With Christmas fast approaching, no doubt you may have some last-minute shopping to do. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some of The Heritage Foundation staff’s favorite books for you to consider for family and friends.

“Co-Ruling with Christ” by Hugh Daniel Smith

“Co-Ruling with Christ” provides practical tools that can be employed in the work of healing and overcoming the complexities of our understanding of human suffering. Some contemporary secular thinkers conclude that God is either incapable of stopping human suffering, capable but uncaring, or simply nonexistent.

According to Hugh Daniel Smith, humanity has been given a “Dominion Mandate” that can only be fulfilled in Christ and His Kingdom. The message is one that compels the believer to remain focused on God’s original plan for mankind from the beginning: to rule with Him.

– Terris E. Todd, adviser of coalitions engagement  

Little Pilgrim’s Progress” (Illustrated Edition) by Helen Taylor

“Little Pilgrim’s Progress” (Illustrated Edition) is a beautifully illustrated and faithful adaptation of the John Bunyan classic for children. Helen Taylor makes the timeless allegory of Christian faith accessible to young readers by casting woodland creatures in the characters’ roles and employing more accessible language. I read the book aloud to my young children ages 4 and 6. They loved it, and I was as moved as if reading the original version for the first time.

– Eric Teetsel, vice president of government relations 

“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

“All the Light We Cannot See” won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, and for good reason. A master storyteller, Anthony Doerr introduces the readers of his novel to Marie-Laurie LeBlanc, a blind French girl, and Werner Pfennig, a brilliant German boy, and sets them on a tragic course toward each other during World War II and Germany’s occupation of France.  

Doerr unravels the complex, rich lives of characters with historical facts with such ease that the story bursts from the pages and captivates the reader. Much like Jane Austen or William Shakespeare, Doerr has that rare ability to create characters endowed with all the strengths and weaknesses of the human condition and use language, metaphors, and vignettes throughout this spellbinding novel that leave the reader speechless. 

Doerr’s masterpiece is a fantastic Christmas gift for anyone! 

– Cully Stimson, deputy director and senior legal fellow at the Center for Constitutional Government  

National Pastime: How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer” by Stefan Szymanski and Andrew Zimbalist

With the World Cup concluding just days ago, more Americans are taking a look at how professional soccer is played in the rest of the world and are finding that it’s quite different from professional sports in the United States. 

That difference was highlighted last year when the biggest association football clubs (soccer teams) in Europe proposed a breakaway closed Super League that would feature the sport’s biggest teams. Fans hated the idea because it would have closed off soccer’s open structure, where clubs from anywhere can theoretically play their way into the highest levels. 

“National Pastime” traces the development of soccer in Europe and baseball in America. It shows the irony of how Europe’s closed social structure, with a legal aristocracy, led to the promotion of amateurism and a competitive sporting system with many clubs, but America’s egalitarian social structure and comfort with entrepreneurship led to a closed system of professional clubs. 

It’s a fascinating history that’s worth revisiting at a time when issues of concentration of wealth, competitiveness, and opportunity routinely appear in headlines outside of the sports pages. 

– Parker Sheppard, director of the Center for Data Analysis 

“A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken 

Described by its author as “the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers,” “A Severe Mercy” is a poignant novel about a marriage, faith, and finding God in tragedy. 

The book describes the strong yet pagan marriage between Sheldon Vanauken and his wife, Davy. As their relationship grows, they find themselves embarking on an intense search for God and truth, interrupted by Davy’s early death.  

Forced to live in a world without his beloved, Vanauken never stops his search for truth. The book tells the story of his friendship with C.S. Lewis, with whom he exchanged many letters. Lewis helps the grieving Sheldon understand the meaning of faith amid suffering. 

Overall, an emotional, captivating read with incredible spiritual insights on love, loss, and the mysterious mercy of God. 

– Cora Wack, assistant to the executive director of the Edwin J. Feulner Institute 

“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley and

“1984” by George Orwell

Going a bit old-school here, I firmly believe “Brave New World” and “1984” are two of the most pertinent books to read in our society today. They both serve as harrowing illustrations of what happens when society is left to the hands of tyrannical government to dictate speech, culture—and ultimately—thought. They would make useful (though perhaps slightly distressing) Christmas gifts, and should be on everyone’s 2023 reading list, even if they have already read them. 

– Joel Griffith, research fellow in financial regulations at the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

“Emma” by Jane Austen

I recommend any Jane Austen book as a Christmas gift, but “Emma” in particular has a wonderful Christmas scene where all the family is gathered and the snow unexpectedly begins to fall.

It is a novel filled with charades, riddles, and delightful cleverness. All Austen stories are lessons in the most human things: in love and friendship, marriage and family, and those “important nothings” that compose a life well lived. It is not that Austen is unaware of the tragedies and challenges of life, but that she deliberately turns to its mysteries and joys. Her novels are an uplifting choice during the Christmas season.

– Brenda Hafera, assistant director and senior policy analyst in the Simon Center for American Studies 

“Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh

This is an essential work of Christian and British literature. Evelyn Waugh’s dry sense of humor pervades the whole book (those who have already enjoyed “Brideshead Revisited” would love his incandescent satire, “Decline and Fall”).

The story depicts the tension of his time, namely, that which existed between the dying old order of England and the new world that the West was compelled to accept. The defiance of Christian belief against a decadent, faithless civil society on the one hand, and a levelling, materialistic world order on the other, shines through the tragic story of Captain Charles Ryder. It is an essential read for those who have come back to the faith in defiance of much of the culture today (or those who want to).

– Benjamin Paris, graduate fellow in the Center for Health and Welfare Policy 

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