Sunday, November 14, 2021

10 Exceptional Books to Calm + Heal + Inspire

Dear Devoted Readers ~
Book are our treasured companions, our lifelong friends.  They were meant to be ingested and savored, highlighted and bookmarked, shared and discussed, given and received.

A book is such a personal gift, isn't it.  You can tell when someone has gone out of their way to find a volume that fits you to a T.  It makes you cherish the giver and the gift all the more as you appreciate the thoughtful kindness that's gone into their selection.

I've purposefully chosen these ten books for Christmas giving because I've gained renewed life and fresh energy from their pages.  Along the way, my thirsty soul, over-stimulated brain, jangled emotions, tired daily routines, untended relationships and/or blah living spaces have been enriched in one way or another.

Four of these selections have been Book Club picks here on the blog.  Check out the conversations we've had to get more insight into why these are must-reads.  You'll find those links at the end of the reviews.

May you feel gently calmed, motivated, and blessed as you spend time with me here today.   And then have fun making up your Christmas shopping list ... and your own very personal wish list, too!

- Sarah Young
Filled with soothing, personal, Christ-centered devotional readings, favorite Scripture, and stunning wintertime photography, this is one gorgeous book.  I feel like a kid in a candy store as I've often leisurely wandered through these pages.

What an opportunity to buy two copies, one for yourself and one for a friend, and then meet together weekly during Advent to share what you're discovering.

Buy a stack for hostess gifts, last minute presents, a thank you to the kid's Sunday School teachers, and Great Aunt Sally.  At this giveaway price, it's a steal!
BUY the Hardcover - $8.45 {wow!}

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten Path
- Erin Loechner
'Renew your priorities with prompts and charts that ask you to consider your words and choices.  Shift your focus with recipes and resources to help slow your life.  Refresh your perspective with insights worth sharing to uncomplicate your life.'

Erin has penned a uniquely out-of-the-box, creative volume ... a beautifully illustrated gift for yourself or another imaginative soul who yearns to live life well.  

I absolutely adore her writing style and her innovative spirit.
BUY the Hardcover - $23.57 

- Adam McHugh
If you've been around here any length of time, you'll know this is probably one of my favorite books.  Remember the Book Club conversations we had?  The best ever.  If you read only one book in 2022, make it this one.  I recommend it all the time.

McHugh is a gifted author rich in insight, wisdom, and humor.  He's the first to admit the mistakes he's made in the past, and while the subject is soul deep, it's a practical and readable guide.  

I can't think of one single person that doesn't need to soak up and live out the truths of this book.  Not one. 
Book Club, April 2018

- Emily Lex
I can't get enough of Emily's whimsical watercolor drawings that adorn the book's front and back endsheets and are artfully scattered throughout her meaningful story.  'You’ve tried harder. You’ve been more intentional. You’ve done everything “right.”  In your search for meaning and purpose, you’ve placed your hope in many different things—only to find yourself at a turning point, quietly asking, Is this all there is?'

I found pieces of myself throughout her story.  How comforting to know we're not alone with our struggles!  I think you'll walk away saying the same thing.

Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round
- Myquillyn Smith
'A home that's ready for the seasons is automatically ready to host all sorts of seasonal celebrations.  Be the one who volunteers her home to host because you're finally confident and ready.'

This is not a typical home decorating how-to, but instead a common sense approach to creating your own signature home style that will leave you smiling and wondering why you waited so long.  Myquillyn's keep-it-simple hostessing tips will make opening your doors to others a more natural and relaxed experience.

Because it's not about your domestic expertise.  It's all about the hospitality.
BUY the Hardcover - $23.03

- Dane Ortlund
My faith has been strengthened, my soul calmed and quieted as I've sat reflectively with each chapter.  It'd be safe to say that God has used the author's prayerful words to continue the soul restoration He's been doing after a season that almost did me in.

