As I’m often asked for book recommendations on various subjects, I decided to put together an online list of my top ten books in various categories. Basically, if I was only allowed 10 books in my library on that subject, these are the ten I would choose. Other posts include:

Today I’m listing the Top 10 Biographies of Christian Women together with summaries of their Amazon descriptions. I have to be honest here and say I have not read all of these. I’ve read some and the others I collated via survey questions, social media recommendations, and other book reviews. Thanks to all who sent in their suggestions.

After this list you’ll find a poll where you can cast three votes for your favorite books and help others choose the best books on the subject. Click on “View Results” to see what books are most popular.

You can also add any book not on the list by writing the title in “Other” or in the Comments  I’ll add these to the end of the post under “Reader Suggestions.”

1. Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman by Gladys Aylward.

“A solitary woman. A foreign country. An unknown language. An impossible dream? No. With no mission board to support or guide her and less than ten dollars in her pocket, Gladys Aylward left her home in England to answer God’s call to take the message of the gospel to China. The Little Woman tells the story of one woman’s determination to serve God at any cost.With God all things are possible!”

2. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.

“Here is a book aglow with the glory of God and the courage of a quiet Christian spinster whose life was transformed by it. A story of Christ’s message and the courage woman who listened and lived to pass it along—with joy and triumph!”

3. By Searching: My Journey Through Doubt Into Faith by Isobel Kuhn

“Isobel Miller gave up God for worldly pursuits. But as graduation approached and her engagement was broken, she questioned that decision. “If You will prove to me that You are, and if You will give me peace, I will give You my whole life.” God heard Isobel’s prayers and responded. He reached out to her, ending years of searching, and building her up for decades of fruitful missionary service with her husband, John Kuhn, in China.”

4. Mary Slessor of Calabar Pioneer Missionary by W. P. Livingstone

“Life for most people is governed by authority and convention, but behind these there lies always the mystery of human nature, uncertain and elusive, and apt now and again to go off at a tangent and disturb the smooth working of organised routine. Some man or woman will appear who departs from the normal order of procedure, who follows ideals rather than rules, and whose methods are irregular, and often, in the eyes of onlookers, unwise. They may be poor or frail, and in their own estimation of no account, yet it is often they who are used for the accomplishment of important ends. Such a one was Mary Slessor.”

5. A Chance To Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot.

“A Chance to Die is a vibrant portrayal of Amy Carmichael, an Irish missionary and writer who spent fifty-three years in south India without furlough. There she became known as “Amma,” or “mother,” as she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a refuge for underprivileged children. Amy’s life of obedience and courage stands as a model for all who claim the name of Christ. She was a woman with desires and dreams, faults and fears, who gave her life unconditionally to serve her Master.”

6. Give Me This Mountain by Helen Roseveare.

“The autobiography of Dr. Helen Roseveare, graduate in medicine from University of Cambridge, in the late 1940′s. A well-known missionary doctor and author, with several of her works still in print, she worked in the north-eastern province of the Belgian Congo with the Heart of Africa Mission in the 1950′s & 60′s. Physical dangers and her personal ambition in the Congo often almost sank her, but her faith and hard work brought her through. Her story is one of bright mountains, conquered after experiencing the dark valleys and learning to give the glory to God.”

7. My Heart In His Hands: Ann Judson of Burma by Sharon James.

In this biography Ann Judson, wife of Adoniram Judson, is allowed to speak for herself. Sharon James has skilfully woven together extracts from her Memoir and other first-hand accounts with linking narrative in a way that brings Ann’s story alive for today and is a powerful testimony to the love, grace and faithfulness of God.

8. The Nine Day Queen of England: Lady Jane Grey by Faith Cook

“Lady Jane Grey was manipulated into assuming the crown of England, only to be put to death by the Mary, the rival heir to the throne. In order to understand the full tragedy and triumph of her life, one must grasp the far reaching political and religious changes that were shaking England at that time. Faith Cook here assembles the puzzle pieces of Lady Jane Grey’s life and puts together a picture of an outstanding girl whose character and faith shone from the darkness that surrounded her.”

