Technology has become so ingrained in our daily presence, we often forget the simpler pleasures of picking up a good book. Our social media networks and the internet provide us with reading fuel, but is it the kind of quality that sustains us? Many of us have lost the art of reading and become slaves to our screens. Reading provides us with numerous benefits, from mental stimulation to an increased connection with God. If you’re looking curl up with a good book, start here.
First: Why Read?
Studies show that reading has several benefits. First, the mental stimulation associated with reading can slow the progress of dementia. Like any other muscle, our brain benefits from activity and good use. Puzzles and crosswords have been shown to have a similar effect.
Secondly, reading also provides us with an important avenue to destress. No matter what’s happening at work or in school, a book allows an escape to another world where those problems melt away. Lastly, a book provides your brain the opportunity to learn new information. The more information you have, the better you are to tackle life’s challenges. The best books offer the opportunity for introspection, so you’ll learn a little about yourself in the process.
If these all sound like positive benefits for you, dive into a good book. Not sure where to begin? We’ve compiled these suggestions to get you started:
- Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Young is a missionary who compiled unique spiritual insight into a set of inspiring devotionals. In her book, Jesus Calling, she writes from Jesus’ point of view, creating a first-person format that allows readers to experience Jesus communicating directly with them using the power of scripture. A powerful read for anyone who wants to reaffirm or find their faith.
- The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek
Most of us can relate to the idea of having a crazy relative. In this novel, sisters gather at a deceased aunt’s Hamptons home, where they remember what it’s like to be family. A touching story of grief and coming together, this book has a little something for everyone.
3. Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers
The first installment in a two-part series; this book tells an incredible tale about the complicated relationship between a mother and her daughter. Beginning in the turn of the 20th century, Marta travels throughout Europe, eventually settling down in California with a husband and her children. Her oldest daughter, Hilde, inherited her mother’s wanderlust and finds her calling as a nurse during WWII. During this time, Hilde marries and starts her own family. The result is an intricately woven tale of the women’s relationships, both with one another and with God.
4. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Don’t be scared away by the title, as a working knowledge of baseball isn’t necessary to enjoy this novel that will stick with you long after you flip to the final page. As consuming as it is All-American, this touching tale will draw you into each of its character’s lives, whether you love them or hate them. If you’ve ever struggled with self-doubt, you’ll enjoy this study of the human condition.
- Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman
It’s one of life’s greatest challenges — divining God’s plan. Mary Beth Chapman’s journey back to God after losing her five-year old daughter, Maria, is as heartwarming as it is thought-provoking. Using tears and laughter in equal measure, Chapman details her struggles with clinical depression, how her daughter’s death affected her marriage, and how she dealt with her questions in God’s plan.
- To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Most of us have had some exposure to this classic, as it’s often required reading in high school or college. Read it again as an adult, and you’ll find an American treasure. Lee describes, in vivid detail, the racial tension in the Southern United States while highlighting the importance of fighting prejudice and injustice. As told through the POV of a young girl, Scout, the trial of Tom Robinson will teach you about moral decency and standing up for what is right, even in the face of adversity.
- Outlive Your Life, By Max Lucado
As Christians, we have a responsibility to be stewards of morality and help others wherever possible. Lucado, who is a pastor, shows you how you can make an impact both in your community and throughout the globe. Outlive Your Life describes how ordinary people can make small changes that affect the whole world for the better. You were made to make a difference!
- The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Sometimes, a book can transport us to a different time and provide us with some much-needed perspective. At its heart, The Grapes of Wrath is a study of the human condition during the Great Depression, as it follows an Oklahoma family desperately seeking a better future. It is as raw as it is introspective. With equal parts vision and poignancy, it’s a contender in title for the Great American Classic.
- Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
One of the most influential writers of the 20th century, Lewis details his divergence from his childhood faith and quest to become an atheist. The journey that follows is one of self-discovery and a bumpy road back to God. This is a good book for anyone has ever wrestled with doubts, and it appeals to believers and nonbelievers alike.
- The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
This lofty tome details the adventures of 24 pilgrims as it tackles the themes of faith, corruption, and romance. At times silly and others somber, this collection of stories offers an unrivaled glimpse into medieval England, as well as the historic struggles of religion. Don’t miss the chivalric romance of knights and the Arthurian legend of the Wife of Bath. Set aside some extra time for this one – even with translation from Middle English, absorbing this will take some extra mental effort (but is well worth it).