8 Books I Recommend – January 2017

Each month we share what we’ve been reading at Jennifer’s. Here are 6 non-fiction books and 2 novels that I recommend from what I finished in January.



1. Stalling for Time
My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator
by Gary Noesner


A fascinating book! Noesner was an FBI hostage negotiator for years, and shares story after story of his cases. (The book is also very well-written, a huge plus for a memoir that’s not by a professional author.)

[my book review of Stalling for Time]

2. Reading Your Life’s Story
An Invitation to Spiritual Mentoring
by Keith R. Anderson


While this book is about spiritual mentoring, it’s also about just learning how to have more spiritual conversations with each other, a “holy task with a sacred purpose.”

[my book review of Reading Your Life’s Story]

3. Fervent
A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer
by Priscilla Shirer


Don’t just talk about praying, pray. If you want to get more excited to pray, Priscilla Shirer will fire you up. Her real-life stories and Bible scriptures are motivating. She breaks up the book into different prayer strategies to guard against our weak spots.

4. Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing
by Jamie Holmes


Not only does it matter what we know, it also matters how we deal with what we do not know. Uncertainty makes us anxious, but our methods to counteract it (sticking with the first answer; making up stories in our minds; premature decision-making; etc.) often make things worse. This was a very interesting book about making peace with not having closure on everything.

“In an increasingly complex, unpredictable world, what matters most isn’t IQ, willpower, or confidence in what we know. It’s how we deal with what we don’t understand.”

5. Wherever You Go, There You Are
by Jon Kabat-Zinn


This isn’t my favorite book on meditation, but it’s a good one (and it’s time-tested since 1994).

“People think of meditation as some kind of special activity, but this is not exactly correct. Meditation is simplicity itself. As a joke, we sometimes say, ‘Don’t just do something, sit there.’ But meditation is not just about sitting, either. It is about stopping and being present, that is all.”

6. The Organized Mind
Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

by Daniel J. Levitin


Another fascinating book! So far it’ll make my Top 10 Favorite Books list at the end of the year. We often feel overwhelmed with the increasing amount of information that floods us every day. Levitin uses the latest neuroscientific research to show us what works in managing our homes, time, and energy, including this principle:

“The most fundamental principle of organization, the one that is most critical to keeping us from forgetting or losing things, is this: Shift the burden of organizing from our brains to the external world.”


7. Still Life
(Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)
by Louise Penny


This is my first Louise Penny novel (also her first), and I’ll read more (there are twelve Gamache novels so far). This murder mystery was skimpy on violence (I have a low tolerance), yet heavy on motive and details.

I like what her author site says about her books:

“My books are about terror. That brooding terror curled deep down inside us. But more than that, more than murder, more than all the rancid emotions and actions, my books are about goodness. And kindness. About choices. About friendship and belonging. And love. Enduring love.

If you take only one thing away from any of my books I’d like it to be this:

Goodness exists.”

8. All the Bright Places
by Jennifer Niven


I don’t know if this book would be good for teens with suicidal tendencies (it has triggering incidents), but I do think it would be good for their friends to read so they can better understand. It’s a young adult novel about teenagers Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meeting on the ledge of a bell tower at school, and their blossoming friendship through tough times.

[Why I ended up recommending All the Bright Places]

Reading Now

  • The Lake House
    by Kate Morton
  • Idiot Brain
    What your Head Is Really Up To
    by Dean Burnett
  • Letters to a Young Muslim
    by Omar Said Ghobash
  • Seeking the Light of God’s Comforter
    When Challenges Dim Our Hope
    by Lynn L. Severance
  • Words on the Move
    Why English Won’t—and Can’t—Sit Still (Like, Literally)
    by John McWhorter

* * *

What’s a good book you’ve recently finished? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

54 thoughts on “8 Books I Recommend – January 2017

  1. Dawn Boyer

    I am loving your book lists Lisa!! Adding more titles to my Amazon wishlist today. 🙂 However, I am adding the Words on the Move to my shopping cart because as a Latin/English Tutor this would be a fantastic resource! Thank you for putting this together!

