Book gift ideas that help create lasting change

Books offer hope. Books offer the possibility for lasting change.  Maybe this book will crack the code? Maybe this book will help me change in ways that others have failed? 

I certainly have read a lot of books in my nearly six decades!  Some books have been such a gift in my efforts to understand myself and God, and how to live in greater freedom and fullness.

If you're reading this blog, chances are you have similar passions.  While it is certainly not easy to change in meaningful and lasting ways, when we find a resource that helps us in that endeavor, it becomes treasured.

If you're in a place where you are thirsty and have some time to read up ahead over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday, I believe one or more of these books could really be a blessing to you.

Or, if you have a loved one, (or perhaps a few), that love to read and want to grow in a meaningful way, perhaps one of these books could be a gift to help them on their transformation journey.

Below are some books, mostly non-fiction, that have really lived up to their promise to facilitate lasting change. I have read each of them, and have found them to be more than worth the time it took to read them. 

Each book is hyperlinked to Amazon should you want to learn more about the book or buy it.  (FYI, to my knowledge I am not receiving a commission should you happen to buy the book from the link!)

What Happened to You? by Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey   This book is extraordinary. Dr Perry is a child psychiatrist trained at Northwestern University who has been researching the impact of trauma on the brain since the early '90s.  The book flows as an interview between Oprah and Dr Perry.  As Oprah shares parts of her story, Dr Perry builds on her sharing and questions to provide invaluable insights around how much early trauma and neglect can affect us throughout our lives. His understanding of the brain, particularly around how the brain processes emotion and information from the bottom up, sheds such rich light on why we tend to get stuck in the same dysfunctional cycles, especially in relationships.   As I have shared this book with clients, and as the therapists on my team and I are reading through it, it's provided meaningful ways for us to grow in understanding and compassion towards ourselves and others, along with concrete ideas to help us heal and grow and flourish.   I can't recommend this book enough.   

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer   John Mark Comer is such a gifted thinker, writer and storyteller. Drawing on his own story of nearly burning out, and the sly seduction of fame and status as his ministry and influence grew way beyond his expectations, John Mark walks us through his own gradual process of eliminating hurry and excess from his life.   He does a stellar job in helping us understand the rich and varied ways Jesus calls us to find rest in him, and what a life increasingly characterized by healthy pacing and order looks like.  This is a wonderful book.

Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund  Pastor Dane Ortlund understands the heart of Christ, and our plight as sinners and sufferers so remarkably well.  He does an extraordinary job in describing the struggles of Christians everywhere, including me, who wish they who were further along than they actually are. The book and its title are based on the only two words that Jesus used to describe himself.  Drawing on Puritan thinkers from back in the day, Ortlund does masterful work in helping us see how eagerly Jesus moves towards us to meet us in our greatest angst, and how  much more freedom and joy are offered to him in us than we could ever imagine.  This book will bless your soul.

 Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth   Geneen Roth has been writing brilliant books on healthy ways to engage with food and our emotions for over thirty years, and yet I just discovered her in the past year.  She writes primarily for women, yet her original and profound insights on the various unhealthy ways we turn towards food based on emotions (which we may or may not be aware of), apply to all of us.  Drawing on her own experience in vulnerable and authentic ways, Geneen helps readers see the ways that diets are essentially traps that lead to a vicious cycle of losing and gaining weight that never truly liberates. Her emphasis on radical acceptance of ourselves in our struggles, and the need to move towards our emotions in order to be set free to embrace a healthy relationship with food and with our bodies is life-giving in the best sense of the word.  While she is not a Christian author, so much of what she writes pushes us as Christians further into God’s unconditional love and the invitation to accept ourselves as God accepts us.  As we apply her ideas in a Christian framework, we are invited into greater freedom in Him.  

Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers   Francine is perhaps best known for writing Redeeming Love. She is an amazing Christian fiction writer.  Her series Mark of the Lion starts with the main character, a young Messianic Jewish girl named Hadassah, who has just survived the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. She is sold into slavery and brought to Rome as a slave girl for a wealthy Roman family.  From there Francine does a breathtaking job in showing how this young slave girl grows in her faith in such inspiring ways. Francine’s ability to capture the realities of the depravity of Roman culture (the parallels with where society is going are stunning) and to show how Hadassah so powerfully draws on faith, prayer and the Word to grow through her intense and varied trials  is simply inspiring. Reading the books in this three part series drew me into a greater appreciation for God’s Word and a desire to pray more and more like Hadassah does.

My hope and prayer is that some of if not all of these books can serve as tools to help you or someone you love heal, grow and flourish.  

Of course I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to consider seeing a Christian therapist if you feel like you need a person to walk with you on your transformation journey.  Books are invaluable, but a person can help us in ways a book never could. You can find a Christian therapist through referral sources like Focus on the Family, or the American Association of Christian Counselors, or if you happen to be in Illinois or Florida, you are welcome to reach out to us by emailing Carma at connect you with one of our therapists via telehealth.  

May God bless your Thanksgiving holiday!