7 Books I Recommend—February 2022

Even now, at this late day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me—more promising than a silver cloud, prettier than a little red wagon.
– E. B. White

Here are 7 books I recommend from what I finished reading in February.

[See previously recommended books here]


1. Atlas of the Heart
Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
by Brené Brown

Atlas of the Heart

One of my favorites of the year! With her usual insight and wit, Brené Brown walks us through 87 emotions that we all feel, but we don’t all recognize.

“The entire premise of this book is that language has the power to define our experiences.”

2. Jesus and John Wayne
How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
by Kristin Kobes du Mez

Jesus and John Wayne

This is a thorough and painful look at the most recent 75 years of white evangelicalism. Kristin Du Mez walks us through the transformation of church culture from one thing into another. I highly recommend this one, too. 

“Understanding the catalyzing role militant Christian masculinity has played over the past half century is critical to understanding American evangelicalism today, and the nation’s fractured political landscape.”

3. The Book of Joy
Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
by the Dalai Lama XIV and Desmond Tutu

The Book of Joy

I listened to the audioversion of this book. Such a delight! The readers’ voices sounded so similar to the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s voices, capturing their personalities well. The content is joyful, of course, yet also sobering.

“Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.”

4. The Grieving Brain
The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss
by Mary-Frances O’Connor

The Grieving Brain

Grief isn’t just a function of our emotions. It’s a function of our brains. I learned so much from this book. 

“Because learning is something we do our whole lives, seeing grieving as a type of learning may make it feel more familiar and understandable and give us the patience to allow this remarkable process to unfold.”

[my review here of The Grieving Brain]

5. Wholehearted Faith
by Rachel Held Evans with Jeff Chu

Wholehearted Faith

Rachel Held Evans had been working on this book prior to her untimely death in 2019 following an allergic reaction to medication for an infection. Her good friend and author Jeff Chu took her notes and finished the book. It’s a beautiful collection of spiritual essays and reflects Rachel’s love for Jesus and God’s grace.

“Before we do anything wrong and before we do anything right, God has named and claimed us as God’s own.”

6. Cultish
The Language of Fanaticism
by Amanda Montell


How do people fall into cults? Amanda Montell has done her research into all things cultish and writes about it with clear and disturbing details, from cults like Heaven’s Gate to the modern MLM (multilevel marketing) organizations.

“Language is a leader’s charisma. It’s what empowers them to create a mini universe—a system of values and truths—and then compel their followers to heed its rules.”


7. State of Terror
by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

State of Terror

This thriller centers on Ellen Adams, the new secretary of state, and a dangerous nuclear physicist with big plans for nuclear bombs, beginning with bus bombs. Interesting, fast-moving, and well-written. I totally enjoyed it.

Reading Now

  • Permission to Feel
    Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive
    by Marc Brackett
  • The Expectation Effect
    How Your Mindset Can Change Your World
    by David Robson
  • Love Letters to God
    Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer
    by Lynn Morrissey
  • The Five Wounds
    by Kirstin Valdez Quade
  • The Storytelling Code
    10 Simple Rules to Shape and Tell a Brilliant Story
    by Dana Norris
  • All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep
    Hope—And Hard Pills to Swallow—About Fighting for Black Lives
    by Andre Henry
  • Fall in Love, Have Children, Stay Put, Save the Planet, Be Happy
    by Frank Schaeffer

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

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

12 thoughts on “7 Books I Recommend—February 2022

  1. Deborah Rutherford

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the recommendations. I just finished “Blue Sky” by James Barnett – such a sweet book. And before that “Transforming Your Thought Life” by Sarah Geringer – very inspirational and helpful.

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    I always so much appreciate your reading list and especially brief reviews. It’s so helpful as I add to my reading fodder. (I will not credit you to Michael who is trying to deter my book habit. “How many words can you read?” asks he. “They’re all the same, just mixed up in different ways)”!

    What does Mike know?!

    And imagine my shock to see one of the tomes I’ve written among your “currently reading” list. How sweet of you to do that, Lisa! The book is getting rare as hen’s teeth, b/c it was published in 2004. But how gracious of you to list it.

    Happy reading, Lisa, my favorite bibliophile!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m so enjoying your book, Lynn! Hearing your stories and God’s faithfulness have been encouraging me as I read each day.

      Mike does have a point…just words mixed up in different ways! lol.

  3. JeanWise

    I am slowly moving through Atlas of the Heart and learning the language of emotions. Love how she titled this book too. Thanks for your list. I always find good to read!

  4. ~ linda

    Oh Lisa, I am one chapter from the end of “Jesus & John Wayne…” and the pain level is horrific. I am angry and sad to read this book, but am grateful to have read it. I wanted to know this even though I did not! I followed the likes of James Dobson and Focus on the Family for years and feel so disappointed in groups and people such as this. But in this reading, I have become far more aware of what I did not understand and what has possibly happened to so many of my friends. Oh God, help us all and guide those who have gone so far off the path, who have infiltrated and steered so many astray…I do believe. Thanks for recommending this book to me, Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We could have a long conversation about Jesus and John Wayne! 🙂 It affected me the same as you: angry and sad, yet grateful to have read it. Sigh. It makes me concerned about what’s next. I pray it’s a course-correction for all of us to reset and reexamine our lives to see if we’re truly reflecting Jesus or not.

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