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Letter To a Friend | Book Recommendations

by Elizabeth Wyse Cook

My dear friend,

You asked what books I might recommend as you seek healing from the emotional and spiritual trauma you have been through.  There are a few books that stand out in my mind as having been really helpful to me.  I am sure there are many, many more, but these are some of my favorites.

His Princess: Love Letters from Your King 
by Sheri Rose Shepherd This book is the first one that came to me.  As someone who had a horrible time receiving love and affirmation, this book gave me a small, daily dose of both.  Eventually, the truth of it began to sink in.  It is also a beautiful book, which was very good for me.  I desperately needed to learn how to take time to see beauty and appreciate it.  She has a whole series of books like this, including one for men. 

The Life Model: Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You by James Wilder and others; Joy Bonds DVDs or CDs by James Wilder
This book and video series gave me the knowledge of how the emotional parts of the brain develop (Joy Bonds) and how to remediate deficits in emotional maturity (The Life Model).  I was very immature emotionally, so this gave me hope that I could heal and grow and mature.  As long as it is not used as just another formula, this information can be extremely beneficial.  I felt like it gave me a map of sorts so that I didn’t feel quite as lost.  I will warn you that the Joy Bonds videos, while in plain English, were still very difficult for me to understand the first time through.  I think it was mostly because it was so opposite to what I had learned and believed for my whole life.

Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive by John Eldredge
Captivating:  Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Staci Eldredge
Walking with God:  Talk to Him.  Hear from Him.  Really.  by John Eldredge
Waking the Dead broke down a major wall of lies that I was believing.  I learned that God delights in me. That He loves who He created me to be.  That I can live in joy because He has made my heart good.  Captivating helped me see my value as a woman.  It also talks a lot about healing.  Walking with God helped me see that my relationship with God could really be a relationship instead of a list of rules to follow.  

Quivering Daughters:  Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy by Hillary McFarland
Ah, what do I say here?  Hillary has been a mentor and become a friend.  She totally understands the pressures we faced growing up in legalistic families.  Her gentle words have often comforted me.  Her grace toward friend and foe alike have inspired me.  Her book and blog (www.quiveringdaughters.com) have been such a huge part of my healing that I’m not even sure how to explain it. 

Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to say NO To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend Everyone should read a book like this.  Did you know that it is ok to say no sometimes?  To take care of yourself rather than help someone else if you are exhausted?  That you are an individual, not an extension of another person?  This book explains what boundaries are, how to set them, and how to maintain them.

A Matter of Basic Principles:  Bill Gothard and the Christian Life by Don Veinot
This is a hard book to read, but necessary for anyone involved in IBLP/ATI. 

Why Does He Do That?  Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft
Explains the thinking of abusers (male and female, despite the title) and how to respond to them.  I tend to ask “why” a lot.  This book answered so many of my questions.  It also gives detailed instructions on how to get away from an abuser if necessary.  Not an easy or short read, but well worth it. 

When Sparrows Fall:  A Novel by Meg Mosley

This one is an easy read, except for possible triggers.  It takes various things we were taught and explains them to those who have never heard of them as well as exposing why they are inaccurate - all in novel form.  This might be a really good book to hand to relatives who want to understand why we were raised so differently. 

This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin
This is a rather technical book, but in plain English.  It explains the various sections of the brain and what they do (as far as we currently understand it).  He also explains how to help your brain to get or stay healthy, including specific recommendations for foods and supplements that may help fight depression, anxiety, anger, etc. 

There will be times when you will read something that will trigger unpleasant memories or challenge lies that you believe.  One of the things that helped me most at those times was to talk with a supportive friend or counselor who would first listen, then give feedback or remind me of other facts or memories that might help make sense of whatever it was I was processing. 

There is no specific order in which to read these.  Whatever sounds the most interesting to you is probably what you need first.  If you get overwhelmed, feel free to set aside one book and read another for a while.  This is not a race to get them all read (high achiever/ perfectionist speaking here).  The goal is let the truth you need right that minute soak into your soul.  That may be totally different from one day to the next. 

Happy reading!


Your bookworm friend
Question for you: What books or resources have helped you, and why?


  1. The book: The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It, by Leslie Vernick is hugely helpful. She writes as a counseling professional and as a christian. Using helpful and applicable (not always the case with "christian" books) Bible verses and concepts, and truths throughout. The subtitle is important -- 1) seeing it 2) stopping it, and 3) surviving it. There are steps for each. I haven't found anything else like this. So often victims of emotional abuse are blamed or accused themselves of supposed wrongdoing ("being controlling," or "not submitting properly or enough"). In other words, further abused in churches or by christians in these kinds of subtle-to-define abusive situations. It was so incredibly healing to have her pinpoint what happens, what's going on and what to do in these (and other) hurtful situations. I have not been a part of the patriarchy movement per se, but have been tremendously affected by the same or related thought tendrils, pieces of which have made their way into myriad evangelical churches and protestant denominations. Leslie rights some wrongs and gives solid, good instruction and counsel with gentleness and wisdom. Praise God.

  2. wonderful list. I would love to read them all. And great one also Anonymous.

  3. How do i order this? plz share me a link! Recommendation Letters

  4. Just curious... are you married or do you have children?

  5. JRP-If Hillary doesn't mind, I'll say that she is married with no children yet.

  6. Another great book is "Behind the Hedge" about verbal abuse in marriage. Beverly Lewis has some great books about issues in the Amish world, and "The Secret" looks particularly involved. "A Thousand Splendid Suns' is about a woman finding her strength in a Muslim world, and who can forget "Wife No. 19", by the plural wife of the second nasty Mormon "prophet"? A must-read.

    Also, don't forget Kathryn Joyce's awesome "Quiverfull"!


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