Books I Plan to Read in 2023

I don’t always begin the year with a specific book list to read from, but this year is one of those years where it felt imperative to do so. As I set goals for 2023, I noticed some themes emerging, some deep places in need of healing and growth, but also a deep awareness that I will need to be intentional to pursue resources to help me see and understand what growth looks like.

Below is the reading list I will work from this year in my personal reading time. It’s likely that this list will carry over into 2024, and if so, that’s okay. I’m not making this list so I can meet a numerical goal, but in order to pursue growth in places I feel deeply called to nurture and care for in my own soul and life.

Now, anytime I share my personal book list I get nervous. I know we all come from many different contexts, religious biases, and opinions on what should or should not be read as a Christian. So I’ll just say at the outset. Just because I choose to read a book, it doesn’t mean I agree with everything that the author stands for or believes. I shared last year about how my reading life has changed through the years. Reading with discernment and for perspective is an important part of my reading life. The list below will reflect that value.

Also, with each book title listed below, I tell you why I am choosing to read the book. I hope this inspires you in your intentional pursuit of reading for growth in 2023. I also hope that sharing more intimately the areas I want to grow and change will help you feel seen and loved just as you are as you seek growth in your own personal faith journey.

Finally, if you’re taking the 2023 Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge, I’ve made a note of which category each of these books could fall under.

14 Books I Plan to Read in 2023

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New Testament Bible Reading Plan (5x5x5) by Navigators (Find more Bible reading plans here.):: I have used the 5-Day Chronological Bible Reading Plan for the last several years of personal Bible reading time. It is my favorite Bible in a Year Plan; however, I never adhere to the yearly date. I simply use it to guide the order I read the books of the Bible. This year I want to begin a slow read through the New Testament, and I like the way this one from Navigators is set up. Again, I don’t pay attention to the “in a year” concept. I simply use the plan for the order in which I will read and study. As I read this year (ever how far I make it), I am paying attention to words like submit, humble yourself, obedience, and power. I’m also interested in what Christians are specifically commanded to do. How then shall we live? I’m very much looking forward to what lies ahead.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: Book of the Bible you’ve never read or haven’t in a while, About the local church, Related to one of your goals, By an author you’ve never read before, With 100 pages or less, One of the New Testament Epistles, A book with gospel in the title or subtitle, or One you don’t want to read but think you should).

Crafting a Rule of Life by Stephen A. Macchia:: I was introduced to crafting a rule of life in seminary last summer. I believe there are many different ways to approach one’s rule of life, but I’ve broken mine up much like I do my yearly goals: daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, and yearly rhythms. I started this book in 2022, but I want to finish reading it to gain a better understanding of the practice, where it came from, why it matters, and how it can inform our modern Christian lives.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living, About time management or rest, or About Christian living.

60-Day Enneagram Devotional: the Challenger – Growing as an Enneagram 8 by Elisabeth Bennett:: I have found the Enneagram to be a very helpful tool in understanding how God has wired me, what my blindspots are, and what my deepest needs are. If you’re wondering, I’m an 8w9. This devotional was given to me by my husband’s coach at the end of 2022, so I look forward to reading through it slowly and contemplatively in 2023.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: From a genre you don’t normally read or A book of your choice.

The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith by Janet O. Hagberg & Robert A. Guelich:: A book my husband read slowly last year after it was given to him by our pastor, I plan to read just as slowly this year. My husband found this book to be very helpful in navigating the various stages of the Christian life, explaining some of the roadblocks we’ve run into along the way, as well as understanding the natural progression toward maturity in Christ. We all know we “haven’t arrived” when we say, “Yes!” to Jesus, but the way we approach our spiritual journey doesn’t always reflect what we believe.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living.

The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus by Rich Villodas:: This is another book I started in 2022, but I haven’t finished it yet because I’m reading slowly. The deeper work of transformation is essential to moving forward in the way of Jesus. I am hoping this book will help me create rhythms in my Christian walk that help restore deep physical and creative rest while deepening my faith in Christ.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living, About time management or rest, or About Christian living.

