10 Books I Recommend—November 2021

“Each book is a mind alive, a life revealed, a world awaiting exploration.”
– Dean Koontz

Below are books I recommend from what I finished reading in November.

Underneath the recommendations by me is a list of recommendations for me that I gathered from participating in Nonfiction November this month. It’s a wonderful way each year to discover the best nonfiction books to read. The linkup to see more “New to My TBR” is with Jaymi at The OC Book Girl for Week 5 of #NonficNov.

[See previously recommended books here]

Nonfiction

1. Good to Grow
Embrace an Abundant Life in Your Good Body
by Amanda Reynolds

Good to Grow Amanda Reynolds

This is an encouraging invitation to view our bodies in a more holy way, regardless of what our bodies look like or how much we like or dislike them already. Amanda shares lessons from personal experience and from scripture about how to grow our body image out of the weeds and into fruitfulness.

2. Factfulness
Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
by Hans Rosling

Factfulness

Most of us are wrong about global trends on world population, people in poverty, women and schooling, etc. This book is a fascinating approach to setting us straight and finding hope for our world.

3. Grateful
The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks
by Diana Butler Bass

Grateful

Being grateful doesn’t always come naturally to us. This is a great jump-start to improving your gratitude attitude.

4. Embracing Uncertainty
by Susan Jeffers

Embracing Uncertainty

An oldie but a goodie. The only thing we know for certain is that things will change. This book helps us make peace with that. It’s a perfect fit for my One Word 2021 UNCERTAINTY.

5. When Everything’s on Fire
Faith Forged from the Ashes
by Brian Zahnd

When Everything's on Fire

Instead of walking away from faith altogether when it becomes too inconsistent to believe any longer, Zahnd offers a solution of renovating our faith instead. And encourages us to hang on to Jesus no matter what.

6. God Can’t
How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils
by Thomas Jay Oord

God Can't

While I like to think about things God CAN do, it’s also comforting to know there are things God CAN’T do (for example, God cannot lie; God cannot do evil; God cannot be unloving; etc.). I like to be challenged in my thoughts of God, and this book does that as Oord addresses the problem of suffering. Just as with all books, you can take or leave the authors’ thoughts as you read them.

7. Benefit of the Doubt
Breaking the Idol of Certainty
by Gregory A. Boyd

Benefit of the Doubt

I found great encouragement in this book to not measure our faith by our certainty of it. The blurb on the back of the book says it best: “Embrace a faith that doesn’t strive for certainty but rather for commitment to Christ in the midst of uncertainty.”

8. Everything Happens for a Reason
And Other Lies I’ve Loved
by Kate Bowler

Everything Happens for a Reason

Kate Bowler was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer at just 35 years old. She walks us through her next steps, rooting out helpful and nonhelpful advice along the way.

9. Reasons to Stay Alive
by Matt Haig

I’m working through all of Matt Haig’s insightful books. This one tells us how he found reasons to continue living while he dealt with depression and anxiety.

Reasons to Stay Alive

Fiction

I did squeeze in one novel during this Nonfiction November month. And it is quite the page turner.

10. Before I Go to Sleep
by S.J. Watson

Before I Go to Sleep

This is a great story about Christine’s journey with memory issues. Every day she wakes up to a new world, even though it’s exactly the one she left the night before. What role does her husband Ben play and how can she discover the real truth?

Reading Now

  • The Story of You
    An Enneagram Journey to Becoming Your True Self
    by Ian Morgan Cron
  • The Divine Dance
    The Trinity and Your Transformation
    by Richard Rohr
  • The Wisdom of Your Body
    Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection Through Embodied Living
    by Hillary L. McBride
  • Anatomy of a Miracle
    by Jonathan Miles

Adding to My TBR from #NonficNov Readers


What good book are YOU reading this month? Please share in the comments.

MORE READING

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My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

sharing at these linkups


Share Four Somethings—November 2021
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Near the end of each month I share something I love, something I read, something I treasure, and something ahead with others at Heather’s.

Plus here’s my One Second video from last month . . . 

[click here if you can’t see the video]

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Loved

  • I GOT THE PHOTO! 

I’ve been wanting some new photos with all three of our grandchildren. We got some wonderful pictures a few weeks ago. I’ve already picked the best one for our Christmas cards.

This picture below isn’t the Christmas card photo. But it’s one of my favorites because this one is real life. 

Grandchildren

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Read 

  • GRATEFUL for GRATEFUL

Grateful by Diana Butler Bass

One of the books I read this month for #NonfictionNovember is Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass. Here are two insightful quotes from it.

