Three Books to Buy This Christmas. Reviewed by Kely Braswell

For the next installment of Books to Buy For Christmas, we have a new online friend of mine, Kely Braswell (@kelybreez), who is here to review three books which he absolutely recommends as great buys for friends and family this Christmas.

I’ve never read any of these books. So if you were thinking of getting me something for Christmas…..

Over to Kely:

I read. A lot. And I love it a lot. Peter asked me to write a review of 3 books I recommended, so here goes…

Anytime I’m asked for my favorite books, these three come up. I’m a biography and history reader… Churchill said, “If you want to learn history, read biography,” or something close to that anyway. I’m a Jesus-book reader, as long as it is honest, non-know-it-all, and not teachery. (Okay, I like to make up my own words.)

I love to read the Bible. Every day.

And I don’t like smut. Not a bit of it.

But if I’m just gonna sit down and read something for the pure love of it, just to feel something in me say, Yeah, that’s just right, then I read a good, clean story.

And three of the best I’ve ever read are these three… Books that hit something right there inside me, right in the place — and you know what I mean, if you feel these things too — where joy & beauty feel like pain & sadness & missing someone, all at the same time.

Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry

Each of these is worth just about any exorbitant bit of currency you could pay.

Peace Like a River – Leif Enger

The first time I picked up each of these books, as I read the first page, even the first paragraph — and in the case of Peace Like a River, the incomparable first sentence — my “yes-this-is-going-to-be-a-rare-experience” meter went off.

Peace Like a River is the quintessential story of awe, miracle, and substitution, all adding up to healing, held inside an entirely entertaining story, and told through the eyes of a kid. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. After a year’s break, I read it again. And I’ll read it again in the future. It’s the kind of story, as a friend of mine recently said, that makes you tell yourself, “I’ll never write this well”, but you don’t mind because it’s so good.

Gilead – Marilynne Robinson

Gilead: A Novel is the story of an old preacher in a small town, in his last days, remembering. He has a young wife, and a small son. He understands grace. If you’re not careful grace will drip off the pages as you read the book, and soil your shirt front with it’s messiness. As you sit on the front porch and look out at the front yard, and the son of his old age, through the old man’s eyes, you’ll begin to sense that once you were blind…

Jayber Crow – Wendell Berry

Jayber Crow. You’ll fall in love with Jayber. He lives in Kentucky, in Port William, which is the fictional town in which all of Wendell Berry’s stories take place. Every time I read one of his books (and I’ve read every last stinkin’ one of ’em!), it makes me want to live in the Port William he writes about. Jayber Crow is the town barber, and he knows just about as much as anyone could know about the other inhabitants of the town. Sometimes you’ll laugh out loud, and sometimes you’ll just wonder how anyone could tell a story so vividly.

All three of these books, when you put them down, will make you feel like you know something that you didn’t before.


Thank you, Kely. I really appreciate you sharing your recommendations with us!

Here are all the books that have been recommended thus far:

If you click on any of these book links and subsequently purchase one, I will get a small commission from Amazon. I have decided that all commissions will go toward my family’s Well Fund, to try to build a well for a needy community in Africa.