Our most recent Book Club pick, you'll find yourself falling in love with Jesus all over again.  This is not only a beautiful gift, but also could be a most meaningful small group discussion guide.
Book Club, September 2021

- Liz Marie Galvan
Eager fans of homes with lots of white space, vintage furniture, and meaningful collectibles will want to scoop up this gorgeous book.  Each page features stunning photos and unique decorating ideas for you to incorporate into your own place.  

You'll find yourself 'oohing and aahing' you make your way through Liz's 1800's farmhouse.  And who knows, maybe you'll find yourself getting a bit motivated to try your hand at one or two DIY projects along the way!  

Her emphasis on all things 'cozy' hits home for me.

Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode - and into a Life of Connection and Joy
- Aundi Kolber, MA, LPC
'One of the best parts of learning to open myself up to God and allowing him to sit with me in my joy and grief is this: I have learned to see myself as He sees me ... during our hardest, scariest times - whether our bodies feel stressed and jumpy or sluggish and slow - God is there to reassure us that we are no defined by our best days or our worst days.  We are His beloved.' 

For those who've been living in survival mode, Aundi's wise counsel is soothing and life-altering.  Even the book's title will cause you to exhale just a bit deeper after living on high alert for far too long.  This process of finding gentle healing from continued anxiety and stress is necessary, a sacred work so we are able to move ahead into whatever God has for us to be and to do.
BUY the Paperback - $13.34

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life
- Anne Bogel
'In this book, we'll dive into the personal nature of reading - what shapes us as readers, what we bring to the page.  We'll explore how to read, how to choose good books, and what happens when we read bad ones.  We'll dive into why we connect with some books so powerfully.  We'll peek into other people's reading lives.  And we'll enjoy every minute of it because that's the kind of people we are.  How good it is to be among people who are reading.'

Anne's ode to the bookish life is every book aficionado's delight.  If you view books as vital to your daily life, this lovely, whimsical read has your name on it.  

The perfect gift for your favorite bibliophile.  And a perfect size to toss into your bag as you head out the door.  Because you'd rather be reading.
Book Club, October 2019
BUY the Hardcover - $9.32

Invitation to Solitude & Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence
- Ruth Haley Barton
'The image of the jar of river water captured what I knew to be true about myself.  I could not avoid the realization that I was the jar of river water all shaken up and the sediment that swirled inside the jar was the busyness, the emotions, the thoughts, the inner wrestlings I had not been able to control.  It was a moment of self-discovery - which is where all good spiritual journeying begins.'

This was the book that started it all for me ... the pursuit of a deeper, more reflective spiritual life.  This little guidebook helped deepen my walk with the Lord in ways that have been life-changing.  

If your relationship with the Lover of your soul has become rote or stagnant, may He be pleased to use this volume to draw you into a deeper, more substantial love relationship with Himself.
Book Club, February 2018
Buy the Hardcover - $12.69


Well, there you have it!  It's been a true pleasure to gather these ten volumes for you to consider.  May your Christmas wish list include some {or all!} of these gentle literary gems ... and may you find the perfect gift for your favorite people right here.  

Please note that as an Amazon Associate, I may receive a small financial perk when you use the above links.  Do order soon while supplies are available and as delivery seems to be fairly quick in this November time frame.

Let's talk about the selections that are catching your eye ... or tugging at your heartstrings.  As always, if you find this list helpful, please do share this post with your friends, fans, and followers!

I'm kind of excited at the surprise debut of the unintentional On the Porch Weekend Newsletter ... your enthusiastic response has been the icing on the cake!  Be sure to subscribe to receive both the newsletter and the traditional blog posts in your inbox.  

connecting with
Anne  .  Jeanne 
Richella  .  Lisa

photos are from 
author's websites.
All others are my own.


  1. I'm reading Gentle and Lowly right now!

    1. Oh so good! I look forward to reading your review ...

  2. These books all sound great, Linda! I'd especially like to read Chasing Slow, Freely and Lightly, and those Welcome Home and Cozy White Cottage books! I'll have to add these to my reading list! :)

    1. Enjoy, Nancy! Just reading those titles again makes me smile.


  3. Wonderful and timely. Thank you, Linda!

  4. Sounds like some great books. I am a fan of Sarah Young too! I done a book clean out a few years back and gave so many to our church library and friends. Mercy I had too as I needed one room for JUST BOOKS! LOL! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

    1. Hey Cindy, sounds like you've got the makings for a great big library! Wouldn't it be wonderful if every house included a room lined with shelves just for our literary friends!

