Uprooted and hundreds of miles away from everything and everyone I’d ever known, books became my refuge. A good story helped me forget I was sitting alone at lunch and spending my Friday nights at home instead of out with friends. I’d always loved to read but this was the first time I found comfort in books.
Eventually, I did make friends at my new school and I read slightly less, but my love for a good story continued to grow. That is until I became a mom and found myself too worn out to pick up a book.
But there’s truth in the saying, “you make time for what’s most important,” and I remembered how life-giving books were to me, especially story-driven books. So, after barely cracking open a book for a couple of years, I decided it was important, necessary even, to read.
Now I’ve read over 100 books in two years and want to share some of my favorites. I’m breaking them up by topic and today I’m sharing my favorite inspiring memoirs by Christian authors. For while I still love literature, memoirs are becoming a favorite genre.
All these books allow you to step into someone else’s life and walk around in their shoes for a little while. And because these are real people and their real-life stories, they help you develop understanding and compassion for those who are different than you and they can inspire you to live out your own dreams and convictions.
Inspiring Memoirs by Christian Authors
Love Lives Here by Maria Goff
About: In a life that may seem to be all fun and games with an endless supply of balloons, author Maria Goff shows how this life is also lived with intentionality, passionate purpose, and a little planning—all of which make a life rich in legacy. But she had to figure out the help she needed first in order to live the beautiful life God wanted for her and wants for us.
Why I loved it: Maria’s stories took the buzz word of “live intentionally” and made it practical. The areas of life where she had to make intentional decisions are the same areas we all need to make decisions. Hearing how one family navigated these decisions helped me think through my own priorities and vision for my family.
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gains
About: The dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper share the story about how they met, how they ended up on HGTV and everything in-between.
Why I loved it: I picked up this book because I love Fixxer Upper and wanted to hear the story behind the show. But I fell in love with this book because it’s an inspiring story of trusting God and following his directions for your life even when it doesn’t make sense. Chip and Joanna demonstrate how to respond to life’s challenges with hope and grace rather than fear and frustration.
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
About: Just out of high school, Katie moves to Uganda and discovers a life she would have never imaged for herself.
Why I loved it: Throughout the book, Katie feels torn between the life she and her parents thought she would have and what she believes God is calling her to. This wrestling between what we thought life would look like and what God had planned, is relatable, even if God hasn’t called you to something as drastic as moving to Uganda and adopting 15 orphans.
At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider
About: At Home in the World follows the Oxenreiders’ journey from China to New Zealand, Ethiopia to England, and more. They traverse bumpy roads, stand in awe before a waterfall that feels like the edge of the earth, and chase each other through three-foot-wide passageways in Venice. And all the while Tsh grapples with the concept of home, as she learns what it means to be lost—yet at home—in the world.
Why I loved it: With my own dreams of traveling the world, I loved hearing about how Tsh did this with her whole family in tow. The life lessons she learned along the way, like how the small things still mean the most and how to care for your soul, made me realize I don’t need to travel the world to create meaningful experiences for my family. So, as I wait for the kids to grow older and the finances to make travel a reality, I’m focusing on the things that make home a home. Thanks, Tsh.
All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth
About: Edie Wadsworth tells her story of growing up in an Appalachian trailer park with the dream of becoming a doctor. All the Pretty Things is a refreshing and raw redemption story, a memoir for anyone who has ever hungered for home, forgiveness, and the safe embrace of a father’s love.
Why I loved it: The great writing immediately pulled me into this story and I could not put it down! It opened my eyes to a life that is so different from mine it might as well have been fiction. Yet, knowing it’s not fiction grew my compassion for the poor in my country.
Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
About: Through a series of steep climbs–her husband’s brain tumor, bankruptcy, family loss, and public criticism–Erin learns just how much strength it takes to surrender it all, and to veer right into grace. In Chasing Slow, Erin upgrades her life through downsizing–her stuff, her obligations, her fears, her personal metric of “perfect.” And ultimately, her invitation becomes yours: to turn away from the fast and frenzy, and find freedom in a new-fashioned lifestyle defined by grace.
Why I loved it: For a book about someone choosing to turn away from the “fast and frenzy,” Erin has a very full and busy life. Yet, this is exactly why I loved it. Erin is honest about constantly putting too much on her plate and then having to take things off again. She’s realistic in describing a life live by grace is a journey, which is a comfort for those of us who tend to strive.
Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors
About: After unexpected tragedy shook her family, for the first time Katie began to wonder, Is God really good? Does He really love us? When she turned to Him with her questions, God spoke truth to her heart and drew her even deeper into relationship with Him.
Why I loved it: Just like Kisses from Katie, I found this book very relatable despite my life circumstances being vastly different than Katie’s. The storytelling is beautiful and so is the hope Katie clings to in her darkest hours. God’s faithfulness is magnified throughout the book.
Plain Faith by Irene & Ora Jay Eash with Tricia Goyer
About: This is the true story of Ora-Jay and Irene Eash, Amish farmers from northwest Montana whose lives changed in an instant when a semi-truck struck the family buggy, killing their two young daughters.
Why I loved it: Similar to All the Pretty Things, this book transported me into a different world. My compassion for the Amish grew as I learned more about their belief systems. Ora-Jay and Irene demonstrate what it means to have a courageous faith and I was inspired to keep studying and understanding the Bible so I can always stand in truth and not be entangled by legalism.
As Atticus says in To Kill a Mocking bird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” These inspiring memoirs are all a great way to expand your point of view and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Curious to know what inspiring memories I’m most looking forward to next? Here’s my shortlist.
- At Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland
- Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
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