4 Books I Recommend – April 2020

Reading is as important as ever these days. Both for information. And for escape. I’ve done a little of both this month, although neither as much as usual. 

For a moment in time we leave ourselves; and when we return, sometimes expanded and strengthened, we are changed both intellectually and emotionally. 
– Maryanne Wolf

Here are books I recommend from April. See all my recommended books here.


1. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World
by John Mark Comer

Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

This is another book that was written before its time, and is especially pertinent now (also see Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee). John Mark Comer, a Christian pastor, writes about how he learned to slow down and eliminate hurry from his own life. He offers us ways to do it as well. But it’s not a how-to book.

“The problem isn’t when you have a lot to do; it’s when you have too much to do and the only way to keep the quota up is to hurry. That kind of busy is what has us all reeling.”

Read my review here about The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

2. The Art of Living
Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now
by Thích Nhất Hạnh

Art of Living

My book club recently finished this one (we’ve now started Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness). Thích Nhất Hạnh is a gentle Vietnamese spiritual leader who reminds us to live consciously. He works through seven practices in this book to help us do that. I didn’t agree with everything, but with plenty to make this book a wonderful read.

“Freedom is a practice and a habit. We have to train ourselves to walk as a free person, sit as a free person, and eat as a free person. We need to train ourselves how to live.”

3. Human(kind)
How Reclaiming Human worth and Embracing Radical Kindness Will Bring Us Back Together
by Ashlee Eiland


This is a beautiful collection of essays by a beautiful black woman who grew up in majority-white spaces. She shares stories that both remind us that racism still exists, yet give us hope for future transformation.

“But maybe it’s worth showing up anyway. Maybe we still show up just to prove that kindness and proximity aren’t always about our comfort. We keep showing up to remind ourselves that dignity and hope weigh more than humiliation’s sting.”


4. A Spark of Light
by Jodi Picoult

A Spark of Light

The Picoult novels I’ve read aren’t emotionally easy books. This one is no exception. It’s about a gunman taking over a women’s reproductive clinic in Mississippi. One of the hostages, Wren, is caught up in the gunfire as her dad, the police hostage negotiator, works outside. This novel forces you to look at emotions from all angles, not necessarily to change your stand, but to help you be more understanding.

“This is what it means to be human. We are all just canvases for our scars.”

Reading Now

  • Write Better
    A Lifelong Editor on Craft, Art, and Spirituality

    by Andrew T. Le Peau
  • Upstream
    The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen
    by Dan Heath
  • I’ve Seen the End of You
    A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know
    by W. Lee Warren
  • You’re a Miracle (and a Pain in the A**)
    Understanding the Hidden Forces That Make You You
    by Mike McHargue (Science Mike)
  • The Truth about Us
    The Very Good News about How Very Bad We Are
    by Brant Hansen

* * *

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

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

31 thoughts on “4 Books I Recommend – April 2020

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    Hi Lisa! I’ve been listening lately to a lot of podcasts. One is Carey Nieuwhopf. He has had several guests recently who have really captured me so I have bought their books. I am currently reading The Gift of Struggle by Bobby Herrera. I have in my cue The Motive by Patrick Lencioni and When to Walk Away (from toxic people) by Gary Thomas. I’m looking forward to reading them. Hope you and the family are doing well.

  2. Trudy

    Thank you, Lisa. I just reserved Jodi Picoult’s book at our library. I’m longing for the library to open! I just can’t get into reading Kindle books much yet. I still find more pleasure in picking up a “real” book. 🙂 Love and blessings to you!

  3. Beth Steffaniak

    I’m most intrigued by the first one, since that is an issue I struggle with daily, Lisa! I also love John Ortberg, so the fact that he wrote the forward increases my interest as well. Thanks for always gleaning the best pics out there, Lisa! You do a lot of the work for us! Hugs to you!

  4. Theresa Boedeker

    Just finished listening to the the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry audio book. And have been talking about it with half the people I know. I find when I hurry through life it really takes the enjoyment from it. My husband used to say, “Theresa you have slow twitch muscles.” And it used to bother me. Because yes, I am not as fast as others when it comes to hurrying and doing this and that. But now I am taking it as a compliment. I don’t want to have fast twitch muscles. I want to get to the end of life and not say, “I wish I had slowed down and actually enjoyed life yeas and years ago.”

