I tell my kids often that Readers are Leaders, and I truly believe that to be true. Fortunately for me, I have a job that requires a lot of reading, so the discipline of reading is something I have to do. Keeps my reading game strong, that’s for sure. 


Throughout the year we’ve shared blogs that have included all the books I read this year. This year I read a total of 52 books. Many of the authors have been guests on The Happy Hour and so hopefully you have enjoyed listening to them this year, and maybe you will also want to read their work as well. I’m closing out the year with the books I read in December + my top 10  books of the year in no particular order!




Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren

I have heard about this author for a while, and in August more friends encouraged me to pick this up. It’s the best book I have read all year! It took me forever to finish, not because it’s hard, or too deep, but because I would finish a chapter and want to think on it so much.


 Prayer in The Night by Tish Harrison Warren


Amazon description: “How can we trust God in the dark? Framed around a nighttime prayer of Compline, Tish Harrison Warren, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary, explores themes of human vulnerability, suffering, and God's seeming absence. When she navigated a time of doubt and loss, the prayer was grounding for her. She writes that practices of prayer “gave words to my anxiety and grief and allowed me to reencounter the doctrines of the church not as tidy little antidotes for pain, but as a light in darkness, as good news.” Where do we find comfort when we lie awake worrying or weeping in the night? This book offers a prayerful and frank approach to the difficulties in our ordinary lives at work, at home, and in a world filled with uncertainty.”




Until Unity by Francis Chan

Oh my friends, this book is what the people of God need right now. I read this book and cried as I begged God to help His people (ME!) see unity in each other. Francis was also one of my top Happy Hour guests this year, and you can listen to that HERE.


Until Unity by Francis Chan


Amazon description: “If unity is so important to the heart of God, why is the Church one of the most divided groups on earth? While many believe doctrine is at the root of the problem, Francis argues that the real problem is the shallowness or non-existence of our love for each other—rooted in a shallowness in our understanding of the gospel. This is what desperately needs to change.”




Will by Will Smith

I listened to this book on Audible this year. In fact, most fiction and memoirs I prefer to consume via audiobook. Will Smith reads this book, and they even have extra additional sounds in the book. For example, when he recounts a scene from the Fresh Prince show, you hear the actual audio. So many fun things like that in the audio. For me, hearing someone’s story is just my favorite, and Will exposes his humanity (obviously we know he’s human, but we only see him as a famous guy), and shares so many great stories from his life.


Will by Will Smith


Amazon description: This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world's biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.




Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin

I read this book on the beach in Mexico and devoured every page. Rebecca is a brilliant thinker, and although this book is a heady book, it was not out of my league. (Not even sure what league I’m in, but you get my point!) This book is for the skeptic of Christianity and the long-time follower of Jesus who wants to go deeper in their knowledge. Rebecca was also on The Happy Hour – you can listen HERE.


Confronting Christianity by Rebecca Mclaughlin


Amazon “Channeling state-of-the-art research, personal stories, and careful biblical study, Confronting Christianity explores 12 questions that keep many of us from considering faith in Christ. Look more closely, McLaughlin argues, and the reality of suffering, the complexity of sexuality, the desire for diversity, the success of science, and other seeming roadblocks to faith become signposts. Jesus becomes not a relic from the ancient world, but our modern world’s best hope.”




An Impossible Marriage by Matt & Laurie Krieg

One of the best books on marriage I have ever read. No lie. If you read the subtitle to this, you see that Matt & Laurie have a mixed-orientation marriage (read the book to understand), but as I told them when they were on my show I think the subtitle keeps people from reading this book, and every Christ-following person in a marriage should read! You can also listen to their interview on The Happy Hour HERE.


An Impossible Marriage by Matt & Laurie Krieg


Amazon Description: ​​“People say our marriage is impossible.” Laurie and Matt Krieg are in a mixed-orientation marriage: a marriage in which at least one partner's primary attraction isn't toward the gender of their spouse. In the Kriegs' case, Laurie is primarily attracted to women―and so is Matt. Some find the idea of mixed-orientation marriage bewildering or even offensive. But as the Kriegs have learned, nothing is impossible with God―and that's as true of their marriage as anyone else's. In An Impossible Marriage, the Kriegs tell their story: how they met and got married, the challenges and breakthroughs of their journey, and what they've learned about marriage along the way. Christianity teaches us that marriage is a picture of Jesus’ love for the church―and that's just as true in a mixed-orientation marriage as in a straight one. With vulnerability and wisdom, this book lays out an engaging picture of marriage in all its pain and beauty. It's a picture that points us, over and over again, to the love and grace of Jesus―as marriage was always meant to do.




