Best Reads of 2023

My goal each year is to read at least twelve books, or one book per month. I read slowly—not necessarily because I’m a slow reader but because I typically only read at night and I can’t stay awake for more than a couple chapters.

My reading list contains primarily nonfiction— the majority being Christian nonfiction, with some memoirs, autobiographies, and narrative nonfiction thrown in the mix. A couple times a year, I take a break with some fiction. I also regularly read articles from blogs I follow, so I’ve included some of my favorites here as well.


Parenting with Words of Grace

Parenting with Words of Grace
William P. Smith
Crossway, 2019

Parenting with Words of Grace is, thus far, the best parenting book I have read since having kids, and especially since my kids have become toddlers with words, opinions, and minds of their own. William P. Smith writes with the wisdom of someone who has seen the long-term effects of his words on his older children, and with the hope of a parent who is grounded in the transforming and redeeming power of the gospel. Reading this book has helped me be more aware of how I speak with and to my children, evaluating if I'm communicating the grace I've received in the gospel. I certainly don't perfectly apply the principles Smith lays out in this book, but this book has stuck with me in a way that many books don't.

Habits of the Household

Habits of the Household
Justin Whitmel Earley
Zondervan, 2021

I have read a lot of books on habit formation, but this was the first one I've read from a Christian perspective. I enjoyed Habits of the Household for its focus away from the individual and towards the family. My husband and I have started incorporating some habits of Bible reading and prayer in our kids, but Earley's book helped me consider how we might intentionally structure daily rhythms in other areas of our family. As with any book on habit formation, the reader must consider whether all the author's principles apply to their specific circumstances. However, Earley provides a helpful framework for parents who want to set better rhythms for both themselves and their kids.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness
Tim Keller
10Publishing, 2013

This is the shortest book on my list, but certainly one of the best. I read this in a few hours on an airplane. Using 1 Corinthians 3:21-4:7, Tim Keller shows that pride is the natural condition of the human heart and that it can only be remedied by true humility grounded in the gospel. For Keller, gospel-humility "is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself...True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself." (32) The Lord has been revealing some deeply rooted self-centeredness in my heart over the last few years, and this little book was a necessary read.

How to Thrive as a Pastor's Wife

How to Thrive as a Pastor's Wife
Christine Hoover
Baker Books, 2022

I have been going through this book in a small group of ministry wives at my church. Though I am not a pastor's wife, I included this in my list because this book sparked a super helpful conversation with my husband about how we minister together and the specific roles I fill in this season of our lives. As my husband and I serve college and seminary students and co-lead a small group at our church, I found the underlying principles in Hoover's book provided a helpful directive for how I consider my own ministry and how I serve my husband in his.

Are My Kids on Track

Are My Kids on Track? The 12 Emotional, Social, and Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Meet
Sissy Goff, David Thomas, Melissa Trevathan
Bethany House Publishers, 2017

I discovered Sissy Goff and David Thomas several years ago in a chicken-or-the-egg situation. They are regular guests on different podcasts that I listen to (they also have their own podcast), but a few years ago, I read Sissy Goff's book, Raising Worry-Free Girls and I don't remember which came first. Regardless, all of their books are now on my reading list and I regularly listen to podcasts with them. One of my biggest concerns is starting early in helping my kids develop strong mental health, especially now that so many kids are struggling in this area. Goff, Thomas, and Trevathan's book translates some of their counseling practices into layman's terms, helping parents identify their kids' struggles, the potential underlying reasons for these struggles, and best practices for helping their kids overcome their struggles.


"Writing at Burger King," Nadya Williams

The title alone drew me to this article. Fast-food playgrounds have been a great home office for me. The article itself is a gold mine of highlighted quotes. I frequently wrestle with the various "callings" on my life—I am a mom, but I'm a mom with a full-time job and some creative endeavors. I am also discouraged when I hear other moms say that they're "just" a stay-at-home mom. That's why I found this article so refreshing. Williams pushes back against the notion that her creative work should take precedence over her role as a mother, noting that it is good and right for a mother to prioritize the raising of her children over all other endeavors. I'd love to explore the practical application of this article in a longer format, as the "so what?" will vary for mothers in various circumstances. But for now, I recommend this read to any mother who feels pulled in multiple directions.

"The House Seems Large Today," Tim Challies

Any best-read list of mine is going to have a few Tim Challies articles. His writing has weirdly and very specifically addressed so many of my recent struggles. This was one of my favorite articles of his this year, and inspired the writing of this article. I read it on a day when I was struggling to be present and maintain a long-term perspective on my circumstances. It was just the kick-in-the-pants that I needed.

"Who Are You When Only Your Family Is Looking?," Tim Challies

In this article, Challies asks if our character is really defined by who we are when no one is looking, or is it best defined by who we are around the people who know us best? I recently heard an adult child say of his father, "Whoever he was in public, that's who he was at home." It made me consider if my kids could say the same of me. Like Challies, I want to evaluate my character by how I act around my family.

"I've Been a Prosperity Gospel Parent?," Gretchen Ronnevik

I discovered Ronnevik's writing this year and have appreciated many of her articles and tweets about parenting. This article was one of my favorites. I do not think snowplow—or, as Ronnevik calls it, "lawn-mower"—parenting is right, but as my kids get older, I have increasingly discovered how inclined I am towards that very tactic. Ronnevik pushes back against that notion, writing "The longer I parent, the more I realize that God is more willing for my kids to struggle than I am." Oof. It was a needed read.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash