Goodness, Beauty, and Truth: A Book List for Adults Who Want Better Fiction

by SarahMae | January 6, 2018 4:38 pm

I go searching and searching for book lists for adults on truth and beauty and goodness and I seem to only find (mostly find?) book lists for children. Which is great and all, but I want to fill my soul with rich stories and beautiful words too, and I don’t want them only to be classics.

So I did what we do in the modern age and I asked Facebook this question:

I’m looking for books that are filled with truth and beauty and goodness. I’d like fiction, and they don’t have to be Christian. What I’m not looking for: Crude talk, detailed sex scenes, lot’s of unnecessary cursing. Hard stories are fine if they inspire the soul. What do you recommend?

Here’s what Facebook (or rather my awesome Facebook friends) gave me as recommendations. Enjoy!

As with anything, use your discernment! I have not read all these books!

Goodness, Beauty, and Truth Book List

(In alphabetical order by author)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society[1] by Annie Barrows  and Mary Ann Shaffer  

Hannah Coulter[2] by Wendall Berry (several recommendations)

Jayber Crow[3] by Wendall Berry (several recommendations)

For Such a Time[4] by Kate Breslin


All the Light We Cannot See[6] by Anthony Doerr (several recommendations)

The Wonder [7]by Emma Donoghue

Peace Like a River[8] by Leif Enger (A favorite of mine)


The Awakening of Miss Prim[10] by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

The Yearling[11] by Patricia Reilly Giff (I was told about this one, “Trust me”)

Father Melancholy’s Daughter[12] by Gail Godwin 

Pilgrim’s Inn [13]by Elizabeth Goudge

Sisterchicks on the Loose! (Sisterchicks Series #1)[14] by Robin Jones Gunn  

Thorn in My Heart[15] by Liz Curtis Higgs

The Mitford Series[16] by Jan Karon (several recommendations)

Last Days of Summer [17]by Steve Kluger

Reading with Patrick [18]by Michelle Kuo

The Curate’s Awakening[19] by George MacDonald

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things[20] by Jon McGregor

Secrets of a Charmed Life[21] by Susan Meissner

The Father’s Tale[22] by Michael O’Brien

Stones for Bread[23] by Christa Parrish

Bel Canto[24] by Ann Patchett

Stepping Heavenward[25] by Elizabeth Prentiss


Redeeming Love[27] by Francine Rivers

Mark of the Lion series[28] by Francine Rivers (several recommendations)

Gilead[29] by Marilynne Robinson (several recommendations)

The Thirteenth Tale[30] by Diane Setterfield 

Like a River From Its Course [31]by Kelli Stuart

The Shoemaker’s Wife[32] by Adriana Trigiani  


Words[34] by Ginny L. Yttrup 

And my personal favorite, the Space Trilogy[35] by C.S. Lewis, my favorite of the three being Perelandra[36]. Be still my heart!

Authors Recommended

Karen Kingsbury[37], Francine Rivers[38], Julie Klasson[39], Laura Franz[40], Lynn Austin[41], Katherine Reay[42], Charles Martin[43], Barbara Kingsolver[44], Kathleen Grissom[45], Susan Meissner[46], Fannie Flagg[47], Katie Ganshert[48], Erin Hilderbrand[49],

Happy reading!

Oh, and for more helpful lists, check out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s site[50]!


P.S. I’ll keep adding to this list, but go ahead and comment with your recommendations!

There are affiliate links in this post. You can read more about my disclosure policy here[51].

