Books I recommend – August 2015



1. Faithiest
How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious
by Chris Stedman


Only read this one if you can hold an open mind. Author Chris Stedman is a former Evangelical Christian who is now an atheist. He works to make the world a better place by collaborating with people of all beliefs. His story is one of many that believers need to hear. Resources here for his suggestions on bridging the religious/non-religious divide.

2. David and Goliath
Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
by Malcolm Gladwell


Little guys don’t always lose to big guys. Beautiful stories here! Gladwell says, “The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem.” He tells stories of real-life underdog Davids and how they have conquered their versions of Goliaths. Most interesting and inspiring. Listen to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell about this book at Gospel Coalition.

3. The Question that Never Goes Away
by Philip Yancey


When God doesn’t intervene to stop situations like the tsunami in Japan or  the school shootings in Columbine or Sandy Hook, we don’t know how to account for him. Yancey doesn’t give us pat answers on how to do it either, but he does help us wrestle with the questions. “Faith, I’ve concluded, means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” And “I avoid trying to answer the Why? question because any attempt will inevitably fall short and may even rub salt in an open wound. As Jesus’ followers, we can instead offer a loving and sympathetic presence that may help bind wounds and heal a broken heart.”

4. Diary of a Jackwagon
by Tim Hawkins


To lighten things up, laugh with Tim Hawkins, a funny and clean stand-up comedian. He includes old and new material in this book. Jeff and I both read it and actually laughed out loud at many parts. My full review is here.

5. Laddie
A True Blue Story
by Gene Stratton-Porter


This classic children’s book would make a wonderful read-aloud with children of any age. A sweet story (Little House on the Prairie-style) of a family with 12 children out in the country, and in particular about the strong relationship between the youngest girl (Little Sister) and one of her older brothers (Laddie). Thankfully it has a real plot running through it, not just a collection of short scenes in their lives. And it is the only book I’ve ever read that has mentioned a “shitepoke” (a little green heron that we often have in our backyard; I guess Jeff didn’t make up that word after all {smile}). The book is a semi-memoir of Gene Stratton-Porter’s own life. It’s the August pick for Carrie’s Reading to Know Classic Book Club and my pick for A Classic Children’s Book for Back to the Classics Challenge.

6. The Giver
by Lois Lowry


This 1994 Newbery award winning novel is a story that I don’t tire of. If you liked the movie that came out in 2014 (I did), read the book now to get the whole story. It’s a vision of what life would be like if we totally eliminated uniqueness and discomfort and hard memories. And how the young boy Jonas decides to run away from it. You can read it simply as a child’s story or take it as deep as you want to go.


7. Knowing God
by J. I. Packer

This classic has influenced believers for years in distinguishing between knowing about God versus knowing God. Tim Challies is hosting a 2-chapters-a-week group at his blog. We just started last week, if you want to join in. I’ll be posting summaries here each Thursday.


8. The Word Exchange
by Alena Graedon


I’ve just begun this dystopian novel on the “death of print” and the written word. It may be too horrifying; we’ll see.

9. The Invisible Girls
A Memoir
by Sarah Thebarge


This true story is based on a 27-yr-old’s encounter with a Somali refugee on the subway in Portland, Oregon. It has already grabbed me in the first 10 pages.

* * *

Once a month we share what’s on our nightstand at 5 Minutes for Books.

What are you reading this month? Please share here.


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27 thoughts on “Books I recommend – August 2015

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Aw, I’m glad to hear that, Linda. There are SO many wonderful books out there! And even more not-so-good ones. ha. I love getting recommendations from others–that’s where much of my list comes from too.

  1. Barbara H.

    The Question That Never Goes Away sounds good. I’ve been waffling on Laddie – didn’t intend to read it, but heard good recommendations, got the Kindle version, haven’t started. 🙂 But the month is ending soon so I had better decide about it. The Giver sound intriguing, too.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think you’d really like Laddie. It is a little lengthy, but it was worthwhile. I finally quit reading any of my other books for a few days and concentrated solely on it so I could finish it before August was over. The closer I got to the end, the more I didn’t want to put it down anyway. 🙂

  2. floyd

    Well I did manage to read one of your recommended books. I’m still struggling to get through Unbroken and Jerry Lee Lewis – His Own Story. Did I mention that I’m also almost through the Bible again? Yeah, it’s only taken me three years plus to get this far into the NT this time… I’m beginning to see a pattern here!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re doing good, Floyd. You probably can’t read on the job like I can while I’m folding laundry and washing dishes. 🙂 I remember it took me a long time to read Unbroken. But so worth it! And I takes me at least 3 years to get through the Bible too, but hey, that’s better than 3 years without it, right? Blessings to you, brother.

