Five Books That Have Changed My Life

First of all — happy Valentine’s Day!

A lot of weeks I share “What I’m Reading Now” posts with y’all, but those books are pretty much always novels. The sixth grader in me wants to call them “pleasure reading” books. Remember that? Anyway, I thought I’d change things up a bit today and share a couple non-fiction books that have really made an impact on my life. I’ve already written about a couple of these on here, but I thought it could be helpful to see them all in one place.

Captivating by Stasi and John Eldridge. Ladies, if you haven’t read this one please do yourself a favor and get it today! It was recommended to me by a friend a few years ago and since then I must have re-read it about five times and practically underlined something on every single page. It’s really helped me understand my own heart better and why I operate the way I do.

Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk About God’s Deliverance by Beth Moore. I’m a huge Beth Moore fan. I’ve been to a couple of her conferences, done three of her bible studies and read a few of her books….and they all have spoken right to me. She just has a way of cutting things down and getting right to the heart of the matter. I guess that’s why this book is labeled as straight talk about God’s deliverance. If you’ve ever felt stuck in life {and haven’t we all?}, read this.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan. A couple years ago we read through this book as a small group and the overall message still sticks with me today. It was reading this book when I asked myself, “Am I just lukewarm with my faith?” Francis Chan preaches it the way no one else can. I’m currently reading his new book, Multiply, and loving it as well!

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story by Donald Miller. Oh, this book!!! I just loved it. I’m a huge Donald Miller fan and this is my favorite of his. For being a pretty easy read, there’s so much wisdom packed in this book. If you’re just starting to explore faith and spirituality more, READ THIS. I’ve recommended it to countless people {Christian and non}, and everyone loved it.

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo. It took me a couple years after losing a sibling to feel “ready” to read book about heaven. If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you might understand what I mean. For awhile, it was all just too real and too close to home. I finally picked this book up last summer and I’m not lying when I say, I think about it all the time. I think about this little boy’s story and it affirms what I already believe in my heart. It’s a short, sweet, easy read that I highly recommend to anyone.



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  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    February 14, 2013 at 4:21 am

    Thanks for all the recommendations Jenna! I haven’t even heard of any of these before but I totally trust you when it comes to this type of thing. I’m a much bigger fan of non-fiction than fiction books so I will be checking some of these out!

  • Anne
    February 14, 2013 at 4:25 am

    Oh my! You have no idea how much I’ve been hoping to found something like this list! I’ve been talking to friends, searching blogs etc for books that aren’t too preachy but really speak to us as people.
    Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Katie
    February 14, 2013 at 4:28 am

    I’ve been looking for motivational books, but don’t want books that are about Christianity or God. Just not my thing. Any suggestions?

    • Sara
      February 21, 2013 at 6:16 am


      First off I think this is my first time replying to this blog. I LOVE YOUR BLOG. its seriously the best, I have a tried a few of your recipes and they are amazing! Love the theme of this post, I love a good book that changes your way of thinking.

      and I was about to recommend a book I a currently reading that I love when I saw one of your readers ask what I was about to respond to so here it goes…

      for a non- christian/faith motivational book I am reading the “Happiness Project”. Now its not for everyone. My brain works in terms of facts. IF I think someone is BSing me I HAVE to go look it up and research it. The way she motivates herself and the reader is more through facts that she has researched, then ways to take those facts and apply it to her life so she lives more “happy”. For example she talks about how happier people sleep better at night- statistically then speaks about how she started applying that to her own life so she felt better each day. Anyway she she lives a good life (successful with a nice apartment in the heart of NY city, 2 kinds, awesome husband ect) and a lot of critics of the book look at that and criticize how could she write this book when she has “everything”. To me its not the point of the book, its more about how to make your body and mind feel better without changing materialistic things… so anyway… that is my recommendation! πŸ™‚

  • Allison
    February 14, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Are you simply posting this list because you are getting in on the marketing of SheReadsTruth, the feel-good, quasi-biblical, women’s “Bible” studies? Because these reading picks are incredibly unsubstantial (Stasi Eldredge touts 1950s gender stereotypes more than she advocates anything that is posed in the Bible about gender; because, quite frankly, the Bible has little to say about gender — though it does have much to say about humanity). It would be refreshing, Jenna, if you, an English major, someone who should know how to think critically, to explicate, to contextualize, to resist the binaries our culture likes to succumb to so often, could develop a list of books that are truly, biblically and philosophically challenging. These books are fluff; they are written in an environment where trendy, superficial Christianity is now the norm. Why do you, who should know better, continue to perpetuate this trend?

    • Gwen
      February 14, 2013 at 4:55 am

      Oh, Allison that is so sad. The Bible is packed with stories of women (female gender) and what God truly considers beautiful. If you are interested in something biblically and philosophically challenging, perhaps you would enjoy a global, multi-cultural, inter-denominational in-depth Bible Study. You might see if BSF, Bible Study Fellowship, is available in your area. Definitely some non-fluffy, relative stuff!

      • Kelly
        February 14, 2013 at 6:01 am

        I was in BSF for 11 years….changed my life. Really gets you into THE WORD. I highly suggest it. You can google Bible Study Fellowship. They are all over……worth your time to go if there is one near you.

        • Pam
          February 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm

          BSF has changed my life as well….BSF helps you to really dig deep and have a greater understanding of the Bible.

    • Steph
      February 14, 2013 at 7:33 am

      Jenna please know that many of us are truly blessed by your words and appreciate your willingness to express your faith and love of God.

      Allison, it makes me very sad to see a comment like yours. Might I suggest some truly biblical readings.
      James 4:11-12 ESV
      Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
      Matthew 7:1-5 ESV
      β€œJudge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, β€˜Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
      Ephesians 4:29 ESV
      Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

    • jenna
      February 14, 2013 at 7:46 am


      I’m really sorry that you that way! But this book list should be taken for what it is — Five Books That Have Changed MY Life. Your book list can, and probably does, look incredibly different. I’m just sharing what has spoken to me personally and I’m sorry if that looks different for you but I do ask you respect it. We all have a right to be different and while you may consider these books merely “fluff”, they obviously mean a great deal to me…which is why I posted them.

      Might I recommend reading “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis? You can debate a lot, but you certainly can’t argue that anything in that book is fluff. And while I actually do agree with you on some degree, about the existence of an environment nowadays where superficial Christianity is sadly the norm, CS Lewis was writing from a former place of atheism and his book is quite biblically and philosophically challenging. It’s probably more up your ally than Captivating.


      • Kate
        February 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

        ‘Mere Christianity’ would definitely be on the list of the books that changed my life! Great suggestion.

      • Allison
        February 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm


        I do appreciate that these books have changed your life, and I certainly do not think that individual tastes should be a point of contention. This morning, whenever I responded to this post, my response came out of frustration to seeing the book Captivating listed first. In college, I was in a Christian book club with two very close friends who were interested in Christianity, but were not sure if they were willing to commit to a religion with such an exclusive claim (Christ died for the sins of (wo)mankind, and it is through him that we can receive salvation). In this book club we read, ironically, Mere Christianity, and they were intrigued (maybe even seduced?) by the claims of Christianity. The next book, however, that was recommended to us by a fellow Christian mentor was Captivating. As we read this book, a book that promotes a homogenous, binary gender role more than it does the love of Christ, it was as if this book un-did all of the good of Mere Christianity. Eldredge’s book was simple, trite, and quite honestly, hateful toward women who will never, ever fit into the mold of a traditional gender role. My friends did not identify with these roles, and after reading this book, as well as after meeting fellow Christians who aligned with the values espoused in this book, they were less and less willing to go to church/attend Bible studies with me. I am still friends with these women; I still pray for these women; I really, truly care about and love these women. But I feel like the way this book construes what is expected of Christians (women, in particular) did so much harm (harm that only Christ can un-do).

        That history is where my critical, and yes, judgmental (I really am sorry) comment came from. I’m happy that your faith was strengthened after reading these books; it’s just that I’ve seen so many people whose faith is weakened after reading them, as well.

