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Hello, everyone and welcome to this years Book Recommendation List. To see past lists, click HERE. I truly love putting these together for you all and love reading the comments you leave with your own book recommendations.  I’ve found some great reads from all of you, thank you!

As I was putting together this post and reflecting on the collection of books this go around, I noticed they all have a similar theme. I could describe it in just one word.


Whether through fictitious characters or in the form of personal experience, all of these books point to the resilience of the human spirit. No wonder I loved them all. 😉 However, though they share this theme they are all super different. I’ve even added a book from the Fantasy genre, not something I usually seek out, but truly loved anyway. Sometimes, a girl just needs to get lost in a story. Am I right? 

Hope you enjoy the list, everyone! 

To enter the giveaway, just leave me a comment telling me one or two books that you have loved lately. You can also enter to win on Instagram if that’s easier. Giveaway will be open until Thursday Nov. 3rd. Winner announced Friday Nov 4th. Looking forward to reading your comments! 

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
by Gregory Boyle

This is the best, most inspirational book I have read in a long time. It’s the kind you read with a pen so you can underline all the beautiful truths and words you don’t want to forget. It has charmed my whole summer, actually as I could only read a few pages at a sitting, wanting to let them simmer in my mind for a while before I went on. It’s that good.

It’s about a Jesuit priest working with gang members. Often when I read books like this that highlight someone wonderful doing fabulous humanitarian work, I’m left looking around at my life and wondering if I’ve somehow fallen short and thinking “…shouldn’t I be doing something spectacular with my life…”. This book had the opposite effect. It’s all about valuing each life, like Jesus did. Our own life, included.

Here’s a quote I loved…”Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals. Compassion is always, at its most authentic, about a shift from the cramped world of self-preoccupation into a more expansive place of fellowship, of true kinship.”

Grace to Become
by Emily Belle Freeman
5 Stars

I loved everything about this book. It’s a beautiful description of God’s grace and how it can be called upon, accepted and used to enable our mortal journey. Emily Belle Freeman is a favorite of mine. Her writing style shows personal vulnerability, while shining a beautiful light on how Jesus has walked the path with her. She encourages readers to know Jesus in a personal way. Equally wonderful is the fabulous artwork by Eva Koleva Timothy. This book is a treasure, truly.

On a side note…I’m often encouraging my kids to “stack” their Instagram feeds with lots of great inspiration. These two ladies, are fantastic to follow. Their feeds are full of messages that lift and encourage. Click their names above for a direct link to them on Insta.

The Nature of Fragile Things
by Susan Meissner

This was a great, fairly quick read (I actually listened to this one and enjoyed the readers performance very much). I loved the main character for her ability to nurture and love. The theme of building a family where you find it was touching to me as well. It’s historical fiction, based in the early 1900’s and highlights the San Francisco earthquake that ignited a huge fire devouring whole city blocks. This is something I’d never read about before and found it super interesting. I love this author and her ability make such genuine, lovely characters.

The Girl with Seven Names
by Hyeonseo Lee
4. 5 Stars

Wow, what a read. It could very easily be titled “The woman with 7 lives!” It is an incredible, TRUE story of resilience, the strong bonds of family love, challenge, change and ultimately the amazing gift of freedom. North Korea is a place I’ve rarely studied and it was fascinating to me. It left me so grateful for my American heritage and the abundant blessings freedom provides. A great read.

Between Breaths: a Memoir of Panic and Addiction
by Elizabeth Vargas
4 Stars

 I so appreciated this book. I loved Elizabeth Vargas’ honesty and willingness to write about her alcohol addiction. It helped me understand addiction more fully. I especially loved her witness of God and the spiritual growth she has experienced in Recovery. A great, inspiring read.

What We Carry: A Memoir
by Maya Shanbhag Lang
4 Stars

Wow, this book really resonated with me. It’s a beautiful memoir about mothers and daughters. The author shares perspective of her own mother and how that view changes as she ages and evolves from a child to a mother to her own daughter, and ultimately as a caregiver to her own mother. Though I haven’t reached the stage in my life when my own mother needs caregiving, I found it fascinating to listen to this authors insights. I loved the writing style, the honesty and the acceptance Lang offered her mother, even as she uncovers disappointing truths she hadn’t expected.

I loved her ideas on the power if story, specifically the stories we tell ourselves and how influential they are.

