10 Books that Are Necessary to Life

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This time of year has me thinking about resetting the clock, getting a fresh start. With the new year beginning in just a few weeks, my mind moves toward new ideas, new habbits, and new resolutions for my mind. Part of that process for me is reading or rereading great books.

I’ve always been a reader. And wintertime, particularly the week between Christmas and New Year’s is such an inviting time to read and get your brain moving on helpful ideas and images. I have some books that are yearly reads for me. Their content is so good and helps me keep in line with the hopes I have for my “life as Mom.”

Below is my list for the ten books that I would consider “necessary” to life. They are books that I think are worth spending cold hard cash on. Books that I would most definitely give as gifts. Books that I think help, encourage, teach, equip, motivate, bless…. Do I need to go on?

You may have a different ten books in your list. But, these definitely work for me and help to focus me on what’s important in my life. Happy Reading!

1. The Bible

It goes without saying that for me as a Christian, reading God’s Word ranks at the top of books necessary to my life. I confess that my Christian life has not always been characterized by a love of Scripture. While reading topical Christian books, I used to gloss over the Scripture texts and get to whatever the author was saying. I thought that was more important. After several years of being led astray by what Man says, I’ve learned — in my heart and in my mind — the beauty of God’s Word. It is more than enough to teach me what I need for life and godliness.

That isn’t to say that other books lack value. Obviously not, because I am making this list. But for me, if stranded on a deserted island, all I really need is a Bible to make me strong, give me hope, and show me the way to go.

I prefer this ESV version of the Bible.

2. Atomic Habits

3. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

4. Salt, Sugar, Fat

5. How to Win Friends and Influence People

6. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

7. Pride and Prejudice – I am a huge Jane Austen fan. And Pride and Prejudice is my favorite. Love this book. I’ve read it countless times. And whenever I’m sick, I watch the BBC version on DVD. My boys roll their eyes, but it’s comfort food for my soul. If I could only have one novel on my shelf, this would be it. And my sister started me on a Jane Austen collection of the Everyman’s Library. It’s a great hardback line with cotton paper, definitely a keepsake collection.




You tell me! What book belongs in my top ten? I’m looking for new reading material and welcome your book recommendations!

This post was originally published on December 15, 2009. It originally contained these books: The Bible, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, The Total Money Makeover, The Well-Trained Mind, Pride & Prejudice, The Lord of the Rings, Family Feasts for $75 a Week, Fine Cooking, and The Side-Tracked Home Executives. While these books have helped shape who I am today, the list has been updated July 2020 to reflect my experiences over the last 11 years.

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  1. I love Dr. Laura's "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." It's a wonderful book to help strengthen marriages and would be the perfect book to round off your favorites.

  2. Great List! I've read some of them, but will definitely add others to my wish list.

    Here are my recommendations:

    1) Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham

    2) Teaching the Trivium by the Bluedorns

    3) Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey

  3. I really like "Nice Girls Don't Change the World" by Lynn Hybels

    As well as many books by Jen Hatmaker, specifically her latest one titled, "Interrupted"

    Jada @ foodfunfamily

  4. Great list. I'll have to read some of those. I think you should add The Complete Tightwad Gazette. I've had my copy for at least 10 years and I go back to it often for recipes, ideas and sometimes just inspiration.

  5. I love "From Clutter to Clarity" by Nancy Twigg. It's a book about decluttering your life, but it's not your typical organizational book. She really prompts you to dig down deep and figure out the reasons behind your clutter. It's full of Scripture passages and is absolutely excellent!

  6. Love your list.

    I would have to add "A Mother's Heart" by Jean Fleming.

    Honey for a Child's Heart is a favorite reference book for reading to little ones and older ones, too.

    And I read Pride and Prejudice and Christy every chance I get. Love those books.

  7. I am going to have to pick up The Simple Art of Homemaking. I haven't read it. I loved The Shack and Emily Post's Guide to Etiquette is my constant referance book.

  8. Love and Respect. The book that God used to save my parent's marriage from inevitable destruction 5 years ago. The book that has saved or enriched countless others' marriages, including our own.

