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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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