        • gia
          February 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm

          I appreciate what Allison has to say. I am interested in Faith, but cringe at the thought of some of those old school sexist underpinnings… It’s a tough say. Jenna, I dig your blog.

          • Becky
            February 14, 2013 at 3:45 pm

            I appreciate everything that has been said in this thread. Jenna, I love your blog, and appreciate that you are not afraid to speak openly about your faith.

            For those interested in a more feminist-oriented book on Christianity, I highly recommend Helen Hunt’s “Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance.” The book portrays 5 women throughout history that definitely did not fit with gender and societal norms at the time (such as Dorothy Day and Lucretia Mott), but used their faith as a guide to do great things for the world.

            This book would likely be on my “5 books that have changed my life” list.

      • Karen
        February 15, 2013 at 5:33 am

        Jenna – Are you so insular that you do not understand that many of your longtime readers aren’t Christian at all and have vastly different world views. I understand if your religious views creep into your writing occasionally, but this list is simply a disguise for increasing efforts to convert your readers to your beliefs. This constant preaching is becoming offensive even to those of us who aren’t particularly religious at all. C’mon..this food seems an inappropriate venue for this subtle and non subtle type of religious harassment.

        • jenna
          February 15, 2013 at 6:54 am

          I’m sorry that you feel that way, Karen, but I am free to write about whatever I like to write about and if you don’t agree with me or feel offended by the subject, I recommend you just go elsewhere for your reading pleasure. No one is making you stay here, read my posts and feel offended. There are many other great blogs out there that might serve you better! That being said, I’d love for you to stick around…I just totally understand if you don’t. No hard feelings.

          • Karen
            February 15, 2013 at 7:49 am

            As I inferred, I am not offended by the subject, Jenna. I’m offended that you are oblivious to the religious beliefs of your varied audience w/your increasing aggressive approaches to pursuade your audience to believe your beliefs. Many of us were raised in other religions – Jewish in my case. The fact that you don’t understand that this constant barrage of religious messaging feels condescending, as if our lives are somehow flawed and can only be fixed by God. It feels like you are preaching and judging – and that is not what we have come to expect on ELR, or any food blog for that matter. Your approach to this topic is just so utterly disrespectful.

          • Anon
            February 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm


            I don’t think Jenna is oblivious to the varied religious beliefs of her audience. One of my favorite things about reading blogs is reading what THAT particular person likes. I’m not religious and in fact, have a relatively strong aversion to religion, but I’ve always enjoyed every.single.part. of Jenna’s blog. As her blog is about HER, I understand there are things that will be different from my preference or the preference of her audience in general. If you want something that is marketed towards a general group there are many other forms of media available for you. Part of blogging is inherently the personality and preferences of that individual, that’s what we come for. For anyone who reads Jenna’s posts on a regular basis, it should be obvious your characterization of her work as “preaching” and “judging” is an enormous stretch.


            An Athiest Who Enjoys All Jenna’s Writing and Recs

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    February 14, 2013 at 4:45 am

    I enjoyed Heaven is for Real so much. I know this is one I will come back to many times over.

  • Jennifer S
    February 14, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Hey Jenna, I don’t know what’s happening, but you have some weird things linking to your links… for example, I clicked on the “close” link and it took me to a background check website… there is also a pop up about eating disorders.

    • jenna
      February 14, 2013 at 7:48 am

      I’m not sure either, Jennifer, but I’m looking into it! I apologize about any weirdness.

  • Gwen
    February 14, 2013 at 5:03 am

    I read Captivating and was pleasantly surprised. I’m probably similar to your friend Allison. I tend to prefer things a little more meaty and biblically sound. I found the concepts in captivating extremely relevant and encouraging as well as biblically accurate.

    But, I really appreciate your willingness to share your faith in in a non-confrontational, encouraging way. Truly a heart after God! Very refreshing!


  • Emily
    February 14, 2013 at 5:24 am

    For me it was Eat, Pray, Love. At the time I was in a unhappy relationship and after I read it, I had the courage to move on. When I think about that book and where I am in my life now (engaged, living in Europe – it’s like my own Eat, Pray, Love!), I just get a huge smile on my face. πŸ™‚

    • Maryz
      February 14, 2013 at 6:50 am

      I loved Eat, Pray, Love! Some much needed inspiration was in that book!

    • Ash
      February 15, 2013 at 6:00 am

      I agree! This book comforted and gave me strength during a difficult point in my life. It reminded me to stop, breathe, and pray. I’m glad that it helped others πŸ™‚

  • Joelle ( on a pink typewriter)
    February 14, 2013 at 5:49 am

    That first one sounds really interesting!!

  • Amy Walters, aDESIGNdock
    February 14, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Thanks for these, Jenna! My reading list is growing. Love it!

  • Melissa
    February 14, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Jenna! This list is AMAZING and I couldn’t agree more that these are some seriously life changing reads. I couldn’t help but to share that you should definitely check out The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer. It’s INCREDIBLE and one of those books that every woman must read, regardless of the season of life they’re in.

  • Karen @ karenssoiree
    February 14, 2013 at 6:09 am

    Thank you for posting this insightful list. I could use some inspiration right now so I am definitely checking some of these out!

  • Sharla
    February 14, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Captivating seriously changed my life too! I need to re-read it…as you enter your marriage I would recommend Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.

  • Katina
    February 14, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Rock on girl! Crazy Love is a great book, it also inspired me a lot! Captivating was also quite a blessing to me πŸ™‚

  • Maryz
    February 14, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Love this list! I have been wanting to find something great and substantial to read for a while. I’m starting with Donald Miller and working my way through all of these! Thanks for all your great book recommendations!

  • Brindi
    February 14, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Just added them to my Good Reads “Want to Read” list! Thanks πŸ™‚

  • Kim D
    February 14, 2013 at 7:33 am

    i’m a Beth Moore fan, too! i also loved Captivating as well. i lent my copy out and haven’t seen it since, but i agree, it was life changing. i’ll have to check those others out. thnx for sharing.

  • k
    February 14, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Please do yourself a favour and read some non-theological philosophy. I get it, you love God and being religious is a big part of your identity. I have no objection to that. But in a quest for understanding the world, what we should all be seeking is balance. Try reading some non-fiction by real philosophers – heck, even by some atheists! I’m not saying you need to love everything they’re saying, but I guarantee that you’ll find value in the way that they make you think in a much broader context than any of these books can.

    • h
      February 14, 2013 at 8:18 am

      I’m not sure I see where it’s noted that she doesn’t read other non-fiction?

      • Casey
        February 14, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        I think as Christians, we are called to stand up to the worldy view of “balance.” We are supposed to be a guiding light in a fallen, imperfect world (we’re fallen and imperfect too, obviously.) But I think the point of these books is to understand the world from a Christian viewpoint, and if you believe in Christ and grace, then it really does mean you’ve been “born again,” even if it wasn’t some dramatic episode. The point is to navigate the world FROM Christ’s perspective and live our lives for Him and in Him and to make the world better THROUGH him—not for the world’s viewpoint.

      • k
        February 19, 2013 at 10:20 am

        h- I never said she doesn’t read other non-fiction, I said that she doesn’t read non-theological philosophy. (This is also an assumption, but please correct me if I’m wrong Jenna?) I’m not in any way saying “Jenna is a bad person for liking modern Christian books”, but rather my comment was suggesting that she might get more value out of reading a variety of perspectives on the world.

        I also doubt she’s read any true theological philosophy. (Again, correct me if I’m wrong Jenna). I am not saying there’s anything wrong with theology, I’m saying that there’s something wrong with the way that these type of books deal with the subject. They are biased and narrow minded, and they could be well supplemented by the ideas of great thinkers like Hobbes and Descartes (who are both Christians, by the way).

  • Five Books That Have Changed My Life |
    February 14, 2013 at 7:50 am

    […] Article FROM < First of all β€” happy Valentine’s Day! A lot of weeks I share β€œWhat I’m Reading Now” […]

  • Mary Clare
    February 14, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Ok, if you love these books, you NEED to read Little Princes by Conor Grennan. Reads like a novel, but every word is true. Fantastic book!!!

