Welcome to November’s installment of Mel’s Favorite Things. ?

I’m dedicating the last post of each month to share some of my faves, from books to recipes to life hacks and beyond. Basically, if I love it (and think you might, too,) I’m gonna share it here.

This month’s topic is My Top 12 Favorite Personal Growth Books (that I’ve read in the past five years). I say “the past five years” because:

  1. I want to consider books that have impacted me in recent seasons; and
  2. The list would be too long if I included every book that changed my life. ?

With the holiday season coming up, I thought you might be looking for some gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life, or for your own collection. ?

This list is primarily focused on books that have helped me do daily life well. In other words, they’ve helped me show up better—first, for myself—and then as a wife, mom, friend, and community member.

I’ll do a separate list for leadership books in the near future and I’ve already written a list of some of my favorite money books that you can check out here.

The main criteria for this month’s list is it must be a book I enjoyed so much I’d give it as a gift. ?

You’ll also notice multiple titles by the same author. This is due to the fact that once I find a book I love, I’ll often read more by the same person. I’ll include a short blurb and the link to Amazon in case you want to order one.


My Top 12 Personal Growth Books (that I’ve read in the past five years):

  • Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist I’ve read this book cover-to-cover three times and parts of it many more. In short, it’s a book of permission and invitation… to drop the heavy and frantic elements of your life and pick up the ‘light and easy yoke’ that is Jesus. I first read this book as I was entering a season of learning how to truly rest and it was a game-changer. If you long to live in alignment with your true identity, yet struggle with saying no and being afraid of disappointing other people’s expectations, this book is a must read.
  • To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’ Donohue This book of short ‘blessings’ for a variety of life’s occasions (both hard and wonderful) is beautiful. I love John’s way with words and the mystical lens through which he views the world. I keep a copy of this book on my bedside table, along with my Bible.
  • The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho Written as a story, this book follows a young shepherd’s journey in search of his treasure. While not a “Christian” book per se, it’s a brilliant lesson in the power of following your heart.
  • Rising Strong by Brené Brown I’ve read most of Brené’s books but this is my favorite. I think this quote from the Amazon listing sums the book up well: “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.”
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown If you’ve ever struggled with perfectionism like I have, you’ll love this book. Learn how to let go of the futile attempt to be perfect and instead embrace wholehearted living, which is the key to real connection (with self and others.)
  • Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo Marie is a fantastic writer and entrepreneur and this book will show you all sorts of practical ways to achieving your dreams and life goals.
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear I love the way this book shows the power of incremental, compounding change that builds over time. You don’t need to overhaul your life overnight. Small, consistent habits can lead to huge breakthroughs.
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield Both this book and the next are fantastic for anyone who wants to make a meaningful creative contribution with her life. Steven takes you through the internal journey all of us must walk if we are determined to bring our gifts fully to the world. NOTE: If adult language bothers you, you might want to give it a miss.
  • Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work by Steven Pressfield This book is a follow up to The War of Art. I highly recommend both. They’re easy to read (could be read in one or two sittings) and a great resource to return to if you’re losing motivation or focus.
  • The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices by Casper ter Kuile This book covers Casper’s own journey of learning to see the sacred in everyday life and is full of suggestions to help you create rituals that leave you feeling nourished and fulfilled.
  • Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod This book presents a convincing case for rising early and includes step-by-step instructions to help you set your day up for success. If you’ve always sensed that morning routines were important, but weren’t sure how to structure one, this book has you covered. There’s also a FB community you can join to be encouraged on your journey.
  • The Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod This book is filled with practical wisdom and stories from Hal’s own life and shows you the path to bringing dreams from conception to fulfillment (even the ones that ‘seem’ impossible).

Now, I want to hear from you. Have you read any of these? What books would you add to this list? Comment below and I’ll add them to my ‘To Read’ list.

I’m cheering you on, today and always,