10 Books I Recommend + Video – January 2019

Here are 6 non-fiction books and 4 novels I recommend from what I finished reading this and last months, including a 1-minute video review of a favorite.

Here are 10 books I recommend from what I finished reading this month.

Books I Recommend


1. The Ministry of Ordinary Places
Waking Up to God’s Goodness Around You
by Shannan Martin

[click here if you can’t see 1-Minute Video Review]

The Ministry of Ordinary Places

If you doubt your “small” ministry of ordinary things is relevant, this book is a wake-up call. Shannan Martin stresses how important the ordinary things are. She gives tons of examples from her own life to get you motivated.

[My book review of The Ministry of Ordinary Places]

2. The Bible Tells Me So
Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It
by Peter Enns

The Bible Tells Me So

This book will make my top 10 of 2019, I’m sure. Peter Enns has a witty way of shaking up our thoughts about why we believe what we do, and energizing us to think differently where needed. He is a Bible scholar who isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions about the Bible and faith.

3. Good and Mad
The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger
by Rebecca Traister

Good and Mad

Once upon a time, it was acceptable for men to get angry but not women. But that is changing. Rebecca Traister explains why it’s not only acceptable, but also healthy for women to be angry about injustices we see.

4. Resist and Persist
Faith and the Fight for Equality
by Erin Wathen

Resist and Persist

Along the same lines, but from a Christ-centered perspective, Erin Wathen explains how we all (both women and men) need to step it up in engaging culture on issues of inequality. She explains why the church should be the epicenter of dignity and justice.

[My book review of Resist and Persist]

5. 40 Days of Christmas
Celebrating the Glory of Our Savior
by Joseph Castleberry

40 Days of Christmas

I read this engaging devotional during the 40 days of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. I’ll return to it again in future Christmas seasons because it is short, gospel-centered, and thought-provoking.

6. Remember Death
The Surprising Path to Living Hope
by Matthew McCullough

Remember Death

Why are we so scared of death in this era of information and enlightenment? And even among saved believers? Matthew McCullough walks through reason after reason (or excuse after excuse) of why we fear death instead of embracing it as a reason to hope.

[My book review of Remember Death]


7. The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone

When her Vietnam veteran father decides to move the family to Alaska in 1974, teenage Leni isn’t thrilled about it. But as the story unfolds, we see both the challenges and beauty of the move in a riveting life and death drama of family dynamics. Kristin Hannah really knows how to tell a good story. I loved this one.

8. The Street Lawyer
by John Grisham


Michael Brock is a lawyer for a prestigious D.C. firm when a homeless man breaks into the office and changes his life forever. This novel is a winner on several levels: entertaining read, interesting plot, social justice. I listened to it on audio and loved it.

9. Never Let Me Go
by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go

This is a strange novel about children who grew up in an exclusive boarding school in England. Something mysterious is going on, and you only find out about it as the characters begin to understand it themselves. I enjoyed the suspense and relationships involved.

10. Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies

Madeline, Celeste, and Jane are three mothers of kindergarten students at a school in Australia. This novel highlights a year in their lives of interacting with each other and other parents at the school and outside of school. It is entertaining and light-hearted a lot of the time, but switches to some very serious issues at other times. It also contains an air of mystery which kept me wanting to read. (Disclaimer: I know nothing about the TV series.)


  • I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening)
    A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations
    by Sarah Stewart Holland, Beth A Silvers
  • The Universal Christ
    How a Forgotten Reality can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe
    by Richard Rohr
  • Eternity is Now in Session
    A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught about Salvation, Eternity and Getting to the Good Place
    by John Ortberg
  • How the Bible Actually Works
    In Which I Explain How an Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather Than Answers—and Why That’s Good News
    by Peter Enns
  • The Time Is Now
    A Call to Uncommon Courage
    by Joan D. Chittister
  • Attachments
    by Rainbow Rowell
  • Shameless
    A Sexual Reformation
    by Nadia Bolz-Weber

* * *

What good book have you read this month? Please share in the comments.

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

29 thoughts on “10 Books I Recommend + Video – January 2019

  1. Laurie

    Lisa, as I scrolled through your list, I thought “I must add this book to my TBR list” for EVERY book! I finally whittles it down to 5 (#s 1,2,3,4,and 10). Thank you for your wonderful suggestions.

  2. Karen Friday

    Thank you for your list, Lisa. I’m particularly intrigued by “The Ministry of Ordinary Places.” Also, I didn’t know there was a book title, “The Bible Tells Me So.” My current blog post is on how God loves us, “I am Loved: The Bible Tells Me So.”

    I want to read more this year and now I have the inspiration. 🙂

  3. David

    I like the look of “The Ministry of Ordinary Places” (and I love your video review!) and I have put “40 Days of Christmas” on my wish list for next November.

    I have just finished reading “Francis: a life in song” by Ann Wroe. Beautiful short poems celebrating and inspired by the saint.

  4. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Always appreciate your helpful reviews, Lisa, and I will reconsider Shannon’s book. thought it was more of the “sacred ordinary” topic, and I’ve read a # of those. And btw, I love your sweet Southern drawl! Charming.

