For 12 long months, we housebroke the pandemic puppy, studied the rules of chess, and ordered more home goods online than maybe we should have. Now, one project is staring us in the mirror. Ourselves. Judging by the March bestseller list, readers are reaching for titles that help us win, cleanse, forgive or change. It’s a spiritual self-empowerment bonanza.
Pastor Craig Groeschel’s Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change your Life (Zondervan) moved up to #1 from its bestseller list debut at #2 in February. That made room for popular Christian writer Caroline Leaf’s Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress and Toxic Thinking (Baker Books) to debut in that slot within weeks of publication.
At #3 is Lysa TerKeurst’s Forgiving What You Can’t Forget: Discover How to Move On, Make Peace with Painful Memories, and Create a Life That’s Beautiful Again (Thomas Nelson).
Jennie Allen’s Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts (WaterBrook) comes in at #6 in March, holding a niche on the PW bestseller lists almost continually since it’s release in January 2020. Last month it surpassed half a million copies sold in all formats and received the ECPA Gold Sales Achievement Award. Henry Cloud’s Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: How to Say No and Take Control of Your Life (Zondervan) is on the list again at #9.
However, readers who might be exhausted from all these action verbs are also rewarding authors who promise refreshment for the soul and a guiding hand in their journey through the Bible.
Dane C. Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Crossway) enters the list at #8. Ortlund studied the text of Puritan theologians so the refreshment proffered for a Christian life, which he writes is “inescapably one of toil and labor,” is not a spa vacation. It’s “rest for your souls.” Crossway has announced that is giving up to 208 free paperback copies to any U.S. church where the pastor or minister requests them.
Other titles filling out the Top 10 include: #4 Elijah Bible Study Book: Faith and Fire, by Priscilla Shirer (Lifeway); #3 Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Thomas Nelson) by Sarah Young whose devotional has surpassed 30 million copies sold in all formats; #10 Prayer Journal for Women: 52-Week Scripture, Devotional & Guided Prayer Journal by Shannon Roberts.
The Jewish holiday of Passover at the end of March prompted sales for Mark Gerson’s deep dive into the Haggadah, the prayer-and-story booklet essential to the Seder ritual meal, the focus of the holiday observance. In #7, The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life (St. Martin’s Essentials), Gerson points to timeless and universal lessons for Jews and Christians in every word and passage.
Passover in March and the approach of Easter in early April prompted sales in fiction, too. The Brothers of Auschwitz by Malka Adler moved up to the top slot, displacing Harbinger II: The Return by Jonathan Cahn (Frontline that slid to #3, not far from his original title, The Harbinger, sitting at #5.) The Chosen: I Have Called You by Name, (Broadstreet Publishing) Jerry B. Jenkins’ novel of the life of Jesus, based on the TV series, arrived on the list at #8.
The top 10 ranks gained a touch more mystery and romance to a large carry-over of titles from February. Wanda E. Brunstetter’s new release, The Robin’s Greeting, Volume 3; Amish Greenhouse Mysteries (Barbour) jumped on the list at #2. Debra Ullrick’s Groom Wanted & A Texas-Made Match (Love Inspired) arrives on the list at #6. Continuing favorites in the genre in the top 10 are Francine Rivers’ unstoppable hit Redeeming Love (Multnomah) at #4 and ever-popular Karen Kingsbury’s Someone Like You at #10.
And, as almost always, William P. Young’s The Shack (Windblown Media) is here at #7 and C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce (HarperOne) at #8.