My Top 7 Favorite Books of All Time!

Reading is one of my favorite things to do. That probably comes as no surprise to anyone who has been hanging around Intentional By Grace for any length of time.

I often share about what I’ve been reading or am reading when I give a monthly update, and I realized during my blogging sabbatical that I’ve never shared my favorite books of all time.

Of course, this list is subject to change since I read a lot of books each year, but I thought it would be fun to share my absolute favorite books as it stands right now and why.

My favorite books are books that have affected me deeply, stirred thoughts in which I’ve never thought before, or deepened my walk with the Lord.

The books on this list have impacted my life and quite likely they are books that I’ve read and re-read several times. These are the books that are forever near my side, sitting on the shelf among my Bible, commentaries, and prayer journal. These are books that I recommend to friends often and can often be found giving away as gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and the birth of children.

Therefore, I hope that you’ll consider this list my gift to you. Perhaps one of these books will make your top books of all time too!

Now without further ado, here’s my top five favorite books of all time. And by the way, they are in no particular order. I’m not even going to torment myself and try to put them in a ranking.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – This book spoke to the deep recesses of my heart. As one who has a past of sexual sin, I carried the weight of this into my days of knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I held onto my shame, and I couldn’t reconcile my sin with the undeserved grace of Jesus. This book is a fictional story based on the truth of God’s word, and it was pivotal in my release from the bondage of past sins. It was balm to my broken heart, and it helped to begin a healing that would take years to complete.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms by Gloria Furman – I read this book recently, and it quickly entered my top five favorite books of all time. The mission of this book isn’t to give some cookie cutter answer to a mom in the trenches, but to give us the gospel over and over and over again. This book was rich in truth and application of the gospel to our daily lives as mothers and it has transformed the lens through which I see my life as a mother.

The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer – Another book that I finally read recently, and it too quickly entered my top five books of all time. I actually read many parts of this book aloud to my husband, and he too enjoyed it – not for his own calling but to understand my heart and calling in my home. This book is filled with practical ideas of gospel homemaking and why we, as women, feel a deep need and desire to create beauty in our homes. And even why we should! Even as it gives practical ideas and suggestions for creating a home that makes it impossible to not think about God, it’s not legalistic in the slightest. It was refreshing and full of grace!

Stepping Heavenward: One Woman’s Journey to Godliness by Elizabeth Prentiss – I’m tempted to say this is my number one favorite book and it probably is. But I’m too scared to admit it. The pressure! 😉 This book was given to me by one of my past pastor’s wives, and it has stuck with me for years. I read it as a brand new mother, and quite frankly I need to read it again. I think the single most effective thing that was said int his book was this, “God knows these seasons of motherhood and He ordained them. He gets more glory when we serve our children with a joyful heart than He would if we were able to steal away for private devotions with Him.” Oh how I need this reminder often!

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney – This book is dogeared and tattered to near pieces. I wrote about this book years ago (you can read it here). This book is a great outline for areas of a Christian’s life in which we should discipline ourselves. It is a helpful tool in the pursuit of godliness.

Honorable Mentions

Because two books recently took the top spots, I wanted to mention the ones that got bumped.

I think the only reason they got bumped is simply because they don’t speak to a woman’s heart exclusively and aren’t quite as applicable immediately as the two newest additions. Maybe. Perhaps? I’m not sure.

Either way, the following books are equally as good as the rest, and I still highly recommend them.

Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones – Another book I read nearly a decade ago! It is harder to read and I think the book could use a new edit and update (there is a lot of redundancy), BUT the truths and poignant challenges of this book are worth muddling through the extras. The main theme of this book is to address the lack of joy in a Christian’s life when we should be the most joy-filled bunch! It’s not flippant or cookie cutter, and it doesn’t gloss over hard topics. It’s a book that will bring you to your knees often, and I’d say going to my knees is not something I do near enough.

All of Grace: Know That God’s Gift of Salvation Is Absolutely Free and Available to Everyone by Charles H. Spurgeon – Oh the sweet, sweet grace of Jesus! I’ve always been prone to intentional living. Grace has alluded me for years. It’s something I’ve understood intellectually, but application has always been a block of stumbling for me. This book kick started a movement in my heart to not only understand grace in my mind, but in my heart and life as well. This book cuts through legalism with a knife and shattered me to pieces as God worked in my heart to put me back together through the lens of grace.

What about you? What are you top five all time favorite books? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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  1. Thanks for this list! I think I’ll make a goal to read these books by the end of the year. Maybe one a month! Stepping Heavenward is probably my all time favorite book as well! I last read it in college though. Now that I have kids, I’m sure it will speak to me differently. The other books (besides Redeeming Love), I have not read.

  2. These books look amazing! Thank you for sharing them. I have been wanting to read The Hidden Art of Homemaking and I am going to add Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full to my to read list. The Spiritual Disciplines for a Christian Life is a really good book – highly recommended!

  3. I have only read one book in your top five list. I am going to pin this post for when I’m looking for something to read next.

    I can’t imagine picking five favorite books. You’re right–the pressure is too much! Without much thought, just off the top of my head, these are five books I love (in no particular order):
    -Shepherding A Child’s Heart (Tedd Tripp): This helped me really understand to get to the heart/root of sin struggles, not only with my children’s lives, but also in my own.
    -Passion and Purity (Elizabeth Elliot): I read this book in college and it was transformational for me.
    -Mission of Motherhood (Sally Clarkson): This book and her others have really helped me to get a big picture of motherhood, to see beyond the minutia and set big goals for family life.
    -Loving the Little Years & Fit to Burst (Rachel Jankovic): Both these books are short and hilarious. They are also drenched in gospel application and I always recommend them to mothers.
    -Don’t Waste Your Life (John Piper) or Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer): The first is a shorter, easier read than the second, but both were so instructive when my whole theological paradigm was shifting in college. It’s about God, not about me.

