books,  seasonal

15 Non-Fiction Books for Your Christmas List (Plus, a Gift for the Mama with no Time to Read)

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

I know, Mama. You probably haven’t taken a lot of time to think about it. You’re busy shopping for your kids, your husband, your parents, your neighbors.

But what would you like for Christmas? A cleaning service, a massage, a bottomless cup of hot coffee, some uninterrupted alone time?

Consider adding a non-fiction book to your Christmas list. Reading is a great way to learn, gain perspective, and care for yourself.


I have been on a non-fiction reading kick ever since I became a mom, and I can’t get enough. Here are eleven books I’ve read, appreciated, and impacted my life over my short season as a mom, one that I’ve heard great things about, and three that are currently on my Christmas list. Perhaps one of them will pique your interest, too. (Many of these books are great for Dads, too!)

And for the Mamas that are thinking, “I don’t have the time, energy, or interest in physically opening a book and reading,” don’t worry, there’s something for you, too!

For the Mama-to-be:

The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth

This is the one book I haven’t read through, but I have subscribed to the Mama Natural e-mails throughout my pregnancy with Lucy, and the information is so valuable. Howland is a mom of three and has worked to compile a beautiful, informative, and encouraging book about everything from healthy prenatal diet to epidurals, placenta encapsulation to breastfeeding. I wish this book would have been available when I was pregnant with my first!

For the breastfeeding Mama:

Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of a Controversy

This book came to me at a time when I desperately needed encouragement; I was pregnant with my second and still nursing my first, and I questioned everything. This book, which I picked up at my local library, educated me and inspired me. Breastfeeding is such an important act, one I fully support and believe even more in after reading this book. Unlatched addresses issues including the history of breastfeeding and formula and the societal implications for breastfeeding, all while sharing the author’s personal experience. It’s a beautiful book.

For the Mama who feels overwhelmed:

Wholeheartedness: Busyness, Exhaustion, and Healing the Divided Self

I read this book per a friend’s recommendation soon after Levi was born. It was so important for me to read, especially as a new mom who was trying to figure out how to prioritize my life. While addressing issues such as attachment, vulnerability, and faith, DeGroat seeks to get to the core of why we are exhausted and divided in the first place, then provides some insight on to help us become more whole, known, and at peace. It is a great book to read, especially in the new year.

For the Christian Mama:

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

This is the only Christian parenting book I recommend. This isn’t a 14-step plan to create kids who behave, which, he explains, shouldn’t be the goal of parenting at all; rather, it’s 14 principles that will lead a child to their Creator and Savior. According to Tripp, we are God’s ambassadors in the lives of our children and must remember that they are ultimately His. Therefore, we must love and disciple our children as God would. We need lots of grace for that, Tripp points out, meaning that parenting will do a humbling and beautiful work in our lives as we seek to best care for our children.

For the Mama who cares about food:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

I, pardon the pun, ate this book up. Kingsolver writes about her family’s year as “locavores”, eating only was raised on their own farm or produced locally. She writes a memoir about food, from planting it, to cultivating it, to preserving it, and enjoying it, reflecting on the experience with unparalleled passion. Interspersed, her husband offers short articles about key topics, such as the economics of eating locally, and her daughter offers short anecdotes and favorite recipes. This book inspired me to make adjustments in our own eating habits, and I’m sure it can inspire you, too!

For the Mama who reads poetry:

New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2

Mary Oliver’s poetry is dear to me. Her reflections on nature, beauty, and life are both existential and simple, appealing to even the most skeptical reader. So many of her words have inspired me, challenged me, and affected my life. In fact, the name of this blog is taken from one of her poems. This is a lovely collection; my favorite.

For the narrative-loving Mama:

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

If you’re one who’d rather read a novel than a non-fiction book, this text by Pamela Druckerman may be for you. Her memoir of raising her child in France is engaging, humorous, and insightful, providing an interesting perspective on American parenting. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly, found it made me reflect on our culture and think about how I wanted to raise my own children.

