Goodness, it's been a year, hasn't it? I feel like every new day brings some new tragedy or reason to panic, and it's exhausting. It's feeling harder and harder to keep the faith, to stay hopeful, to stay engaged and active. But it also feels more necessary than ever to take care of ourselves and to love our people well. I've found that one of the best ways I recharge and refuel for the daily grind is by reading books that remind me of beauty, truth, and hope.
These are a few of those books for me.
They're ones that lift my spirits, encourage me, bring me back to center, and keep me hopeful and grounded. They're ones I keep nearby at all times, never getting them fully back on the shelves because I flip through them far too often.
I would love to hear your favorite uplifting book recommendations in the comments too! Also, ps-- there are affiliate links here! Thanks for supporting my book-buying habits, friends!
Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by Henri Nouwen
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I have already come back to it more than a handful of times to soak up the words again and again and again. I have always loved and wrestled with the idea of being beloved, and this book illuminated all of that. Originally written by Nouwen for a Jewish friend, I found it incredibly convicting and humbling and stunning as a lifelong Christian. ($10 here)
It was through Krista Tippett (go read/listen to everything by her!) that I heard about this book. It's a collection of writings on everyday words, and it's really beautiful. So many of the thoughts on these words resonated deeply with me, and I loved the deep dive into trying to wrap up complex emotions and feelings and words into words. This one is a must-read if you're a words lover! ($15 here)
Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver... I love you. Your writing is just stunning. This was the perfect book to read on a chilly Saturday with blankets and candles and coffee. I felt rejuvenated, challenged to live my life in a better and truer way, and left thinking about life and my beliefs in new ways. Her writing is poetic and powerful and just so, so worth reading. If you're less into poetry, grab this one from Oliver for sure! ($18 here)
Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott. I cannot say enough good things. This book was one I read in a short afternoon at one of my favorite cafes, and although I found myself recognizing a lot of passages from previous books I've read by Anne, I still loved it. I've always been a major fan of the totally honest, transparent style of prayer and writing too (why get all flowery and formal when you can just be totally real with God?) so I loved her way of highlighting her three essential and simple prayers: help, thanks, and WOW! This is a great little book that I heavily underlined, laughed through while reading, and would pass along to many friends. ($12 here)
No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton
This book was gold. Rich and wise and heartfelt and poetic and powerful... I couldn't get enough of it. I rarely ever want to re-read books, but this will surely be one I return to time and time again. I cannot wait to read much more by Merton-- he's exactly the kind of Christian writer I love. I read this one slowly because I needed to savor it, and I'm so glad I did. ($9 here)
A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor
This collection of writings from O'Connor's journals is honest, raw, unedited and wonderful, "the record of a brilliant young woman's coming-of-age, a cry from the heart for love, grace, and art." A short and stunning read. ($10 here)