I‘m wild about books. When I was a kid, my parents nearly called the cops because they couldn’t find me and I wasn’t answering them when they called out my name. Turns out I was completely absorbed in a book under a table covered by a tablecloth. What? It was a good book.
I’m still the same way, though I don’t have nearly the free, abandoned time of my childhood to read everything I want. My shelves and nightstand teeter to overflow with books, some of the only things I’m reluctant to declutter (though I have gotten better).
When I first read Harry Potter book 7, I pretty much threw PBJs at the kids and stayed up far too late to find out what the deal was with Snape. I cried heaving tears when I first read A Severe Mercy. Don Miller leaves me shaking my head in emphatic agreement. And I find encouragement from Richard Louv, who writes with conviction about the urgency to get our kids out in nature.
Here are some of my favorite books, organized by category. This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, and I’ll add more books as I read them. There are more books than time, in my opinion.
Note: All the links below take you to Amazon. When you click, it takes you to their website, and anything you purchase there (not just the book) will help support Simple Mom. Thanks already for your support.
Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True
by Elizabeth Berg
by Emily Freeman
My friend Emily is a good girl, and so am I, so that’s why I love her book so much. It’s written for me, and anybody else who grew up thinking life was all about being as good as possible. Her words are a breath of fresh air.
by Holley Gerth
Holley asked me to read her book when she was still working on the final drafts, and I couldn’t put it down. This book is for anyone who gets tired of hearing, “You can do anything you want!” but isn’t really sure what she wants to begin with. But still feels like she is made for something big.
by Don Miller
A modern-day classic, with this book Don revitalizes those of us who grew up in the Christian bubble, and removes the Christian-ese for those who didn’t. A somewhat controversial book, I couldn’t stop reading the first time I opened it.
by Don Miller
This is my favorite of Don’s books because I’m so very much about story, and living a good one. This book explores what it means to do just that—and it certainly helped that I read it when I was in the Philippines.
by Dave Ramsey
This guy changed our family tree when he taught us how to get rid of debt and handle money. This book is the 101 that explains his ideas. This is a great beginner’s book who just isn’t sure where to start with their money.
by Sir Ken Robinson
This book was a game-changer for me, because it put words to the things I was already feeling. Our element is simply that intersection where our passions and our skills collide, and we’d all do well to live and work within that intersection. A motivating, insightful read.
by Gary Thomas
Oh my goodness, this book was so timely for me. Gary shares with conviction why our physical activity is inextricably linked to our relationship with God, for good and not-so-good. It got me to tie up my laces and start running.
by Chris Thurman
Written by a psychologist (who goes to the church I grew up in, oddly enough), I read this book when I was at my breaking point living overseas. I remember exactly the blue chair I sat in on the balcony overlooking the water on a Greek island. These words did me in (in a good way), and it was the impetus that started my healing from depression.
by Ken Wytsma
Ken’s a friend of mine, and I featured this fantastic first book of his on the blog in February 2013. It explores the compelling nature of caring about seeing justice served in the world, and what we can do about it from our homes. He’s also got great downloads to use with our kids.
by Susan Wise Bauer
The definitive classic on modern classical education, in my opinion, this heavyweight is my Bible when we homeschool. Susan covers both the reasons why to educate classically, and then how to do it. When I’m not sure what to do next, I check this book.
by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
Anytime we’re frazzled and frustrated by our kids, it’s a sign we need to brush up again with this book. This book outlines our family’s main parenting philosophy and discipline strategy for two reasons—it works, and we stay sane.
by Tim Kimmel
A beautiful book about releasing our kids to be who they are made to be, and to parent the way we’re created to be. Tim’s words leave me inspired to be the best parent I can be by being the best me I can me (got that?).
by Richard Louv
This book is a serious wake-up call, and it’s a reminder that I have to be intentional if I want my kids to love the outdoors. If we don’t march against the culture, ours is the last generation to grow up playing outside. The benefits are countless, and both our kids’ lives and nature itself is at stake.