  2. Michele Morin

    I just finished Hannah Anderson’s book on humility, and it’s wisdom is coloring the way I read other things these days.
    I always come away from your lists of books almost dizzy, looking for a common theme, and realizing that you read SO widely! Words on the Move sounds SO good!

  3. Barbara H.

    Words on the Move sounds interesting. I was just lamenting to my son the other day about certain changes in vocabulary from when I was in school – even from the time I taught them – so that dealing with the same subject, there are all new terms for the same concepts.

    I am not much into murder mysteries for the same reason. It would be interesting to see how an author brings out goodness and light in that genre.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You would probably enjoy Words on the Move as much as I did. He had so many great examples of words that “kids” use today that we didn’t use back in the day. 😉 I struggled to deter my kids from saying “like” in every sentence for the longest time, then finally just gave in.

  4. Becky Hastings

    You always have such a diverse list of books! I would love to read Fervent — I’ve never read any of her books, but she’s an amazingly inspiring speaker.

    I’ve never read any of Penny’s books either. I’ve heard a lot of people mention them…may have to check them out! (And yes, I’d have to start with book 1)

  5. Jeanne Takenaka

    Lisa, you must be a prolific reader! I loved reading about the books you recommended for this month. I definitely want to check out a couple of them. All The Bright Places is one I’m interested in. Suicide has been a frequent topic of conversation in our community because a number of teens have taken their lives. It breaks my heart.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    I’m your neighbor at Holly’s place today. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I do love to read, Jeanne. I always have a book near me. I’m sorry that your community has had so many suicides. 🙁 It is definitely at epic numbers and I pray that we will be able to do something to halt it soon. Praying for you all!

  6. Trudy

    Again I am so amazed at what an extensive reader you are, Lisa. 🙂 I finished June Caedmon’s No Tomorrow and am nearly finished with Beth Moore’s The Undoing of Saint Silvanus. I love them both!

  7. Lesley

    I’m always amazed by how many books you manage to read. Thanks for sharing this selection. Fervent was one of my favourites of last year and I think Nonsense: The Power Of Not Knowing sounds interesting.
    A book I have enjoyed recently is She Reads Truth by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for sharing about She Reads Truth. I’ve seen that pop up here and there but haven’t heard anybody personally talk about it so it’s good to hear your recommendation.

  8. Kathryn Trask

    Some great sounding books and I like those non-fiction recommendations. I’ll be checking a few of them out for more info as they sound interesting. Good to hear you liked the Louise Penny. While I don’t read a lot of mystery I have seen a lot of bloggers enjoying her books.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I don’t read much mystery either, but Louise Penny I can handle. 🙂 I’ll likely try the second book in this series and see if I enjoy it as much as the first (as long as there is no gore; I’m too wimpy to read/watch that kind of stuff).

  9. Lisa Appelo

    Wow….8 books! I’d love to plug through more of my books like that. 🙂 I’m slowly reading Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy and am reading quickly So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newton. Next up is Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior. Happy to be your neighbor today at #RaRa Linkup!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes slow and steady is a great way to read too, Lisa. There are certain books that I’ll take a whole year to read. Others, I plow right through as quickly as possible. ha. Your recommendations sound tempting! Thanks for sharing.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I need all the help I can get too, Dianna. I’m always drawn to books like this. And although The Organized Mind wasn’t exactly a how-to book, there are definitely ideas we can learn from it.

  10. Karen Grosz

    Stalling for Time is going on my TBR list. I have read Fervent and thought it was inspiring. Have you read Dark Matters by Blake Crouch. It makes you really think about life and dimenions.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      No, I haven’t read Dark Matters, so I just got the Kindle sample sent to me. 🙂 It sounds so familiar though…I wonder if my husband listened to it on audiobook. Stalling for Time was absolutely fascinating to me! I saw it mentioned in another book and I followed the reference, and lo and behold, my library had a copy. I love when that happens.

