Best Christian Books and Gift Ideas 2016

best-christian-books-and-gifts-2016

My 10 Best Christian Books of 2016 PLUS 7 great gift ideas for Christmas. Though these were not necessarily all published in 2016, these are the ones I read this year that I think will be most helpful or appealing to readers of this blog (or just my favourites).

FOR ANYONE GOING THROUGH A HARD TIME:

FinalSoulBareCoverSoul Bare – ed. Cara Sexton.

I may be biased, because I’m one of the contributors to this book, but these stories of authenticity and the search for faith during difficult times were beautiful and compelling. There are some stellar writers in the mix (Seth Haines, Sarah Bessey, Holley Gerth, Emily P Freeman), and Cara’s sensitive editing makes this a really special collection. I cried; I smiled; I felt comforted and fired up at the same time. For anyone struggling in some way, this is a cathartic and nurturing read.

 

Night Driving Addie ZiermanNight Driving – Addie Zierman.

How can you continue believing when you can’t feel God anymore and your faith has gone dark? This is the question Addie wrestles with as she takes a 3,000-mile road-trip down to Florida to escape the Minnesotan winter. (With two children in the car under the age of five). Addie is the master of spiritual memoir, and she not only captures the relentlessness of winter and mothering two small children, but the loss of childhood faith, and the search for more. Loved this.

 

finding God in the ruins Finding God in the Ruins – Matt Bays.

Part-memoir, part-exploration of how to relate to God after your faith has been damaged through suffering. Really good exploration of the toll that suffering takes, permission to voice anger to God, and the way back to God after heartbreak and abuse. What makes this book stand out is its honesty and messy hope.

 

 

broken hallelujahs slevcoveBroken Hallelujahs – Beth Allen Slevcove.

A book about grief that’s personal yet intelligent; rigorous yet highly readable; honest about grief yet positive. She’s a qualified Spiritual Director, so her creative exercises and prayer suggestions at the end of each chapter are incredibly helpful and transformative. Helpful for people who’ve experienced any loss at all (e.g. job, hopes, health etc), not just the death of a friend or relative. She’s someone who has been into the pit and out the other side, and it drips with gentleness and heavenly wisdom.

 

DEVOTIONAL OR INSPIRATIONAL: 

 

imitation of christImitation of Christ – Thomas à Kempis, trans. James Watkins.

I find it healthy to have a mixture of contemporary and historic theology in my reading list, because of the way it challenges the idols and theologies of our age. Using biblical insights, it is written as a fictional conversation between a follower and Christ on how to be a better disciple. This version has updated language for a timeless classic – useful for dipping into for devotional time.

 

book of hours bagleyBook of Hours – in Shadow and in Sun – Jamie Wright Bagley.

A poetic version of liturgy for the hours, it has a few offerings of unassumingly wise and beautiful poetry for each ‘hour’ (e.g. Matins, Prime, None). The poetry is both easily accessible and refreshing – it feels like an arm around you, supportive and gentle. If you are too weary or soul-weary to pray, this might just be the perfect thing for you. Short, sweet – balm for the soul.

 

SOCIETY AND CULTURE: 

assimilate or go home MayfieldAssimilate or Go Home – D L Mayfield.

Part-memoir, part-creative-essays about the author’s experience of working with and living alongside refugees in America, and how it completely changed her view of mission. A timely and thought-povoking book that exposes much of the unintentional consequences of ‘doing mission’ and assumptions about refugees, and deals with a lot of difficult issues with a gentle and intelligent touch. To read it is to re-encounter the grace of God and the wonder and love of Jesus. I keep referring back to this one.

 

MalestromMalestrom – Carolyn Custis James.

This book focuses on the concept of manhood, and how patriarchy damages men. She writes engagingly and fluently about how patriarchy is currently damaging cultures across the world, and exegetes Bible passages where God’s followers – and ultimately Jesus – challenge patriarchal values and redefine manhood. She’s a gifted Bible teacher and this is a real pleasure to read.

 

myth undeserving poorThe Myth of the Undeserving Poor – Charlesworth and Williams.

An unexpected jewel, and a timely book considering all the press and TV programs that vilify the poor as benefit-scrounging scum. This timely book is short, and presents intelligent, statistical analysis of poverty and faith in the UK and a reasoned biblical and theological response to poverty without being emotive. This makes it essential reading for Christians of all political persuasions, to challenge their assumptions and check they are basing their opinions on fact rather than myth.