  1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society:
  2. Hannah Coulter:
  3. Jayber Crow:
  4. For Such a Time:
  5. [Image]:
  6. All the Light We Cannot See:
  7. The Wonder :
  8. Peace Like a River:
  9. [Image]:
  10. The Awakening of Miss Prim:
  11. The Yearling:
  12. Father Melancholy’s Daughter:
  13. Pilgrim’s Inn :
  14. Sisterchicks on the Loose! (Sisterchicks Series #1):
  15. Thorn in My Heart:
  16. The Mitford Series:
  17. Last Days of Summer :
  18. Reading with Patrick :
  19. The Curate’s Awakening:
  20. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things:
  21. Secrets of a Charmed Life:
  22. The Father’s Tale:
  23. Stones for Bread:
  24. Bel Canto:
  25. Stepping Heavenward:
  26. [Image]:
  27. Redeeming Love:
  28. Mark of the Lion series:
  29. Gilead:
  30. The Thirteenth Tale:
  31. Like a River From Its Course :
  32. The Shoemaker’s Wife:
  33. [Image]:
  34. Words:
  35. the Space Trilogy:
  36. Perelandra:
  37. Karen Kingsbury:
  38. Francine Rivers:
  39. Julie Klasson:
  40. Laura Franz:
  41. Lynn Austin:
  42. Katherine Reay:
  43. Charles Martin:
  44. Barbara Kingsolver:
  45. Kathleen Grissom:
  46. Susan Meissner:
  47. Fannie Flagg:
  48. Katie Ganshert:
  49. Erin Hilderbrand:
  50. Modern Mrs. Darcy’s site:
  51. here:

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The voice in our head that speaks condemnation

by SarahMae | December 7, 2017 11:11 am

Every week it’s the same thing.

We study for the spelling test and my child cries and says, “I’m so stupid! I’d rather not be in this world. Everyone is smarter than me.”

They go down a dark trail of negative self-loathing and harsh talk about themselves. It’s awful, and it’s sad and it’s hard and it makes this mama feel so helpless. I pray and I ask God for all the grace and patience and gentle words and gentle touches to help, but it’s a fight. And I know the enemy will use this disposition that my child has to try and steal and kill and destroy.

I think, why? Why does my child look at themselves so poorly? Why can’t they see what I see? That they are a wonder, smart and funny and passionate and driven and thoughtful and made with purpose? 

And then I turn the gaze inward and I think of all the ways I have spoken harshly to myself. I think of my own particular bent: I’m so stupid. 

I don’t say it out loud, but I speak it in my head and my heart. I’m dumb. I have nothing to contribute to the world. What’s the point? And now that I’ve seen my child say these things, I wonder, Does God view me the way I view my child? Does it break His heart when I condemn myself? Is it painful for Him to see?

Click here [1]to read the rest over at (in)courage today.

Love, Sarah Mae

  1. here :

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Maybe you don’t have to live like this

by SarahMae | November 30, 2017 12:08 pm

“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.” Proverbs 15:30

“I think I’m only considering medication because I’m writing a book and I need to be able to get it done. If I weren’t writing, I would just live like this.”

“But Sarah, maybe God is saying you don’t have to live like this.”

Maybe you don’t have to live like this. 

Maybe I could live in the light. Maybe I don’t have to suffer in the dark. Maybe, just maybe, something is a little whack with my brain chemistry but I don’t have to live with it.

I’ve been on medication for over a month now, and I feel normal again, like myself again.

I was the frog in the boiling water. Slowly, slowly, insidiously, this sadness filled me up and then one day I couldn’t tell you anymore whether I was an introvert or extrovert. I couldn’t tell you what I liked to do or the last time I enjoyed going somewhere. The boiling happened so slowly that I don’t know when it began or how long I’ve lived in the hot, dark water. I don’t know when I started to lose who I was.

It was like I was living in a dream.

But now I’m awake, and to mix all the metaphors, I feel like I’m in the sun, like I’m out of the boiling water, like I can see clearly, and most wonderfully, I know who I am again. I didn’t lose my personality. I am still me.

I wrote a love letter to myself this morning to help me understand again who I am. The beginning of the letter goes like this:

Dear Sarah,

You’re struggling to figure out who you are lately. If someone asked you, “Who are you?”, you’re not sure how you would answer. That’s okay. Let’s see if I can help.

First, you are loved and chosen and seen and known by God, who is your Father and who loves you with a faithful, steadfast, pure love. You are His daughter and He knows every intricate piece of your heart and soul and mind. What you don’t know, He knows. What you don’t see, He sees. Where you feel lost and confused, He is sure. So the first thing, dear Sarah, is that you are a loved and known daughter of the God of the universe.

