Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

10 Books to Add to Your Holiday Reading List

The Hunger GamesThe holiday season is a great time for catching up, getting ahead, and doing what we haven’t had a chance to do all year.

For me, that includes reading.

I love a good book, but unfortunately, don’t read as much as I’d like.

Over Christmas and New Year’s, I try to tackle at least a book or two I haven’t read.

Good writers, you know, have to be good readers.

Later this month, I’m planning on getting a Kindle. When I do, I am going to sell a kidney and start buying books galore.

Here are a few that are on my to-buy or to-read list:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This series is supposed to be the next big thing. I had never heard of it before, but many are comparing it to Twilight, in terms of the cult following behind it.

That doesn’t really motivate me, but the trailer for the film version looks awesome, and I’m looking for some new fiction to read. So I’m going to give it a shot. Plus, the hardcover series is currently on-sale. You can get all three books for around $10/book.

Steve Jobs Book CoverSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This has been the #1 bestseller on Amazon for over 100 days. It was, after all, the year of Steve Jobs. I got the audio version of this book from my in-laws. I’m going to listen to it on my next road trip.

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

This New Year Times bestseller is an innocent memoir about a little boy who goes to heaven and comes back to tell the world about it. I admit I own this, but have not read it yet. I intend to crack it open this month.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

This has been called by many one of the best books of 2011. In this creative retelling of the JFK assassination, King explores the world of time travel and fate in no less than 1000 pages.

The Flinch by Julien Smith

This book is free — and priceless. You can read it in one sitting, but it will takes weeks, maybe months, to process. It’s one of my favorite reads of 2011. Get it today (did I mention it was free?), and buy all the other Domino Project books while you’re at it. They’re over 50% off, and I’m not sure they’re printing more.

The Help Book CoverThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My wife and I went to the movie after she read this book. She swears the book is way better (not something she says often). We own it, but I haven’t read it; however, her recommendation piqued my interest.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

It’s hard to let this season pass without reading at least one of these wonderful books. I am currently reading through The Silver Chair, but they are all excellent, quick reads.

Dubliners by James Joyce

This classic by Joyce is great any time of year, but it has especially fond memories for me, as I was just in Dublin earlier this year. The short stories are fun, witty, and interesting.

Great by Choice by Jim Collins

Collins has written another business book on how to great. Even if I didn’t want to read it, I would have to, just because of all the conversations I would be left out of. Fortunately (for me), it looks pretty good.

And just for fun…

The Writer’s Manifesto by Me

If want to be a writer and haven’t read my eBook yet, you should consider buying it for a buck. I’m told it’s some of the best 99 cents you can spend on Amazon. If you’re not sure about it, you can get a free PDF copy here.

What are you reading over the holidays?

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

Ever Wonder If Your Blog Post Is Good Enough?

We built a free tool so you don’t have to worry about that ever again.

1. Pick your goal of the post
2. Answer 5 basic questions
3. It tells you if it’s good enough and how to make it better

Click here to use the tool.

  • I read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas over the holidays (Thanksgiving through Christmas).  Its almost 600 pages started slowly but gained “mo” and was hard to put down as it progressed.  I would highly recommend it.  Also read Eats With Sinners that was pretty good.   Thanks for the list.

    • I’ve read the first few pages of Bonhoeffer and it looks like a great book. Can’t wait to get the time and read the whole book.

    • That’s on my shelf. Need to dig into it.

  • Anonymous

    I read Heaven is For Real this year and really liked it. Bought three copies to pass around. Gray Matter by David Levy was very good. It’s about a neurosurgeon who prays with his patients. I have Flinch on my kindle waiting for me. I also want to read Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

  • Currently reading or want to read:
    “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver
    “Lost in Shangri-la”  by Mitchell Zuckoff  
    “Bossy Pants” by Tina Fey 

    Plus I’m tackling some books that were recommended by readers after I posted about being in a spiritual funk…  
    “Faith at the Edge: A Book for Doubters” by Robert N. Wennberg 
    “Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine” by Peter Rollins

    Your wife is right on about “The Help” … the book is so much better than then the movie. The movie was okay, but there’s no way the movie could include all the details that the book did. 

    Steve Jobs and 11/22/63 are on my want-to-read list also.

  • I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy and it was very good, although I felt there was a drop-off in quality after the first book. You’ll enjoy the series, I think. You might want to note that the entire series is in Amazon’s Kindle lending library too, so you can read for free if you’re a Prime subscriber (although you only get one check-out per month, and I finished each book in way less than a month). 