“Gifts come before givers. We do not really give gifts. We recognize gifts, we receive them, and we pass them on. We all rely on these gifts. We all share them.”

“God gives all gifts, and we human beings accept them and pass them on to one another. We never owned them to begin with. We are only mediators and stewards, not benefactors in our own right.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Treasured

  • FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHO LOVE ME (especially on my birthday)

It’s been a challenging month. But I’ve survived it with the help of some great family members and wonderful best friends.

If you ever doubt your help is useful to your friends in times of crisis, trust me: it is helpful. Whatever it is. If you do anything at all, your friend will notice.

Yesterday was my birthday. I received so many beautiful messages. I appreciate every kind word. God has been present in each one.

One of the gifts I’ve received is from the ever-thoughtful Kay, one of my besties. (She’s given me a lot of gifts AND time AND attention this month!). She bought two copies of Glennon Doyle’s new journal, Get Untamed, one for her and one for me, so we could do them simultaneously and talk about them.  

Get Untamed: The Journal by Glennon Doyle

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Ahead

  • NEW ONE WORD GROUP

I have LOVED the One Word 2021 community that’s been gathering here this year!

I’ve been tallying results from this survey to see if there is interest in continuing into 2022 with our group (spoiler alert: yes!).

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I’m receiving great suggestions for next year. I look forward to putting it all together in the next few weeks and offering a signup for 2022. 

Did you have One Word for 2021? Do you have one already for 2022? (I think I know mine already.)

Featured Post

If you haven’t already read Barbara’s post from last week, you might want to read it now. She gives us many reasons why we shouldn’t give up on God just because God’s people don’t get things right.

But don’t walk away from Him because of them.”

Read all of it here, then link up your own blog posts below.

DON’T REJECT GOD BECAUSE OF HIS PEOPLE

Share your thoughts in the comments.

previous Share Four Somethings

I’m linking at these blog parties


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1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

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Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Is This Really Nonfiction? 3 Books Almost Too Weird to Be True
—Nonfiction November

The theme for week 4 of Nonfiction November is “Stranger than Fiction.” Link up with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks.

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Here are 3 nonfiction books I’ve read this year that almost don’t seem real.

1. Leaving the Witness
Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life
by Amber Scorah

Leaving the Witness

Amber Scorah was living her life as a faithful 3rd generation Jehovah’s Witness. But little by little, she began to see cracks in her religion. And she wanted out, even though she was now an undercover preacher in China. This is her story.

“Was I a good person? The righteous war of black versus white, right over wrong, good against bad, had given meaning to my life. It was comfortable to know that everyone was wrong and you were right.

“I had known who I was by which side I was on. But there are not only two sides, there are thousands of dimensions to things.

“Living in uncertainty is humbling and terrifying. Uncertainty is pain.”

2. The Biggest Bluff
How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win
by Maria Konnikova

The Biggest Bluff

Is it possible for a journalist to to learn how to play poker and become a professional tournament winner in a year? This book is about far more than just the game of poker though. Konnikova also learned lessons about how chance works in life.

“Here was the cruel truth: we humans too often think ourselves in firm control when we are really playing by the rules of chance.”

“More often than that, it’s not the best hand that wins. It’s the best player.”

“Thus my first real poker lesson isn’t about winning. It’s about losing.”

3. How God Works
The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion
by David DeSteno

How God Works

This isn’t actually about how God works per se, but about how religion works. DeSteno shares fascinating research about religious rituals among many belief systems from around the world.

“Uncertainty in the realms of morality and fate—the realms that religions dominate for many people—is taxing not only because it requires the brain to simulate so many options, but also because of the emotional consequences involved. And it’s here that belief comes into play.

“With belief—that God will intervene, that a ritual will heal, that a choice never to lie or cheat ensures the best outcomes—comes certainty.

“And with certainty comes a kind of inner peace.”

[more thoughts here on How God Works]


Have you read a nonfiction book that seemed almost too strange to be true? Share in the comments.

READ MORE:

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One Word 2021 Linkup for November + FILL OUT THIS SURVEY

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It’s time for the monthly linkup about your ONE WORD!

1. Revisit any initial writings you had about your word at the beginning of 2021. Do you view your word differently now than you did then?

2. What are two or three lessons you’ve learned as you’ve journeyed these months with your word?

Take the Survey

Will you take this 1-minute survey about your experience with our One Word 2021 community? Should we offer the group again for 2022? 

