Today I share my favorite books I read in 2019. Every year around this time, I comb through my notes and lists of books read in the past 12 months and recommend some great reads, either for your own personal edification or as a Christmas gift for a loved one. I love seeing book lists from others and always find some books to add to my reading list. I hope this post encourages you to do the same.
Like years past, these books are not necessarily written or published in 2019. Rather, these books make my list if I read it this year. And, for the third year in a row, I got the infamous Kristen Kedersha to share a few of her favorites (check out Kristen’s Korner below).
A couple of thoughts before I dive in to sharing my list.
- I love reading. It’s my #1 favorite hobby and there’s no close second place. Reading relaxes, challenges, and encourages me. It gets me through workouts (thank you, Audible) and gives me reasons to get up early and stay up late. All that to say, I get a little geeked out with this post every year.
- I know your time is limited. When I put together a list like this, I hope it helps you cut through all the noise out there. I just read that over 2,000,000 new books will be published in 2019. This short list is an accumulation of one man’s favorites—just one person’s humble opinion. Part of the reason I put this list together is to be helpful and to give some recommendations.
- This was an interesting reading year for me. I wasn’t excited about much I read the first 8-9 months, but I’ve read some incredible books the last few months.
- This year included the release of my book, Ready or Knot? 12 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have before Marriage. I hope you got to read it. Feedback has been so encouraging and it exceeded all expectations the publisher established. I’ve heard from dating, engaged, newly married, all the way to empty nesters, and so many couples have benefitted from God’s wisdom in this book.
Stick around to the end of the post for a few giveaways!
In no particular order:
My Favorite Books I Read in 2019
One of the most important books I read in 2019 (and probably ever). I don’t use these words lightly. What Is a Girl Worth? tells the courageous story of Rachael Denhollander and her exposure of the massive sex abuse scandal involving Larry Nassar and women’s gymnastics. The book is very hard to read at times but tells the true story of what happens when we don’t stand up for victims and let sin reign. This book should be read by any parent with a daughter so you’re reminded what your girl is worth. And every parent of boys should read this book to help raise their son in the right way. Courageous, harrowing, convicting, and inspiring.
Read this one as well. I’d put Raising Boys Who Respect Girls by my friend Dave Willis in the same bucket as What Is a Girl Worth?. As a dad to four sons, I so badly want my boys to grow up with the right view of women and relationships. This book helps parents raise boys who respect women. Willis doesn’t shy away from any of the tough topics such as porn and lust. I’m so grateful for his bold voice in this very important book. I’m thinking of getting a group of dads together to go through this book.
The Most Thought-Provoking Book I Read This Year. I need to re-read this one by my friend Gary Thomas. I love all his writing, but When to Walk Away forced me to really think through how to respond to “toxic people.” Through biblical example after biblical example, Thomas helps the reader see how Jesus responded to “toxic” individuals. With both personal and professional application, Thomas’ book challenged me to think through how to care for others in my life (and the care might look different than expected). (see my review here)
My overall favorite book I read this year. Yes, it’s an older one (they just released the 25th anniversary edition), but Friday Night Lights is as Texas as they come. I like the movie and I thoroughly enjoy the TV show (I’m watching now with my twins). But the book is simply outstanding. Part Friday night Texas football, part sociology lesson, and part biography of a bunch of 17-year old high school boys, this book captures the essence of high school football and life in Texas. The language is rough at times, so I’d be cautious with younger readers.
My #1 “I can’t believe this happened” Book I Read This Year. Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou, tells the story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. It tells the secrets and lies of a Silicon Valley Startup company. Holmes’ story as told in Bad Blood (not to be confused with Taylor Swift’s song!) is hard to believe it actually happened, but it did. She’s a villain that you hope will be caught and exposed. No comment on how it ends—you’ll have to read it to find out.
My Favorite “Based on a True Story” Book I Read This Year. In the same genre as a few of my prior year favorites (The Nightingale (my favorite read from 2016) and Beneath a Scarlet Sky), The Tattooist of Auschwitz tells the heroic tale of Lale and his love story in the midst of devastating murder and tragedy. A quick read but very hard to stomach.
The Most Convicting Book I Read in 2019. Admittedly I’m very ignorant of racial issues and injustice related to skin color and ethnicity, but Just Mercy opened my eyes to some of the injustice that exists in our country. I’m excited to see the movie when it comes out in a few weeks especially since the book helped open my eyes to some of the problems we see all around us.