I’m not advocating medication on a whim, I’m just telling you that I am better. Something was wrong, but now it’s right. That’s all I know.

I also know that my mother struggled with depression, so maybe there is some genetic stuff going on. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m writing a book [1]about the redemption of humanity and the thread through it is the story of my mom and I and the crazy, complicated, hardness of it all. Our story is messy and sad and confusing and nothing short of miraculous. Maybe it’s that my hormones adjusted my brain or that this human body is just not perfect here on earth.

All I know is that I was blind but now I see. And I give God all the glory.

If you’re boiling, or if you don’t even know you’re boiling but you know something is off, I want to encourage you in a two specific ways that two different friends encouraged me:

1.) It’s okay to put everything on the table.

Anything can be put on he table for discussion, whether it’s homes to buy, educating our children, any big life decision, there is nothing wrong with putting it on the table.

And in that putting in on the table, we lay our hands open knowing and trusting and believing that He is faithful and He guides.

2.) Maybe you don’t have to live like this.

Maybe you don’t have to boil. Maybe God is calling you out to the light. He wants obedience over sacrifice[2]. But the real point I’m trying to make here is this: God loves you and He wants you to live in the light. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever suffer or be in hellish circumstances. What it means is that there’s an inner peace, an inner light, an inner joy that can never be taken away, and sometimes we need outside help to find that joy again. And that’s okay.

The paradox for the Christian is that while we may suffer, we can also experience great joy. And we are free to get help.

The Scripture at the top of this post affirms that God understands our human hearts, and how we need light and joy and goodness to keep on. Here’s another version of that verse that I just love:

The light of the eyes rejoices the inner man, the heart, and good news takes away the ashes.

We have a God who sees us and loves us and helps us and takes away the ashes.

Lord, would you search our hearts and know our hearts; test us and know our anxious thoughts. Show us anything in us that is offensive or hurtful. Unfold freedom for us, bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts, and lead us in the everlasting way. Amen. (Psalm 139:23,24, Psalm 147:3)

Love, Sarah Mae

P.S. Try writing a love letter to yourself. I know it’s weird, I acknowledge that, but it’s also helpful and kind.

  1. I’m writing a book :
  2. He wants obedience over sacrifice:

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Stich Fix Nailed It This Month (Want to See?)

by SarahMae | November 28, 2017 8:25 pm


This is how I’m feeling these days! Yay! It’s a whole new world!

Last month I didn’t share my box with you, one, because I was in the depths of despair[2] (or something like that), and two, it was only an okay box. BUT THIS MONTH, my stylist nailed it. I asked for fall shirts and she delivered!

Take a look (My daughter took the pics)!


It’s soooooooo cozy!


I love this shirt! It is so comfortable and flattering and COMFORTABLE!


This jacket. Be still my heart. Also, how about that lovely shot of my gray hair? 🙂

(Yes, I’m going gray silver – you can read about that here[6])


This one is a nope for me. I don’t like the fit.


This is another no for me, but only because the neckline is weird to me and I’m weird about necklines in general.

Try Stitch Fix HERE[9]!

Yep, I know it’s expensive. But I’m trying to get better at picking clothes that look nice and will last, and I’m willing to spend (if and when I can) a little more to meet that end. I’m a T-shirt and jeans kind of girl, but it’s nice to have more…adult clothes. Also, I do not like to go shopping, not my thing (unless we’re shopping for books or food). This is why I like Stitch Fix; someone else picks nice, fashionable clothes for me (for only $20) and I get to avoid shopping. And if I don’t like something, I just send it back in their PRE-PAID envelope. So easy.

If you are like me, then maybe Stitch Fix is for you. If so, you can use my referral link HERE [10] and they will wave the $20 styling fee for your first Fix. Another win!