Survey about One Word

There are 6 simple questions to gauge interest for continuing together into 2022. All answers are anonymous.

Take the survey about One Word

Thank you!

This linkup for ONE WORD will remain open from November 21-30.

The next ONE WORD linkup will open on December 21.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Link Up About Your One Word!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Do You Have to Spell It Out for God?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Do you have to spell it out for God?

The Curse of Knowledge

“Mom, you’re not always clear. If you know what you want, it’s okay to ask for that. Be specific.”

My daughter Jenna is right. Sometimes I don’t make myself clear to others.

What are you talking about--cartoon

When I already know what I mean in my head, my words can take a shortcut. We all do this occasionally. It’s called the “curse of knowledge” bias.

I assume others are at the same starting point about the situation as I am. So I leave out details. I forget to add, “and can you please call me?” after I say, “I am hurting.”

Wouldn’t everybody already know that?

No. Of course not. It’s too much (as well as impossible anyway) to ask of each other. None of us are mind readers.

Well, except one.

He Already Knows

God knows us inside and out. We don’t have to explain ourselves to him. Or justify ourselves. Or try to convince him of anything.

Because God made us out of love and sustains us out of love, he is always acting out of love for us already.

Love is God’s default position toward us.

Granted, we might get in our own way of receiving his love. Or other people may try to block it. Or life itself can make us doubt it.

But his knowledge of us and his love for us are always there.

Because of this, when we talk with God, we can pray with confidence that he needs no backstory. We may go into detail if WE need to talk it out for ourselves, but we don’t have to fill in every detail for God’s sake.

We don’t have to get our wording just right for him to understand. Or to persuade him to act.

He knows. He loves. He acts.

We may need to continue spelling it out for each other (wise advice, Jenna).

But we don’t have to spell it out for God.

Featured Post—“Help Me, Jesus”

Lois explains it all so well. 

“We don’t have to reiterate to God what we’re fretting about. He already knows.”

It’s okay to simply say, “Help me, Jesus.”

Read all of Lois’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

HELP ME JESUS

Are you an over- or underexplainer? Share your thoughts in the comments.

READ MORE:

I’m linking at these blog parties


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1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

blank

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

My Antidote for Uncertainty

my-antidote-for-uncertainty 

She’s Going to Fall…

Where is she?

I can’t find my little girl.

She was here just a second ago, but now she’s gone. I hear steps and look to my left. I see her blond hair swinging as she walks toward an outside staircase.

I begin running and call out to her.

But she doesn’t hear. She keeps walking.

Up the steps she goes. I know she’ll fall.

I must run faster.

The Invisible Nets

But she reaches the top of the staircase before I do. She does indeed fall, but she is caught. She is safe.

There is a net for such occasions.

I had not known of the net. It was hidden from my view.

I feel immense relief. Such as I’ve never felt before.

And I awake.

It has all been a dream, a nightmare, really. There was more (isn’t there always more in our dreams?), but the gist has stuck with me for over 30 years ago when I first dreamt it:

God has set up multiple safety nets around us, unbeknownst to us.

God is always loving our loved ones, even when we aren’t around. Our children, anything in our care really, aren’t our responsibility alone. They aren’t loved only by us. God loves them even more than we do.

And while yes, he primarily uses us to tend to those in our care, he also uses others. Sometimes we each step up and do our part.

But sometimes we don’t.

In those times, we pray the invisible safety nets will hold. 

Uncertain of What, Not Who

As I reflect this month on my One Word of the year, UNCERTAINTY, I am reminded of that dream I had when my firstborn daughter was a baby.

It has brought me great comfort in my life.

But has it not promised any guarantees.

Life still happens. And death. Many types of deaths. 

Sometimes someone has cut a hole in the safety net. Or the fragile body rejects being caught. Or we crawl out of the net ourselves.

Thus, uncertainty still frightens me (I believe; help my unbelief). I still long to fully understand each mystery, to find the complete instruction manual, to flood the whole path with light instead of one step at a time.

But I’m discovering my antidote to uncertainty is not more certainty.

It’s simply trust.

Not trust in what will happen next, but trust in who will be there when it does.

I can’t know the what. But I can know the who. 

As I flounder through my current season of uncertainty, I’m finding a measure of peace in knowing God throws safety nets out here. For me. For those I love. And for all those he loves, which is everybody.

Even when I can’t see him, I can see we are his safety nets of love for each other. 

May we each be found safe there.


Who are your safety nets?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read More:

sharing at these linkups