  5. Thanks, Linda…I am always looking for books to give as gifts!

    1. Oh good, Pam! I hope that some of these fit the bill for you.

  6. My eyebrows shot up when I saw the "Chasing Slow" book and I immediately ordered it from another library. God's been working on me to embrace the fact that I am an introvert and am fulfilled when I am not chasing after life, but slowing down and treasuring quiet moments and allowing myself to be ok with that part of me. Society says you have to do it all but it's a lie. This wonderful quote came across my desk.............."If you are humble, nothing can touch you. Neither praise or discouragement. Because you know who you are". I don't need to chase praise anymore or be sidelined by discouragement!! I can't wait to read this book and see what gems I can find!!!

    1. There's a peaceful serenity for those of us who are introverts {or extroverts!} when we finally embrace the truth that God Himself shaped us that way! Being aware of what feeds and what drains us are some of the most important lessons we'll learn in living our lives well.

      As we allow God to fill our wells in ways that work best, we are much more able to embrace life with all its ups and downs ... and be effective in the callings He's placed on our lives.

      I hope this book helps clear space for you to breathe and reflect, Val.

  7. What a great list of books, Linda! I really need to re-read The Listening Life, so I am glad it made this list because I had forgotten how impactful that book was (I first heard about it on your blog, for which I am so thankful!). I added a few others to my TBR: Chasing Slow, Cozy White Cottage, and Gentle and Lowly. I think they are just what I need the next few months!

    Here are my recent reads, if interested!

    1. Wow, we have been bumping into each other here and there for a long time, Elena! It's always fun to pick up where we left off ... always, always, our love for Jesus and those perfect reads!

      P.S. The Kitchen Front was one of my favorite fiction books this year. Reading your review reminded me how very good it was!

      Happy Thanksgiving to you, to yours.

  8. So many books to read. I'll have to write faster!

    God bless.

    1. You, my British friend, are a prolific writer and I think it'd be fair to say that your books are held in hands by appreciative readers all over the world.

  9. Some of these sound really lovely, Linda. I'd add Anne Lamott's "Help, Thanks, Wow" to the list. Her work always inspires me and helps heal, but this one is exceptional.

    1. Don't you just love that our prayers don't need to be long-winded and formal? Even better that God hears the cry of our hearts that isn't even spoken!

      Help. Thanks. Wow. Those 3 words say it all, Jeanie.

  10. Such a great round up of books here, Linda! Thank you for putting this together for us!

  11. Thank you for these reviews Linda!

  12. Thank you for sharing your recommendations. I've just ordered The Listening Life on my kindle.

  13. I've added several of these books to my list, Linda. It's always helpful to receive recommendations from someone you trust. Thank you!

    1. Trust is huge. I don't take that lightly. Thank you, friend.

  14. What a great list, Linda! I value your recommendations and appreciate the reviews.

    1. I'm so glad we're reconnecting this week, Kitty! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours ...

  15. I am reading Gentle and Lowly now. Almost done. And I see another on your list to read next :) Thank you for the recommendations which I always appreciate.

    1. I'm so glad you've found your next read, Joanne!

  16. Great list and I only have read a few. More to come!!!

  17. Just reading your list of books made me want to cuddle up in a chair with a book! Thanks for sharing these.

    1. You're absolutely right, Lauren. These are all books to cozy up with ... I love how you put it!

  18. I always appreciate your wonderful book recommendations, Linda. I didn't even know there was Jesus Calling for Christmas. The Listening Life was a powerful book for me too. I'll be looking up Try Softer.

    1. That Jesus Calling book is so stunning, Lisa ... I just can't say enough about it.

      I'm thinking Try Softer might be a perfect fit for you as I see you as a gentle, tender, loving soul ...