    Thanks for sharing this list!

  • Bekah @ She.Walks.In.Freedom
    February 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Amen, Jenna. This looks like an amazing list. I’ve been meaning to read “Crazy Love” for a while now! I am currently reading “The Divine Dance” by Shannon Kubiak-Primecerio! So good. Let’s live this out! And Ultimately, we have the best Love Letter ever that we can always read – the Word of Truth and Life! Be encouraged, Jenna. You are making a difference!! Be strong in His Truth!

  • Erin
    February 14, 2013 at 8:20 am

    This is your blog. You can write about anything you please, and I 100% respect your opinions and faith. You have always shown yourself to be compassionate and respectful of your readers. But, as someone who has read your blog for the recipes for several years, I am now left confused about what exactly this blog’s purpose is. It’s your prerogative to say, ‘this blog has no purpose and it’s mine and don’t read it if you don’t like it’. But since this is how you make a living, I’m guessing you approach your blog with a bit more intention. And, your recipes are good! You are a trained chef. I assume your success has come from your position as a food blogger, cook, and recipe creator. I’m just one reader, but I have to say that I just don’t feel very comfortable returning to your blog on a regular basis when a very pointed moralistic message is the theme. I sing your praises in the kitchen, and respect your life choices, but I’m not sure that food and faith are a good match.

    • Kate
      February 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

      I’m inclined to agree with Erin. I respect your faith, but as someone who doesn’t necessarily share your religious beliefs, I find myself more and more alienated from this site. I love, love, love your recipes – but I am uncomfortable with the increasingly religious bent of the posts lately.

      • Jen
        February 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

        It’s her blog, her life, her views…if she wasn’t herself on her blog then shed be fake and simply doing what everyone else is doing. Trying to please others and make money. If you don’t like her posts… Move on and find what works for you.

        It’s also called growing up and changing – what humans do.

        • Marie
          February 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm

          I find it incredibly frustrating that people express a straightforward and really very amiable critique about ONE AREA of the blog and your solution is that they all take a hike. Did you ask Jenna if she’s cool with that? Because last time I checked (yep, still there!) this site was ad-supported which means if everyone took a hike who wasn’t 100% behind EVERY post she writes, Jenna would have a very hard time making ends meet. The only bloggers who can afford to tell people to “move on” are the ones who blog for free. My 2 cents.

          • Jen
            February 15, 2013 at 12:19 am

            BS Marie – and you know it. Do all authors write only what readers want? All singers sing only what listeners want? Do all business owners follow the masses? No. That’s stupid and illogical thinking. It’s her ads – she’s the one that will either make or lose money of readers don’t like it. That affects her – not you.

          • Marie
            February 15, 2013 at 5:53 am

            @Jen: I offer an opinion and you call me stupid. Classy! How’s that approach working out for you in your business?

            Nowhere did I say a business owner must follow the masses, you made that part up. I simply think shutting down any negative commentary by telling people “if you don’t like it, move on!” is pretty narrow-minded and I don’t think a blogger would want to risk alienating readers who support ALL other areas of the blog save for one.

          • Erin
            February 15, 2013 at 9:03 am

            Well, although it sure did surprise me, Jenna seems to come down on Jen’s side in her response to Karen above. I guess taking a hike to another blog is what I shall do.

            Jenna, it seems a shame that you have chosen to address the more disrespectful, hate-fueled responses in lieu of the (imo) many respectful readers who are simply asking for a little dialogue on the matter. Your readers do fuel this blog, and it seems like you have a lot of sane, smart, respectful ones alongside some of the immature crazies. I understand that it’s easier to tell the crazies to take a hike, but I guess I’ve come to believe you’d treat the rest of us with the same respect that we have treated you.

      • Kelly
        February 14, 2013 at 7:14 pm

        I just wanted to chime in with my agreement with the above comments. It’s certainly not just this post; your religion has crept into your blog posts more and more recently- I don’t feel comfortable when I read here anymore, I feel preached to. I suppose as an Evangelical Christian, that is probably your intention- and of course it’s your blog, and you have the right to write about whatever is in your heart. I guess I just wanted to add my voice to the others who are expressing the same feelings I’ve been having. Reading your posts used to feel like checking in with a girlfriend. Now it’s starting to feel like being preached to, and it’s an uncomfortable feeling.

        It looks like you have a lot of readers that support this new direction your blogging is taking, so that’s great- I guess as a loyal reader I just wanted to give my input as well.

        • Lex
          February 15, 2013 at 12:30 am

          I would also like to share my growing disappointment and discomfort with the direction this blog has taken. As someone who once looked forward to creative new recipe ideas and updates on monthly favorites, I feel continually bombarded by your strong religious viewpoint. While I respect that every person has a right to pursue their own beliefs, I prefer my cooking with a little less preaching and find that increasingly impossible to ascertain on ELR. I am disheartened to say, if this direction continues, I will not be returning.

      • Devora
        February 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm

        Me too! I love the recipes and the glimpses into Jenna’s life, but as a non-Christian I am often alienated by the religious posts. πŸ™

    • Alexis
      February 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      ^ same same same. Was my fave recipe go-to, now just not sure what this blog is about…at all.

    • Emily Ann
      February 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm


      Maybe creating separate tabs somewhere on the website would be helpful? The blog has morphed into half-Christian reading sessions/novel reading recommendations and half cooking and recipes. I’d imagine that while there is an overlap, there are definitely some people interested in just one set of entries. Maybe creating two different pages for these entries (though both pages accessible on the blog… kind of like Jessica does on How Sweet it Is) would be a good idea.

      Just my two cents. πŸ™‚

      • jane
        February 15, 2013 at 4:44 am

        I agree. I mean it doesnt really bother me all that much, I just stop reading when it gets all Evangelical. I grew up Catholic and (not saying that Catholic is the way to go at all!) we don’t preach. All this “Jesus speaks to me…” just seems fake to me because that’s not the way I think. However, I took a step back and realized that is how Jenna does believe and think and that is great for her. Mainstream Evangelical Christianity is just so foreign to me and I am SHOCKED at how many of my favorite blogs are all touting their faith. Touchy subject. I do love hearing your more personal posts so I understand that it is a fine line to draw, Jenna. Whatevs, keep on keepin on!

    • Breck
      February 15, 2013 at 10:16 am

      I have to agree, as well. I loveloveLOVE your recipes (seriously, my boyfriend and I make a few each month at least) and I really enjoy the sporadic updates on books and wedding planning and fashion, but the posts that are centered around religion make me, as a nonreligious person, feel out of place and uncomfortable. As Erin said, it’s your blog, and you are welcome to write about whatever you want, but I hope there’s some way to adjust the content or how it’s viewed (the tabs idea was a great thought) so that you aren’t alienating some of us that have been following your story since the beginning.

      Also, I think as readers, we have the right to offer respectful criticism to bloggers. I thought Erin’s comment was polite and direct, exactly as a critique should be. Being a blogger, you’re consciously choosing to put your writing and content out into the world for others to experience, so I think you have to expect that. If you don’t want people to be able to respond to your work, disable the comments or make your blog private or keep a diary instead. As a blogger and writer myself, I think comments like Erin’s are necessary for growth and improvement. I won’t speak for Jenna, but I imagine most people who consider themselves writers feel similarly.

      • Mariel
        February 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        I agree with you, Breck! I really enjoy the blog, but discussing religion makes me feel “out of place”.

    • Kelsi
      February 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm

      I so agree with this. I love the food on this website. I love Jenna’s writing and her adorable sense of style, her obsession with yoga etc. But as a follower for about three years, I’ve been putting this blog lower and lower on my list of places to check for recipes. As a non-religious person, it has been hard for me to stomach this blog. It’s a personal feeling, and something I disagree with. Religion is personal, not meant to be forced on others.

      That being said, this is her blog. She is free to do with it as she pleases. I understand that people change, and new ideas and viewpoints develop. I have her recipe page bookmarked so I can ignore the Godtalk. Jenna is not inclined to change her blog for any of us. She is paid and she will continue to do as she pleases. We are all free to start out own blogs and post our own thoughts and opinions.

