The Best Ever Gift Guide for Book Lovers!

Dec 2, 2014Find joy today

I’m really excited about sharing my favorite books from the last year. My hope is that some of these gems you haven’t heard of yet, and I get the supreme privilege of introducing you to them. So, shake hands with awesome books, friends!

If you’re interested in the book, simply click the book cover.

Business Books:


Darth Vader Day-at-a-glance Moleskine calendar. OK, so this isn’t technically a book one would read, but it is one that will help take your business to the next level in terms of organization. Plus, there’s the added bonus that Darth Vader is STARING at you every single live-long day. He’s a black-helmeted reminder that even the most despicable character can be redeemed.


Give and Take by Adam Grant. Absolutely the BEST business book I’ve read this year. And, my husband loved it too, which means it’s entirely worthy of your attention. I wrote more about the awesomeness of this book here. In a nutshell, good guys win. It’s better to give (wisely) than to be a mean-old taker.


Essentialism by Greg McKeown. This year my word was FOCUS. (Don’t ask me how well or how poorly I’ve done. Boo.) This book helped me realize (afresh) that there are a few things I should do, yet I bog myself down with ten million things instead. For those needing focus, particularly in work, this is a fascinating read.


The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This book really helped me understand why oh why I have so many terrible habits, and why I can’t seem to stop eating dark chocolate at 1 PM. A completely captivating look at the whys behind our habits, and how to break the cycle so we can create newer, better habits. I need to re-read this book.

True Stories:


Rush of Heaven by Ema McKinley and Cheryl Ricker. Beautiful, outrageous story about a women grossly bent to the side (in a terrible accident) and God’s miraculous healing. Ema’s sweet, dedicated, persevering heart bleeds onto the page, and the book reads like a novel. The before and after pictures are amazing.


The Invisibile Girls by Sarah Thebarge. I heard about this book when I asked my Twitter followers to recommend a book for a plane ride read. I’m so grateful! This is the story of a woman broken by cancer who chooses to open her eyes and heart to a refugee family in crisis. All proceeds go to help the girls go to college someday. The book made me want to live more aware of the needs around me.


Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech. A poignant, tear-inducing story about a teenage boy with cancer, the song he wrote that went viral, and the guts and grit of his family and friends. I couldn’t put this book down, and I’ve passed it along to others.



Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. Our pastor, Steve Stroope, of Lake Pointe Church recommended this book to my husband. Whenever he recommends a book, I listen. I so appreciated Ortberg’s heart, the way he teaches readers about soul, and what we can do in this crazy world to quiet ourselves and strive for soul keeping. If you’re overwhelmed and you feel something missing way down in your gut, pick this book up. It’s like a mini spiritual retreat.


Living Without Jim by Sue Keddy. I met Sue when we shared a platform at the Beauty for Ashes conference in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. She walks closely with Jesus in the kind of intimacy that woos me closer. She lost her husband to a heart attack when they were missionaries in Hong Kong. Reading her heart on the page makes me want to stop everything and sing a worship song to Jesus at the top of my lungs. Oh how she loves Jesus!



Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas. I’ve been working on my health for quite some time. It’s a pet project I never seem to master. But what I love about this book is that it gets at the WHY of health. Why work out? Why eat well? Why bother? The answer lies in theology. This body is ours, entrusted to us by our Maker. And the way we manage and bless it (or abuse and malign it) determines how well we’ll enjoy the rest of our lives. Inspiring.


Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath. Think of it as a devotional for health. Rath gives you a daily dose of how to improve the three things in your life that make a huge difference in your health: food, exercise, and rest. It’s bit-sized and practical. I learned just how devastating a sedentary lifestyle is to my health. And although I’m still sitting way too much, I am better at getting up and moving around. Easy read. Easy to implement.



Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay. My friend Kelley Mathews gave me this book because she knew how much I loved cooking and well-written novels. She was right. Compelling story about a chef who returns from NYC to the Pacific Northwest to help care for her estranged sister. Lots of great conflict, amazing food scenes, and a love interest thrown in makes this a highly enjoyable and satisfying read.


Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. Because I’m a sucker for books in the feel of To Kill a Mockingbird, I loved this novel. A dual storyline from the era of segregation and forbidden love and modern struggles, I couldn’t put this book down. Beautifully written, paced well, and a satisfying ending.

Best of the year:


The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Hands down the best book I read this year. And I have no experience or interest in rowing. But I loved that this amazing come from behind story takes place in my hometown, Seattle. It reads like a novel, fast paced, with just enough tantalizing historical detail to flesh out the story. I fell in love with the boys in that boat, cheered for them, skipped meals to read how the next race fared, and exulted in this beautiful expose of the Greatest Generation. You really need to read this book, friends.

So that’s it. My favorite books from 2014. Lest this become all about me, please share YOUR favorite books from last year. I am always up for a good read. (Side note: I read about two books a week.)