Advent is, technically, a mini Lent. It’s a time of quiet preparation in anticipation of Christmas Day. And this preparation includes things like lighting Advent wreaths, baking cookies, and spending more time in prayer and contemplation. One of the things I do every year to get my heart ready for Christmas is wake up early and read books that focus my attention on the miracle of Christmas instead of all the chores I have to do.

This year I have a number of books on my Advent Reading List. Probably too many books, but I’d rather have more to read than less. So for those of you who like to slow down during this season, here’s a few of the books I’m checking out this Advent.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

This large picture book is great for the whole family, especially children. There are vivid illustrations, downloadable Jesse Tree ornaments, and daily scripture readings to help families learn about Advent day-by-day until Christmas.

Amazon Blurb: “Person by person, story by story, retrace the lineage of Jesus. Fall in love with Him all over again as you experience God’s plan of salvation for us―from the Garden of Eden to the manger and beyond. Each day, families can read the provided Scripture passage (in connection with the original book), engage with a specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme.”

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

An adult version of the book mentioned above (Unwrapping the Greatest Gift), this book walks the reader through the entire genealogical story from Jesse, through David, up until the birth of Christ. Ann Voskamp’s lyrical style of writing brings the reader back through time so that you feel as if you’re with the Christmas story from the beginning of time through the present day.

Amazon blurb: “Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day’s profound reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ, so that come Christmas morning you find that the season hasn’t blurred past you but your heart’s fully unwrapped the greatest gift you’ve always yearned for.”

Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan

I found this book by accident and so far I’m loving it. The author breaks the spiritual life down into four seasons and discusses how we move between the seasons, back and forth, as our faith grows and changes.

Amazon blurb: “In Spiritual Rhythm, Mark Buchanan replaces our spirituality of busyness with a spirituality of abiding. Sometimes we are busy, sometimes still, sometimes pushing with all we’ve got, sometimes waiting. This model of the spiritual life measures and produces growth by asking: Are we living in rhythm with the season we are in? With the lyrical writing for which he is known, Mark invites us to respond to every season of the heart, whether we are flourishing and fruitful, stark and dismal, or cool and windy. In comparing spiritual rhythms to the seasons of the year, he shows us what to expect from each season and how embracing the seasons causes our spiritual lives to prosper.”

Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas by John Blase

This is a unique book in that it tells the Christmas story through the individual points of view of everyone involved, including the humble witnesses. It’s small in length and size which makes it an easy read during a busy season.

Amazon blurb: “To Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation, John Blase adds his own storytelling voice, exploring the familiar events from multiple first-person viewpoints. What emerges is the intimate story of unlikely people—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd—meeting up with the divine as they bumble and stumble toward the realization that the little one just born is the One.”

Advent and Christmas with Fulton J. Sheen edited and compiled by Judy Bauer

This is a lovely book of daily essays written by Fulton J. Sheen that take the reader through the season from the end of November until Christmas Day. With his profound take on life and scripture, Fulton J. Sheen writes about both the pain and joy found in everyday life.

Amazon blurb: “Beginning with the first day of Advent and continuing through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, these selections from the immortal pen of Fulton J. Sheen encourage readers to explore the essence and promise of the season. Those looking to grow in their prayer life and become more attuned to the joy of Advent and Christmas will find a wonderful guide in this spiritual companion.”

How To Pray: Reflections and Essays by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors and this collection of essays and articles is a small-yet-perfect book for early morning reading. This book teaches the reader not just about the importance of prayer but how to start if one has never prayed before.

Amazon blurb: “Cultivated from his many essays, articles, and letters, as well as his classic works, How to Pray provides practical wisdom and instruction to help readers nurture their spiritual beliefs and embrace prayer in all its forms. While many people would like to speak to God, they often don’t know how to begin. Lewis guides them through the practice, illuminating the significance of prayer and why it is central to faith.”

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

I know this is an unusual choice for Advent. But as it’s a book about Heaven and Hell, it’s a lovely book that reminds us of the tenets of the Christmas season: grace, mercy, and hope.

Amazon blurb: “C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a classic Christian allegorical tale about a bus ride from hell to heaven. An extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment, Lewis’s revolutionary idea in the The Great Divorce is that the gates of Hell are locked from the inside. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis’ The Great Divorce will change the way we think about good and evil.”

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