 

FOR PERFECTIONISTS:

present-over-perfect-niequist-e1452430459784Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist.

Part-essay, part-memoir of Niequist’s  journey to abandon the quest for perfectionism and performance, and find contentment in the everyday. Niequist, like her father Bill Hybels, has an incredible capacity for making her message memorable and repeatable, and I must have underlined about half of the entire book. She has the sort of welcoming, positive, easy tone that makes you feel instantly that she understands you: the ‘me too’ moments. Vital reading for perfectionists, writers, and ministers.

My 7 BEST GIFT IDEAS FOR CHRISTMAS

mini journal 5 yearMini-Journal 

For those who remember my #threegoodthings tweets, I still do this thankfulness discipline – identifying three things each day that I’m grateful for. Instead of sharing it on social media I write it in this marvellous 5 year mini-journal. This year is my second time round, and I love revisiting the memories and seeing the parallels between the years. It would also be useful for keeping a ‘bullet-point’ diary, or writing daily haikus, answered prayers, or similar. Perfect gift for: Anyone who’s short of time, but wants to journal; anyone who wants to practise the discipline of thankfulness. 

 

mio-fuse-hrmMio Fuse HR 

I tried a Fitbit, but found that its step counting was wildly inaccurate, and it broke after a few weeks. Then I tried this Mio Fuse, and I fell in love. It measures length and quality of sleep, daily steps and heart rate so you can exercise at the right zone for your age and weight. Most people use it for exercise, but because you can change and personalised the desired heart rate and steps, I use it as an alarm for when my heart rate is too high. For continual heart rate monitoring, it needs to be charged more frequently than a Timex Polar, but has the major advantage that you don’t need a sweaty chest strap. Perfect gift for: a friend who wants to get fit or monitor their heart rate; yourself. Comes in two sizes depending on your wrist size – small – turquoise – (fits me) and large – red-  (fits Jon).

 

mac lipstickMac Matte Lipsticks 

I have Lady Danger and So Chaud, which are orangey-reds, and others rave about Ruby Woo (blue-toned red). They are absolutely amazing lipsticks, that just stay on forever. Perfect gift for: Feisty lipstick fans. 

 

PrintAt Play in God’s Creation – An Illuminating Coloring Book – Tara M Owens and Daniel Sorensen.

There are many Christian-themed grown-up colouring books around now, but this one is special. Written by a spiritual director, it’s designed to be a visual prayer labyrinth, with questions, quotes and prompts for prayer and contemplation. Both the artwork and the written words are beautiful, and the paper quality is excellent. Not just for those who like colouring, this is useful as a spiritual discipline for anyone wanting to vary their prayer life. See sample pages here, and an example of how a non-colouring fan used it herePerfect gift for: a friend who like creative prayer, anyone who likes grown-up colouring. 

 

road-back-enneagramThe Road Back to You – An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – Ian Crohn and Suzanne Stabile.

There are many enneagram books out there, but this one is really quite accessible, and offers a Christian perspective throughout. (Treat the ‘celebrity examples’ of each enneagram number with a big pinch of salt; the whole point of the enneagram is that it is based on people’s inner motivations, not necessarily their outward behaviour.) Perfect gift for: personality quiz addicts and enneagram fans. 

 

what falls from the sky esther emeryWhat Falls From the Sky – Esther Emery.

This is out on Dec 13th – perfect timing for Christmas. Esther writes with fierce honesty about her transformation when she gave up the internet and went to live in the woods to disconnect from her dysfunctional life – and unintentionally met God. Perfect gift for: a friend who loves gripping memoir and beautiful writing.

 

looming transitionsLooming Transitions – Amy Young.

This has a very specific audience, but if you know any Christians living overseas or thinking of doing so, this is indispensable reading. Brilliant practical wisdom, with thought-provoking questions, on how to finish well when you come to the end of a job or project, applied to those leaving cross-cultural or overseas situations. Perfect gift for: anyone preparing to move job or home; your favourite Christian working overseas. 

QUICK LINKS TO BUY:

For each book, if you can, do try to support your local Christian bookshop, or an online Christian store like Eden.co.uk.

FinalSoulBareCover

Soul Bare – ed. Cara Sexton.

Get it from Amazon.com $10.24, Amazon.co.uk £13.08, or Wordery (UK) £10.57

 

Night Driving Addie ZiermanNight Driving – Addie Zierman.

