Books have been a powerful shaping force in my life, and I read some great ones last year! Keep scrolling to read about my favorite books from 2021.
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I have to tell on my husband a little. While discussing my reading habits and rapidly filling bookshelves one day, I said, “You would think with all the books I read, I’d be a much better person.”
To which my oh-so-logical husband replied, “Well… think of what you’d be like if you didn’t read all those books.”
I tell you what, I never have to worry about false flattery with him!
As much as I love to tease him about his response, though, it’s actually very true. I would be a VERY different person without the influence, input, and impact of the books I’ve read over the years. And it wouldn’t be pretty!
That’s one of the (many) reasons I’m such an avid reader – books have had a profound effect on my life. They’ve fueled my faith, informed my theology, strengthened my marriage, impacted my parenting, increased my productivity, boosted my health, realigned my priorities, enhanced my relationships, transformed my heart, and more. I cannot overstate (or undervalue) how much books have changed me.
And I read some powerful ones last year.
My Favorite Books I Read in 2021
I don’t know the exact number of books I read in 2021 because I wasn’t as meticulous about keeping track as I have been in the past. But it was well over 100 (counting audiobooks and read-aloud chapter books with the kids).
Here are my top favorite books I read in 2021:
**Check out this blog post for our favorite read-aloud chapter books (and bookmark it, as I add to it regularly!)
The Lazy Genius Way – Kendra Adachi
As a longtime Lazy Genius follower, this book was just as good as I was expecting it to be. Better, in fact. Not only did Kendra fill the book with super practical strategies for calming the crazy, she framed it all in a way that helps you prioritize what matters most and craft a rich, meaningful life tailored for you. She’s like a friend, consultant, and therapist all rolled into one.
And she does it all with the super honest, entertaining style that makes her one of my favorite follows. If you feel exhausted by life, or you constantly bounce between an “all or nothing” mentality, this book is a must-read for you!
Countercultural Parenting – Lee Nienhuis
This book was POWERFUL. Not only did it give me tools for raising kids who follow Jesus in this increasingly crazy world, but it inspired and equipped ME to grow in God’s truth and love through His Word and prayer. If you’ve ever felt completely overwhelmed by the daunting task of raising kids with Godly character, you MUST get this book into your hands and heart.
Related Post: My Top 10 Favorite Parenting Books
Forgotten God – Francis Chan (audiobook)
This book is INCREDIBLE. Truly a must-read (or listen) for all Christians about what it really means to walk in the Spirit, what the fruit of that looks like, and how it should transform the way we live our lives. As with all his books, it’s painfully convicting, but powerfully provoking.
Live Love Now – Rachel Macy Stafford
This was one of the most valuable parenting books I’ve ever read. While it may be mainly directed to parents/loved ones/mentors of teens and preteens, the principles can be applied to any age. If you want to meaningfully connect with your kids and build strong, long-lasting relationships with them, this book is for you.
There were a few times I thought the language bordered on New Age, but it wasn’t central to the message, and it wasn’t enough to be a deal-breaker for me. I simply adjusted the advice to more Biblical applications. (E.g. “mantras” to Scriptures, “meditation” to meditating on God’s truth, “allowing our own heart to become a map” to letting the Holy Spirit guide me, etc.)
Overall, I found this book extremely helpful and a crucial read for anyone raising or helping raise young people today.
In His Image – Jen Wilkin
I don’t know that I’ve ever underlined so much in a book as I did in this one. The premise is that rather than asking “What should I do?”, the question we should be asking when it comes to following God’s will for our lives is “Who should I be?” This book rocked my world, and I heartily recommend it to any and all Christian believers.
Simplicity Parenting – Kim John Payne
The central argument of this book is how today’s ultra-fast-paced society full of “too much” everything is wreaking havoc on our kids’ development and mental health, and how a simplified approach can restore the beauty of childhood. While I didn’t 100% subscribe to everything he presented, the vast majority of it was riveting, informative, and profitable. This book is extremely necessary for families today, and it will profoundly impact any parent who reads it.
Love-Centered Parenting – Crystal Paine
This is not a parenting manual with 5-point steps and magical solutions (though it offers plenty of helpful advice!), but rather an invitation to a new way of parenting from freedom, rest, and love.
With a humility that both astounded and inspired me, a fire in her belly you can feel through the pages, and words obviously inspired straight from the Holy Spirit, Crystal teaches us about the life-changing, relationship-building, peace-giving practice of love-centered parenting.