  • Caroline L.
    February 14, 2013 at 8:27 am

    These all look like beautiful and interesting reads – I’m especially interested in that last one! Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health
    February 14, 2013 at 8:27 am

    That’s such a cool picture of the golden gate. Did you take it?

    • jenna
      February 14, 2013 at 8:32 am

      It’s actually the big bridge in Savannah and yes, I did take it! πŸ™‚

  • Michelle Cheney
    February 14, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Jenna, I recently discovered your blog and fell in love with it. You are darling! I live in Louisiana where I am a high school English teacher. I wrote about you on my blog the other day! I also had never heard of Good Reads until your blog and I am hooked on that too. I love all your book recommendations. I too am a fan of non-fiction and have read Get out of that Pit and Crazy Love. I am a fan of all things Beth Moore and Francis Chan.
    As a teacher of teenagers and a lover of Christ, I am drawn to young ladies who profess a love for the Lord. I think that it is why I loved your blog so much, because it shows in all you do. Young girls need role models and mentors like you. Thank you for sharing these! I really enjoy Donald Miller but have not read this particular book yet. Thanks again and I just wanted to introduce myself and say Hello!

    • Michelle
      February 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      I wrote my prior comment before I read all the other comments. It is sad that others want to question or almost threaten their following of you if you “continue to be you”. If I am not mistaken- that is what a blog is. A personal space for you to write what you want. I first I was upset that people would almost have an expectation of what you should read as a literature major or how you should write. But then I began to think about the great writers in history. When they tried to fit a mold of writing to please others they failed. When they wrote what was on their heart, then they were successful. Success is defined differently for all. Be you, read what you want, write what you want, and everyone else can follow who they want.

  • HilJo
    February 14, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Id say the three books that have changed my life most (after the Bible itself) are Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien), Till we have Faces (CS Lewis), and Kristin Lavransdatter (Sigrid Undset). They are all incredible books, and Till we have Faces and Kristin Lavransdatter REALLY challenged the way that I understood and thought about Love.

  • abby
    February 14, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Just put “Captivating” in my Goodreads queue!

  • Amy
    February 14, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Balance is what the world is pushing- when it comes to Christ and salvation (ones eternal fate), it’s all or nothing. Diluting ones perspective with other worldly insights and opinions is unfruitful. As believers, we are drawn to what is life-changing and of value (eternal value). I’m so tired of the world selling balance, compromise, and what-have-you. No one wants to be uncomfortable or commit. Do what you want, but please stop selling the luke-warm, ‘balance of all commit to none’ mentality. It’s exhausting-

    • k
      February 19, 2013 at 7:25 am

      I never once said “commit to none”. But balance all, yes!! It is so alarming to me that anyone thinks its unnecessary to read balanced perspectives. As I said before, I am not telling her to question her faith or to agree with other authors. I am simply saying that by reading a balance, you will find a deeper understanding of the WORLD. By not opening up to other perspectives, you are breeding ignorance. “Diluting ones perspective with other worldly insights and opinions is unfruitful”?? This is one of the most offensive things I have every read. What about “Love thy neighbor”, etc? If your faith is as strong as you claim it is, you should be able to read EVERYTHING without “worrying it will guide you away from Christ.” You should want to understand the world, and the motivations of others, regardless of what your beliefs are. I am an atheist, and yet I probably know more about every world religion (including yours!) than anyone else reading this blog does. Why? Because I recognize that if I want to enjoy the world and relate to others, I should understand where they are coming from. I have a deep respect for the beliefs of others, and if anything, this thirst for knowledge and understanding has solidified my values, not taken away from them. And yes, I am regularly “uncomfortable” when I speak to religious people as an atheist. And that’s ok with me. There is far more value in a life where I’m trying to see a rainbow of motivations, perspectives, and beliefs than there is in a life where I only talk to people who agree with me (or read authors who agree with me). It IS possible to be uncomfortable and committed while also looking beyond the end of your own nose. I feel sorry for you if you can’t see that.

  • Dana
    February 14, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I am not sure how one could feel ‘alienated’ from this blog–or any blog for that matter. As Jenna said in response to Allisons’ comment, she is simply sharing something that she loves and since it’s her blog, she can do whatever she pleases. We, the readers, {should} take it for what it is…and move on.

    For me personally, I am far from religious. And I have read the Heaven is for Real book which is wonderful and adorable. The other books…ehhh, I am not going to look into them because that doesn’t fit me and my life. But I am not about to shut Jenna and her wonderful blog out of my life for a few “Christian-esque” books that she chose to post about on a certain day. Of course, if one preaches to their readers in a hardcore, closed-minded manner out of the blue….then I think that’s where you start questioning and re-thinking things. Jenna is not forcing any of her beliefs on us. Take it for what it is; or a grain of salt.

  • Jenn
    February 14, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Thanks so much for sharing Jenna! I’ve read Captivating and I absolutely loved it. It’s about time for me to re-read it. I’ve heard of the last book on your list but haven’t picked it up yet. I’ll definitely look into the others as well!

  • Casey
    February 14, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Thank you for sharing this list. I’m sure you were somewhat expecting the backlash that discussing religion incurs. As a person who is not particularly religious, I just wanted to say that I still appreciate this post. I find your faith absolutely beautiful. It is genuine and I love that you make no apologies for it. You receive criticism with grace and even try to steer people, like Allison, towards texts to help her at the very least understand where you are coming from. In a world where so many people are Christians in name only, you serve as a reminder that being Christian isn’t a fad or a trend or something to say you are just to get praise. I mean, maybe it’s saying too much because I don’t actually know you, but I feel like you uphold the true definition of what it is to be a Christian.

  • Kat
    February 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

    I just wanted to second (third?) that I was disappointed that all these non-fiction books happened to be what I suspect might be trendy Christian books. I clicked “read on” with ideas of all the vast topics non-fiction could cover.
    Another person said what I was thinking very eloquently. I grew up in the states in a Christian and have lived abroad in different countries for many years now, and I have come to have a very different perspective on religion and “the Christianity” in America. I love reading American recipe blogs and getting a little reminder of life back home, but I am quite tired of so many blogs intermingling Christianity with it. Also, I really like the idea of your book recommendations, but I’ve been disappointed to find that they all (?) pertain to Christianity. There is so much great literature out there… Of course, you have a wonderful blog on your hands, but it is readers like me who won’t be visiting very often if Christianity is the name of the game.

  • Leia
    February 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Hi Jenna, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and just want to encourage you and say thank you for being open and honest about your faith in this blog post. It is incredibly encouraging to see you pursuing your faith in your blog, marriage, friendships and every component of your life. You are so sincere in all that you write and I have never ever felt that you were judgemental, condemning, or pushy on this blog. You have beautifully intertwined your beautiful relationship with Christ with the ways He has gifted you. I hope that you will continue to interwine these amazing parts of your life for us readers to see. Thank you for your sweet words and wonderful recommendations.

  • laura
    February 14, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Thank you for sharing this booklist! It is always interesting to see what other people are reading and how it has changed their life.

    Nothing significant ever changed the life of anyone when the heart was not deeply affected. J.E.

  • Amber @ Mommy's Me Time
    February 14, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been meaning to read the Donald Miller book and this gives me motivation to pick up a copy!

    • Mish @ MishMarieG
      February 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles..are fantastic books. Even if you’re NOT Christian, or Are, they are fantastic books. Stacks of insights, knowledge and real-personal reflection. Amazing, amazing, amazing books.

  • mare
    February 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I don’t know the commenter Allison personally, but I suspect she was more referring to the desire to see more books of the same grain as Rachel Held Evans’ “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” or Peter Rollins’ work. But I could be projecting since those are my kind of spiritual books these days. πŸ™‚

    • meagan
      February 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm

      Rachel Held Evans has an amazing blog. It’s definitely worth reading.

