Books, Giveaways

A Few Good Reads [And A 4 Book Giveaway]

A Few Good Reads [And A  4 Book Giveaway]

*The following post is chock-full of affiliate links.  Fear not, this costs you nothing more. I’m grateful for your support*

I miss writing in this space…I just need to tell you that. This is an intensely full season for me, as I continue to find my footing managing GraceTable, while carrying on my other responsibilities and work.

Because I love you, faithful readers, and because I love books, I wanted to share some of the good reads I have enjoyed over the last year,  and also GIVEAWAY a short stack of books! (Yes!)

Book quote Madeline L'Engle

I started off 2014 strong in the reading department. I think I read more books in a single year in 2014, than I have ever managed in 12 months. I’m not setting any records, but for me, it felt good–a small personal achievement. I can also say that each book held something for me, something timely that I needed, which I don’t chock up to coincidence, but rather attribute that to God’s good providence, in knowing exactly what we need, when we need it.

My one word this year was “release” and many of these books were mentors to me in helping me to let go of things that held me back from living truly surrendered to God. I have by no means arrived (there is no such thing), but I am thankful for the ways these words and authors (so many of them friends!!) ministered to me over the past year.

This is a long list, so let get to it, shall we?
book stack
From the top on down:
Start Here: Beginning a Relationship with Jesus By Nicole Unice

An easy, introduction to the Christian faith, written with those questioning christianity in mind. Would make an excellent gift to a new believer, or someone wondering what Christianity is all about.

Radical Hospitality: Benedict’s Way of Love: Benedict’s Way of Love, 2nd Edition By Loni Pratt

A closer look at the St. Benedict’s rule for hospitality. An inspiring and challenging book on what it is to practice biblical hospitality–which is, the love of strangers.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

(Fiction) A story of two teenage boys growing up in Brooklyn, discovering their common humanity and growing together in friendship, despite their very different Jewish practices.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

(Fiction) A profoundly relevant, and beautiful book about racial tension in the south in the 1940’s through the eyes of a young girl (Scout) and her brother (Jem). A MUST read for all people.

Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith By Michelle Derusha

A hilariously humorous and tenderly poignant memoir of one woman’s journey to faith. This book will make you laugh and cry for all of the right reasons. An absolute MUST.

Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition Christine Pohl

An intricate look at the history of biblical hospitality from the early days, and a necessary discussion about the shifts in our world and cultures that have drawn us away from the once common practice of welcoming strangers. Insightful, educational and a solid read.

Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes By Jennifer Lee

Inspiring, challenging, convicting, encouraging. Your heart needs this book.

The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchannan

An important book about Sabbath and why our souls need it, and what can happen when we observe God’s commandment to rest.

Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grownup World by Laura Boggess

An call to remember the importance of play and how it can draw us into closer relationship with God

Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith By Jen Pollock Michel

A deeply moving book about our God given desires, and how God uses them in our lives, to live the life He has called us to. Christianity Today named this Book of the Year for 2015 and it is well-deserved.

A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Conner

A glimpse into the heart and prayer life of Flannery O’Connor. I found this brief snippet of her interior life to be quite encouraging and special.

Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look By Emily Wierenga

A memoir of a woman’s journey to finding home. Easily, Emily’s best writing to date. Simply beautiful.

Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us: by Preston Sprinkle

A sharp, moving look at God’s grace. I found this book to be a quick read, with lasting impact.

Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith Is No Longer Enough: by Kristin Welch

A tremendous testimony of how God comes to us, and invites us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, for His glory, and the service of His beloved people.

Whole: An Honest Look at the Holes in Your Life – and How to Let God Fill Them: by Lisa Whittle

Honest, moving, inspiring.

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

If you hand out “yes’s” like their going out of style you need this book. A tremendously helpful and encouraging book about saving our “yes” for the things we’ve been specifically called to.

A Christian Survival Guide: A Lifeline to Faith and Growth: by Ed Cyzewski

Insightful, and thought-provoking.

Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent: By N.D. Wilson

A poetic, challenging, hard-hitting, and deeply beautiful book about what it means to live for Christ.

Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer: by Micha Boyett

A quiet, contemplative memoir about doubt and faith and the practice of prayer.

The Irrational Season (The Crosswicks Journal, Book 3) by: Madeline L’Engle

Book 3 in her Crosswicks series, this book is as wonderful as Circle Of Quiet, and a meditative breath of fresh air.

Absolute Surrender: by Andrew Murray

A challenging book about living the surrendered life. Small in size but long on impact.

Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again: by Preston Yancey

A young man’s memoir of growing up and growing in faith through the tumultuous college years and how God welcomes us again and again to His table.

50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith: by Michelle Derusha

This is a must-have for every Christian home. Inspiring, challenging, and hopeful, these stories of women who risked big for God are a must-read for not only women of faith, but all Christians.