This is a definite must-read for anyone feeling weighed down by pressure and guilt in parenting and/or who longs for better, deeper connections with her kids.
Get Out of Your Head – Jennie Allen
Have you ever felt frustrated and defeated from going around and around the same stupid mountain? Have you read all the self-help books and followed all the inspirational influencers but still felt empty inside? Have you read Romans 12:2 but struggled to understand how, exactly, to “renew your mind”?
If so, this book is for you. It will teach you, encourage you, challenge you, and equip you to take control of your thoughts, align them with the Word of God, transform your life, and, ultimately, help set others free, as well.
The Well-Watered Woman – Gretchen Saffles
No matter where you are on your spiritual journey – whether you feel bone-dry, you’re frustrated by what appears to be a lack of fruit in your life, you’re restless about your purpose, or you simply want to grow deeper, stronger roots in God’s Word, I would urge every Christian woman to get her hands on this book. It will give you hope and encouragement, revive any dried-up pieces of your soul, restore a passion for seeking God in His Word, and give you the tools you need to be a thriving, well-watered woman.
The Coddling of the American Mind – Greg Lukanoff & Jonathan Haidt
I’ve thought about this book often since I read it last May. There’s so much gold in it, I don’t even know where to start summarizing it. All I can say is that every person in this country needs to read this book. It’s that good and that important. It challenges our current obsession with offense, victimhood, and “safety,” and explains how that is actually weakening us and undermining our strength and resilience.
Do I agree with everything in it? No. But I really do recommend everyone read it. (Without getting defensive or offended, if you can manage it.) For the sake of our young people, for the sake of our families and friendships, for the sake of our country, and for the sake of our future.
Mom Set Free – Jeannie Cunnion
Every single mom needs to read this book ASAP. If you’ve ever felt pressure to get it all right, produce perfect kids, and try hard enough to be good enough, then this book is exactly what you need. It will give you relief from unnecessary burdens, transform your parenting (and your life), and set you free. This is going to be one of those books that I will, until my dying day, recommend to every mom I know. Do whatever you have to do to get a hold of this book. You will NOT regret it.
Jesus Over Everything – Lisa Whittle
While this was a short book by page length, it was no shot of espresso. It was soul-deep nourishment I wanted to sip and savor, taking the time I needed to extract every bit of flavor and richness.
Most of us who are Christians would say we desire to put Jesus over everything else in our lives. But do we, really? And what does that even mean? In this book, Lisa helps us grow in our understanding of what a “Jesus over everything” life looks like, as well as how to get there.
Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday – Val Woerner
Do you ever find yourself being the cranky mom you swore you’d never be? Breaking promise after promise never to yell again? Blaming your kids for your stress and exhaustion? Believing the lie that motherhood has to be messy and miserable? Are your “mommy breaks” and self-care just not cutting it??
This is a FANTASTIC book that addresses all these issues, and more, and if I could get a copy in the hands of every single mom, I would. It refuted lies from our culture I’ve bought into, changed my perspective on some of my most pressing parenting pain points, and taught me how to send “Grumpy Mom” packing.
Unoffendable – Brant Hansen
With a mix of humor, boldness, and Biblical truth, Hansen challenges readers to rethink their sense of entitlement to anger and “right” to be offended. He urges us to drop our anger, embrace forgiveness, and choose to be unoffendable. And he presents a way of living that is more peaceful, more free of stress, and more like Jesus than anything our anger could ever achieve.
I found the chapters to be a bit scattered and not always directly tied to the overarching message of being unoffendable. But even then, it was still great stuff. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but I love how it has been challenging me to love better and live more fully from the peace and grace of the Gospel. Overall, I think this book and this message are critically needed in today’s hyper-offendable world.
The Pursuit of God – A.W. Tozer
This book was my first Tozer (I know! I can’t believe it, either), and it was a gem. Both edifying and convicting, it spoke deeply to my heart, which, more than at any other time in my life, longs to pursue God above all else.
The Whole-Brain Child – Daniel Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
Every parent, educator, and anyone who works with kids needs to read this book.
It delves into the science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures, giving powerful strategies for dealing with day-to-day struggles and fostering healthy brain development. But don’t worry! It is not at all boring or hard to understand. The authors do a fantastic job of making brain science completely accessible to average joe parents.
Some of the strategies are things I’ve already discovered through trial and error, but knowing the science behind them was incredibly helpful (and rather validating, to be perfectly honest). But I’ve learned many other valuable insights I’m excited to implement. I’ve started putting some into practice, and I’m already seeing a difference.