  • Jordan
    February 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Jenna! I’ll be adding these to my reading list. πŸ™‚ I have read Captivating and can certainly echo that it helped me understand myself better. If you haven’t read it yet, Wild at Heart has great insight into the way guys operate. Perfect thing when you have marriage on your horizon! Also, I saw Sacred Marriage mentioned in another comment and I just have to say I LOVED that book and think it’s a must-read before marriage. It totally changed my perspective of marriage and taught me how to find & worship God even in small, every day activities. I definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it yet!

  • Callina
    February 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for years now and I appreciate you sharing your book selections. I am in somewhat of a gray area religiously right now and I would be interested in reading a couple of the books on your list. I can understand some of the other commenters’ criticisms but ultimately they can’t tell you what books will literally change your life…that’s obviously up to you to discover on your own. Same for them.

    Some books that have changed my life include the Omnivore’s Dilemma (changed the way I think about food and the way our society eats), Nursing Against the Odds (inspired me to become a nurse), and I’m sure there are more but those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Cheers!

  • Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl
    February 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Heaven is For Real is on my “to read” book list. I hear great things about it allll the time!

  • Amanda
    February 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I’ve heard great things about Crazy Love. My best friend owns it, so I may have to borrow that from her. And everything I’ve ever read by Beth Moore has been great. You’ve got a great list going.

    By the way, after reading your review of One Thousand Gifts, I told my boyfriend I wanted to read it. So he bought it for my Christmas present. I haven’t picked it up yet (trying to finish another book first), but I’m super excited to read it.

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    February 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    So many fantastic books here. You should try “The Untethered Soul”. I think you would really enjoy it.

  • Rebecca
    February 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Wow, I expected more from you reading list; almost made me puke.
    All these books push the belief of some figment of imagination in the sky and having a better life, you must have that belief. What a way to squash reason and logic.
    Please people read other things besides these books!!!!

  • Jillian
    February 14, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks for the suggestions! I think I’m going to pick up Captivating this week! I absolutely love your blog, and it is so nice to have awesome recipes (I’m a dietitian) and words from someone who loves the Lord all in one place πŸ™‚

    I have a suggestion for you as you’re preparing for marriage: The Politically Incorrect Wife by Nancy Cobb and Connie Grigsby. I am getting married this summer too and just finished reading it. It helped me see ways in my own life that I tend bend to culture instead of the Lord’s design for marriage. Fantastic read!

  • Polly
    February 14, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I so want to read crazy love! Love you hon, I think your blog is sincere and real and a perfect blend of food, faith, life, love, and fun. πŸ™‚ xoxo

  • Ashley @ Life and Fitness
    February 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I loved Heaven is For Real!

  • Mish @ MishMarieG
    February 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I LOVE Donald Miller. Love that book, it’s amazing. Such a great book! It’s one that I could re and re-read.

    For comments regarding what you should and shouldn’t be reading…it’s your life. We’re lucky enough for you to share you’re life with us. So many people wouldn’t blog because it exposes your soul, who you are, and the in betweens. Keep on keeping on. Be who you are, read what you want, bake what you want, wear what you want, say what you want. I appreciate people who share who they are, even if I don’t agree with aspects, because it’s more exciting then reading about Crossfit and oatmeal.

    mish xo

    • Mish @ MishMarieG
      February 14, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      I forgot to add some books that I like..that you may or your readers may like.

      Women, Food and God ~Geneen Roth
      Plan B ~Anne Lammot

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More
    February 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    I haven’t heard of any of these books before so I’ll have to check ’em out! I must say the book that most recently CHANGED my life and made me snap back to what I really want from my life was “The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay. An AMAZING read!

  • Coreen
    February 14, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I’ve read both Captivating and Heaven is for Real and loved them both:). Have you read 7 by Jen Hatmaker? It’s outstanding. Definitely check it out if you haven’t read it yet.

  • Natalie
    February 14, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations! I always look forward to these posts.

  • Melissa
    February 14, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Jenna!

    I am a very very very longtime lurker, and have only commented a couple of times in the past, but I felt compelled to comment. First, I love your blog. You are one of my top three blogs that I check daily for updates. I love this reading list, and I want to go out now and purchase I am an attorney, a young mother and wife who is interested in healthy eating, healthy living, balance, and faith. This blog is refreshing, because it touches on so many thing that are seemingly separate but very much interrelated. Anyone can separate their faith and their profession, or water down their face to please their readers. But it is empowering to me as a professional Christian to view a blog where Christian faith is not something that is just alluded to, or put in an “About me” tab, but is evident in all aspects of this blog. If I just want recipes, I can get a cookbook, I can read a million other blogs, but what I desire is insight, and you provide a lot of that. Thank you for reading my ramblings. Keep up the wonderful job and please don’t change unless YOU want to πŸ™‚

  • Erika
    February 14, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I have read Captivating, Crazy Love, and Heaven is For Real . I absolutely LOVE them and have heard great things about Beth Moore + Donald Miller. Will have to check those books out. Thanks for sharing:)

  • Emily
    February 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Jenna, you don’t have to justify your blog posts to anyone. I hope you never feel badly or second guess your choices based on the opinions of your readers. Life’s too short not to tell the world (including blog world) about Jesus. πŸ™‚ Blessings to you, brave one.

    • Mish @ mishs kitchen
      February 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      Exactly. If you don’t like it, move on. Or put it in your google reader and read the recipe titled posts and skip the rest. I couldn’t agree with you more. Someone sharing their blog is a privilege, not a right. She’s sharing what she enjoys…appreciate it.

      We’re not all the same, we all have different journeys, stories, faith or non faith journeys and influences. Why not write back with five books that those who ditest these choices enjoy? It’s a discussion, not a condemnation.

      Emily, you’re spot on! Jenna..write what you want, how you want and for whatever reason.

      • Kelly
        February 15, 2013 at 5:10 am

        I’m the one who commented above that reading Jenna’s blog used to feel like checking in with a girlfriend. I actually have a few girlfriends who are Jenna’s religion. I care about them deeply, and love being friends with them. If I ever started to feel uncomfortable with them, like they were heavily preaching to me, I would respect our friendship enough to tell them. After that they could choose to do whatever they like, but at least they would know how I felt. I wouldn’t just stop being friends with them with no explanation, which is pretty much what you’re asking us to do with Jenna.

        • Mish @ MishMarieG
          February 16, 2013 at 4:28 am

          What surprises me (I’ve thought about this a lot today and have discussed it with a couple people who have never read this blog), is the simple idea that these are five books that changed Jenna’s life. They happen to be of Christian background. To me, from what I read in her post, she didn’t say that everyone should read them, or that they are the only five books that should be read, or the BEST five books that have ever been written.

          They are five books that have changed Jenna’s life. Simply stated.

          It’s good that there is a discussion about how, obviously, Jenna’s faith journey has impacted her and thus the topics of this blog. I have been reading Jenna’s blog for over five years. I get change, especially if it’s behind the scenes for someone, and thus translated in much starker written pieces on the blog. It is difficult for people to digest. She’s always been about food and life and her thoughts..always for the past five years. It’s never ever been about just food..ever. Even the title of her blog isn’t exclusively food.

          I’m glad that everyone feels as though they’ve been able to vent and say how they feel…now they never have to bring up how frustrated they are. As you said, Kelly, you would tell them how you felt then make your decision (which you have and others as well). It now becomes all of our choices to stay, leave, or re-frame our relationship with Jenna and her blog. I’ll choose to stay, I like people who share who they are..even if those aren’t the five books that have changed my life.

  • Coreen
    February 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    I find it highly ironic that the responses of the “open minded” people spew so much venom. They claim to adopt a live and let live approach, yet they clearly don’t practice what they preach. Jenna’s post was very positive and non-judgmental. It’s funny that the “free thinkers” who have commented are the only ones passing judgment here.

  • jan
    February 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I have only read Heaven is for Real on this list. I’m going to save it to try to catch up w/ the other 4 as they sound great!

