My favorite time of year is when our family’s schedule starts to slow as fall happenings wind down and we enter into the holiday season. I begin to look forward to long nights at home in my reading chair with my dog Althea beside me and a book in my lap. Books just read better by the light of a Christmas tree, I think.
I begin to plan my holiday reading schedule many weeks before the beginning of the Advent season. When I start making my own list of books, I love receiving recommendations from my fellow book-loving friends. I wanted to share a few books I would recommend to you as you finalize your own list.
1. Salvation Has Come by Gregg Matte (B&H Publishing, 2023)
Every Christmas, I look forward to choosing a devotional to read during the Advent season. Gregg Matte has written a book that takes a new approach to devotional reading during Christmas. Salvation Has Come: 25 Christmas Devotions in Luke invites readers to spend time in the entire story of Jesus—from birth to death to resurrection and ascension. There are 24 chapters in Luke, so each day of this devotional focuses on one chapter from Luke’s Gospel with one additional devotional for Christmas Day.
In the book, Gregg writes, “You can set out to have a Christmas season that looks different from years past. You can slow down, savoring the truth of what God has done through Jesus. You can prepare room for Him in your heart and life. It’s fine to keep a busy schedule, but don’t let the busy schedule keep you from the Hero of the nativity.” This book helps us center our hearts on the who and why of the Christmas story.
2. On the Incarnation by Athanasius
I always like to read something really old at Christmas. Athanasius probably wrote On the Incarnation sometime around 318 A.D., which makes this book really, really old. Many consider this book to be one of the most influential texts in all of Christian history. In this classic text, Athanasius provides a look at the doctrine of the incarnation—meaning, the belief that Jesus, the Son of God, took on flesh to dwell among His people and redeem them from their sins. Athanasius argues that the incarnation of Jesus is proof of God’s love for us and the only way we could be reconciled to God.
3. God, Gift, and Guide by Gregg Allison (B&H Publishing, 2023)
During Christmas, we talk a lot about gifts—who we are going to buy gifts for and what gifts we wish to receive. But we would be amiss if we did not take time to focus on the gifts God has given us. Gregg Allison—a theologian, teacher, and professor who has spent much of his life studying the Holy Spirit—recently published a concise and extremely practical book on the Holy Spirit. In this book, Allison argues that “the greatest gift that God the Father gives to those who follow His Son is the Holy Spirit.”
We often don’t talk about the Holy Spirit because He seems mysterious or confusing. But Allison’s book is for everyday believers who wish to know more about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Divided into three parts—“Worshipping God the Holy Spirit,” “Walking with God the Holy Spirit,” and “Working with God the Holy Spirit”—God, Gift, and Guide is a great resource for those who want to live with an awareness of His presence in our everyday lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
4. Knowing God by J.I. Packer (InterVarsity Press, 1973/2021)
Knowing God by J.I. Packer is my favorite book of all time, and it’s no wonder it is considered a modern Christian classic. Packer’s work takes readers on a thoughtful journey on the calling to know God Himself. Knowing God is organized into three sections—the importance of knowing God, a detailed look at the character of God from a biblical perspective, and the benefits of knowing God.
Chapter five entitled “God Incarnate,” is an especially fitting reading for the Christmas season. Packer brilliantly explains that the mystery of the gospel is in the “Christmas message of incarnation.” Packer goes on to pen one of my favorite lines from the entire book, “The Christmas message rests on the staggering fact that the child in the manger was—God.” What a worthy investment to dwell on the incarnation at Christmastime!
5. This Homeward Ache by Amy Baik Lee (B&H Publishing, 2023)
During my Christmas reading, I long for books whose authors have penned words that are rich and meaningful and lead me to hope for the good things that are and the good things that are to come. Amy Baik Lee has done just that in her new book, This Homeward Ache. Amy’s book helps us understand those feelings of longing we sometimes sense when we are attending a loved one’s funeral or looking at a beautiful piece of art. Amy walks us through how we can understand and experience those feelings of longing in light of the hope of the world to come.
Rarely does a book evoke such intense feelings in me that I am moved to tears. But this was one of those books. This book is such an appropriate read during Christmas, which is often a time when things can be hard for so many. We would be better Christians to focus on the life to come when things are hard.
Bonus! A book for your children: Lottie Moon: The Girl Who Reached the World by Amy Whitfield (B&H Publishing, 2023)
A few years ago, my curious daughter asked me why our church gave Lottie Moon so much money at Christmastime. Moon has become synonymous with the Christmas offering for international missions named in her honor. But there is so much more to Moon’s story.
Lottie Moon: The Girl Who Reached the World by Amy Whitfield is the third book in the Here I Am! biography series for kids which highlights fascinating and faithful Christians in history (Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Teacher Who Became a Spy and C.S. Lewis: The Writer Who Found Joy ). Lottie Moon tells the story of how Moon left behind everything she knew to take the gospel to China and dedicated her entire life to serving and teaching. Moon left a legacy all of us can be thankful for.
This book offers a unique view of what living for God can look like no matter where you are. And readers both young and old will be inspired by Moon’s bravery and reminded how faith calls us to action. And, if you’re like our family and like to make homemade cookies during Christmas, you can find Moon’s tea cake recipe here.
This article originally appeared at Lifeway Research.
Whitney Alexander serves as the marketing strategist for books for B&H Publishing. She also is a pastor’s wife to her husband, Mat, in Gadsden, Ala.