  9. I love "Shopping for Time" by Carolyn Mahaney (wife of C J Mahaney). It's a great book for moms and busy ladies who need a time-out every now and then to evaluate how they spend their time, and if they can do so more effectively.

  10. I'm definitely going to check out the Art of Homemaking; haven't read it.

    My fave cookbook is The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. I use it all the time. Another great one is Cheap. Fast. Good. by Mills & Ross.

    A Simple Choice by Deborah Taylor Hough is another great reference book; I read portions of it every year.

  11. I love good book reviews and suggestions. Thanks for them! I have 2 I would add:

    The Tightwad Gazette and Raising Your Spirited Child. Both fantastic books that save my sanity. I would totally grab them if my house were burning down.

  12. As far as fiction …I loved the Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers …to me it was life altering …and when I first started reading it I thought I would hate it because I had never read a book that started out in Roman Times…but keep reading..it draws you in and you will have to run out and buy the 2nd and than the 3rd book in the series…in so gave me the faith to continue …
    As far as a cookbook …it is my newest one …The Pioneer Women Cookbook …I have yet to make a recipe of hers that I have not raved about …I just can not cook form her book to often …or I would be as big as a house,lol. How does she stay so thin?


  13. I love Jane Austen too and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite (BBC version of course!) By the way, did you hear they are going to be playing the BBC remake of Emma in a few weeks on PBS? My mom and I can't wait!

  14. My husband would love you! He loves the Bible, Dave Ramsey, and Lord of the Rings. I think if you are a parent, you need "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. I'm reading it now and it's the only book on sleeping by someone who actually gets attachment parenting. Very nice.

  15. "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten : Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things" by Robert Fulghum would be my recommendation. Yes, it's a poem and/or a poster, but it's also a warm funny collection of stories.

  16. Good recommendations. I too am a read but it is 6 am and I can't think of a single book…oh WAIT "Jane Eyre" my all time favorite.

  17. You don't have one specifically about raising children. In that category, I would include "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp.

  18. I would second many of the books mentioned here, Mark of the Lion Series, Christy, and Shepherding Your Child's Heart. I would also add The Making of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot, and Stepping Heavenward, by E. Prentiss. Both are books that helped me change the way I look at my home and my family.

  19. What a great list! I've read almost all of them except The Hidden Art of Homemaking. I'm definitely adding that one to my wishlist!

  20. Have you read Smart Couples Finish Rich? Once you become debt free and are looking for the next level in what to actually DO with your money and how to approach it as a couple, this book is invaluable.

    My all time favorite is Wuthering Heights and this is a perfect time to read it with the grey skies and colder weather it is easy to imagine yourself lost on the moors.

    Happy Reading!

  21. I echo Hattie's thoughts about "Shopping for Time" by Carolyn Mahaney…it's a great book! I also agree with Jennifer about "Shepherding A Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp. A few others that are definitely worth reading "A Life That Says Welcome" by Karen Ehman, "When People are Big and God is Small" by Ed Welch, "Feminine Appeal" by Carolyn Mahaney, and if you're looking for some fiction, I'm a big fan of Karen Kingsbury.

  22. I think The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease should be required reading for every parent.

  23. I absolutely recommend “Love and Respect”, by Emerson Eggerich. It can completely enrich your perspective on marriage, on men and women and how God has created them, and how we work together best in a way that glorifies him. My husband and I studied this material just before getting married, and I think it has made a huge difference.

  24. Great List. My #10 would be the parenting book that has helped me most-Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman.

  25. Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson I’ve read it 4 times in the last two years. Life changing for me as a Mom

  26. Wife for Life: The Power to Suceed in Marriage by Ramona Zabriskie is a must read for all women. It is the most incredible book on marriage and being a woman. It will definitely make your top 10 list.

  27. Enjoyed your list. I am planning to help homeschool my small grandchildren and preparing myseld now. A book I highñy recommend which I read when ny son was little (and plan to re_read soon) in “The Magical Child” by Joseph Chilton Pearce. Absolutely fantastic book which emphasizes play and gives unusual reasons for avoiding TV. There is another one called “The Magical Child Matures.” More valuable than Summerhill by A.S. Neill, which is aldo good.