Breaking Free from Body Shame by Jess Connolly

I’m a huge fan of Jess and have watched her engage and share this message over the past few years, and this book is just what women need to be reading when thinking through our bodies and how we think of them and use them. I have never dealt with a ton of body shame, but this book was hands down the best book I’ve read in a while on loving my body and seeing it as good. This book has altered the way I think and talk about my body. Listen to Jess’ interview on the podcast HERE.


Breaking Free from Body Shame by Jess Connolly


Amazon Description: “It's one thing to know in your head that you were created in the image of God. Yet it's quite another to experience this belief in your body, against the cultural ideals of a woman's worth. And between the two lies a world of frustration, disappointment, and the shame of somehow feeling both too much and never enough in your body.”




Holier Than Thou by Jackie Hill Perry

Wow, is all I can say about this book. Jackie brought the heat about the holiness of God that truly made me love God more and more after each chapter. Jackie’s been on the podcast a few times, but our most recent conversation dives more into this book. Listen HERE.


Holier Than Thou by Jackie Hill Perry


Amazon description: “In Holier Than Thou, Jackie walks us through Scripture, shaking the dust off of “holy” as we’ve come to know it and revealing it for what it really is: good news. In these pages, we will see that God is not like us. He is different. He is holy. And that’s exactly what makes Him trustworthy. As it turns out, God being “holier than thou” is actually the best news in the world, and it’s the key to trusting Him.”




Surviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll

I read this book on a trip to Terlingua with my man (isn’t it fun when you remember exactly where you were when you read something) and could not put it down! The author, a Black woman, was adopted as a baby by white parents and grew up not knowing any other people that looked like her. As a mom to Black and bi-racial children, this book, and her experience were so important for me to hear and listen to.


Surviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll


Amazon Description: Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a young white woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity. As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen Black family, she was able to heal.




Even If by Mitchel Lee

As someone who often finds themselves imagining the worst-case scenarios for all aspects of their life, this book was water to an exhausted imagination. I loved the encouragement here that EVEN IF the worst happens, God is still good, in control, and hasn’t abandoned you. Mitchel was recently on The Happy Hour and you can listen to our conversation HERE.


Even If by Mitchel Lee


Amazon Description: In Even If, Mitchel Lee reminds us that while God does not promise a pain-free life, he offers something better: his presence in the pain. No matter our circumstances, God is worthy of our worship, and he can meet us even in our greatest difficulties. 




The Liturgy of Politics by Kaitlyn Schiess

Kaitlyn is a co-host on one of my favorite podcasts, The Holy Post, and she’s smart, whitty, and released a great book in 2020 about how we as Chrisitans should allow our faith to determine our politics. I was greatly moved by this book, and think it’s a great start to thinking deeply about how we are called to love our neighbors well, even in our voting. She was also a guest on The Happy Hour this past August – you can listen HERE.


The Liturgy of Politics by Kaitlyn Schiess


Amazon Review: A generation of young Christians are weary of the political legacy they've inherited and hungry for a better approach. They're tired of seeing their faith tied to political battles they didn't start, and they're frustrated by the failures of leaders they thought they could trust. Kaitlyn Schiess grew up in this landscape, and understands it from the inside. Spiritual formation, and particularly a focus on formative practices, are experiencing a renaissance in Christian thinking―but these ideas are not often applied to the political sphere. In The Liturgy of Politics, Schiess shows that the church's politics are shaped by its habits and practices even when it's unaware of them. Schiess insists that the way out of our political morass is first to recognize the formative power of the political forces all around us, and then to recover historic Christian practices that shape us according to the truth of the gospel.


The first two books listed here are the top two books I read this year. I would encourage everyone to read them ASAP! Also, if you didn’t hear the podcast episode with Francis Chan, it’s worth your time! You can listen HERE! And in case you are curious, Tish is high on our list for 2022 as a guest!! Stay tuned!


Also, while I’m here, let me tell you what I’ve read this month that I haven’t mentioned yet!


The Characters of Christmas by Dan Darling

Habits of the Household by Justin Earley


I’d love to hear from you on your best books of the year! Find me on Instagram or social media and leave a comment on the post where I talk about this! 


All of my 2021 reads: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November


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Note: Just a reminder, as you read the list of books I recommend, remember to use discernment. While I may recommend a book or author, it does not suggest that I am in full agreement with every opinion/statement that the author portrays.



Are you ready to finally bloom where you’re planted? To finally free yourself to flourish? Then jump into You Be You, and you’ll find yourself satisfied and succeeding in ways you never expected.Do you feel like you and your spouse are never on the same team? Do you want a flourishing and vibrant marriage, but wonder how in the world to get there? Then dive into Complement and see what happens.

Jamie Ivey