I love to read, and I have for all of my days on this earth. I remember as a little kid, holing up inside my bedroom to read. My mom used to get on my case to go outside and play with my sister because she was playing, and I was laying on my bed, reading a book. I love books.
Since I’ve become an exhausted working woman and mom, I haven’t had as much time for books. Gone are the days of turning pages in my bed for hours. I have a Kindle now, and LOVE IT, but I don’t even get as much time with that as I used to.
My best choice these days is an audiobook which I can listen to in the car or on my daily walk. Therefore, with only one exception, every book on this list is available in audio format. You can listen to them, and some of them are read by the authors which make the reading extra special in my opinion.
#1 on both lists is my absolute favorite of favorites. Outlander has captivated my heart since I first started reading it six years ago. I have read through the entire series three times and almost all the novellas and ancillary books. I actually don’t love the audio versions of Outlander, but they do exist. And Love Does is the first audiobook I’ve ever listened to more than once. It is a treasure and delight, uplifting and encouraging in every possible way.
- Outlander by Diana Galbadon – I don’t know if Outlander is so much an encouraging book, although it does renew my hope in love and affection and devotion. It’s more of an escape into a delicious, masterfully crafted story. I really love these books and the complex characters that make them up. The story is that a World War 2 nurse on a second honeymoon in Scotland accidentally falls through time to land in the late 1700’s. She is forced to marry a young Scot to save herself, and they eventually fall in love, despite her commitment to get back to her own time and her first husband. There is some smut though it’s not terribly graphic. This isn’t specifically a Christian book. #1 in a series of 8.
- Waterfall: A River of Time Novel by Lisa T. Bergren – I guess I have a thing for time travel books because this one is that, too. This is a Young Adult novel but I loved it. It’s about two sisters who, at first, accidentally go back in time, but later on, go back and take their mother. One of the sisters falls in love (of course), but that’s not all there is to the story. If I remember correctly, I think this is Christian lit. Very good and #1 in a series of 5.
- Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter – This is a children’s book that I recently listened to with my girls. We loved it. It’s so uplifting and encouraging and inspiring that I had to recommend it to you. Pollyanna is an orphan who was adopted by an older, austere aunt. Before he died, Pollyanna’s father introduced her to the Glad Game, where you try your very best to find something to be glad about in every single situation. Pollyanna spreads her game all around town, and eventually, all those people bring it back to her when she needs it most. A wonderful story and #1 in a series of 2.
- The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall – This is another children’s book that I listened to with my girls. It’s about 5 sisters whose mother died 4 years ago. They go on vacation with their father to a cottage on the grounds of a large New England estate and meet all kinds of people. The story is wonderful and positive and uplifting. #1 in a series of 5.
- When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke – If you’re like me and one of the #hearties who adore the When Calls the Heart tv series on the Hallmark channel, you may think you already know this book. Well, you don’t. The book series is very, very different from the tv series. If they didn’t have the same name, I would think they aren’t even related. In the book, a very wealthy young woman from Toronto goes to stay with her oldest brother in Calgary, Canada in the late nineteenth century. She is a school teacher and gets a position about 100 miles away from her brother, the first time she’s ever been entirely on her own in the world. She faces all kinds of adversity as she learns to live and work independently. And of course, there is a Mountie, but he’s not a love interest until the very very end of the book. This is Christian lit, though there’s not a lot of reference to faith. #1 in a series of 4.
- Redemption by Karen Kingsbury – This is a Christian novel by probably the most successful Christian fiction author ever. The story begins with a woman discovering her husband’s affair but deciding to stick by him and repair their relationship. It is not as predictable as you might think, and the characters are real and interesting and flawed. #1 in a series of 5.