  • Megan
    February 14, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    You are such an inspiration to me! I began reading your blog a few months ago out of interest for the recipes, but lately I’ve really enjoyed reading posts like these. I’ve been struggling a bit with my spiritual relationship, and you have been a huge part in guiding my path back to God and being a better person. Thank you thank you! <3

  • Molly
    February 15, 2013 at 4:28 am

    I truly love this blog. It is the only one that I check daily and it is how I learned to cook a few years ago. I enjoy reading the additional posts about life, fitness, fashion, reading, and favorites, too. Another persons comment said that it is like checking in with a girlfriend and it is. I have become a little sad lately wondering if it is time to move on (as so many people have told other frustrated readers). I do not share Jenna’s religious beliefs and don’t mind reading a little here and there. Lately, I feel like it is has become a bigger part of the blog. I believe Jenna should make her blog about whatever she likes and it seems that she has many supporters. If she loses a few because of the stronger religious aspects, she will gain more because of it.

  • Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run
    February 15, 2013 at 8:22 am

    love the photo of the Golden Gate – you take it!?

  • Amy
    February 15, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Isn’t this awesome?!?! This post really hit the nerves of some of your readers. It’s your blog and you have the right to share your beliefs. The books you recommended are fine books, and the fact that several people came unglued speaks to how sensitive people are on the subject of Christ and Christianity. For the non-believers on this thread to become SO stirred up, it must be hitting a tender spot in their hearts- a spot that God is likely working on. Kudos to you Jenna! You shared what was on your heart and people were affected! Very very cool. If the non-believing readers didn’t care, they’d move on. Instead, they are responding and reacting. This says volumes!!! The lost secretly know they are missing something- the push back is just them trying to resist and refuse the truth. The Christian walk is narrow and inconvenient for many. It’s much easier to deny and refuse so nothing is required and there’s no accountability. I don’t blame them for wanting the unrestrained life and making excuses for denying Christ, but denying doesn’t make something not real or true. Christ is real and judgement day will come- a million politically correct arguments won’t change that.

    • alex
      February 15, 2013 at 10:20 am

      So…. the dissenters are all non-believers who are “trying to resist and refuse the truth”?? What a short-sighted viewpoint. Debate is what makes the world go ’round. And despite the fact that I am a firm-believing Christian I would prefer to have my steak fries without a side of God. (That said, I will simply skip over these posts as I certainly don’t intend to ‘preach’ to the blog’s author about what she should/should not do.)

    • Karen
      February 15, 2013 at 10:40 am

      What a sad commentary on your lack of tolerance for others’ beliefs, Amy.

      I am generally not at all sensitive to Jenna expressing her views in her posts – as she has done increasingly over the past several months – but her stealthily perpetuating her beliefs in the form of a general book list (no notation that this is a list of Christian books) crossed the line of appropriateness. And, your comment is just beyond offensive.

      • Amy
        February 15, 2013 at 11:01 am

        ‘Crossed the line of appropriateness’??? It’s her blog and she hasn’t made any promises to you or any one else to stay within a set of strict guidelines. If you are offended and annoyed, get off this blog. If my comments offend you, steer clear of Christians, because we share a common belief that is unchanging (and for good reasons). It’s hilarious to me how bugged people get when they have the choice to walk away. You won’t dilute or change my beliefs simply because you are “offended”. I am sorry this subject bothers you and I wish you could experience the peace and assurance that Christ offers. It’s available to you and anyone else who opens their heart. If you aren’t buying it, move on to blogs that are more secular in nature. Own your feelings and be happy where you are at. Getting offended just shows it’s a soft spot.

    • Molly
      February 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Just because someone is not Christian, does not mean they are “lost, ” “live an unrestrained life,” or do not believe in God.

      • alex
        February 15, 2013 at 11:14 am

        “If my comments offend you, steer clear of Christians, because we share a common belief that is unchanging.” Amy, please refrain from speaking for all Christians. As I mentioned in my post to you, I am a Christian. And I disagree with almost everything you said. Yet I’ve still found His “peace and assurance” in my life.

        • Amy
          February 15, 2013 at 11:47 am

          I didn’t say anything that difficult to agree with. I am a believer and am matter of fact about it. When people whine and complain about people sharing their personal beliefs on their blogs, it’s ridiculous. If you don’t like what a blogger is saying, bale from the blog. I personally believe that when people get particularly annoyed when the topic of Christianity comes up, it’s because it hits a soft spot (and this isn’t a bad thing)! I’m glad they are pausing to think. You say you’re a Christian, but so does most of America. If you are a Christian and have no clue where I’m coming from, then clearly our definitions are different.

          • Lauren
            February 18, 2013 at 7:50 am

            Amy – some compassion would be nice, here. I get particularly annoyed when Christianity is shoved in my face because it does hit a soft spot – when I came out as a lesbian at age 19 I was effectively ostracized from my church. My mother stopped talking to me for several months, stating that she couldn’t love me or accept me because of her Christian views on homosexuality. Now, 11 years later, I am engaged to marry the love of my life (a woman) in a church that accepts and welcomes us for who we are. My mother, grandparents, her family, everyone are super accepting.

            My soft spot is being rejected for who I am, repeatedly, by those purporting to be “Christian.” Please try to imagine how you would feel in my shoes and how frustrated this type of evangelizing is to me. It’s not effective. It doesn’t show God’s love to me. It only shows how many people do pushy, narrow-minded proselytizing in His name.

    • Sara
      February 20, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Amy – it is beyond offensive for you to speak of the “lost”. We aren’t all “pushing back” and “trying to resist the truth”. Please recognize that you are not any more of an authority on what truth is then any other of Jenna’s readers. Your statements are all subjective and for you to speak as though they are fact is ridiculous. Comments like these are exactly what turns people off from religion in general, Christianity specifically. Please don’t make assumptions about people/things you don’t know anything about. You have your path in life, which is great, but it’s not ok for you to condescend to the rest of us and threaten us with “judgement day.”

    • Lauren
      February 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      This is one the most ridiculous – and offensive – comments I’ve ever read. “The lost”? How lucky you are to be “found”!

    • Kelsi
      February 23, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Amy, you are the type of Christian that turns myself and others away from religion. I’m glad you’ve found your perfect definition and think that religion is unchanging. We can’t all be perfect people like you. All I see in your message is hate and your inability to accept and love others for who they are.

      As an atheist, I have found more love, compassion and welcoming from the general world than I ever did as a follower of Christ.

    • Pam
      February 23, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      Amen, sister! This is how I felt, but couldn’t put into words. Jenna, you are a blessing!

  • katie
    February 15, 2013 at 9:19 am

    woohoo! thanks for sharing! I wish all of my favorite bloggers posted a list like this because I’m always super curious to see which books shape how we look at the world. I would put “Get out of that pit!” on my list too!

  • Jane K.
    February 15, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I LOVE posts about favorite books because I’m always looking for new ones and want to hear from people like YOU what you are reading! I already put all of them in my ‘cart’ on Amazon … thank you!! πŸ™‚

  • Sarah
    February 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I do wish that there had been a disclaimer at the beginning that these were all recommedations fo faith-based books. Nothing wrong with having a post about this on your blog if thats what you want to do, I just think there should have been some mention of it. I was inititally excited to read your list, but as a Jew, once I realized it was all Christian books I was a little disappointed.

    Your blog has definetly taken on a “faith” flair, and that is entirely YOUR decision to do so. But it might be nice if you articulated what you want your blog to be – or maybe it’s just a random mishmosh of what you want to write about, and that’s OK too. just know that you might loose some readers that are not looking for faith-based reading, but are looking for food, or maybe some lifestyle posts, but faith is another subject entirely.

    And I’ll echo what so many others have – you have GREAT recipies.

    • Devora
      February 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      I’m Jewish too and felt the same way – disappointed! I loved Jenna’s recommendation for The Language of Flowers but don’t really have any interest in books about Christianity πŸ™

  • Cel
    February 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I just feel like there is a measure of control we all can take when it comes to situations like this. If you know something offends you, then don’t read it. I can understand being disappointed if you’ve loved this blog and you don’t like the turn it has taken. I think it’s fair to express disappointment like a woman and Jenna should be able to take it like a woman. She seems like she’s probably ok with honest feedback. However, to me there is a difference between being disappointed and being offended. If you’ve been reading here even a little while, you know she’s a Christian. And if you know she’s a Christian, and you’re not down with that, then why wouldn’t you go ahead and skip the entry titled “five books that changed my life”? You know you’re not gonna agree with it! If I knew Jenna was a hardcore atheist, but I loved her recipes, I would probably pass on an entry called “5 books I really believe in” or whatever. It just so…easy to do.