Get it from Amazon.com $9.83, Amazon.co.uk £6.78, or Wordery (UK) £9.74

 

finding god in the ruinsFinding God in the Ruins – Matt Bays.

Get it from Amazon.com $11.03, Amazon.co.uk £13.47, or Wordery (UK) £8.18

 

Assimilate or go homeAssimilate or Go Home – D L Mayfield. 

Get it from Amazon.com $8.92, Amazon.co.uk £12.20, or Wordery (UK) £8.26

 

broken hallelujahs slevcoveBroken Hallelujahs – Beth Allen Slevcove.

Get it from Amazon.com $12.71, Amazon.co.uk £10.99, or Wordery (UK) £7.65

 

imitation of christImitation of Christ – Thomas à Kempis, trans. James Watkins. 

Get it from Amazon.com $12.91, Amazon.co.uk £12.38, or Wordery (UK) £9.63

 

book of hours bagleyBook of Hours – in Shadow and in Sun – Jamie Wright Bagley.

Get it from Amazon.com Kindle only $7.01, Amazon.co.uk £5.46

 

MalestromMalestrom – Carolyn Custis James. 

Get it from Amazon.com $15.06, Amazon.co.uk £12.99, or Wordery (UK) £9.45

 

myth undeserving poorThe Myth of the Undeserving Poor – Charlesworth and Williams.

Get it from Amazon.com $10.00, Amazon.co.uk £7.00, or Wordery (UK) £6.45

 

present-over-perfect-niequist-e1452430459784Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequist.

Get it from Amazon.com £13.79, Amazon.co.uk £9.98, or Wordery (UK) £7.89

 

mini journal 5 yearMini-Journal (5 year diary).  

Get it from Amazon.com $13.79, Amazon.co.uk £9.59, or Wordery (UK) £10.16

 

mio-fuse-hrmMio Fuse HR. 

Get it from Amazon.com $66.41, Amazon.co.uk c. £80

 

mac lipstickMac Matte Lipsticks. 

Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

 

at play in gods creationAt Play in God’s Creation – An Illuminating Coloring Book – Tara M Owens and Daniel Sorensen. 

Get it from Amazon.com $16.13, Amazon.co.uk £13.88, or Wordery (UK) £11.68

 

road-back-enneagramThe Road Back to You – An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – Ian Crohn and Suzanne Stabile. 

Get it from Amazon.com $17.76, Amazon.co.uk £17.99, or Wordery (UK) £14.45

 

what falls from the sky esther emeryWhat Falls From the Sky – Esther Emery. 

Get it from Amazon.com $14.01, Amazon.co.uk (£12.99 Preorder), or Wordery (UK) (£11.156 preorder)

 

looming transitionsLooming Transitions – Amy Young. 

Get it from Amazon.com $7.99, Amazon.co.uk £8.29, or Wordery (UK) £6.40

 

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Over to you: 

  • What have been your favourite Christian books this year?

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7 Responses to Best Christian Books and Gift Ideas 2016

  1. Rebecka 9th December, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

    I’d never heard of At Play in God’s Creation before, it sounds really interesting! And The Road Back to You seems like a book I need to read. Great list! 🙂

    • Tanya 20th February, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

      OO! Which enneagram type are you? Do you know? Let me know what you think of the book!

      • Rebecka 20th February, 2017 at 5:46 pm #

        I’m fairly certain I’m a One. I read a Swedish book on the Enneagram and could not stop laughing when I read the chepter on Ones! It was as if the author had been spying on me and read my thoughts. I’ve had The Wisdom of the Enneagram on my shelf for so long but not gotten around to reading it… I’d love to learn more about it. Speaking of things I haven’t gotten around to, I learned a few weeks ago that there is a The Road Back to You podcast. Have you listened to it? You’re a Two right, or am I remembering that wrong?

  2. Jenna DeWitt 9th December, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    I’d add Sarah B’s “Out of Sorts” and Sophie Hudson’s “Giddy Up, Eunice.” Great list!!

    • Tanya 20th February, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

      Oo – love Sarah Bessey’s Out of Sorts. (Think that made my list lsat year!) Never heard of the other one, though – sounds intriguing!

  3. JA Andrews 9th December, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    REALLY good list! Thank you! I love reading these!

    • Tanya 20th February, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

      Why, thank you!

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