    Happy NY!

  5. bill (cycleguy)

    Hi Lisa! i took a hiatus from reading all serious books and just finished Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines and The Magnolia Story by Chip and JoAnna Gaines. Wonderful books. Chip’s sense of humor is seen in both books (my wife calls me “Chip” after we watched Fixer Upper). I’m just started Handcrafted by Clint Harp. In the office I’m reading Lies Men Believe and next up will be Holy Sexuality and the Gospel by Christopher Yuan.

  6. Linda Stoll

    Yes, The Great Alone was quite a riveting tale, wasn’t it. Powerful, intense.

    And I’m a big John Grisham fan, for sure.

    I love when you share what you’re reading, Lisa. I’m finding that a combination of both fiction and non seem to work best, so I feel like I’m in really superb company here. Always appreciating your recommendations, for sure, friend …

  7. Ginger Harrington

    Hi Lisa, I’ve been out of the blogging loop for a while and I’m so happy to visit your site again. You’ve got some great reads here. Shannon’s book definitely sounds interesting! I’ve just finished Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton. It was perfect timing for me as I was feeling exhausted after my first book launch and then overseeing two more book projects for the ministry I help lead. I love the way God can lead us to the book we need at just the right time.

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  9. Joanne Viola

    The Ministry of Ordinary Places was such a good read! Currently I am reading Unshakeable Hope by Max Lucado and re-reading Thomas A Kempis’, The Imitation of Christ. I always enjoy your reviews.

  10. Lisa Murray

    I’m excited to read “The Ministry of Ordinary Places.” It sounds exactly like what God has been speaking to me lately. Thanks for sharing – it looks like there are a lot of great reads!

  11. Rebecca Hastings

    The Ministry of Ordinary Places keeps popping up on my radar, and I loved your one minute review 🙂 I will definitely need to seek this book out!

    The Great Alone has also been recommended, but I don’t know why I’ve shied away from it. Maybe it’s the length?? LOL I know everyone loved her previous book, but it just spark any interest so I never read that one. But Maybe this one is worth a look?

    And I loved Big Little Lies. As much as I wanted to love the tv series because of the great story line and the amazing actresses, I just couldn’t 🙁

  12. Lesley

    Thanks for sharing these great recommendations. There are at least three of these that I’d love to read but I already have such a long list…
    One book I have loved this month is Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus (not me) by Kate Motaung and Shannon Popkin. So helpful for Christian writers in helping us examine our motives and make sure our focus is in the right place.

  13. Dolly at Soulstops


    Lots of interesting reads; I am always impressed with your reading list. I’m reading Boundaries for Your Soul by Allison Cook Ph.D. and Kimberly Miller, MTh, LMFT right now. I loved Hannah’s book The Nightingale (for the characters’ courage) though it had my stomach tightening as I listened on Audible.

  14. Linda S

    Such an interesting reading list – thank you!
    I’ll be looking for a copy of The Ministry of Ordinary Places – sounds intriguing.
    I’m glad you shared this week on our Encouraging Hearts & Home blog hop!

  15. Mother of 3

    I loved Big Little Lies and have been dying to see the TV series after reading the book; something tells me I won’t enjoy it as much as the book but I just love to watch and compare. Thanks so much for sharing these great suggestion with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.

  16. Laura Thomas

    What super suggestions! ? I’m currently reading (and loving) Ministry of Ordinary Places, and The Great Alone was one of my favorites I read last year! Thanks so much for sharing… stopping by from #tuneinthursday

  17. Mary Geisen

    You read some amazing books. The Great Alone is at the top of my all time favorite books. And I agree that she is a great storyteller. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is also one of my favorites. I am hearing good things about Liane Moriarty and I am hoping to read one of her books soon. Thanks for the list.

  18. Janel

    Visiting from Anita’s site which mentioned your reviews of books to read. I am always looking for good books to delve into and lately there have been a lot of nonfiction that I have been intrigued by. The problem with nonfiction for me is that I then end up reading 10 at a time. There are some good titles here. I like challenging reads and some of them look like they should be added to my TBR list. Thank you for sharing these books and the videos

  19. Barbara Harper

    I loved Kazuo Ishiguro’s remains of the Day, but I don’t know if I’d like this one. Talking a lot about my m-i-l this week, ministry in ordinary places fits her to a T. I don’t think she ever realized how much of an impact she had on people. Somehow I have never read Grisham, but I got a book of his at a library sale – looking forward to checking him out.

  20. floyd samons

    Great list. You’re my reading hero!!!

    How I long to read a book… It’s all I can do these days just to catch up reading blogs on the weekends.

    I’ve made notes from your lists… one of these days…

  21. Pam Ecrement

    Love these pics of your beautiful granddaughter!! Books I loved this month include The Louder Song by Aubrey Sampson, Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg, aKilling England by Bill O’Reilly, and Even Better Than Eden by Nancy Guthrie.

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  24. Aimee

    Big Little Lies sounds interesting. I just finished my first Liane Moriarty novel and I had mixed feelings, but the premise of this one intrigues me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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