  3. bekahcubed

    I started reading Laddie late (yesterday), but I’m already enjoying it immensely. Carrie compared it to L.M. Montgomery (I suppose probably because the nature component and maybe the precocity of the protagonist?), but I’ve been thinking it rather Laura Ingalls Wilder-ish as well.

    The Word Exchange sounds like the worst sort of dystopia (that is, the worst sort of world) – how intriguing!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Hope you’re enjoying Laddie. I started out kind of slow with it, but then I did the math and realized I’d never finish it by the end of August if I didn’t pick up the pace. ha. The deeper I got into it, the more I wanted to read anyway so it worked out well. I’ll keep you posted on The Word Exchange. The premise is definitely a horrible one for us word-loving people. 🙂

  4. Deb Wolf

    Great list! I’m usually reading something for a book review, but I love your suggestions. I really want to check out The Invisible Girls. Sounds inspirational! Thank you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Deb. Yes, I have a feeling that The Invisible Girls is going to be one of those books that will stick with me even when I finish it. I love good stories that are TRUE. Definitely inspires.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I read in The Invisible Girls a few more minutes this morning and it’s still very good. The author does a good job blending her own life into the story of the Somali family life (so far anyway!).

  5. Jennifer Dougan

    I always like to see what you are reading, Lisa, and add books to my lists. 🙂 ‘

    I’ve just been finishing Christine Caine’s “Undaunted,” TyrKeurst’s “UnGlued,” William Zinser’s “Writing About Your Life,” and Niquists’s “Cold Tangerines.”

    Happy reading,
    Jennifer Dougan

  6. David

    Dear Lisa

    I’ve finally finished reading my book on Hegel!

    After my recent adventures in an Olde English Abbey (actually praying in a congregation!) I’m reading some easy books about churches. Being in a church as a congregant (?) and taking part in the rituals

    I’ll read Faitheist. I am travelling in the opposite direction (coming in from the cold) so it will be interesting to compare and contrast.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yay–congrats on finishing your book on Hegel. I wouldn’t be able to do that one so I leave it solely up to you. 🙂

      How wonderful that you were able to adventure about as a congregant. Sometimes in the doing of something different we are open to seeing God in different ways too.

      It will be interesting to hear your take on Faitheist since you’re coming at it from the opposite viewpoint of the author. I found him to be a humble and likeable guy.

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          I loved reading what you wrote about Faitheist! You have such a different perspective and background than me, so you saw so many things that I was incapable of seeing. Glad you shared the link here.

  7. Jean Wise

    What a neat collection and so eclectic. Faithiest? what a clever name. Were you at all uncomfortable reading that? I had mixed feelings re David and Goliath. Interesting but found it repetitive and so skimmed a lot of it. Right now I am reading from the library :The Will Power Instinct – how self control or, why it matters and what you can do about it by Kelly McGonigal. so far interesting read…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The author does explain how he came up with Faithiest but I don’t remember now. ha. I didn’t feel uncomfortable reading it; he had a good writing tone that makes you feel at ease, even though parts of his story were quite painful.

      Another blogger friend said the same thing about David and Goliath–that it was repetitive to her at the end. I guess that made me overcompensate for that in my head so I didn’t feel it. ha. I read The Will Power Instinct a couple years ago. This was one of the take-aways for me: “Willpower is actually three powers—I will, I won’t, and I want.” Good book! Hope you continue to find it interesting.

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  9. Deanna

    I am reading Knowing God too but I’m not keeping up with it very well…only read the first two chapters so I am thinking I may be four behind by this point.?.? I am going to look for your summary posts.
    I LOVE The Giver…it has landed on my favorites of favorites (must read) list.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I don’t think it will matter if you stay with the appropriate chapter or not with Knowing God. Isn’t it all so good! Even when I don’t agree with Packer, he still makes me stop and think.

      And The Giver…that book definitely makes me think too! Keeper of the Memories–I don’t think I’d be cut out for that role. 🙂

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