The book that most helped me grow in my love for the Lord. I love and am so grateful for Louie Giglio. The Lord used his passion for Jesus to impact both Kristen and me in eternal ways. In Not Forsaken Giglio teaches through one of my favorite sermon series and in the process helps readers grow in their understanding of the great love of the Father. (see my review here)
The Co-Most Practical Book I Read in 2019 (1 of 2). I heard so many recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and I’m very glad I read it. He lays a very practical roadmap that helps the reader establish healthy habits. He asserts that while goals are helpful, it’s systems that really lead to lasting change. This is a book I will return to repeatedly over the years. I already have read through my notes several times this year after finishing reading the book.
The Co-Most Practical Book I Read in 2019 (2 of 2). I’m so glad I read the book Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less. Hyatt desires for the reader to win at home and succeed at life, and in Free to Focus Hyatt helps the reader live it out. This is another book that I’ll return to on a regular basis to help me apply what I learned in the book. I need all the help I can get!
The Book That Made Me Cry the Most. I just finished this one the day before this post went live and I’m so glad I read it. I cried as I read David Platt discuss in Something Needs to Change about poverty, sex trafficking, disease, and so much more as he shared about a mission trip he took to the Himalayas. While I haven’t fully processed what I’ve learned, Platt is right: Something Needs to Change.
And now, back for round 3 in 2019, Kristen Kedersha!
The Most Eye-Opening Book I Read This Year. Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate – Based on a true story, about a kidnapping and adoption ring in Memphis, TN. Gut wrenching and fascinating historical read, told from the past and present point of view. I loved how they weaved the stories together and drew me in through story telling.
The Most Frightening and Realistic Book I Read This Year. Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. With my medical background, this was so intriguing to me, especially watching how Alice (a Harvard professor) and her family walked through early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease while at the height of her career with a husband and three children.
The Most Refining Book I Read This Year. In His Image, by Jen Wilkin. I loved walking through this book of 10 ways God calls us to reflect his character. I enjoy her writing style, her knowledge of the Word, and the way she challenges the reader to become more like Jesus Christ.
- Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport. How to manage all things digital to benefit us and not cost us in our personal and professional lives. I need to make some changes.
- Along those lines, check out How to Lead in a World of Distraction, by my friend Clay Scroggins. I love Clay’s honesty and writing style.
- Reset, by David Murray. This is another one I will return to and need to read along with others to help me apply it. Living a Grace-paced life in a burnout culture.
- Welcome to Adulting Survival Guide, by Jonathan “JP” Pokluda. This survival guide is another winner from my friend JP. 42 days – great for young adults, helpful for anyone. (See my review here).
- I’ll Be There For You, by Kelsey Miller. For all you Friends fans out there. Not the best written or most biblical book I read this year, but it was such a fun read and guilty pleasure.
- God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel, by Costi W Hinn. This was a fascinating read about the infamous Hinn family. I love the way Costi challenges his upbringing and poor theology of his family.
- Adorning the Dark, by Andrew Peterson. I could listen to his music all day long and really enjoyed this memoire and his thoughts on creating and community. This book makes me want to write another book.
- Becoming Us, by Beth & Jeff McCord. Such a fun marriage read, and I enjoyed learning more about the enneagram. You can read my full review here.
I have several of these books to give away. If you leave your name and your favorite book you read in 2019 in the comments below, I’ll enter your name into a drawing for the following books (7 different winners!).
- Welcome to Adulting Survival Guide, by JP
- Becoming Us, by Beth & Jeff McCord
- Single, Dating, Engaged, and Married, by Ben Stuart
- Whispers & Wildflowers, by Sarah Beth Marr (Sarah Beth is a great writer! Her book came out the same day as Ready or Knot? with the same publisher I am with, Baker Books).
- The Tech-Wise Family, by Andy Crouch (from my 2017 list)
- 2 copies of Ready or Knot?, by Scott Kedersha (signed if you want it signed…).
Note: I will choose winners next Sunday (December 8th).
Last, a link to my lists from prior years. Enjoy!
- 2018 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2018
- 2017 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2017
- 2016 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2016
- 2015 – My Favorite Books I Read in 2015
- What was your favorite book you read in 2019? What should I read? Comment below to be entered into a drawing to win one of the books listed above!
- As you think about books and reading, what makes a book stand out to you?
Note to readers: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means I get a very small kickback on any purchases you make through these links (at no extra cost to you). I need some way to recoup a small percentage of the money I spend on this blog every year and any purchases you make help keep this writing ministry going.