Also read but not pictured:
Brown Girl Dreaming
Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now
I Want God: Forever Changed by the Revival of Your Soul
Fahrenheit 451: A Novel
The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful
24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life
God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter

I could not complete this post without including the BEST children’s series I have ever read. The Wingfeather Saga spawned from the illuminated imagination of Andrew Peterson and is an absolute MUST for children ages 7 to adult. I read these 4 books aloud to my children and we laughed and wept our way through each them. Inspiring, funny, tender and imaginative, these books are a treasure to read and re-read.
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga)
North! Or Be Eaten (The Wingfeather Saga)
The Monster in the Hollows (Wingfeather Saga)
The Warden and the Wolf King (Wingfeather Saga)


And NOW, a little giveaway…

Book Giveaway

This giveaway is simple. Leave a comment below, and I will send you this delightful little canvas bag packed with these 4 books.


Tell me, what was your favorite book of 2014?


*unfortunately, this giveaway is open to US residents only.


  1. Kim@onerebelheart

    I’ve long since stopped trying to keep up with all the books I’ve read. There are just too many! One that I finished recently that really stuck with me was On the Beach by Nevil Shute, which was written back in the 50s or 60s and dealt with a fictional end-of-the-world scenario.

  2. KristinHillTaylor

    Love Idol is one of my very favorite books of the year … and ever. I actually shared the books I’ve read this year on my blog today too. 🙂

  3. I, too, was blessed by “Love Idol”. “Captive in Iran” really challenged my faith in huge ways. “Trust Without Borders” by my friend, Arabah Joy, was so important to me in the past month as I have lost my mother and experienced some fractured relationships (that are healing, praise God). There are several books on your list that I want to read! Onward to 2015!

  4. leigh dusek

    I have a big list too….I’m quite picky about what I read. However, the book I took the most away from and was inspired the most by was Let’s all be Brave by Annie Downs.

  5. Ahhh … I need to come back and make notes on your pile! So fabulous. I think I love that bag about as much as the books inside! My favorites for 2014 – the ones that made such a tremendous impression: Jesus Feminist (non fiction) and Orphan Train (fiction). Both of them, just so good.

  6. Debra Southern

    My favorite book I read in 2014, not an easy one to narrow down. Mother Teresa, an inspired life by Wyatt North. Fiction: Shenandoah Sisters (All Four Books) by Michelle Phillips

  7. Deb Anderson Weaver

    Great list! I added many (most) to my wishlist! Best non-fiction books I read in 2014: God is Able, Love Idol, Spiritual Whitespace, You’re Already Amazing, and Surprised by Motherhood. Fiction-wise, I enjoyed First Family by David Baldacci.

  8. Ashley Edwards Marshall

    I need to add some of these to my 2015 reading list! My favorite book this year has been The Best Yes. She is absolutely so inspiring and I love reading her beautiful words!

  9. karen

    Wherever the River Ends by Kelly Minter was SOO good! I have given away multiple copies!!! She says things that most of us think, but would hesitate to admit out loud! Also LOVE, Valley of Vision….puritan prayers! SO very rich!

  10. Linda N

    Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve read a few of those but most I have not. You’ve offered a lot of options. I especially appreciate the recommendation for The Wingfeather Saga. I teach elementary school and am always looking for something new for our read-aloud time. Printing your list out for my next trip to the bookstore.

  11. Christie

    I see a ton of books to add to my list for next year! This year was a big year in reading for me as well; I ended up with over 100! (Things that happen when you find yourself stuck at home for an extended period of time!)

  12. Stephanie K. Adams

    Great list! Definitely gives me some ideas for 2015. Thanks for sharing with us.
    I am getting ready for a book giveaway within the next week, too. I love it!

  13. Melanie Zumwalde

    Love the book recommendations. I wish I had time to read all the books I want to read. I am definitely checking out the fiction series to read to my kids.

  14. Connie L

    I love books and reading. Whenever someone suggests I get rid of some of my books, we have a heart to heart about how books are wonderful! 😉 My favorite book from this past year that I read was Chasing God by Angie Smith. I read a lot of great ones, but it was the one that spoke to my heart the most.

  15. Sarah Connatser

    Thanks for these recommendations! Looks like a solid group! Definitely adding some of these to my list for next year. Finally getting into a good reading routine again after going several months without one because of welcoming our little one into our life. It’s good to be back reading and finding good lists like this!

  16. Jacquelin Walker

    My fave book this year was Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis. One of my heavier reads for sure, but he’s my fave author and the book was excellent. Will have to check out some of the titles on your list.

  17. Loved hearing about the books you read this year, Kris! So many good ones there! I’ve read a few of them, and I’ve written a few titles down for my own to-read list. What a lovely giveaway – that bag is so cute, simply perfect for bookworms like us! Bless you friend – Happy New Year!