If you want to cultivate healthy brain development, equip yourself for frustrating parenting moments, turn everyday struggles into brain-shaping moments, and help your kids lead emotionally healthy, balanced, and connected lives, READ THIS BOOK.
Siblings Without Rivalry – Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
While this book is a few decades old now (we’re the same age, in fact!), other than the occasional outdated reference, the material was surprisingly relevant. Which goes to show how timeless sibling rivalry is!
This book gave me a lot to think about. I’ve started putting some of what I’ve read into practice, and I’ve been shocked by how my kids have (positively) responded to it.
As with any book, I don’t agree with everything in it, and I won’t implement all of its advice. But my approach with parenting books is always to read with the goal of gleaning something helpful and useful, rather than as manuals to follow. And this book has already given me more than a few valuable perspective shifts and practical lessons.
Family Discipleship – Matt Chandler & Adam Griffin
This book is FANTASTIC. I thought it was so good, so helpful, and so in line with my priorities as a parent and a family blogger, I wrote a full review of it here.
Spoiler alert: if family discipleship is something you want to pursue in your home, this book provides a helpful framework for a Biblical, practical, gospel-centered, love-filled approach. It’s a must-read for Christian families!
Mama Bear Apologetics – Hillary Morgan Ferrer, ed.
I kept this book on my to-read pile for months, nervous to read what I expected to be fear-based, scare tactic, “hide your kids” kind of stuff. But it was not that at all.
Do they stress the serious need for “mama bears” to arm their kids with biblical truth amidst the sea of cultural lies? Yes. But I was pleased to see they did not espouse an uber-sheltering, “keep your kids in a bubble” solution, but rather one of strengthening our kids’ critical thinking skills, equipping them with the ability to discern good from bad, and empowering them to defend biblical teaching with gentleness and respect.
As I say with every book I read, I don’t fully endorse everything in it (a position the authors themselves support). But I call this a must-read for all Christian parents.
Side note: They also have a podcast I’ve been binge-listening to lately, and it’s great stuff!
Start With the Heart – Kathy Koch
This was a fairly easy read, but it is PACKED with gold. I gained valuable insights about how to replace underlying beliefs that affect behavior, meet kids’ core needs and reach their heart, and create positive change that lasts. It was invaluable, and not just for my kids, but for me, as well! If you’ve ever felt stuck fighting the same battles with your kids and want to learn how to motivate them toward healthy life habits, I highly recommend this book.
Another Gospel? – Alisa Childers
This book was fascinating and compelling, and (along with Mama Bear Apologetics) jumpstarted my new obsession with apologetics and church history. Alisa Childers had been a Christian for YEARS and had even been in the popular Christian band ZOEgirl (which I totally rocked out to as a teenager!), but her faith was deeply challenged when she met a progressive pastor.
In Another Gospel?, Alisa gives us an inside look at her journey from the point of despair after everything she had ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Bible had been picked apart… through her process of wrestling and investigating… to the rebuilding of her faith, one answer at a time.
This book is an illuminating response to the ideas of progressive Christianity, and I found it extremely helpful in both solidifying my own beliefs and laying a firm foundation for my kids’ faith.
- It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way – Lysa TerKeurst (audio)
- The Way I Heard It – Mike Rowe
- The Splendid and the Vile – Erik Larson
- Sick of Me – Whitney Capps
- We Were the Lucky Ones – Georgia Hunter (Fiction is usually my escape/leisure, but I also like a good fiction that stirs my soul. This one was super hard for me to read, but it was extremely moving.)
- Wings of the Wind (Out From Egypt #3) and To Dwell Among the Cedars (The Covenant House #1) – Connilyn Cossette (Connilyn is one of my favorite Christian fiction authors. Her books have helped me better understand the exodus and conquest periods of the Old Testament, and her writing is deeper and more compelling than a lot of the “just for fun” fiction I read.
SHARE WITH ME: What were some of your favorite books from 2021? Tell me in the comments below!
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
- My 15 Favorite Books I Read in 2020
- My Favorite Books I Read in 2019
- My Top 10+ Favorite Books From 2018
- My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2017
I loved this post! Sounds like you read A LOT of really great books this past year. I’ve read a few of them (currently reading The Lazy Genius actually) but there are a lot that I need to add to my to-read list now! 🙂
Lisa Mullen says
I really did — and there were so many more that I wanted to put on my list… but it was getting too long. 🤣 I hope you find The Lazy Genius as helpful as I did!