by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken
Has your child spent part of her growing up years in a country different than her passport’s? Then she’s a third culture kid. This book is the manual to pack in your suitcase before you move abroad—it was an enormous encouragement to me when we lived overseas.
by John Taylor Gatto
This book will challenge your view of education, particularly the American public school system. John Taylor Gatto is the Man to encourage you to put the reins of your children’s education back where it belongs—in your hands, no matter whether you public school, homeschool, or something in between.
by Gary Thomas
At first this book disappointed me because it wasn’t about how to parent—instead, this book asked me an incredibly important question: what if parenting is more about transforming me than it is transforming my kids? This book beautifully explores this topic—humbling, encouraging, and eye-opening.
by Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer
Megan’s a contributor here, and her and Laura’s words are SUCH a blessing for that first year of parents. In this book, they share their personal stories of “trying” different methods of parenting, only to ultimately end up where it was best for them—trusting their mama instincts. This is THE book I give to new moms.
by Mark Bittman
This is my main go-to cookbook; I use it several times a week. Mark Bittman has written a modern-day classic, and reading his words gives me confidence as a cook. It really does have (almost) everything.
by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
This is the definitive book about Whole30, the plan that started me on the road to eating paleo. If you’re toying with the idea of doing a W30, don’t do it without this book. Chock full of the science behind the why and motivation that you can do it.
by Melissa Joulwan
As a popular blogger who lives in my hometown (I miss you, Austin), Melissa provides uber-practical paleo recipes, most of which can be made during a Whole30. She also has a fantastic guide for having a weekly cook-up, so that the rest of the week is just toss-and-heat, and a guide for making endless variations of meals with just a few ingredients.
This is quite possibly one of my favorite all-time books, period. Barbara Kingsolver is a master wordsmith, and her journal of living off the land for one year will change how you view food and how to grow it. A must read.
by Shauna Niequist
Featured on the blog in Apri 2013, I laughed and I cried reading this book. It’s not a cookbook, and it’s not a straight-up memoir—it’s more of a storytelling exploration of what happens when we share food around the table. Shauna reminds me that cooking is ultimately about forging relationships. This was such a fun read.
by Nina Planck
As the founder of the farmer’s market in London, Nina takes her experience from childhood and her career as a farmer’s market manager to explain why we should eat real food, and why butter and bacon are not evil.
Anything journalist Michael Pollan writes is pure gold, in my opinion. This is one of his shorter, simpler books that provides practical tips for how we should eat—real food, not too much, and mostly plants. Good stuff.
by Diane Sanfillippo
Plain ol’ good reads
by Tina Fey
I think Tina is one of the funniest people alive (man or woman), so naturally, her book is hilarious. This isn’t spiritually profound, but it will make you laugh until you snort. The prayer for her daughter alone is worth the price of the book.
by, well? C.S. Lewis
A compilation of the man’s best works, this thick book provides classic reading that’ll keep you up at night thinking. It includes a mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, literary criticism, and autobiography.
by Liane Moriarty
If you’re headed to a beach weekend or perhaps just need a fun read while the kids splash in the pool, this is a great choice. Alice thinks she’s 29 in the midst of a happy marriage and a recent fixer-upper purchase—but it turns out she’s 39, on the brink of divorce, and obsessed about her perfect house. She forgot. Fun story.
by J.K. Rowling
I feel a little silly even writing a recommendation here, because basically? This series is a classic whose protagonist takes his place next to Bilbo Baggins, Dorothy, and the Pevensie kids. Harry finds himself in an epic battle between good and evil, but this story is so much more than that. It’s about courage, friendship, loyalty, conviction, love, perseverance, and doing unpopular things. If you read it well, it’ll stay with you forever.
by Kathryn Stockett
If you haven’t yet read this book, click right now and put it in your shopping cart. Or reserve it at the library. This is an incredible novel set in the early 60s (read: the Civil Rights movement) in deep-south Mississippi (read: scary place to be in this era if you’re not white). It tells the story of brave Skeeter and her relationship with friends both black and white. Run and read this.
by Sheldon Vanauken