  18. Betsy Smith

    Hard to pick a favorite, but I’d have to say Gregory Boyle’s “Tattoos on the Heart” is my pick for 2014. God led him straight into the heart of the toughest gangs and what an incredible journey he’s had. The power of God at work in the messiness of life is just amazing

  19. Dusty

    Just came upon Jennifer Dukes Lee blog a few weeks ago. Will have to read this book; between her blog and Laura Boggess blog I am refreshed and inspired daily. Books have been the best part of my life and now that I am retired I have “time” to read…and our book club celebrated 5 years this past October. Books are always given to my grandkids as gifts; I worry that someday books will be part of the past and everything will be electronic. Appreciate that you and Monica do these giveaways. Be blessed.

  20. Linda N

    Have a couple of favorites from this year: God is Able by Priscilla Shirer; Love Does by Bob Goff; and Before Amen by Max Lucado. Have a few others in the line-up to be read which may very well become new favorites. Had already printed out your list and forwarded your email to numerous friends. Thank you!

  21. Judy

    Thanks for sharing your list with us. Several of these are on my list for 2015! 🙂 A few of my favorites from 2014 were Clout, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, and Resurrection Year.

  22. Michelle

    Most recently I read UNGLUED by Lysa TerKeurst. It was challenging in that I found that she was speaking right to my unglued heart, but it was a comfort to know that I am not alone and God’s grace will get me through.

    I also read RHINESTONE JESUS this summer and loved it. Love Kristen Welch.

    Thanks for sharing some good reads! xoxo

  23. Marie Bride

    It is really hard Kris,
    To narrow it down because there were so many.
    50 Women Every Christian should know is at the top of my list for 2014!
    I am still hoping to win a copy of Love Idol!!!
    Happy & Blessed 2015!
    Thank You for this opportunity!

  24. christatodd

    Found — was the right book for me at the right time — recommended by my good friend Lori Harris. I am currently reading Speak and trying to figure out what my word will be this year.

  25. Jessica

    So enjoy seeing what others are reading. Picking a favorite was tough for me this year. I think Annie F Downs’ Let’s All Be Brave pulls a first for favorite with Tsh’s Notes From A Blue Bike as a close second. 🙂

  26. Laila

    I read so many awesome books this year but I really enjoyed Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She’s such an amazing story teller and it was a welcomed break for me since I primarily read non-fiction.

  27. DA Schuhow

    I already have three of these books, so count me out of the giveaway. I wanted to share that the books that have changed me the most this year are:
    Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray
    1000 Gifts by Ann VosKamp

  28. Debra Southern

    The book that helped me the most this year was Shelia Walsh’s “get off your knees and pray”. If you are struggling or have question about prayer, I recommend this book.

  29. Julie

    One of my favorite books this year was The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. Gave me a new perspective on prayer! Love getting so many ideas from all of y’all! How fun!

  30. JE T

    I really loved Atlas Girl, but my favorite book was the Bible. It was my goal to read the whole “library” of the Bible in a year. Although I went over by a couple months, I finished on Dec 31st, 2014 and it was probably the most exciting, interesting, and worthwhile journeys I have undertaken in my short 17 years of life so far 🙂

  31. Jill De Boer

    Impressive list, Kris! I didn’t read as many books as you did, but Too Late the Phalarope was my favorite this year. Read it for book club and was very glad for the opportunity to discuss it afterward – thought provoking book for me.

  32. I want them all! Thank you for sharing your list with me. I read two from your list already and will bring more of them into 2015. To Kill and Mocking Bird and Atlas Girl were two that will stay with me for a long time. And Saved At Sea is the children’s book we read again. It’s hard for me to read aloud because I weep so much. But the whole family loves it! You will too.

  33. Loved Women of the Word by Jen Wilkins. This is the book that will stay with me for my personal study and teaching. The book that I read because I love the author’s writing: Lila by Marilynne Robinson. Excellent bio: Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior. Haunting but challenging: Vanishing Grace by Philip Yancey. Biggest challenge for me to get my brain around: Redeeming Philosophy by Vern Poythress

  34. va

    I love your list of books…I wish I had more time to read, ’cause I probably haven’t even read as many books as were in the picture this year unless you count books for school…the book that is probably the best that I can remember reading in 2014 was Let’s All be Brave!

  35. Kristie

    My favorite book of 2014 was The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison. A truly wonderful novel!. Thanks for the great list of books, I will be adding to my wish list!

  36. Amber Kemp

    Love! My favorite book this year was Lisa Jo Baker’s book Surprised by Motherhood. Amazingly raw, warm, and moving as she shares about motherhood and her experiences. One of my goals is to read more this year-the books you’ve listed sound fantastic!

  37. Karen Smith

    Ended up loving The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo. Amazing story of forgiveness! Can’t wait to read some of the ones on your list! Thanks for sharing the titles!


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