On a bookshelf in our home, there are a few mismatched books that sit side by side on a shelf where the kids can’t reach. It’s probably quite confusing, as a Dr. Seuss book is the first in the pile, and yet my kids know that on the shelf just above my eye-level is the stash of mom’s favorite books.
A Jane Austen classic, a gift from a friend who shared my love of Austen’s work, sits next to Oh The Places You’ll Go, given to me by my third grade teacher Mrs. Lininger when I missed too much school due to multiple hospital stays. There’s a used devotional Bible that was given to me by my eighth grade Bible teacher with a prayer on the cover that the words on those pages would mean as much to me as they did to her. Beside it is a tattered Christian memoir that was first read and marked up by a friend and then later gifted to me. And then there are a few other books that were given to me at graduations, difficult seasons, milestones, etc., all chosen with love and intentionality.
The truth is, there is nothing quite like receiving a book from a dear friend who knows and loves you with a note on the inside that says, “I hope you love this as much as I did.” This Christmas I put together a list of books that will hopefully help you choose a thoughtful gift for the book-loving friend in your life. These books listed below were hand-chosen with the holidays in mind and I think they’d make the perfect gift for just the right person.
New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
New Morning Mercies is a family favorite in our house, and there’s an ongoing good-natured fight over where it belongs. We only have one copy that we share, and every now and then it goes missing and I have to rummage through my husband’s car or office to bring it back to its rightful place: my bedside table. Tripp’s counseling background fosters a rich wedding of truth from Scripture with practical wisdom, all combined in a one-page, easy-to-read devotional. This isn’t our substitute for Scripture, but it’s a great book that helps us fix our gaze on Jesus as the day begins and is a great gift for any friend looking for a theologically rich morning starter. (Another quick plug for Tripp and his excellent writing: he also has an advent devotional out that mirrors the style of New Morning Mercies, and I highly recommend it!).
ESV Scripture Journals
This past year for Father’s Day, I gifted my husband with a set of the New Testament ESV Scripture Journals, and he has loved it. It functions a bit like a Bible journal, but rather than carrying around a whole Bible, each book of the New Testament is contained in an individual Moleskin-like journal with the margin for note-taking on the side of Scripture. You can buy the whole New Testament set, or purchase them individually, but these are great for studying or praying through Scripture and jotting down sermon notes. This is an extremely thoughtful gift as the New Year approaches and many are starting new Bible reading plans!
ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us by Dorena Williamson
If you are looking for a gift for a child, you’ll want to pick up Dorena Williamson’s ColorFull. This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of two friends who are celebrating their different skin tones by examining God’s creativity in nature. Our Father’s diversity in creation shows us how to celebrate diversity in our humanity. Williamson’s main point shows us that there’s no need to be colorblind when God intentionally made our world so colorFULL! This is such an important (and fun!) lesson to learn at an early age. My daughters love this book and (spoiler alert to our family) our girls are gifting this book to cousins and friends this year!
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
Do you have a friend who has had a difficult year and you want to get them a gift that not only honors the grief that they’re currently walking in but also points their eyes upward? Look no further than Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way.
Voskamp’s beautiful writing style and gospel-rich words create a safe place for the broken-hearted to come sit at the feet of Jesus. Sometimes picking out the right words or the right book for friends in suffering can be difficult, but this book is a healing balm to this world’s wounded. But make no mistake, it’s not only for those who are currently walking through seasons of suffering; I recommend it to any believer who is committed to weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice.
None Like Him and In His Image by Jen Wilkin
This past summer, theological powerhouse Jen Wilkin released her latest book In His Image which serves almost like a sequel to her book None Like Him. Whereas None Like Him examines the incommunicable attributes of God, In His Image examines how we are image-bears and reflect God’s communicable attributes. Wilkin has the gift of making doctrinal truths tangible, all the while explaining who we are in light of being loved by a good and holy God.
These books can be given individually or together to make a great gift for the brother or sister in your life–but the truth is, they’re even better gifts if you’ve read them and include a note in the cover about one of attributes that stood out to you the most!
On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior
Do you have a friend who loves to read? If so On Reading Well is the gift you should get them this Christmas! In this book, Prior examines a wide variety of thinkers, authors, and pieces of literature to explore twelve virtues that are essential for what Aristotle refers to as “the good life.” This book is not just an examination of these virtues, but it functions as a tour through many great works of literature that is sure to impress your book-loving friend.
One might think that the art of choosing a good book for a friend involves knowing what type of book they typically prefer, but also what other books they might enjoy that they’ve not read. But truthfully, it simply involves the kindness of thought, a genuine note, and a well-timed gift. And what better timing to give a great gift than Christmas? I truly hope this list helps you with that endeavor!
Here’s to giving a good book that one day sits upon the shelf of your friend, and decades later they look at it think, “I was known, I was seen, and I was loved.”
Merry Christmas and happy reading!