Now one last thing! If you ever want to see behind the scenes pics and vids, head over to my Instagram[11] where I share things like this (this is an IG story):

You can follow me on Instagram and[12] HERE[13]!
Have fun not shopping!

Love, SM

There are affiliate links in this post. You can read my disclosure policy here[14].

  1. [Image]:
  2. I was in the depths of despair:
  3. [Image]:
  4. [Image]:
  5. [Image]:
  6. here:
  7. [Image]:
  8. [Image]:
  9. HERE:
  10.  referral link HERE :
  11. head over to my Instagram:
  13. HERE:
  14. here:

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Following the Spirit to Public School

by SarahMae | November 16, 2017 1:57 pm

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. 

 John 3:8

My kids started public school a few weeks ago.

(I know, weird and surprising.)

To put this in perspective of the randomness and weirdness and unlikeliness of us putting our kids in public school, my husband reminded me that I told him that if I ever died to never put the kids in public school. (No pressure or anything). I don’t know why I was so adamant, but apparently I was. It’s all a blur now. All I know is that last month I found myself thinking about it all, and then I found myself driving to the district office for enrollment papers, and then I just casually filled them out “just in case” and all I can really say is, I guess the Spirit moved.

I’m not being silly. There is no way to explain why we all of a sudden put our kids in school. But we did, and we follow God and are in His will, so, so be it. We follow the Spirit even when we don’t know where He is going, or why this is happening. It’s all a faith walk.

Now a few things about the decision I want to share with you:

  1. It felt agonizing at first to even consider putting our kids in public school. I wrestled with feelings of failure and selfishness. I wondered, was I sacrificing my kids? Why was I even considering this?
  2. It felt, and feels, surreal. We’ve never considered public school, at least no since they were babies and my husband and I first discussed schooling options. We keep looking at each other and saying, “This is so weird.”
  3. I was so scared that my anxiety would keep me up at night if we put them in school and I begged God for peace if this was from Him.

Now let me dive into the things I just mentioned:

Am I a Selfish Failure?

Shame runs deep, and when you believe you are selfish and a failure, especially as a mom; it’s gutting. I kept telling a friend of mine, “Is this selfish? I just feel so selfish if I put my kids in school, because if they’re in school I’ll write, and I like writing and working, and that’s just selfish of me.” She said, “Is that selfish though?” And that question got me thinking. And thinking. And praying. No, it’s not selfish to put my kids in school and it’s not selfish to like working, because we are following God. Also, my husband thought the whole selfish thing was messed up. He said, “If you put the kids in school, don’t be a martyr about it, enjoy what God has next.” Yes. I like that. And it’s true.

I spoke with another friend over my questions and feelings and she reminded me, “God is good, and God is faithful, and God is gracious. Ultimately, it’s the Lord that goes before you and it’s Him who’s going to fight for your children. This is not law, and we don’t find our righteousness in how we school. Our righteousness is in Christ and in Christ alone. Nothing at all changes in who you are and how you are viewed by what you choose to do with your children and school. This is not a sin issue, a righteousness issue, and this is not a law issue. You are under grace. So be free.”

Basically, what I’m saying is, I’m not a selfish failure.

It is Weird

At first, it was super weird to not have the kids with me. I cried for two weeks and then I went to a doctor and got on anti-depressants. There is more to this story of course, but I can see now that having the kids with me all day was covering up something inside of me and God, in His kindness, was going to be peeling back the layers of my heart. Now that’s it has been a month that the kids have been in school, I can see more of why God led us the way He did.

Peace AND Joy

After I made the agonizing decision to put the kids in school, I got the peace. The peace came after the obedience, as it usually does. And not only do I have peace about the decision, I have joy. I feel grateful and joyful and confident in what the Lord is doing with our family.

“Not only is it to the Father’s glory that we get to bear fruit, but we actually get to find joy in it!” -Beth Moore

As an aside, some of you read this post on my depression[1], and I want you to know I’m doing well. The meds seem to be working and I’m feeling like myself again, light shining in the darkness.

God is so kind.

Love, SM


  1. this post on my depression:

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