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2017 Christian Reading Challenge For Christian Women – HF #52

on December 27, 2016 by Jami Balmet 71 comments

UPDATE: You can now find all the details for the MEN’S companion reading challenge here. Wrangle your husband into doing the challenge with you or send to a man in your life who might want to dig into some amazing Gospel-Centered books. 

Reading is one of the best ways that I invest in myself, in my homemaking, and in my spiritual life. But with four little munchkins and one on the way, it can be really tough to find the time to read (and to find books that are actually worth the time)! 

Jason and I are both avid readers and love to do so, but if we don’t plan to make time for reading (and put together reading lists) then it just doesn’t happen. I’ve been thinking about my reading goals and lists for 2017 this month and just came across Tim Challies’ 2017 Reading Challenge late last week. 


Listen to the Podcast:

Listen in to my podcast episode from this week to find out more about why I developed this reading plan, tips for following along, and the reasoning behind the books and categories I chose. Or skip the podcast and head down below for all the info πŸ™‚ 

And don’t forget to subscribe to my podcast in iTunes

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

On Friday night, Jason and I sat down with a pen and paper and started mapping out the books we would read to follow along with this reading challenge. We are doing the highest reading tier which is 104 books in the year (yes, we are crazy)! 

But as I started writing out the categories and trying to pick books, I realized that I was going to be fitting into books that I really didn’t interest me and leave no extra time for other Christian books I knew I wanted to read. 

I’m ALL for broadening my reading horizon, which is why I was so excited about this new reading challenge idea. But in my busy life and schedule, I just don’t have the time for some of the categories: read a book that won a prize, a book of poetry (poetry so does not speak to me), a graphic novel, a book of comics, etc. 

So then I started thinking about this wonderful community here on my blog and that while I’m putting together this reading challenge, since I’m going to go off of it anyway and create my own, that you might want to follow along with me! 


So I sent out a quick email to my weekly newsletter ladies and got hundreds of responses that you would love to join a reading challenge if I created it geared towards Christian women. And thus, my 2017 Christian Reading Challenge was born. Ready to jump in? 

Please note: Jason (my hubby) is putting together a companion lists for men. So if you’re husband wants to follow along the reading challenge with you, stay tuned for that list coming tomorrow or download the free toolkit to get access to it immediately. 

2017 Christian Reading Challenge for Women

Here’s how it works: 

I have given you category suggestions for each book as well as my book recommendation. I personally recommend all of these books and tried to think about the very best books I recommend all women read. If you’ve already read that book or simply want a different suggestion, scroll down and you will find more book recommendations for each category (OR feel free to choose any of your own books). 

Then download and/or print off the reading list to follow along. 

A note about fiction: This list does not include any fiction. I LOVE reading fiction and read many fiction books throughout the year. However, since this is for entertainment and relaxation for me, I don’t need to add these in as reading goals. When we are on vacation, or I have more down time (like during Christmas), I read a lot more fiction. But I’m already prone to being lazy and reaching for a fiction book more than a book to help my spiritual growth or draw closer to the Lord, so I don’t need any extra reading goals to re-inforce that habit πŸ˜‰ But I know several of you requested fiction options worked in, so feel free to replace some of the categories below with fiction if you would prefer. 

Pick Your Level:

I know each of us has different reading levels and time for reading, so I created two different tracks you can follow. 

13 Books a Year – This works out to 1 book every 4 weeks. If you have no habit of reading right now or have no idea you will fit reading time into your busy schedule, then this is a great level to begin with. Pick one book every 4 weeks and commit to getting it down within that time. 

26 Books a Year – If you want to tackle a bigger challenge, then this level will get you reading 1 book every two weeks throughout the year. It’s still a very doable reading track but will challenge you to stay on track! 

I’ll post the categories and books below, but start with the 13 book level, read through all of those and then move on to the 26 books level. Or just work your way slowly through the 13 book list. 

Here are the categories: 

  • Christian Living
  • Biblical Womanhood/Marriage
  • Christian Parenting
  • Theology
  • Biography
  • Time Management/Homemaking Skills
  • Money & Finances 
  • A Christian Classic
  • Church History

*If you are not a parent or are not married, then scroll down and fill in those spots with other fantastic book suggestions from the other categories. 