          1. Karen Grosz

            Just finished Stalling for Time. I enjoyed it. I had fun remembering some of the crises that happened during my life. I enjoyed his philosophy as well. Sometimes the names and titles all jumbled together, but definitely worth reading. Thanks for the recommendation.

          2. LisaNotes Post author

            Oh, yay! I appreciate you getting back to me about it, Karen. Yes, I couldn’t keep the names and and titles straight either. 🙂 But thankfully there’s no test on it! ha. Glad you enjoyed this book, too. I still think about it when I hear of new prison riots or different situations in the news and wonder what the negotiators are doing behind the scenes.

  11. Barrie

    Oh, Nonsense seems like what my day-job as a college librarian is like- when people start their research, I say, “tell me what you know.” Then I ask, “now what do we WANT to know, that we don’t know YET?” and we come up with a list of all the things that we want to know, and we research them. This book seems like a total fit with that thinking- I bet I would love it!
    These are such a great bunch of books that you read- lots of learning and big thinking going on, so it’s fun to read “Still Life”- one of my faves! I am mid-series, but due for another~

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What a wonderful job to be a college librarian! Not only to be around all those books, but to also be such a resource for college-age kids. I’m sure you are such a blessing, Barrie. Yes, you would probably love Nonsense, too! It was a great read for me, and helps me a little further in accepting that I’ll never know everything, and that’s okay. 🙂

  12. bekahcubed

    You’ve got me adding three books to my TBR today (in part because I was too lazy to physically add them when I read your comments on them earlier!) Stalling for Time is unfortunately not at my library – so I’m unlikely to get to it 🙁 unless I can convince them to acquire it. Nonsense is at my chosen branch (which happens to be the branch I’m trying to ready in its entirety), so I’m more likely to get to it. And The Organized Mind is at another branch – but I think I’m going to request it anyway. I’m a thought-collector and have found organizing my thoughts to be one of my most difficult tasks 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think all three of these books would be interesting to you, too, Bekah. I hope you’ll be able to get them all, but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. 🙂 Stalling for Time is likely to be the oldest among the three (I can’t remember all their publication dates) so if your library doesn’t have it already, it’s likely not on the way. 🙁

  13. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I loved Still Life…and also the second book in the series. I want to read more!

    The Lake House was a wonderful read, too.

    Enjoy February, and thanks for sharing your reading. Also…thanks for visiting my blog.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I can’t recommend Stalling for Time enough. I want to get my husband to read it next, although I’ve probably spoiled all the stories for him; I couldn’t help but tell him about them as I was reading. ha.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Well, I don’t know if I want to encourage you to read more or just keep on writing so that we will have another book to read—from you—sooner rather than later. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Simplify sounds like a wonderful book, Ginger. I’ve subscribed to a couple of new podcasts this year about minimalism and about organization. But it all starts with the soul!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m 2/3 of the way into Idiot Brain—it’s very good but can be a little technical at times (I’m not reading it for that, ha, but it is about the brain after all!). I finished Words on the Move and it is SO delightful. I hope to share more about it in a blog post soon. It’s relevant in many ways.

  14. Beverley

    I don’t know where you find time to read so many books in one month. I read 3-4 on a good month. Not sure what i do with the rest of my time? Spend it reading other people’s blogs, maybe 😉

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      My husband laughs because I often read while I’m folding clothes or cooking supper. I know that multi-tasking isn’t the optimal way to do things, but it makes mundane tasks more fun (albeit slower) if I can do them with one hand while my other hand (and brain) is with a book.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Fervent will be worth your time, Beth. And it reads quickly too. I hope to read a second Louise Penny book sometimes, but there are so many others on my list also! You know how that is. 🙂

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