Less.
All in Good Time: When to Save, Stock Up, and Schedule Everything for Your Home by Mandi Ehman and Tara Kuczykowski is worth reading because so few other books do what this one does. This book shares a wealth of information about when is the best money saving time to do almost anything!
The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: Slash Your Spending, Pay Down Your Debt, Streamline Your Life, and Save Thousands a Year by Crystal Paine is for anyone who is looking to save money. Written honestly by a Mom for Moms, there are lot of basics covered in this book but I still enjoyed reading it for the refresher on ways to save money for our family. (Crystal’s blog, Money Saving Mom, expounds upon this theme every day and is one of my favorites!)
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is for anyone who is serious about changing the way they handle money. This is Dave’s original book that outlines his 7 baby steps to financial freedom and is full of motivating stories and practical advice about how and why we can live a debt-free life. Whether you’re acquainted with Dave or not, I think everyone should read his book!
The Color of Rain: How Two Families Found Faith, Hope, and Love in the Midst of Tragedy by Michael and Gina Spehn was a book I stumbled across, thanks to a long ago recommendation in World Magazine. The honest and true story of a widow and widower, who suddenly lose their spouses and lean upon God and one another, is a beautiful and heartfelt read. It is a true story that will move you to tears, more than once.
Love Does by Bob Goff tells about discovering a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world by doing one thing – loving others as God wants us to do. This book is filled with honest stories and hard questions as it challenges you to look closely at your life. What does love do and what does love look like?
Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist captured me from the moment I read it was a love letter to life around the table. I have long believed connections happen around the dinner table and was delighted to read a book by someone who believes the same. If you love good food and value community, this book is worth a read. It also reminded me how important it is to share a meal with others. It doesn’t have to be fancy because the connection that happens over a meal is more important than the food itself.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker was a very interesting read. This book made my list because it challenged me to think. I don’t think I could do completely as Jen did nor do I believe I need to, but I appreciated her challenge to live with less inside the American mentality of excess. 7 is the true story of how Jen and her family took seven months, identified seven areas of excess (food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, stress), and made seven simple choices to fight against greed.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is one of my all-time favorite World War II books. It came up in book club recently and I realized it was time to read it. Set on the Guernsey Islands (which we hear nothing about during the War), it was an interesting look at how books bind people, even – especially – in times of war.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is the historical retelling of Bible prophet Hosea and his prostitute wife, Gomer. Not only does Francine Rivers beautifully retell this story (set in the 1800s) but it clearly shows God’s love for us as wandering, sinful Christians. This is a book I reread every couple years and I am moved every time.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an adoloscent literature book about World War II that should be required reading for everyone. It’s an interesting look at what people sacrificed to protect others during the war. There are some dark moments but it is incredibly well-written.
Rekindled by Tamera Alexander is a Christian work of fiction that I recently read, and was reminded how much I enjoy books by Tamera Alexander. It’s the story of love – when love isn’t easy or convenient – and how marital love can and should endure, even in the face of extreme challenges. If you haven’t read anything by this author, start with this one.
There you have it. These are 20 books that I believe all women should read. Now that I’ve shared my book recommendations for you, what book recommendations do you have for me?