The book starts out with a mythical story about a mother who is in a river with her child. The river begins to rise and she’s faced with choosing to save the child’s life or her own. The question of what the mother should do weaves it’s way throughout the book and I must say I was surprised by the ending of the mythical story and Lang’s interpretation of it. Surprised and super pleased, actually. There is so much wisdom in this book. A treasure, to be sure. 

The Night Diary
by Veera Hiranandani
4.5 Stars

What a treasure this book is. The author wrote it to honor her family who were refugees in 1947 when India became independent from Britian, and was divided into Pakistan and India. This story is told through the eyes of an endearing12 year old girl, via her diary entries which she writes to her deceased mother. I loved the writing style and found so many golden nuggets of wisdom through out. Equally enjoyable was the connection the writer had with food preparation and the soothing, meditative practice it is. It was also very interesting to read about this period of history for India, something I wasn’t aware of before. A great, quick read.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January
by Alix E. Harrow
4 Stars

I don’t typically choose fantasy books, but oh I loved the escape this one provided. Not only was the story interesting, but the writing style was fantastic. The authors ability to use metaphors was phenomenal. I also loved the main theme of opening doors, and how they can lead to change, adventure, excitement and pathways to greater things. Loved it.

Better Than Happy: Connecting with Divinity through Conscious Thinking
by Jody Moore
5 Stars

This is one of those books that should be read (or listened to!) just a chapter at a time, and than let it soak in. I loved it. So many stories and quotes have stayed with me for months since I read it. It’s all about how to train our thoughts and minds to connect with divinity. The author, Jody Moore is a life coach with many years of experience with conscious thinking. She combined this knowledge with her religious beliefs about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how the two work together. It was fascinating and inspiring. I have listened to Jody’s podcast for years and found it very helpful. I thought this book would be more of the same, but it was actually very different than I expected. A lot of original thoughts and ideas A great read.

Hinds Feet on High Places
by Hannah Hurnard
3.5 Stars

I listened to this and was so glad I did. The reader is fantastic! The book is a beautiful allegory depicting the journey of life with its many ups and downs and specifically our relationship with God as the great shepherd and advocate. I loved the welcoming and charming personality of the shepherd and found myself reflecting repeatedly on many of the passages. I give it only 3.5 starts because it became so redundant towards the middle/end. Still though, much to think over with this one. Definitely worth the read (or listen). 

The Sound of Gravel
by Ruth Wariner
3 Stars

This is one of those books you can’t quite put down because it’s so unbelievable. It’s the memoir of Ruth Wariner, the daughter of polygamists living in Mexico. The things she went through are both heartbreaking and maddening. It was amazing to read about her resilience and the loving care she poured out on her siblings. A tough read for sure.

Tramp for the Lord: The Story that Begins where The Hiding Place Ends
by Corry Ten Boom
5 Stars

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom is one of my favorite books of all time. I like to re-read it every 5 years or so, just to remind myself of its lessons on love and forgiveness. It had such a big impact on me when I first read it in my early teens, and has continued to do so throughout my life. I sort of feel like it’s modern day scripture. 🙂 While this book’s story, Tramp for the Lord isn’t as captivating as my favorite of Corrie’s, I love it’s message. It’s a collection of her experiences as she travels the world after her liberation from a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. She lives out the rest of her days preaching about Jesus and witnessing of the many miracles he performed for her personally. My favorite take away from this book, is that she had to keep personally reaching out for Jesus. Daily. She admits to many mistakes, human frailties, doubts and fears. Though her life after the concentration camp certainly wasn’t as harrowing as it was inside, her need for Jesus and His willingness to be with her always, is just as beautiful. A great read. 

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  1. Just finished The Boys From Biloxi, the lastest from John Grisham. I’m a long time Grisham fan and he never disappoints.

  2. I love the book selection from all the years you have presented. A few favorites of late, Horse: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks. Accused by Lisa Scottoline. And a personal new fav, Stories of my Life by Katherine Paterson. Thanks for all you do. My life is blessed

  3. This list has given me some books to add to my To Read list. Thanks! This year I’ve loved The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

  4. As usual fabulous book post. Thanks Jamie!
    All of my book recommendations from this last year also have a resilience theme:
    “The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle” by Joanne Huist Smith. It will give you all the feels and it’s true.
    “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate is another story of resilience based on true stories of children kidnapped from poor families then put up for adoption.
    I also enjoyed “Counting by 7s” by Holly Goldberg Sloan.