The Cost of Control: Why We Crave It, the Anxiety It Gives Us, and the Real Power God Promises by Sharon Hodde Miller:: Yet another book I started in 2022, but I’m choosing to read it slowly. My need for control and to not be controlled was something that come up over and over again toward the end of 2022. Growing in awareness for how this has served me through years of trauma and survival was helpful, but I no longer need this vigilance in the same way. Learning to recognize where I “power up reactively” out of fear is something I want to grow in.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living or a book with a fruit of the Spirit in the title.

Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday:: This is another book my husband read last year, and he recommended it to me for this year. I’m sure you’re seeing a theme in my reading list so far! Control, ego, striving…all of these things are areas of deep awareness for me right now.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: Related to one of your goals or a book of your choice.

Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith:: I came across this book somewhere along the way as I was reflecting on 2022 and setting goals for 2023. One of my goals is to pursue deep physical and creative rest, so this seems like a good fit.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living, About time management or rest, or About mental health or self improvement.

Aggressively Happy: A Realist’s Guide to Believing in the Goodness of Life by Joy Clarkson:: In the same vein of goals, the desire for deep creative rest is not so much about art and writing, but about wonder and awe. I tend toward futility and a “What’s the point?” mentality. I’ve heard really good things about Joy’s book, so I am looking forward to dipping my toes into the waters of believing in the goodness of life.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living or a book one of your favorite authors has read.

Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms by Justin Whitmel Earley:: As we reflected on 2022 together, my husband and I realized how little time we spent focused on the core of our family. Many reasons contribute to this, but we decided we do not want to stay there this year. Our family word for the year is FUN! Resetting our rhythms as a family and the priority of home is the key.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living or About time management or rest.

Extraordinary Relationships: A New Way of Thinking About Human Interactions by Dr. Roberta M. Gilbert:: Another book I came across on the periphery of one of my seminary classes. When talking to a friend who works as a therapist, he recommended this one to me when I asked him about it. Being able to build and maintain healthy relationships is essential to life, and I know I’m not alone in the struggle. The lack of relational care and a sense of belonging is an epidemic (not because of 2020; though that certainly revealed so much!). Our family systems inform much of “how we do relationship.” Therefore, this book is as much for helping me heal and repair as it is to grow in awareness of the family dynamics and relationships in my home.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: On mental health or self-improvement.

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh:: This one will be a re-read for me. I honestly don’t remember why I loved this one so much, so I’m reading it intentionally, mindfully this year. It chronicles the shifting seasons of a woman’s life.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: Book of your choice or (for me) A book you have read before.

The Only Thing Necessary: Living a Prayerful Life by Henri Nouwen:: Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite writers and theologians. His works have given voice to many of the inner longings of my heart and have helped me articulate my calling to the ministry of presence (pursuing the presence of God and enjoying the presence of others). This book is on living a life of prayer, which is the recurring theme of the New Testament instruction to believers.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living or a book of prayers.

Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson:: Another book that kept popping up over and over again in conversation in 2022. Learning to read the Bible on its own terms is so important. This book takes a look at how to engage with the text and live the text as we read it.

Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge Category: About Christian living or A book you may disagree with.

This will likely not be all I read this year. Actually, I know it won’t be.

My goal for this year is to read 12 non-fiction growth books, read aloud 12 chapter books with my older kids (not counting school books I read aloud to them), and 12 fiction books just for fun.

To complete this list of 14 books would put me over my 12 non-fiction books goal, which is fine, but like I said, I’m not rushing through this particular list. However, it feels nice to have an intentional reading list to work through.

What about you? What books are you purposing to read this year? I’d love to hear in the comments!

2023 Intentional By Grace Christian Reading Challenge

If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to sign up for the 2023 Intentional By Grace Reading Challenge. This is one of my favorite resources to put together each year because behind the challenge is an amazing group of women in our private Facebook group.

Even if you don’t take the challenge as it is written (as you can see, I am not this year 🙂 ), you might find some encouragement and inspiration by signing up and following along. You can glean ideas for books you want to read, ask for recommendations for areas you want to grow, or actually take the challenge as written and surprise yourself!

Whatever way you choose to interact with the reading challenge, we would love to have you join us. Click here to learn more, or pop your email address into the box below to get all the information delivered straight to your inbox.

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