Favorite Books for Christmas Gifts

One of my absolute favorite gifts to receive for birthday or Christmas is books. Whenever I’m given a book I want or a gift card for a bookstore, I get a little giddy — all the way from the prickles on my neck to the warm feeling rushing into my toes. I’ve often given books as gifts as well.

So let’s talk about books you can give your spouse for Christmas. Today I want to shoot out a few ideas, and then collect as many ideas from my fabulous readers in the comments.

Marriage Books

Sometimes I’m asked about my favorite marriage books. I haven’t read nearly enough of them. Some great ones out there, I simply haven’t gotten around to! But here are a few favorites:

book covers

For some reason, 3 copies on my shelf.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. If you haven’t heard of this book, where have you been? Just kidding. It’s a widely read marriage book, and for good reason. Chapman explains that we often display love to our spouse in ways that we understand but that miss the mark with our mate. Your husband or wife may need you to speak a different “love language.”

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman. This author has extensively studied relationships and, more specifically, what makes marriages stay together or fall apart. The research is solid, and the findings are illuminating. Doomed marriages share certain features, and successful marriages share others. Find out what those features are, and get your marriage in the right camp.

Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy by Gary Thomas. I’ve written before on this overall subject of happy vs. holy, but this book was the one that got me rethinking the common approach to relationships. God does have a greater purpose for our marriages.

Intimacy

There are numerous excellent resources on Christian intimacy now, and I couldn’t say that years ago. Thankfully, more Christians are speaking out and speaking well about God’s design for sexual intimacy in marriage. Here are a few:

The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: (And You Thought Bad Girls Have All the Fun) by Sheila Gregoire. I’ve reviewed this book before, and it’s high on my recommendation list. This book is particularly good for a bride or newlywed to get started on the right foot in their marital bedroom.

Pursuit of Passion: Discovering True Intimacy in Your Marriage by Jeffrey Murphy and Julie Sibert. This is a recent release which I’m currently reading. Julie Sibert is a trusted friend and Christian sex blogger at Intimacy for Marriage. Her godly yet practical approach to marital passion is likely to spark your marriage as well.

Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Kevin Leman. Dr. Leman is among my favorite marriage and parenting experts. This book deals with sexual intimacy specifically, and his quick-witted, practical-tip style will appeal to wife and husband alike.

Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design by J. Parker. C’mon, you had to know I’d mention my own book! Hot, Holy, and Humorous is both a biblical look at sexual intimacy in marriage and a collection of practical how-tos so that you’ll get some ideas to put into practice.

General Nonfiction

Other nonfiction books can improve your marriage by addressing topics and challenges couples often face. Here are few of my suggestions on that front:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Steven Covey. I cannot count the number of times I’ve hailed back to these principles since I first read this book in college. My husband and I have also used them as wisdom for our family relationships (habits like “seek first to understand, then to be understood” and “first things first”). Covey also comes from a Christian perspective (he was Mormon), and these principles comport with biblical approaches to life.

The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. Financial problems are among the top reasons that couples divorce. Ramsey has been preaching responsibility with his Financial Peace University program for years, and this book outlines his steps to financial freedom. Along with The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, this book changed how I view money.

Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey. God made people vastly different in personality. Learning to recognize and appreciate those differences can smooth your expectations and approaches toward relationships, including marriage. Keirsey’s book uses the Myers-Briggs personality type system to categorize and explain why your spouse behaves so very differently from you . . . and that’s okay.

Fiction

And now we’ve reached the category I mostly read! Give me a great story that transports me elsewhere, and I’m happier than a kitten in a yarn pile. This list could be about 100 titles long, but I’ll keep it to the three.

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. Martin is among my favorite Christian authors, and this was my favorite of his novels. Martin’s faith themes are not slam-you-on-the-head obvious, but instead run through his novels as calls to more godly living. This novel’s tagline is: “A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.” This story tore at my heart and warmed my soul.

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis. I suspect that many who have read Lewis’s theology books and even his beloved Chronicles of Narnia series have never read this novel. Lewis was a professor of Literature and was thus very familiar with Greek mythology. This is his expert retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. I’ve read the book three times and hope to read it again in the near future.

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. When I considered which classic to choose, this one came to mind as enjoyable for both men and women. Sometimes considered to be the best work of fiction ever, this book is both a mainstay in our collective culture and a novel not widely read. Maybe you should read it or give it to your spouse. The book is sweeping, fascinating, and full of human insight and quotable passages — well worth adding to your “read in my lifetime” list.

Now it’s your turn! What books would you recommend as holiday gifts? Or for one’s own To Be Read list?

Ready. Set. Go.

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7 thoughts on “Favorite Books for Christmas Gifts

  1. Ross

    Best books for me this year…
    General Nonfiction – “Now I Know” by Dan Lewis (I follow his newsletter and it’s great)
    Christian Nonfiction – “Love Does” by Bob Goff and “Emotional Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero
    Marriage – “Grace Filled Marriage” by Tim Kimmel
    Fiction – (a little ashamed to say) the Hunger Games series. I generally don’t like fiction but read these in a couple days… 🙂

    1. J Post author

      I really enjoyed The Hunger Games, so don’t feel bad. I wasn’t as crazy about Mockingjay, though. (I read quite a few teen books, because I also write teen fiction.) Grace-Filled Marriage was also a great read; just finished it last week!

      Thanks, Ross!

  2. Cassie

    Love, love, love Gary Champan and Dave Ramsey! They are for sure great books! I will have to look into some of your other recommendations!

  3. Melissa

    “Til We Have Faces” is one of my all time favorite books along with C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy. As far as marriage books go I think Timothy Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage” is by far the best one I’ve read and I have read alot of marriage books.

  4. Debi - The Romantic Vineyard

    Non-Fiction:

    A book soon to be released is by Fawn Weaver of The Happy Wives Club. It is appropriately titled, The Happy Wives Club. She took a trip around the world to find happy wives and hear their stories. It is sure to be a fascinating read.
    We also love Paul David Tripp’s book, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. It’s not solely a marriage book, but it applies very well. Mr. Tripp is a Biblical Counselor, so his book is full of godly wisdom and easy to read.
    Fiction:
    Oh now I’m going to do something which feels very uncomfortable, but my husband is encouraging me to do so–I’ve written my first historical-fiction novel based on the life of my grandmother in 1904 Oklahoma Territory. It’s titled, Through The Eyes Of Grace and is available on Amazon in paperback or eReader format. 🙂

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