Life Changing Reads

When my friend Emily suggested I compile my list of life changing books and link up with Cardigan Way, I was really excited. As you’ll tell from my rather long list, I LOVE reading! Although I will admit that it was not until after I finished college that I picked up a book for pleasure. Thankfully, once I did, I couldn’t stop! In the last few years my worldview has significantly changed thanks to the words of many fabulous authors.

Even though you won’t find a lot of children’s books on my list, I did love reading as a child. Some of my fondest memories involve homeschool “field trips” to the library, visiting The Bookery, and claiming my prize in the family reading challenge by hitting the 100 book mark while everyone else hovered under 10. Other than The Babysitter’s Club and some Amelia Bedelia, I don’t remember much of what I read back then; clearly not life-changing stuff. I feel like I need to go back and read some of the childhood classics that landed on Emily’s list!

These ones may be less well-known, but they are the books that have played a significant role in my life, for one reason or another:

Books that have Changed My Life (or have at least received a 5-star rating on Goodreads)


You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith– I am extremely passionate about young people, so hearing the statistics and reasoning behind the numbers of young people leaving the church stirred a passion in me like none other.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream– This one was funny because it had what I consider “the opposite effect” on me- instead of making me want to sell everything and move to the mission field, it fuelled in me an unexpected desire to get married and minister where I am. Which is just as important of a calling, and one that needs to be recognized.


Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes– I was reading this book when I was finally able to pinpoint my frustrations with North Idaho.  It provided the perfect solution- build a loving community around the table!


Total Forgiveness– I think everyone should read this book. We would be able to make a much bigger impact as Christians if we were willing to forgive as Jesus calls us to. After reading this, I was able to reconcile a few very broken relationships, which is a wonderful, freeing feeling! (Read more about this one here).

The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts– I am a sucker for the Love Languages. My favorite get-to-know-you question is “What’s your love language?” It has helped me to learn to relate to many different types of people. I have found love languages especially helpful with roommates, colleagues, and significant others. I don’t know how we got along before Gary Chapman!

Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No– I didn’t know how to say the word “no” before I read this book; I thought it was un-loving. But Townsend and Cloud helped me realize the people who are not respecting my “no” are the ones who are actually unloving. Everyone should read this book. Several times. And while you’re at it check out some of the other Boundaries in… books. (Read more about this one here)

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God– This book COMPLETELY changed my view of marriage and relationships. And I desperately needed that. So does everyone else, I think.

Strengths Finder 2.0– Ok, this is really less of a book, more of an online test and accompanying manual, but discovering that my top strengths are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Empathy, and Positivity has definitely influenced the way I’ve interacted with others and viewed my role in relationships.

Politics/ Social Justice

Jesus for President and The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical– Shane Claiborne. Radical goodness. Enough said. (Unless of course, you want me to say more. And then you should click here)

The Hole in Our Gospel– Written by Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision, this book recounts Stearn’s journey from being a business-driven church attender to a social justice loving, faith in action Christ follower.

The Great Awakening– Wallis explains the role of the church in mobilizing the government to make a difference in social justice. I’ve never had an interest in politics, but this one actually inspired me to get involved. (You can read about that here.)

Devotionals/ Bible Studies

Experiencing God– Something about the honesty and angle of this book knocked me away. I am currently working through the Experiencing God Day-By-Day: A Devotional and Journal, and it is just as wonderful!

Jesus Calling– This is a small book with short daily readings, but it is so powerful, because you can almost feel Jesus whispering the words in your ear.

The Sufficiency of Christ by Christina May Gibson- This was the first study I went through with my college core group after I decided to get serious about my faith. I don’t remember much of the study itself, but I do remember spending hours journaling sweet prayers to my wonderfully sufficient Savior.


Surprised by the Power of the Spirit– A former cessationist explains his encounter with the Holy Spirit. They say it’s hard to understand something that you haven’t experienced, and this book came along at just the right time in my own Spiritual walk, to help me know how to explain to others my own experience with the gifts of the Spirit.

Everything Must Change– Of all the books on this list, this one was probably the one that I can look back at and say was a pivotal turning point in my thinking. I love Brian McLaren’s intentional controversy. He purposely writes in a way that makes you evaluate the way you think about things, and he tells you from the beginning that he hopes you DON’T agree with everything he says. (Read more of my thoughts on Brian McLaren’s books here and here.)

Blue Like Jazz / Searching for God Knows What– It took me a few tries to get through Blue Like Jazz, but reading Searching for God Knows What with my missions team in South Africa turned me onto Donald Miller, and since then I’ve eaten up his honest and reflective writing style.

Colors of Hope, The: Becoming People of Mercy, Justice, and Love– Richard Dahlstrom is one of the most passionate pastors I know, and it shines through even in his writing. This book took a practical look at what it means to live out Micah 6:8- “Seek Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly.”


The Zion Covenant Series by Bodie and Brock Thoene- Ok, I’m not sure this one “Changed my life” but if you notice, this is the only fiction book on the list. I normally try to avoid fiction, but this one sucked me in! I think it’s a mix of the suspense, history, setting, and of course the love story.

What books would you include on your list?

Make sure you check out some of the other lists over at Cardigan Way:

Cardigan Way

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