  5. Barbara Harper

    The book about hurry piques my interest. I *hate* to live in that constant pressure of rush and hurry. Yet I look for ways to get more done. It’s challenging to find the right balance, to make right choices for the best results without having to rush through life. I’ve not read Jodi Picoult yet. I keep seeing her name on people’s reading lists.

  6. Lesley

    I’m in the middle of reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry right now and enjoying it. I’m also enjoying Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown – I have hardly read any Christian fiction but I’m liking this and it’s good to try something a bit different.

  7. Lois Flowers

    Lisa, my dad used to say, “Nothing good happens when you hurry.” So John Mark Comer’s book especially appeals to me. I just finished “Write Better” … it was good and helpful. I just started Beth Moore’s “Chasing Vines.” It’s been on my nightstand for a few months, and this is a good time to be reading it, I think. I always enjoy your book posts … hope your week is off to a good start!

  8. Rebecca Hastings

    I have wondered about “A Spark of Light.” I know it’s a sensitive topic for so many and it’s good to hear that it’s handled with grace.

    I’m reading Dogwood by Chris Fabry right now and it’s great!

  9. Laurie

    Thanks, as always, for these good book recommendations, Lisa. I have been doing more than my share of reading lately! I have read other books by Thích Nhất Hạnh and enjoyed them very much. I must give this one a try. I will be interested to see what you think of “I’ve Seen the End of You”. I looked at that one but didn’t pull the trigger. Yet.

  10. Jeanna

    Wish I could share what I’m reading, but I haven’t been able to read for some time which is weird since I was such a voracious reader into my college years. My mind just won’t focus, although I’ll try again from time to time. You have some very interesting choices and the first one does seem especially timely. I don’t know if I’m up for another emotional challenge right now but I’d probably go with the fiction, that is if I could concentrate long enough to read. It reminds me of a book, I think by Frank Herbert, about a native American man kidnapping a boy and the two traveling through the woods of Washington State on a kind of spiritual journey.

  11. BettieG

    Thank you for these great reviews, Lisa! I am in the middle of three books that I have been reading in tandem, along with a few fiction books, but then felt the need to pause and finally read a book that’s been in my waiting list a long time. I thought it would be a slow read also, since I’ve been told it is so intense, but the personal accounts of those who have lived with persecution are touching my soul so deeply, and I’m almost finished. “The Insanity of God,” by Nik Ripkin was recommended by a friend who kept prodding me to give it a try. I’m so thankful for her prodding!

  12. Jennifer Smith

    My…you do some deep reading:) I feel so juvenile with my reading choices!! The Art of Living, though, sounded like something two of my family members would really be interested in – I was excited to share it with them. Thanks (maybe they will think I’m smarter than a third grader)! 🙂

  13. Andrew Blackman

    Hi Lisa, these books sound wonderful, and just right for the times we are living through. I particularly like the idea of embracing radical kindness, and I’d like to see how the author developed that in the book.

  14. Debbie Wilson

    Lisa, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry sounds like something most of us could benefit from. It’s easier for me now. But I told my children, “Hurry” way too much when they were young.

  15. Jean Wise

    lots of truth in that Wolf quote. I like what you shared about the Human kind book Been thinking about the value of showing up. Each day, each moment, being fully present even in a pandemic. And of course always kind. As always I love your book reviews!

  16. Elena Wiggins

    I enjoyed The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. I used to visit Comer’s church years ago when I lived in Portland and was always captivated by the way he taught the Bible. This book came at just the right time and helped me think about not hurrying through this difficult season, but rather, allowing space for solitude, putting my phone away to enjoy the moment, and slowing down my pace. Timely advice indeed!

  17. Danielle Hammelef

    I’ve only read one Jodi Picoult book–it was a YA one and sounds much lighter than her others based on your description. I read The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand in April and can highly recommend that book. Currently I’m reading My Lady Jane and absolutely loving the humor and characters.

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