- The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers – This Christian fiction is about a man and a woman, a wealthy employer and his reluctant assistant, a tortured soul with a dark past and a wounded divorcée who’s sworn off love forever. I guess you can predict what is going to happen, but the story is worth reading anyway because the plot twists and turns make it very interesting. It will renew your hope and faith in love and God’s plan and remind you that He can redeem even the hardest of hearts. Not part of a series.
- Love Does by Bob Goff – I just love Bob Goff and want him to be my grandpa. Or maybe he’s not quite that old and could be my uncle. Or my neighbor would be okay too. I think he’s considered to be a Christian author although this book should appeal to the masses because it’s about loving people unconditionally and his thoughts on what makes a good life. If you read no other book on this list, get Love Does. The audio book is especially wonderful because it’s read by Bob Goff himself, and he is a wonderful narrator. As I said above, this is the first audio book I listened to more than once.
- New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp – This is the only book on the list that is not available as an audio book, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s a devotional that you read one day at a time. Each day starts with a Tweet written by Paul David Tripp, and then the devo is a page or two that expands on that Tweet. It is challenging and thought-provoking and honest and real. I read this book every single morning as part of my morning routine, and I think about it all day long. I was recommended to read this book by three or four different people before I finally bought it, and I’m so glad I did.
- Of Mess & Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of the Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker – I love Jen Hatmaker, and I especially love it when she reads her books to me. Of Mess & Moxie is in her typical essay style, and it doesn’t especially have a strong theme, but it is funny and irreverent and maybe a little bit inspiring. She loves, and she has been loved. She is a flawed woman and mother who fails a lot, and she’s totally okay with that.
- Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown – I have loved Brené Brown ever since I saw her on Oprah years and years ago. She’s a researcher, a college professor, who studies shame and vulnerability. You might think that leads to dry and boring books, but you would be wrong. She writes about what it means to live a good life, how to live with your whole heart, and how to love and be loved. This is her most recent book, and she explores what people who stumble, fall, and rise back up stronger than ever have in common. As is her style, she finds a handful of basic truths that they all believe, and she explains how you can get their results. Read by the author, and she is a wonderful narrator.
- Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie – If you are a homeschooler, you will want to read or listen to this book several times to soak in all its wisdom. It’s about restful teaching and restful learning: not teaching and learning from a state of continual busy-ness or necessarily high academic rigor but from a state of rest and peace in God. She advocates being most concerned with your children’s hearts and souls and less concerned with the state of their multiplication tables. I liked this book a lot and found it really in line with the reasons I’m homeschooling in the first place. Read by the author who is a wonderful narrator who also has her own podcast, Read Aloud Revival.
- Own Your Life: Living With Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson – I also love Sally Clarkson. I think she is possibly the best Christian author today who writes about motherhood and mothering. Her books have inspired me tremendously over the eleven years of my motherhood journey. This particular book is about living and growing in faith within the confines of the circumstances of your life. As the title would imply, it’s about owning your life instead of feeling like a victim and enjoying your situation as God has presented it to you.
- Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom by Lisa-Jo Baker – I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did after being disappointed by an in-person encounter with the author. It’s a memoir from an author who did not want to ever become a mother but ended up believing it to be her greatest calling (exactly like myself). Her mother died when she was a teenager (mine when I was in my thirties), and she had to learn what it was like to be a woman and a mother all on her own. Read by the author who is a wonderful narrator.
- Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle – I love all of Melanie Shankle’s early works (her later works, not so much). She’s super funny and real and makes her life seem just like the reader’s life. This particular book is about motherhood, and it’s written in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style that I loved. Did I mention she’s hilarious? All of her books are laugh out loud funny and will make you proud to be a Christian woman. If you like this one, you cannot miss The Antelope in the Living Room which is a memoir about marriage that I listened to with my husband and we both roared with laughter.
When you’re in the trenches of life and exhausted with everything on your plate, you need some uplifting and positive books to encourage and inspire you. Any and all the above books will do just that and give you the pick-me-up that you need to keep moving along the path towards the greatness God has in store for you.
© 2020, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.