    Currently I’m reading “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco and really enjoying it. 

    In 2012 I am going to try to get through at least 5-6 books from either the Harvard Classics (the “5-foot shelf of knowledge”) series or the undergraduate reading list from St. John’s College (https://www.stjohnscollege.edu/academic/readlist.shtml). Reading the classics, I’m convinced, makes you smarter and a better writer.  AFAIK all of these books are available for free from Gutenberg.org, so it’s also very easy to load up the Kindle with them. 

    • I agree. I intend to read more of the classics this year.

  • Anonymous

    Hunger Games is no Twilight. The author has a very different voice that took me a little while to get used to, but I enjoyed it. Hands down better than Twilight in story and writing.

  • I just finished reading Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson, and I started reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson yesterday.  This is turning out to be a great read!

  • i just did a picture post about my reading list

    I just added
    The dip by seth godin and
    The Talent code by Daniel Coyle

  • I loved, loved “11/22/63,” and it’s the first of King’s fiction I’ve ever read. I’ve tried “The Hunger Games” twice and can’t get into it, even though I usually like YA. I like “The Help” movie better than the book (sorry!). I may steal the Steve Jobs book from my dad when he finishes. Lynn Vincent did a nice job with the Burpo story. She also wrote “Same Kind of Different as Me.”

    You’ve inspired me to try Joyce again. Haven’t tried since college and “Portrait of the Artist.”

  • I actually am reading the Chronicles of Narnia with my son each night. Thanks to @keithjennings.

  • congratulations on the book! wonderful list btw!

  • Your own book is on your own to-buy/to-read list? You haven’t gotten your copy yet? 

    Anyhow, I just read the whole Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision (opinion of the court, concurrences, plus dissent), and right now I’m reading District of Columbia v. Heller.  

    What’s neat about Kindle is that you can upload regular text and PDF files and then read them like a book rather than staring at a flickering computer screen all the time. 

    • Yes. I’m that vain (or that cheap). Actually it was a bonus to the list; guess I was t clear about that. Nice catch.

  • Right now I am reading The Hunger Games.  The book is so good, I already want to read it a second time and I am not even done!

  • What a great list!  I’m currently reading a book for a book review (Why Women Need Fat) and The Fountainhead.  Again. 

    • Any good?

      • Why Women Need Fat is interesting, but it’s not something I’ll read over and over 🙂

        The Fountainhead is like my security blanket.  I can’t get enough of it for some reason.

  • I’m totally geeking out about the new Stephen King novel.  And I literally just started reading Dubliners today on my commute in.  I never read it before but I loved Ulysses. 

  • I think you’ll enjoy The Hunger Games. I was never much for YA fiction, but I chewed through the trilogy in about four days. Easy to digest, pretty decent story, heavy themes. 

    Compared to Twilight? Sure, the movies will definitely create some fanaticism. But you’ll experience less shame in standing in line for tickets. 

  • If you’re a fan of reading, you should check out “Lit!” by Tony Reinke. It’s a book about reading from a Christian perspective. I found it fascinating and inspiring.

    I have Francis Chan’s “Forgotten God” and “Linchpin” on my list. Both ones I’ve been wanting to read for a long time but am just now finally getting around to reading.

  • I  looooathe when the Hunger Games is compared to Twilight. Not even close. SUCH good books and SO worth the money.

    • AGREE. No cheesy weepy teen romance , no insipid characters, no banal themes…the only way it compares to hunger games is the teen noise it will make 🙂

  • Dale Schaeffer

    Picked up The Hunger Games Trilogy on Christmas Eve and couldn’t put it down. Read the first two books in a day each and will finish the third tonight.

  • I love The Hunger Games trilogy and can’t wait for the movie! It’s really a fantastic series (though I’d say the comparison to Twilight starts and ends with the passionate fan base). I’ll actually be re-reading it before the movie comes out in March. ^_^

  • 11/22/63. Great. I have been waiting for that too. Do post a review later. 🙂

  • Read the Help. Loved. Just downloaded Heaven is for Real and getting ready to order the Hunger Games. You can download the kindle app for free and read on your laptop or your ipad. I have a kindle, but rarely use it, using my ipad or macbook for book reading. Great list. I might need to order your book too.

  • I am currently in the middle of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. Great fiction series by an awesome writer. Found several of them at Goodwill… score.
    I also have a book on my nightstand that someone gave to me, and I really need to start reading it: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s not that I don’t want to read it… life has just gotten crazy lately.