13 Books a Year: 

  1. Time Management/Homemaking Skills: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine
  2. Christian Living: Habits of Grace by David Mathis
  3. Biblical Womanhood/Marriage: When a Woman Inspires Her Husband by Cindi McMenamin
  4. Finances: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  5. Christian Living: Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
  6. Christian Parenting: The Faithful Parent by Martha Peace & Stuart Scott
  7. Biography: A Fistful of Heroes by John Pollock
  8. Theology: Visual Theology by Tim Challies
  9. Biblical Womanhood/Marriage: The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
  10. Time Management/Homemaking Skills: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White
  11. Christian Parenting: Word Filled Families by John S. Barnett
  12. Christian Living: Women of the Word by Jen Wilken
  13. Theology: Concise Theology by J.I. Packer

26 Books a Year: 

After completing the first 13 books (which will take you half the year), continue on to the next 13 books: 

14. A Christian Classic: Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity by Owen Strachan
15. Time Management/Homemaking Skills: Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels
16. Christian Parenting: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
17. Biblical Womanhood/Marriage: 52 Things Husbands Need From Their Wives by Jay Payleitner
18. Theology: Fundamentals of the Faith by John MacArthur
19. Money & Finances: Living Well Spending Less by Ruth Soukup
20. Church History: Christian History Made Easy by Timothy Paul Jones
21. Biblical Womanhood/Marriage: Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
22. Christian Living: The Blessings of Humility by Jerry Bridges
23. Time Management/Homemaking Skills: Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
24. A Missionaries Biography: Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot
25. Christian Living: Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
26. Time Management/Homemaking Skills: Do More Better by Tim Challies

Grab the Toolkit:

To make this as easy as possibly for you, I created a toolkit you can download that has all the details (and MORE) that you need to make the most out of this challenge, customize it for YOU, grab the men’s companion guide to go through with your husband, and more. 

I created this 24 page toolkit because I really want you to dive into reading this year and LOVE it. So I poured my heart into making this over the last two weeks and it’s my special gift for you to jump start your new year. All you have to do is sign up for my brand new newsletter all about reading and then you can download the toolkit immediately for free. (Don’t worry – you can then unsubscribe from my email list if you don’t want to hear from me). 

Throughout 2017 I’ll be sending out periodic newsletter all about reading, keeping up on the challenge, book recommendations, book deals and steals, AND news about a book club coming up sometime in 2017. SO EXCITED! Download below. 


Download for FREE!

Other book suggestions for your categories: 

Christian Living:

Biblical Womanhood/Marriage:

Christian Parenting:




Time Management/Homemaking Skills:

Money & Finances:

A Christian Classic:

Church History:

Download the FREE Toolkit! 

Don’t forget to grab the free toolkit I’ve created for this reading challenge. You will get everything you need to follow along with the challenge, how to tailor it to fit your needs and your life, book suggestions, how to find the time to read, how to read books on a budget, the men’s reading challenge companion guide, and more! 

I can’t wait to read more this year and encourage each other along the way!! πŸ™‚ 

Leave a comment below and let us know what reading plan YOU are doing this year?

Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. One of my goals for 2017 is to read more books. I think maybe I need to read one on time management first to help me find the time to do that reading! I am looking forward to reading more fiction and non fiction books. Crystal Paines book has been on my reading list for ages, I think that might be my first book for 2017.
    My other goal is to finish reading through the bible in 2017, I started in May 2016, and am gradually getting there!

    • I HIGHLY recommend reading Crystal’s book first. That’s why it’s the #1 book in the reading list. It will help you define your priorities and use your time so well. Which in turn, will help you make more space for reading πŸ˜€ So glad you are following along!!

  2. I cant wait to start this reading challenge! I do have a question though…..

    I LOVE reading and am a very avid reader….this past year or so I have been very into christian nonfiction/personal growth books. I am the type who likes to highlight etc in my books…I just wanted to know if you had any suggestions for how to keep up with the information I gather from the books/actually put into practice what I have read/learned. I tend to read through, highlight, and then shelf the book and feel like I never fully apply it to my life. Any suggestions?

    • LOVE your question Kasi. And I’m going to leave you hanging for the moment LOL. I’m actually creating a reading journal you can print out for free to make the most out of your reading this year. I’m currently working on it and will have it out in the next few days πŸ™‚ I think it will be just the thing you need to keep track of and make the most out of your reading.

      Of course, you could just use a blank notebook instead πŸ˜‰

    • Hi Kasi,

      I have just started this method, so it’s not exactly ‘tried and true’, but I have a journal that is part colouring book, part diary (that I picked up cheap through a kids book Club! Bonus!) and I am using that to journal my thoughts as I’m reading, I can take my time to colour as well, and find myself returning to pages I haven’t finished colouring, and meditating on what I’ve written, which I don’t normally do with journals. I am hoping it will help me implement my goals through 2017 (I’m trying to get in the habit early!)

