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8 Books for You to Read This Fall

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The mornings are finally feeling crisp, and while the leaves on the trees are still green, Trader Joe’s has officially released its line of fall products, ushering in the season of the cinnamon broom (one of my husband’s favorite thing). 

I, like ninety-five percent of American women, love fall.

Cozy is the way I want to feel 100% of the time, so let’s just say, this season I’m living my best life— blankets and scarves and blanket scarves (when it finally decides to cool off!); hot cups of coffee and tea and cinnamon scented everything; acoustic tunes to set the mood, and, as artist Mari Andrews said earlier this month, “Fall is a three-month exhale.” So let’s all exhale, shall we? 

I write this blog for two reasons: 1.) because I like to, and 2.) because I want to create a space where people can learn to love God with all their hearts, souls and minds. I want to inspire creativity and critical thinking, and one of the best ways I know how to cultivate those things within myself is to read!

Summer might be the season of the beach read, but I think fall is really the best time to read a book. So grab your coffee or your tea, your blanket and your reading glasses, and curl up with one of these great reads: five to help you grow, and three that are just for fun!

Five Books to Help You Grow!

1. Remember God by Annie F. Downs

I read this book back in the spring was I was visiting my sister in Tennessee. It’s an easy read, and what I liked most about it is that Annie invited us in to one year of life. Writing in real time, we get to see the things she’s wrestling with, the things she’s celebrating, the things she’s grieving, and the things she’s letting go of.  It’s honest and encouraging and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a spiritual story where the writer says, “Me too. I struggle with that too.”

A favorite quote or two:

“This entire planet is about wilderness, but God is about manna. The journey of life is not a matter of finding our way out of the wilderness but finding the manna inside the wilderness.”


2. Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth has become one of my favorite teachers over the last few years. Nearly everything I say about listening to God, hearing the Holy Spirit, and being instead of doing, comes from her in one way or another.

This book is essential for anyone wanting to dive deeper into a spirit-filled life.  One bit of advice when reading this book though— prepare to go slow. Ruth is an easy to understand, pastoral writer. Her books are written to help you develop a greater awareness of God through practice, and the only way to do that is to go slow. If you pick this one up (or any of Ruth’s books for that matter) I’d love to know what you think!



A favorite quote or two:

“There is a place within each of us that is spiritual in nature, the place where God’s Spirit witnesses with our spirit about our truest identity. Here, God’s Spirit dwells with our spirit and our truest desires make themselves known.”

”The experience of having our prayers go cold, as distressing as it is, signals a major transition in the life of prayer and thus in our relationship with God. It signals an invitation to deeper levels of intimacy that will move us beyond communication, which primarily involves words and concepts, into communion, which is primarily beyond words.”


3. Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue

I read this book last year, right on the heels of my last weeks working in church ministry, and it was a balm to my soul. That may sound hyperbolic, but I can think of no other way to describe my experience in reading this book. 

Mike was a good Southern Baptist boy. He grew up in the church, was a deacon in the church, raised his kids in the church, until….he lost his faith. Throughout the book, Mike wrestles with religion and identity. He loses friends and his church, but ultimately, he finds God in  truer ways than he ever could have if he had remained safely inside the predictable space that is a faith, which doesn’t engage doubt. Mike is proof that doubt is a sign that your faith is ready to grow up and grow deep.


A favorite quote or two:

“If you’re a Christian who wonders what to do with someone who’s in doubt, consider these words carefully: Love and grace speak loudly. The first and best response to someone whose faith is unraveling is a hug. Apologetics aren’t helpful. Neither are Scripture references. The first thing a hurting person needs is to know they’re not alone. My path back to God was paved with grace by those who received my doubt in love.”

“Prayer became less about asking God for something and more about being in God’s presence.”


4. The Bible Tells Me So by Pete Enns
I hesitated to put this book on the list. It is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for anyone who prefers a clean cut Christianity. Pete is a scholar, theologian, and professor. In this book he writes about finding faith as a teen, going to seminary with the intent “to grow,” only to be met with loads of biblical contradictions that lead to a season of doubt and questioning. 

However, through those doubts, Pete came out on the other side with a greater understanding of how we should engage God’s word and a deeper love for Jesus.

Here’s the thing….I felt like I was holding my breath for the first several chapters. “Come on Pete!” I wanted to yell. “If you’re going to break the Bible apart into a million little pieces, you’ve got to put at least some of it back together soon!”


And he did. But it took a while. And it was challenging. 


I still have questions after reading this book, but here’s the other thing — they mysteries of God are some of the truest and the best things about him. We aren’t supposed to know everything nor should we. The more comfortable we become with mystery, the more we are able to truly understand just how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love of God.

A favorite quote or two:

“I think part of what it means for God to ‘reveal’ himself is to keep us guessing, to come to terms with the idea that knowing God is also a form of not knowing God, of knowing that we cannot fully know, but only catch God in part— which is more than enough to keep us busy.”

“The Bible is the church’s nonnegotiable partner, but it is not God’s final word: Jesus is.”


5. The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

I absolutely cannot say enough about this book. In fact, I haven’t. If you follow me on social media at all, then you’ve seen me post about the book or the podcast 1,000+ times. 

Emily has become another of my favorite writers and teachers. She is sweet and soulful. The Next Right Thing is such a good book! I actually listened to the audiobook and read the hardcover copy. I’ve since picked it back up again and again to reference. If you’re in the process of making a decision or one day will be making a decision (so, everyone) then this book is for you.


A favorite quote or two:

“When you catch a tiny glimpse of the future, be sure not to smother it with your own agenda. Let it breathe. Let it grow at a healthy pace. Admit that it is both delightful and terrifying. As you take your next right step today, trust that God won’t let you miss out on your future.”


Three Books Just for Fun!

1. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Okay. I just finished this book a few nights ago, and I LOVED it. Travel? Finding God? Finding yourself? Sign me up. This book could technically be put in the first category because it gives you  plenty to contemplate, but there’s equal amounts of things that are just meant to enjoy. 


While I am a follower of Jesus, and Elizabeth didn’t necessarily find him on her journey to life and love, she did uncover some incredible truths about discipline, self-love, pleasure, and service. I loved this book and already want to read it again and again. 


A favorite quote or two:

“If faith were rational, it wouldn’t be — by definition — faith.”

“I’m not interested in the insurance industry. I’m tired of being a skeptic, I’m irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel parched by empirical debate. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I couldn’t care less about evidence and assurances. I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself.”


7. When You Reach Me
Okay, so this is definitely a middle grade novel, but middle grade books happen to be my current favorite kind of fiction to read. They’re complex enough to make you think, but easy enough to get through that you don’t have to think too much, making it the perfect vacation read!


I brought this book with me last year when we went to California, and I LOVED this it. It’s like a mix between Harriett the Spy and A Wrinkle in Time, which were two of my favorites as a kid and I’d highly recommend it!! 

A favorite quote or two:

“Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to.”


8. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m reading it RIGHT NOW! So grab a copy at your local library and read along with me!



Rachel ClairComment