Christmas is right around the corner and we couldn’t resist adding a few more items to your list. Call us biased, but we believe our writers here at A Deeper Story are the finest on the old Internet. Telling stories about everything from fatherhood to ministry, biography to memoir, feminism to materialism, the books on our list are critically acclaimed and changing lives.
Wrap up a few books for your friends and family this year – and maybe sneak one or two for yourself, too. You’ve earned a night curled up with a good book.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.
7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.
Any Day a Beautiful Change: A Story of Faith and Family by Katherine Willis Pershey.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the minister with the baby carriage. In this collection of interrelated personal essays, Katherine Willis Pershey chronicles the story of her life as a young pastor, mother, and wife. At turns hilarious and harrowing, deeply moving and gently instructive, Pershey’s reflections will strike a chord with anyone who has ever rocked a newborn, loved an alcoholic, prayed for the redemption of a troubled relationship, or groped in the dark for the living God.
Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life by Ed Cyzewski.
Theology should breathe life and unity among God’s people, but today’s culture creates a barrier of ignorance and misunderstanding in the study of God. Author Ed Cyzewski seeks to build a method for theology that is rooted in a relationship with God and thrives on dialogue.
Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis by Kimberlee Conway Ireton.
At midlife, some men want a Beemer. Kimberlee’s husband wants a baby. Another one. Kimberlee doesn’t. She already has two kids, her first book just hit bookstore shelves, and the only baby she wants to birth now is the young adult novel she’s worked on for six years. After nine months of trying-and failing-to land an agent for her novel, Kimberlee finds out she’s pregnant. With twins. By turns hilarious and heart-breaking, this debut memoir takes you on a roller coaster ride of hormonal disequilibrium, professional disappointment, hellacious sleep-deprivation, and the black pit of postpartum depression-only to bring you laughing back to the light. If you’ve ever wondered where God is in the mess of your upended life, come along with Kimberlee as she learns a whole lot about clinging to God (mostly by her fingernails) and finding grace and goodness in the darkest of life’s corners.
Drawn In: A Creative Process for Artists, Activists, and Jesus Followers by Troy Bronsink.
Bronsink shows how the rhythms of God’s creative work can be discovered through design thinking and creative processes. Exercises invite participation in God’s life and redemptive rhythms. This holistic approach will shift how Christian creatives think of mission, worship, collaboration, and everyday discipleship.
Dying Out Loud: No Guilt in Life, No Fear in Death by Shawn Smucker.
Dying Out Loud is the story of Stan, his wife, Ann, their children Elle and Stanley, and their dedication to following God no matter what the cost. They traded the comforts of suburban southern California for the crowded cobblestone streets of the Middle East. They explored remote areas and they befriended nomadic tribes people, courageously bringing a message of hope and freedom to those needing to hear it. But none of those adventures would compare to where God led them next: a journey of visions, revelations, and sorrow. A journey into stage-four cancer, and a journey that beckoned them to walk the shrouded path through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Yet even there they discovered peace, grace, and a new hope for the lost around them.
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey.
Gender roles have been debated for centuries, and now Sarah Bessey offers a clarion freedom call for all who want to realize their giftedness and potential in the kingdom of God. Through a thoughtful review of biblical teaching and church practices, Bessey shares how following Jesus made a feminist out of her.
Know When to Hold ‘Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood by John Blase.
Far from the conventional parenting book, Know When to Hold ‘Em will encourage readers as they see parenting and fatherhood through a new lens–that of adventurer, risk-taker. Blase moves into new territory to invite fathers and parents to look at the risk and challenge–and great rewards of parenting–as he invites readers into his imperfect, yet loveable home. Written with the raw prose of one who is there, smack dab in the middle of possibly the greatest challenge of a person’s life, Blase says, “What I’ve seen so far has convinced me that being a father is a lot like gambling–fatherhood is a risk-tasking venture.” Featuring an intensely personal voice and filtered through a brass-knuckled optimism, this book offers what very few books on parenting do–the real, true, raw reality and joys of fatherhood.
Making Paper Cranes: Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology by Mihee Kim-Kort.
Drawing on memories of making paper cranes with her mother at the kitchen table, Mihee Kim-Kort begins with one of her favorite stories from childhood about the tradition of making a thousand cranes. Intrigued by the symbol of the crane, she explores the migrations and movements of the community of Asian American women. What results is a theological endeavor that engages the social histories, literary texts, and narratives of Asian American women as well as the constructive theologies of feminist and liberation theologians. But, it is ultimately one young woman’s embrace of living into this community and identity, and articulating a particular theology that is hopefully accessible to all who have experienced powerlessness and marginalization. Simply put, Making Paper Cranes is about Asian American mothers, daughters, sisters, and women who courageously discover the grace in the struggle, the survival, and the song.
O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling by Jason Boyett.