    This is what I mean by taking control and being in control of your beliefs. Spirited debate has its place, but wanting to “puke” as someone said, or “way to throw away reason and logic” as someone else said just don’t further anybody’s cause. It sounds close-minded (which is an ironic and never ending debate particularly with Christians vs non-Christians…”I’m right, you’re wrong.” “No, I’M right and YOU’RE wrong.” When does it ever end?) and it doesn’t give the person you’re commenting to anything of real value to consider. What is the purpose of statements like that?

    We’ve turned in to bleeding hearts who can’t take the slightest hint of something being different from what we believe when WE HAVE A CHOICE IN THE MATTER. Not always, but in the case of a food blog? Most certainly. Ladies – own your beliefs, remind yourself there’s a great big world out there who can find fault with you just as quickly as you can find fault with it, and think about the value you’re adding to or taking away from a situation.

    Ok, I’m off my soapbox now. If you never come back to this blog, at least get the chicken tikka masala slow cooker recipe because it is divine. Or celestial. Or Valhalla. Or whatever isn’t personally offensive to you. (<– totally tounge in cheek) πŸ™‚

  • Hannah
    February 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve read all of these books, except Donald Miller’s, so I’m going to give it a go! Thanks for the awesome recommendation! And I too have read Captivating many times. It’s a must-have for all women! Blessings to you! πŸ™‚

  • Steffanie
    February 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Jenna, as a long term reader of this blog I, too, have to chime in and say that I was disappointed in the angle that you took for this blog post and have continually been taking in many of your blog posts over the last few months. Your reaction to some of the comments has also been disheartening; yes, you are absolutely entitled to believe in whatever you wish, no one here has told you otherwise. However, as you chose to evolve this blog into more than just simple daily musings and recipe ideas – with writing for PBS food, releasing a book etc. – the readers of your blog are now more than that, they are customers, as their continued support of you and your blog have been what has made it flourish into what it is today.

    These dedicated readers have responded with requests for more universal and less exclusive posts on religion, but instead of being listened to they have been told to go elsewhere. I think it is poor treatment of people who have supported your endeavours – often by donating to charity for causes that have moved you, or by buying your book, or by clicking onto other websites and blogs that you also write for – especially when you so loudly preach about love, the appreciation of life’s gifts and the tolerance for all of your God’s creatures. Perhaps you should actually practice what you preach a little more and listen to your loyal readers when they ask a little for what they would like, in return for their incredible support for you.

    • Devora
      February 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      “These dedicated readers have responded with requests for more universal and less exclusive posts on religion, but instead of being listened to they have been told to go elsewhere.”


  • Alycia
    February 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I love when you do book lists or what I’m reading now posts and usually pull a few up when I head to the library or bookstore. I was wondering if you’ve ever considered making a page devoted to books you’ve mentioned? I’m always wishing there was a comprehensive list somewhere so I wouldn’t have to flip through different posts =)

  • Lori
    February 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    people are unbelievable. its a list that changed her life. thats all. how can you be offended by a blog that you choose to read? skip the religous posts. jenna doesn’t owe you anything. people are so weird these days

    • Anita
      February 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      I agree

      • Amy
        February 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm


  • Gwen
    February 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Whenever i subscribe to a list I always read the ‘About’ section.

    I’ve found Jenna is kinda true to her purpose;

    ‘Here’s a little bit about me, behind the blog: first of all, I am a Christian. Even though I have made a career around writing recipes and sharing my love of food with all of you, my job does not define me, as my worth is in Christ and Christ alone’

    – from her ‘About’ page.

    She also promises to share the books she enjoys from time to time.

    Please don’t be offended, but when you have received forgiveness and you know and experience the cost of that forgiveness. It is only natural for you to love that person. When you love God and have experienced his forgiveness, it changes you. You grow to love Him in a way that cannot be explained away on a blog. But when you love Him, you want to show Him and that love spills over in all you do. In the same way you would a husband who loves you and forgives your flaws. You beam! Others recognize it. Some want what you have and others are annoyed. You want to share that love with others, in the same way you would want your girlfriends to find a husband as wonderful as yours.

    I truthfully don’t believe Jenna was intending to be insensitive to anyone. I think she just can’t help it – she’s in love. πŸ™‚

    • Rebecca
      February 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Well said (written) Gwen!

      • Maura
        February 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm

        To be fair, many of Jenna’s readers didn’t have the privilege of this “About” section since it was last updated. It has changed, like Jenna might have also changed, but don’t get on people who have been following for years and didn’t “re-check” the about section to know Jenna was going to dive into her faith a little bit more.

  • StaceyK
    February 15, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    First time commenter, many years reader…
    Jenna, keep on keepin on. I hope you never try and bend to post what others feel you should. I come to read about Jenna. And guess what, I promose if you post something about turnips I’m not going to be one bit offended and “vent-y” because I don’t like the blasted things.
    Yay for being you. Keep it up dollface.

  • Gabby (Quest for Delicious)
    February 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    This is awesome! I love Beth Moore and I’ve wanted to read Captivating for awhile but have never gotten around to it. Thanks for this list!

  • Maura
    February 15, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I feel like I’m chiming in late to this, and my comment might be lost in the wind, but here’s my piece…I’ve been a long time reader, and like someone else said I feel like reading your posts are like checking in with a girlfriend. I love your coffee date posts the most πŸ™‚ As a long time reader, I will acknowledge that you have changed in terms of your faith. Maybe YOU haven’t changed – perhaps your method of sharing has. As a reader, it’s a change for us too. And we either join along for the ride, or we don’t.

    In your response to those who don’t agree, well…I don’t know what else you’re supposed to say. Because it IS your blog. You do with it what you want. You make that choice before you hit publish. You’re not obliged to cater to anyone…even if that helps you out from a professional standpoint. I think you’re a smart enough girl to know what you’re writing, when you’re writing it, and to accept what you choose to put out there into the world. I’m guessing you knew there would be some backlash to this post…or hell, maybe you didn’t…only makes you that much more authentic.

    I know I don’t identify with your views on God, but I also know I read though your book in one night.

    You can’t please all. And I don’t love posts like this. But I Love coming to your blog, and reading about you.

    I wish you peace and love.

    • K
      February 16, 2013 at 6:11 am

      I agree with this (and I’m also a little late to the party). I don’t share the same religious beliefs as Jenna. But I’m secure in what I do believe, so it does not bother me to read about someone else’s beliefs. In fact, it can be interesting and educational.

      Do I believe what Jenna believes? No. Do I carefully read the posts that center on religion? No. Am I offended by it? No. Will it stop me from reading? No.

      I think that people who shared their opinions respectfully have every right to do so. Jenna can read the feedback and choose to do what she wants – which I assume will be to continue posting about her faith. Fine by me.

      • Mish @ MishMarieG
        February 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm

        Couldn’t agree more with you.

      • Lauren
        February 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        Wonderfully said! I love Jenna’s blog and am not even *remotely* offended by her religious views, despite the fact I don’t necessarily share them. Everyone has the right to conduct their faith the way they so choose. Why commentators are being flamed for trying to initiate a mature, thoughtful dialogue about the evolution of her blog is beyond me, though.

  • Heather
    February 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Jenna, you have opened up your life for all of us and no matter how strong a person, it is incredibly hard to hear negative ideas about something personal. I am praying for you and that God protects your heart against the negativity and strengthens you in His word and character. Remember that Jesus suffered for his beliefs and he understands and is able to help you stand strong (Hebrews 4:14-16). I am praying you hold tight to His word when God says that anyone who is insulted because of the name of Christ then they will be blessed(1 Peter 4:12-19). How sweet are those verses to the soul! You are a beautiful person created by God and for God and you are carrying out His will by showing others who He is! I am prayin you see how proud God is of you and your sweet voice! Amen.