For the Mama looking for a new parenting perspective:

The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids

This simple-to-read book is full of parenting gems. Using the acronym PARENT – play, authenticity, reframing, empathy, no ultimatums, togetherness and hygge – the book shows how the values of the Danish culture impact parenting and, in turn, the nature of their children. It offers valid alternatives to some of the stressful parenting practices we’ve adopted as Americans.

For the Mama looking to simplify her child’s life:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

We live in an overstimulating, overwhelming world, and we’ve become accustomed to some practices that are impacting the well-fare of our children. Payne suggests a new way of living, one that’s rooted in simplifying life for our children. In Simplicity Parenting, he addresses so many issues children face, from over-scheduling to ADHD. His recommendations may be challenging to some, but the challenges are worthy of considering, especially when you can see the benefit it has for your kids. It has motivated me in many ways, from decluttering our house to reconsidering how I want my kids to spend their time.

For the Mama who cares about her child’s education:

For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School

I’m currently reading this book and am learning a lot about the role of education in the lives of our children. Macaulay expounds on the theories of educator Charlotte Mason, who had great respect for children and their minds. This book has been so helpful for me as a mom who hopes to homeschool, but also will inspire any mom who cares about the education of her children and seeks to educate them at home when they return from institutional school.

For the Mama looking to understand her little one:

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

This book has impacted my thinking about my children. This text helps with understanding why our children behave then they do, and with helpful illustrations, illuminating anecdotes, and practical strategies, it helps equip parents to help young ones navigate through their emotions and make sense of the world around them.

For the Mama looking to understand herself:

Attachments: Why You Love, Feel, and Act the Way You Do

This is not a “parenting book” but it’s still the book we most recommend to parents (or, really, anyone). Kevin read it originally as a graduate counseling student, and I read it “for fun” after. It opened our eyes to the world of attachment theory, which we believe in whole-heartedly. Clincy and Sibcy are Christian psychologists who explain the four attachments with easy-to-read explanations and anecdotes, then addresses the implications of each attachment style in life, love, and even faith. As parents, our responsibility to nurture and care for our children from infancy is of vital importance, and this book showed us why. It also has helped us understand ourselves, each other, and our families better, leading for higher quality relationships all around. Seriously, read this book.

The books on my Christmas list:

Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, nursery Rhymes, and My Journey Toward Sanctification

I’ve been recently listening to Cindy Rollins on her podcast, The Mason Jar. She is a homeschooling mom of nine, and I’ve appreciated her down-to-earth nature and reflections. This book appeals to me because I love learning from real moms, especially those who are a few steps ahead of me. I am excited to read her story.

How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature

Both of my children love the great outdoors. I can see within them the innate human desire to explore and understand nature. I know, though, that so many children today are disconnected from the world we live in. I look forward to reading this book and learning how to keep their love of nature alive.

The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the littleness of children; of their innocence, curiosity, impressionability, imagination, perspective. Childhood is a precious and sacred time, yet so many children are rushing toward (or being rushed into) adulthood. What I’m looking forward to learning in this book is how I can preserve my children’s childhood, how to be the kind of grown-up that embraces them for the stage they are in.

For the Mama who has no Time to Read:

I know that time is a precious commodity for all of us, and some of us just don’t have the desire to pick up a book and read.

Consider, then, asking for a subscription to Audible, a company that offers audio books through a monthly subscription of $14.95 a month (first month trial is free). With a subscription, you have access to one free book a month, plus a discount on any additional books. In fact, they’re offering a promotion right: sign up for the free trial and get two free audio books.

Here’s more good news: most of the books I recommend above are books are available through Audible (Unlatched, Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems, and Mere Motherhood, excluded). You can gain insight while folding the laundry, cooking dinner, going for a jog, or driving in the car.

The End.

So there you have it. Happy reading!

Look for an opportunity to win one of these books on my Instagram page: @withquiethands.

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