  3. This looks great Jami!!! Not sure if I will do 1 or 2 or a mix or just some. I did want to let some know, if you have kindle unlimited (monthly subscription, I think around $10), a couple of the books are on there to read for free! This looks like a great list!

  4. I will start with the first one, as I have no idea how I’m going to fit much reading in, although I have loved to read ever since I learned how! Congratulations on your coming baby! I can’t imagine 2 sets of twins! I have 9 kiddos, but they came one at a time! (We would love a set of twins though if the Lord chooses to bless us again πŸ™‚ ).

  5. Yay! I printed off the book list and I’m excited to get started! I love to read, but have fallen off the wagon recently. I’m looking forward to the social aspect as motivation!

  6. I’m so excited to get started with this! I have quite a shelf of books I’ve been wanting to read that will pretty much fill in all these categories and I’m hoping the challenge will keep me motivated- THANK YOU!

  7. I’m so glad you’re doing this Jami! I was such an avid reader as a child/teen/young adult and now I barely read at all. I promised myself next year I would read more and then you’ve gone and done this! Perfect! Thanks so much for this and everything you do to encourage us all πŸ™‚

  8. I’m so excited about this! My goal was to read more in 2016, but with a very hard pregnancy (morning sickness all 9 months) and now having 3 small children it didn’t happen! I’m thankful for this group to help! Do you think there’s any way we could have a monthly post to comment on for encouragement to see how everyone is doing or a facebook page? Thanks for planning this!!

    • I totally can relate (although not about the 9 month morning sickness – you poor thing)!! I’m doing some brainstorming today to see how we can all keep up with each other during the challenge. But I will for sure be updating the blog throughout the year about the challenge!

  9. Thank you, Jami, for putting this together! I love to read but with 9 kids that can be a difficult task. Last year my goal was 12 books. I read 17. For 2017 I set a goal for 24 books. I think your level two will suit me just fine.

  10. I’m getting on the bandwagon with you ladies. I may switch some.. I’ve been wanting to read mere Christianity, and I have a few books on my list for raising financially responsible kids. I also wanted to mention that my local public library lets me borrow 8 audio books per month, and I can listen on the hoopla app. And I listen on my commute to and from work. The first few books I searched for are available..for those looking for a budget friendly way.. This is working out great for me. Plus it helps with time management too.

    • That’s terrific Norma!! πŸ˜€ So glad you will be joining us! I mention that option if your local library offers it in the toolkit. SO glad you’ve found several of the books there!

  11. I am so excited about this! Reading fiction is not a problem for me (though I tend to get in a rut there). One of my goals for this next year is to read one fiction and one non-fiction book a month so this challenge is perfect to pair with my fiction challenge!

  12. Thanks for doing this to bless us ladies, Jami!! I’m very inspired to read more just by your example! One question came to mind (and forgive me if you already answered it elsewhere): Where do you recommend getting the books for a good price (especially since you read so many per year)?

  13. This is so exciting! I have done a classics challenge the last 2 years and I plan to do it again, but adding quality Christian books to my reading list for the year is great as well! Thank you for putting this together! I’m hoping to do the 26 books as there are several on this list I’ve been wanting to read and I read to my kids a lot!

    Is there a place where we will share about what we’ve read?

  14. James and Jason,
    These lists are awesome. Thank you for putting the work into making them! As you might remember, Jami, we are BIG readers here, (but my husband has passed me by in a huge way with the amount he reads!) and my husband and I have read some of the books on the list, others are new to us, but all sound really good. Jason, I actually think I might combine your list with the women’s list Jami put together, cuz I love your list!!! I think of you guys and I pray for you, your ministry, and your family fairly regularly (weekly). What is your due date, again, James? I am so excited for you (all:) as you await the arrival of your little girl!! Praying that in these last weeks all will go well, and for a good easy, labor and delivery and beautiful, normal, healthy baby girl!
    Love to you,

    • That’s a great idea! Jason added some awesome books to his list after I had made mine. Thank you so much for the prayers, we greatly appreciate it!! Due date is January 24th – so coming up quick!! Thank you so much!

  15. I am not much of a reader, never really have been. I like the idea of reading, but just don’t seem to find the time for it. I want to try the 13 books of the year. Thanks for putting this together.

  16. Yay! I just stumbled upon your blog today. I am not an avid reader although I always have good intentions, so I am going to go for the 13 book challenge. I love your blog by the way!!