  • Ginny
    February 17, 2013 at 4:47 am

    Just wanted to let you know that you have a new reader. Thank you for being who you are not being afraid to share it.

  • Lisa Langenfeld
    February 17, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Thank you for the book recommendations! I have a feeling all of these are going to speak to my heart, especially with where I am in my life right now. I can’t wait to download these to my kindle. Thanks Jenna!

  • jjjjjjulia
    February 17, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I think maybe the tension comes not from being unable or unwilling to just “let each to his/her own,” but rather from the fact that the “his/her own” of Christianity includes at its basic core all others in existance as well – with the foundational belief that the very reason the Christian belief is important is that all those without it will be damned for eternity. Because of this, it can never in any possible way be just something left as “each to his/her own.”

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie
    February 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Just wanted to say I love the blog and whatever your views are, I’m glad you show you on your blog.

    I hope the losers who are judging you stop reading and are replaced with people who are less lame.

    • Sam
      February 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Eek! “Losers” and “lame”? Just because someone has a dissenting opinion, YOU deserve to call them names?

      Jenna, another recommendation is”What Women Fear” by Angie Smith. It was such a blessing for me. She focuses on dealing with fear and anxiety with a biblical perspective. This book gave was so inspiring to me when I went through a particulary rough patch of post partum anxiety.

  • ShannonLC
    February 17, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I am amazed at all the backlash from your list. It’s YOUR list, it’s what inspired you. I enjoy the posts updating us on what you’re reading. It’s a great way to discover new books. There have been some that did not seem like my kind of a read, so I skipped it an moved on. I didn’t take it personally, and certainly didn’t become offended. Everyone has different tastes.. People don’t get so worked up over you posting a recipe that has an ingredient in it they don’t care for, how is a book any different?.So thank you for sharing your reading list, and please continue to do so!

  • Alex
    February 17, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Hey Jenna,

    I hope you dont read these and leave feeling discouraged. You’re great at what you do, which is why you’ve done so well! Take it all with a grain of salt, pray on it and go from there. You are great, and your blog is a reflection of you, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    I plan on reading that Beth Moore book, sounds just like the kind of book I need to read!

    Keep smiling, writing, and doing all that you do so well πŸ™‚


  • Jacklyn
    February 17, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Jenna, I love your posts about what you’re reading. As someone who used to work in publishing, and has had to set aside books for pleasure for books for law school, haha, I love seeing what people are reading to get good ideas for what to put on that reading wishlist. I had the pleasure of working at the company who published 4 of those 5 books up there and I couldn’t agree more. Donald Miller came and spoke while he was writing that book and it was amazing. I love his outlook. Have you read anything from Sheila Walsh? One of my favorites. Amazing woman. Amazing writer. Amazing insight. She is courageous in her writing. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda
    February 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    I’ve read and loved Jenna’s blog for years and while my beliefs don’t line up with hers at all (I’m an atheist), it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re commenting on this blog as a Christian or an atheist or whatever you are, why are you getting so worked up over this? This is someone’s blog, not some kind of news source or site dedicated to recipes alone.

    I’ve had a feeling that Jenna was a Christian since back when she got her tattoo and I found out for sure a little ways back when she started mentioning it. Yes, she has gotten more excited about it in recent times, but I think that that is a beautiful thing to be excited about what you believe in. I cannot relate to it at all, but I still enjoy reading Jenna’s posts, no matter what they’re about. If there are longtime readers complaining, it should have become obvious over the years to you as well that Jenna is a Christian and is enthusiastic about her beliefs. Why get all offended and annoyed now? This did not come out of nowhere.

    It makes me very sad to see people going at each other over something like this. Life is very short. Why get stuck on these things? If you’re only interested in the recipes, use a little self control and only click on the posts that are obviously recipes. If you by chance start to read a post that does not interest you, stop reading it.

    • Tara
      February 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Yes!! Exactly! Amanda, thank you for putting this into words. I was wrestling with how to express my sentiments on this and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Faith, love, and beliefs are deeply personal and should be respected. Jenna is not putting down other faiths; she is simply sharing with her readers books that she feels had a deep impact on her and her faith. While I do not necessarily have the desire to read said books, I certainly respect her and her commitment to her faith. Her faith brings her joy and she wants to share that joy. I hardly see the malicious intent in that. And, as to your point, she has been very open about her faith for some time now.

  • Victoria
    February 17, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Yo Jenna, Peabody over at Concoctions by Peabody mentioned this post and I popped over to take a look. I love this list (Captivating is amazing!) and your food is amazing. (I’m a chef too so I’m jazzed to try these!)

    • Jennifer
      February 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

      I’m also here from Concoctions by Peabody. I’ve never read your blog before but I felt I had to post a comment to support you. I don’t understand readers who expect blogs to be entirely one-sided. People are multi-dimensional and as such will have a wide range of interests and it is up to each blogger (NOT the reader) to make the decision regarding sharing part of their personal lives. There is no need to heap scorn on a person for choosing to share something that gives them joy. Instead, little constructive suggestions or questions would be more helpful. If you do not agree with her book choice, perhaps instead ask if there are any other books that skew more secular that she enjoyed.

  • bridget {bake at 350}
    February 18, 2013 at 5:31 am

    Jenna, you shine with God’s love. This is YOUR blog, YOUR story, YOUR journey…thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Rachel
    February 18, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I love the recommendations. I really need to do more spiritual reading. I always say I am going to, but never know where to start. I think I will be downloading one of these this week on my kindle.

  • Jenna
    February 18, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Thanks for the recommendations! I have read Donald Miller’s and Heaven is for Real. I have Captivating but haven’t read it yet and I’m looking forward to doing so. As many people have already said, this is your blog and you are free to write about whatever you please, no one is making anyone read your blog, so I hope you don’t let the negativity get to you. I love that you are open about your faith and talk about God freely, it’s very encouraging!

  • Rachel
    February 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I feel the same way about Heaven is for Real. My dad died two years ago, and I read it about a year after. It just confirmed my belief in God and Heaven and gave me a peace I hadn’t expected to feel after reading it.

  • Cathy
    February 18, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Jenna – I’m fairly new to your blog but was excited to see a post about some of your favorite books. Love a good read! I’m looking forward to checking some of these out.
    I’m a huge Donald Miller fan so the fact that you are too, makes me think I’m gonna love the other books as well!

    I’ve been curious to read Heaven is for Real. My brother passed away in Oct from a long battle with cancer. I’ve been desiring to find books that help with the grieving process. I appreciate your willingness to share your lose and hope I can read that book soon.
    Thank you for sharing your faith on here as well. Just from the few posts I’ve read so far, it really shows a lot about you.

  • Kim
    February 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Jenna, I’m late to this post but was so excited to see several of the books that I would call life-changers on this list. “Get Out of that Pit” and “Heaven is For Real” are two books that I also think about all the time and recommend to everyone. I’m fortunate to have not lost someone I love, but after going through a serious illness, I’ve had a stronger desire to know more about heaven and to remember that earth is not our eternal home. I flew through that one.

    Pete Wilson’s “Plan B” is another one you might love. πŸ™‚

  • Dawn
    March 15, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Jenna, thanks for sharing this list! I’ve read Captivating, Heaven is for Real, and Crazy Love and found them life changing as well, so I can’t wait to read the others. The Shack is also one that completely changed how I view and think about God (in a good way!). And Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen also makes the list for me.

  • Brittany
    March 27, 2013 at 11:57 am

    So glad I read this review of these books.. I’ve read heaven is for real.. Reading crazy love now.. And about to begin captivating… Crazy I have 3/5 you mention here!

  • Erin
    April 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE Captivating!!! I know a lot of people on here have problems with the “gender roles” expressed in the book but I personally feel that it does a great job of explaining the differences between men and women. I found myself exclaiming, “EXACTLY!!” so many times when reading Captivating and it really helped me to better understand myself and embrace my femininity instead of trying to run away from it – so liberating!! Also, just to clear something up, Captivating does NOT suggest that women are “less than” men. It actually does the exact opposite and focuses on the important roles that women play in life and why God created us as He did.