    • Jamie- I think you will really like that book. Once you read it (its a short read almost like blog posts), I think more of your creativity will come out. Or at the very least, you will know more about what stops you from creating (the resistance) – which is really invaluable. It’s good to know what we as artists are up against.

  • I’m reading What Good is God by Philip Yancey right now. I’ve had it for a year and am just getting to it. It is fantastic! Vintage Yancey

    Going to check out a few of your recommendations

  • I have my list of readings for the holidays too. And I think I’m going to include yours- Writer’s Manifesto. 

  • I got Heaven is For Real for Christmas. Very excited to read it.. 

  • Finished “The War of Art”, which you recommended, before Christmas. Currently reading Edgerton’s “Hooked…” Excellent read for writers! Baldacci’s “The Sixth Man” is an enjoyable thriller, just finished last night.

    I’ll have to trot your list out next time I’m thinking about my next book to pick up. Several sound especially intriguing.

  • Kim

    I’ve read three of the ten on the list: The Help, your manifesto and 11/22/63. 

    I have a book you might want to add to your list: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  It’s a true story of a WWII vet, and how he triumphs over capture and his falling from grace after returning to the US.

  • Read your manifesto – it was epic!

    As for some of the others on your list… I have the Steve Job’s bio but haven’t started reading it. I’m digging into it later this week. What I’ve come to realize is that I read a lot of (maybe too much) business/marketing books. I need to through in some good fiction into the mix. 

    • Thanks man. I’m realizing this too. That’s why I’m trying to get back into fiction.

  • LOVE the Hunger Games trilogy. 

    I would HIGHLY recommend Tina Fey’s autobiography Bossypants. It is hysterical.

  • I’m reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller right now and it is excellent. Also looking forward to Home by Marilynne Robinson. Chasing Francis (Ian Cron), Holy The Firm (Annie Dillard) and Brave New World (Aldous Huxley).

  • We have three in common; Steve Jobs, The Help, and 11/22/63.  Also on my list is a plan to finish several series I’ve started and never completed; Tony Hillerman’s mystery series, Dune, Foundation, Rama, the last book of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, and Leon Uris’ Ireland trilogy.  Wish me luck.

  • John Piper’s A Holy Ambition

  • I’m reading Quitter by Jon Acuff.

  • Frances

    Am on book 2 of The Hunger Games series. The first one is good, fun and exciting. I want to read Steve Jobs too! And yes, do get a Kindle. Best gift for readers! 🙂

  • I’m reading:

    This Thing Of Ours by Cammy Franzese
    5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell

    and want to get to Bonhoeffer. That looks like a great book.

    Just finished Enemies of the Heart by Andy Stanley and was impressed by it.

  • Anonymous

    I just finished the first book in The Hunger Games and reviewed it (
    https://4whatitworth.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/book-review-the-hunger-games/) and have started on the second book. I also Back on Murder and anything in the Bugman series by Tim Downs

  • Hunger Games made the rounds at our home – both my kids read it straight through in less than a day. Both were on a serious RANT at the end of book one and raced to the Kindle to download a sample of book 2. Now we’re just messing with them “yeah we’ll pick that up, after you do your chores plus a few projects we have for you”. Want is a powerful motivator.
    I’m finishing The Encyclopedia of Immaturity Vol 2, then (quickly) following up with Attitudes that Attract Success by Wayne Cordeiro as a mind scrubber.

    • Love the parental manipulation. I’m taking notes.

  • I read Heaven is For Real a month or so ago, for work. I wouldn’t have read it otherwise & am so glad I did – really powerful stories!

  • “New Year Times” is a cute, apropos little Cupertino.

    I’m finally finishing the long-winded Dracula, and then moving to two monsters: Neal Stephenson’s REAMDE and DF Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

  • I’ve just read Wired Kingdom by Rick Chesler, and about to start Room by Emma Donoghue later tonight. Also have To Kill A Mokingbird and the Steve Jobs bio on my list next up 🙂

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  • Talia

    i like this list, and I like that you included fiction!:)

  • Ben Steele

    1. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

    2. God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

    3. Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald

    • God is Not Great was excellent!

    • I need to pick up #1. She’s from Nashville, I believe–a local celebrity!