  17. I really like the Challies challenge (I started the 2016 list last year) BECAUSE it has a lot of categories I don’t typically read. Since I’m a pretty avid reader already, I like that it was pushing me to try new things. So I opted for his longest list, but to NOT try to finish it in a year — just to get to them all when I get to them. I don’t think I’d want to use it EVERY year, but as a one-time thing, it’s good for getting me out of my comfort zone.

    This list (your list) is a really excellent list, though! (The Discipline of Grace is one of my all-time top picks!) I’m not sure if I’ll be following along with the challenge, but I’ll definitely be using your list as I put mine together. πŸ™‚

  18. Thank you for sharing this!!! I have been wanting a good list for the year, and haven’t had a lot of time to compile! I am in seminary, pursuing my MDiv, and I find it hard sometimes to read things for *me* instead of for *school*….so thank you so much! πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to get started!

  19. I click on download reading toolkit for free after sub., but it sends me back to sub. again. Don’t know what to try next. Any ideas? Thanks.

  20. My adult son found the download on my computer. He said I probably hit something and the computer didn’t know what I wanted done with it. Anyway, I have it now. Soooooooooo EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. My reading goal for this year is to read 3 books a month, so 36 books this year, but I love your categories and I will check out your suggestions too. So in effect I will say I’m going to join in your challenge.

    I’m currently reading Holiness by J. c. Ryle which is long but very thought provoking so that will be in the category Theology. One book I’m looking forward to reading this year is When God Spoke English: The Making of the King Kames Bible. It comes out on kindle at the end of this month (in uk) – what category would that go under? Church History maybe or even Biography?

    Oh if anyone is looking for a good Christian biography to read I highly recommend From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by John Aitken, about the life of John Newton. It’s wonderful, I think I might read it again this year.

    Anyway, there are so many wonderful books to read, I think I’m going to go work on my Goodsread account πŸ˜€

    • Yay! That’s awesome πŸ™‚ I would probably put that under Church History, but like you said, could fit biography as well!

      That’s so funny, I’m looking for a biography on John Newton. I was just reading some short stories about his life and decided I wanted to read a full biography. I’ll have to check that out, thanks for the suggestion!!

  22. I love this!! I would love to collaborate on the book club and maybe partner up to get more ladies reading! You have selected great books and I signed up! There are a few on here that I have been wanting to dive into! Can’t wait to see what else you have in store this year!

  23. THANK YOU, Jami, for this challenge!!! And CONGRATULATIONS on having a healthy little girl to add to your family!!! I am SO VERY HAPPY for YOU!!!

    I am going to read 26 books this year! I am starting with the books that I already have that are on the list that I want to read. My #1 book is The Excellent Wife. I am reading more each day from it because God is speaking to me VERY CLEARLY through it!!!

    I am challenged and inspired each day to apply the principles into my life as a Christian wife and truly bless my husband as I obey God!!! AND what I didn’t expect is that I AM BEING BLESSED ABUNDANTLY with each obedient attitude and action!!

    I am so GRATEFUL that I discovered your website!!! I am NOT chronologically a “young wife,” but I AM young in being obedient to God in my role as a godly wife!!! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR YOUR MINISTRY!!! I CANNOT EXPRESS TO YOU HOW MUCH I HAVE LEARNED AND CONTINUE TO LEARN!!! My HEART IS FULL!!!

    • thanks!!

      That is so awesome! I find that the more I read, the more I want to read πŸ™‚ I am so so glad that God has been working through my ministry in your life and so glad you are following along πŸ˜€

  24. Beautiful list. I have wanted to read more Christian books to grow my faith and relationship with Him. This is absolutely perfect. Thank you for being used of the Lord. Thank you for persevering in blogging when hard times come or you just don’t know how to fit it all in. Congrats on your new baby πŸ™‚ Remember to keep her the priority, we’ll all be here when you are ready.

  25. I started the Goodreads challenge in 2017 with 52 books (just had this challenge forwarded to me by my daughter). I read a lot, but never recorded finished books or my reaction to them before Goodreads. It’s motivating to see the accomplishment, and realize growth actually is happening! I found 1 book/week to be just right for me (plus continually reading through the Bible every year…..or two!). I’m always on the lookout for good book recommendations. This list looks great. I’m also interested to see how an on-line book club works. I’m hoping you have another list for 2018!?!

  26. Wow. Jami, it`s Amazing list!

    about “The Fringe Hours Making Time for You”

    as for me…
    Was the same story over and over in every chapter. I was expecting something I didn’t already know.

    so just don`t recommend this.
    I will continue to go on the list) πŸ˜€