9. A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter by Miriam Rockness.

“Art critic John Ruskin enthusiastically proclaimed her potential as one of the best artists of the nineteenth century, but Lilias Trotter’s devotion to Christ compelled her to surrender her life of art, privilege, and leisure. Leaving the home of her wealthy parents for a humble dwelling in Algeria, Lilias defied sterotypes and taboos that should have deterred any European woman from ministering in a Muslim country. Yet she stayed for nearly forty years, befriending Algerian Muslims with her appreciation for literature and art and winning them to Christ through her life of love.”

10. Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II by Darlene Rose.

“Newlywed American missionary Darlene Deibler Rose survived four years in a notorious Japanese prison camp set deep in the jungles of New Guinea. Thinking she was never to see her husband again, Darlene Rose was forced to sign a false confession and face the executioner’s sword, only to be miraculously spared.”

Now you decide, what are your favorites? You can cast three votes and add a book if it’s not in the list.

Honorable Mentions

Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth Dodds.
“At last the long-awaited reprint of Elisabeth Dodd’s 1971 classic on the domestic life of America’s most famous theologian, Jonathan Edwards, and his wife Sarah.”

Life in Jesus: A Memoir of Mary Winslow by Octavius Winslow.
“Godly people speak long after their deaths, inspiring us and revealing to us lives that are worthy of imitation. Octavius Winslow thus took up the daunting task of writing a memoir of his God-fearing mother, Mary Winslow (1774 1854). He viewed her as a grace-filled example of true spirituality, the antithesis of religious formalism, which he called the bane of the Christian church.”

The Iron Princess by Tryntje Helfferich.
“In the bloodiest conflict Europe had ever experienced, Amalia Elisabeth fought to save her tiny German state, her Calvinist church, and her children’s inheritance. Tryntje Helfferich reveals how this embattled ruler used diplomacy to play the European powers against one another, while raising one of the continent’s most effective fighting forces.”

Ann Bradstreet: Pilgrim and Poet by Faith Cook.
“Sailing to the New World at the age of eighteen, Anne Bradstreet was among the first contingent of Puritan refugees to leave English shores between 1630 and 1642, in search of liberty to worship without fear of persecution from state or church. Frequently struggling with ill-health, in addition to the challenges of raising a family in the harsh conditions faced by the early settlers, she achieved unexpected fame as America’s first published poet, a remarkable feat for a woman in view of the cultural prejudices of the times.”

I Dared To Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh.
“The fascinating true story of Bilquis Sheikh, a prominent Muslim woman. Her unusual journey to a personal relationship with God turned her world upside down-and put her life in danger.  Originally published in 1978, the book has sold 300,000 copies and is a classic in Muslim evangelism.”

Reader Suggestions

Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield. Thanks to Anita for reminding me of this book – can’t believe I left it off the Top 10. It’s definitely worthy of a place.

Jeanette Li: Biography of a Chinese Christian by Jeanette Li

Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love to Thee by Sharon James
“Elizabeth Prentiss is best known as the author of the popular novel Stepping Heavenward (first published 1869) and the well-loved hymn,More Love to Thee; The difficult things she experienced equipped her to minister to others through her letters, books, and poetry. To grow in love for God was the one great passion of her life: many have testified that her writings continue to inspire them with that same passion.”

Kitty My Rib: The Heartwarming Story of a Woman of Courage and Devotion by E Jane Mall.
“Katherine Luther or “Kitty” was the woman behind the great man Martin Luther. Kitty mellowed Luther’s harsher side, kept the household from bankruptcy despite her husband’s generosity and enhanced his life with the joys and fullness of family living.”

My Seventh Monsoon by Naomi Reed.
“From the view point of her seventh monsoon, Naomi Reed takes time to look back on the seasons of her life. As she does so, she shares with us her journey of faith and mission and reveals poignant truths about God and the way he works his purposes in our lives through seasons.”

  • Anita G.

    I appreciate these ‘top 10′ lists. It’s been immensely helpful and enabled me to order a couple more great titles for our church library too. Thanks. One book I could add to this list is a fairly recent one–”The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” by Rosaria Butterfield.

    • David Murray

      Good tip, Anita. I’ll add it right now.

  • JNL

    I have read many of these over the years! Thanks for the great reminder to pick them up again. I also loved Henrietta Mears’ biography.

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