In O Me of Little Faith, author Jason Boyett brings you a transparent and personal account of his own of struggles with doubts and unbelief in living out his faith. With humor and frankness, Boyett uses personal anecdotes and a fresh look at Scripture to explore the realities of pursuing Christ through a field of doubt. After three decades of knowing God, understanding Christianity, and living a Christian life, Boyett has come to the place where he can voice the tough questions and travel the road of uncertainty with blinders off, candor on. The message along the way is one of encouragement: Relax. Rely on the grace of a merciful God, a kind father who realizes that his finite creatures must have doubts, should have questions, and will have trouble making sense of an infinite Creator. Ultimately, Boyett concludes that doubt and faith are not polar opposites, but actually work together, existing side-by-side. Uplifting, entertaining, hopeful, O Me of Little Faith will strike a chord with you and any Christian who’s dealing with the uncertainties of living life in pursuit of a God who occasionally seems to disappear.
Restless Faith: Holding On to a God Just Out of Reach by Winn Collier.
Let go of the deeply controlled, preconceived assumptions of faith to seek the God who seems just out of reach. Author Winn Collier challenges us to confront the unsettling edges of faith and discover a freedom to worship God in the midst of life’s chaos, even if He doesn’t seem to answer our prayers.
Run With Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo by Jennifer Luitwieler.
This book is not about running. Approaching her 40th birthday, Jennifer thought running was stupid and running marathons was downright crazy. She thought the church had failed her. She thought she lacked worth because she couldn’t meet everyone’s expectations, let alone her own. She thought putting a writing career aside in favor of full-time mothering for over a decade meant she was no longer a writer. At first, running was merely a training vehicle for The Dog, to keep his mess out of her house. Running stopped being about The Dog the day she realized she was stronger than she ever imagined, more capable than she had dreamed. Then running stopped being about Jennifer’s feet hitting the ground, eyes roaming the horizon. Running became space to think, to wonder, and to examine her own mess. Down-to-earth, hilarious and thoughtful, this is a story of redemption told in a voice that is both deeply spiritual and slightly-irreverent. Anything but tidy and cliché, this wise and refreshingly-honest and hilarious book is about what it means to be human. Jennifer invites her readers to “Run With Me” as she chronicles a journey that is deeply inspiring: coming face-to-face with who we are, learning to value what we find within and calling forth the yet-unplumbed strength and potential that was there all along.
Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year by Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer.
Over the years, a mainstream approach to Christian parenting has emerged, and it’s one that promotes sleep training and feeding schedules for infants, warns that spoiled children and marital discord are certain by-products of homes where newborns are over-indulged, and promotes these methods as the Biblical way to care for a new baby. Unfortunately, the message of mainstream parenting advice preys on the universal fear of new parents everywhere: the fear that if they stray from the program, their babies and their marriages will suffer. In Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year, two mothers share their stories. They tell of a journey that began in fear-soaked, tear-stained days marked by an overwhelming fear of failure that eventually found redemption in discovering the freedom to ignore the wisdom of man and follow the direction of the Spirit. There is another way. That’s what they wish they had been told as new mothers. And it’s the message they are passionate about sharing with new parents everywhere
Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith (I SPEAK FOR MYSELF) edited by Enuma Okoro and Erin Lane. (Deeper Story essay contributors are Grace Biskie and Micha Boyett.)
American Christian Women under 40 are being theologically trained in unprecedented numbers, accessing leadership in their communities through both orthodox and unorthodox avenues, and balancing the roles of professional, wife, mother, girlfriend, and friend. With all of the perceived progress, why do they feel like their young voices still aren’t being heard? And if they found the courage to speak, what would they want to say? The latest book in the I Speak For Myself series addresses the experiences of faith, gender, and identity that remain taboo for American Christian Women Under 40. Is it our desire to remain childless in a Catholic tradition that largely defines women by their ability to reproduce? Is it our struggle with pornography in an evangelical subculture that addresses it only as the temptation of unsatisfied men? From masturbation, miscarriage, and menstruation to ordination, co-habitation, and immigration, this collection of essays explores the most provocative topics of faith left largely unspoken in 21st century American faith life. For women and their partners, faith leaders and their members, historians and their students, this book documents the voices of young Christian women and their refusal to be silent any longer.
Family members hurt us. Friends betray us. Fellow Christians deceive us. But Jesus provides a path through the pain—the Lord’s Prayer. In The Wall Around Your Heart, Mary DeMuth shows you that you can reach wholeness and healing in the aftermath of painful relationships by following the road map of the Lord’s Prayer. You’ll walk through story after story of hurt people who are led through biblical truth into amazing, life-sustaining, joyful growth.
In the strange, us-versus-them Christian subculture of the 1990s, a person’s faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets she wore and whether he had kissed dating goodbye. Evangelical poster child Addie Zierman wore three bracelets asking what Jesus would do. She also led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian music. She was on fire for God and unaware that the flame was dwindling—until it burned out. Addie chronicles her journey through church culture and first love, and her entrance—unprepared and angry—into marriage. When she drops out of church and very nearly her marriage as well, it is on a sea of tequila and depression. She isn’t sure if she’ll ever go back. When We Were on Fire is a funny, heartbreaking story of untangling oneself from what is expected to arrive at faith that is not bound by tradition or current church fashion. Addie looks for what lasts when nothing else seems worth keeping. It’s a story for doubters, cynics, and anyone who has felt alone in church.