    I’m sure I left one off, but there it is. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! 😉

    1. I’ve read all of those (and loved them) except for Passion & Purity. Will have to add them to my list! Mission of Motherhood is a very close runner up in here too. I had to bump it though when I read Treasuring Christ. However, it makes it no less impactful!

      1. I haven’t read any of the mentioned books, but I definitely will. I just wanted to say thank you for your instructions on the prayer journal. I stumbled across it on holidays and finally found it again yesterday. Been looking everywhere for it!! So glad I found it again!! I’ve seen other ones, but I love how yours is organized!!

  4. Stepping Heavenward would definitely be in my top five! My most favorite is Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon. It amazes me how much God gave him from just one verse–sometimes even just a few words of a verse. On the Other Side of the Garden by Virginia Fugate really helped me to understand submission in practical ways (not just theologically). Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George were helpful to me. An honorable mention would be Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson. I marveled at how God worked so that those people could hear and believe the Gospel. I definitely want to check out a few that you mentioned. I really enjoy your blog, Leigh Ann; thank you and God bless you!

    1. I keep Morning and Evening in my morning basket. I found a beautiful copy used several years ago and I love it! I’ve never heard of On the Other Side of the Garden. Will need to check it out. Your DeMoss and George books are also books I’ve read and enjoyed! Never heard of Don Richardson. Great list!!!

  5. Great list Leanne! I’ve read several of these- and especially enjoyed the one by Gloria Furman! Another book I’d highly highly recommend is written by Elyse Fitzpatrick and het daughter called Give them Grace: Dazzeling your kids with the love of Jesus.

  6. Thanks for those recommendations, will be getting my hands on some of these. Would add Christine Caine’s book ‘Can I do and have it all please?’ Addressed to women who are trying to juggle marriage, motherhood, work, ministry and everything else. Read it just before the birth of my 2nd child and really helped me gain perspective, as someone who has many hats and is driven to do it all well!

  7. Just found your BLOG and I am currently putting together my prayer notebook! I love the book “The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. It stresses the importance of realizing God’s presence even in the busiest moments of the day and prayer is just a constant conversation with him with no starting or finishing point. My soul can just remain bowed down to my heavenly Father in the chaos. Also Humility by Andrew Murray is just a practical breakdown of fighting pride. I think that “Humility” is going to be my word study for the year. 🙂 Thank you for all the advice!

  8. One book I’d add is “Holiness” by J C Ryle. Just a real keeper. Also Pilgrims Progress for little Ones. My daughter when she was little love me to read this to her ever night. She could hardly wait to see what would happen to Christian in the next chapter even thought we’d read it many times.

  9. I appreciate your taking the time to compile a list of your favorite books! 🙂

    As I read this post, I noticed that you begin by defining the list as being your favorite books…..but then I saw the large, colorful, attention-getting graphic defining the same list as “Books That Every Christian Woman Should Read”.

    To define all of these books as ones “that every Christian woman should read” is something that affected me deeply. Please allow me to explain why it impacted me this way.

    Not every Christian woman is married, and not every Christian woman is physically able to have children, carry a pregnancy to term, or become a mom through adoption.

    It brings great sorrow to this Christian woman whenever it is assumed that EVERY Christian woman is a mom.

    Step into the shoes of a woman who desires to be a mom but is not able, not even through adoption. There are Christian women those who have lost their child through other circumstance beyond their control. There are women who, in younger years, terminated a pregnancy that they now deeply regret, and their now-empty arms are a constant reminder of that choice. Imagine the sorrow these women can feel reading the title of your list of books for every Christian woman.

    Perhaps it is not your intent to convey the idea that EVERY Christian woman IS a mom – but (based on the title accompanying the graphic) it seems that you are indeed -assuming- that EVERY Christian woman is a mom or is preparing herself to become one.

    I am not angry, I am not criticizing – I just hope to convey the reality of how the title can hurt deeply, even though unintentionally.

    I think that this could have been avoided by 1.) consistently referring to these books as your favorite books and avoiding the reference to them as a list for “every Christian woman”, and furthermore, 2.) separating your list of your favorite books: the first group, those books that could be applied by Christian women in any season of life (i.e. Spiritual disciplines, grace)….. then, make a sub-category of your favorite books for moms, and a sub-category of your favorite books for those who are grieving and suffering (i.e. from past sexual sin, depression), etc. Women could then choose whether to explore these sub-categories.

    I think that the above approach to listing your favorite books would be more in line (consistent) with “The mission of Intentional By Grace is to equip women with the tools and inspiration necessary to live gospel-motivated lives for Him (a quote from your Home page). This list of your favorite books could have been divided into a group of books written to “equip women to live gospel-motivated lives for Him”, then sub-categories of books to equip those in certain seasons or circumstances, or otherwise interested in that sub-category.

    Thank you for considering this perspective and these ideas. I genuinely appreciate it. Additionally, I welcome your response.
    – Grace

    1. Thank you for saying something. I will definitely take a look at this more deeply. It’s true that this wasn’t my intent, and I’m often so frustrated with my narrow-mindedness and lack of awareness. 🙁 Thanks for taking time to say something and for doing it with such grace and care. You have encouraged my heart and helped me see where I have certainly erred greatly. Please do forgive me.

  10. Our family has just gone through a tragedy and as a result, I have just read Tim Keller’s Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering (three times in two weeks!) I wish I had read it before I was in the midst of suffering…not just because of how it has helped me but because I could have helped others so much more effectively before. We will all experience suffering in one way or another as will those close to us. It is important to have thought through this topic and integrated these truths into our thinking so we can have wisdom and strength when we (or others) need it.