  • Got several books going right now, all very good for very different reasons:

    Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
    Have A New Teenager By Friday by Kevin Leman
    The Hunger Games by Collins
    11/22/63 by King
    What Would Jesus Drink? by Brad Whittington

    On the way from Barnes & Noble:

    1Q84 by Hakari Murakami
    Divine Intentions by Larry Shallenberger
    The Ragamuffin Gospel by Manning
    Blood Meridian by McCarthy

  • Great list Jeff,  I’m not a fast reader, wish I were.  So my list is simple.  Finish a book written by my friend Chana Keefer called The Fall (about creation from the point of view of angels) and read the book, The Princess Bride.  I’ve wanted to for years, and now I’m doing it. 

  • Hunger Games “next big thing”? It’s kinda old. But there’s a movie coming out in January. I read all three of the books in 6 days a couple months ago. LOVED them. 

  • Hunger Games is bomb. So good. And just because it is as popular as twilight doesn’t mean it is anything like twilight. Dive in, mon frer.

    Also, you wrote a post about why writers can’t edit their own stuff. I am going to disagree. They can and should, at the very least, look for typos. And I only say this because I think you are doing great stuff, but you could stand to go over your work a bit more before you publish. There have been several typos I’ve noticed. There is one in this post when you are talking about the writer’s manifesto.

    I am totally sorry if that came out mean. Just trying to help you out. Peace!

    • I said writers can’t edit their work. Case in point. I appreciate the catch. Feel free to email me these in the future.

      • Yes. I think that is a great idea. I have issued you an official twitter apology for my lack of tact. Keep up the good work, man.

      • As in don’t make Jeff look dumb on his own page?  tee hee

  • I read your Writer’s Manifesto in the airplane coming home from Christmas. Also hope to read The Help, The Flinch (thanks to your recommendation) and Heaven is for Real from your list. I don’t own the first; I do own the last. The number of free days left is going fast! I’d better get started. 

  • Mcbrown97

    The Last Gunfight, by Jeff Guin and Entreleadership, by Dave Ramsey. Also starting The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. I can never read just one book at a time!

  • Have you read The Robe? Or the Mark of the Lion series? Both stories are historical fictions set in the time of Christ and right after His death. Page turning, Uplifting, Empowering – I’m changed because of both stories. Forever. If you’re looking to find more courage (like me) these books will kick your pants. 🙂

    • Heard of them. Haven’t read them, though. Thanks.

  • A friend gave me two books that I’ve been trying to find time to read:
    If You Want to Write, by Brenda Ueland, and The Artist’s Way, by Julia
    Cameron. She tells me these books changed her writing life. However, I
    haven’t been able to put down The Warriors: Into the Wild, by Erin
    Hunter. It’s a children’s book series about cat clans. A third-grade
    student recommended it to me because he knows I love cats. Sounds silly
    in the midst of all these other important sounding books, but there you have it!

  • Julien

    Thanks Jeff. 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing this list Jeff. Currently I’m reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and  Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical and Financial and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson.

    Thanks for sharing your work.

  • Anonymous

    I am currently reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.   Excellent!   Previous to getting the book, I had listened to an hour’s long interview with Isaacson on the C.B.C. radio here in Canada.   I enjoyed how he spoke and what he spoke of regarding Steve Jobs and I pleased to say that the book is written in a way that pulls me through Jobs’ journey.   I am bold enough to say, that I am not so much in awe of his accomplishments, but of Jobs’ persistence and tenacity which each one of us can likewise chose to employ in our own lives.   Inspiring?  hmmm.  Not in the Hallmark Greeting card sense, no.   It is a biography that is written in terms of blood, sweat and tears.   In short, real.

  • Chris

    I highly recommend 11/22/63. One of the best books I’ve read all year.

  • The Hunger Games trilogy & The Help are four of the best books I’ve read all year. Another great one I just finished is Water for Elephants. Not something I would normally pick up, but so many of my friends suggested it to me. I reread The Chronicles of Narnia about every two years, for about sixteen years now. I’ll have to look into the other books you recommend!

  • Listening to Steve Jobs audio now..not really caring for how it started, but CD2 getting better. 

  • Hi Jeff 

    Found you courtesy of   @ricardobueno:disqus   when asking for recommendations for some new blog fodder in 2012.    Looking forward to digging into your content.  

    I’m currently reading 11/22/63 and enjoying it very much.  Not familiar with some of the other authors or books here, so will definately check them out.

  • indiaNa

    ‘There should be more dancing’ by Rosalie Ham…may be hard to get hold of stateside but worth the chase

  • just started reading The Flinch on your recommendation…great reading and powerful stuff. Thanks for mentioning as I had never heard of it until now.

  • lorean19

    Recently I was REALLY low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this!!! With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – hd7t