Books I recommend – July 2015


I read some fantastic books this month. I especially recommend these first three.

1. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
And Other Lessons from the Crematory
by Caitlin Doughty


my review here

This one may seem a little weird, but author and mortician Caitlin Doughty does a superb job in showing us behind the scenes of the death industry. Parts of it were a little gory, I’ll admit, but overall, it’s an insightful book about how our culture tries to avoid death as much as possible instead of dealing with it in a healthier way. You’ll likely come away rethinking some thoughts on death.

2. Some of My Best Friends are Black
The Strange Story of Integration in America
by Tanner Colby

Some of My Best Friends Are Black

Another five-star book. Just when you think you understand some of the why behind our current racial tension, this book reveals even more. Colby pulls you into four stories about race in our school systems, neighborhoods, employment, and churches. Now what will we do about it?

3. Unoffendable
How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better
by Brant Hansen


my book review

This book is a game-changer. I don’t consider myself an angry person. But after reading this book, I notice I’m still too touchy about certain things people say or do. That’s only one aspect of the book; there are several. Most all of us would benefit by identifying individual areas that need work in becoming more unoffendable.

4. To Sell Is Human
The Surprising Truth about Moving Others
by Daniel H. Pink

To Sell Is Human

This isn’t about being a salesman, per se. But it is about understanding other people’s perspectives, how to be clearer conveying your own message, learning to be more empathetic, etc. I love Pink’s writing style: straight-forward with lots of examples and tips. An excellent book.

5. True Community
The Biblical Practice of Koinonia
by Jerry Bridges

True Community

You can’t go wrong reading a Jerry Bridges’ book. Another winner. This one is about sharing a common life (koinonia) of fellowship with believers, “a life that we share with God the Father and God the Son. It is a relationship, not an activity.” Bridges gets practical in this one (and it’s not just about potlucks, although those are good too!).

6. The Untethered Soul
The Journey Beyond Yourself
by Michael A. Singer


Our minds never shut up. They talk to us constantly (“You’ve been locked in there with a maniac”). This book helps you listen and change the conversation through spiritual practices. I took tons of notes. A great companion book for my One Word 2015: Now.

“You will get to a point in your growth where you understand that if you protect yourself, you will never be free. . . . Real spiritual growth happens when there is only one of you inside. There’s not a part that’s scared and another part that’s protecting the part that’s scared. All parts are unified.”

7. The Wish Giver
Three Tales of Coven Tree
by Bill Brittain


This Newbery honor award novel (my pick from the 1980s winners) reminds us to be careful what we ask for. Four people buy a card that’s good for any wish they want. As the novel progresses, you quickly see from their disasters that what we think we want and what we actually want aren’t always the same things. A cute and insightful story for both kids and adults.


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


I already know this one is going to be an eye-opener. Stedman is an atheist who seeks to politely respect religious diversity instead of attack it.

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


This is about why the strong don’t always win. Gladwell is a master at weaving in real-life stories to make his point. Interesting so far.

10. The Question that Never Goes Away
by Philip Yancey


Yancey never backs away from the hard questions. In this book he addresses anew how we are to deal with the bad things in the world and yet keep our faith in a good God.

11. Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy


I’m still reading. It’s still good. But I’m not even halfway yet, so I’ll drop this off my post the next few months until I’m finished.

12. Diary of a Jackwagon
by Tim Hawkins


If you’re already a fan of Tim Hawkins’ stand-up comedy, you’ll love this book. It’s laugh-out-loud funny. Probably because we can relate:

“When I was first married, I thought all we needed was two pillows on the bed. Obviously, that is not nearly enough. I was shooting way too low. I suppose I was thinking like a human instead of thinking like a woman. But I adjusted and listened to her unspoken needs. Now, we have exactly thirty-seven pillows on our bed and she couldn’t be happier. We don’t even need a mattress anymore. We just have pillows stacked four deep creeping toward the center from the four corners of the box springs.”

* * *

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

What are you reading this month? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

24 thoughts on “Books I recommend – July 2015

  1. Linda Stoll

    Oh … Yancey! He goes there, to all the questions we wrestle with, the stumbling blocks to faith, the challenges that so easily trip us up.

    Love his style, his heart, his wisdom … so glad you’ve shared him with us!

  2. Bill (cycleguy)

    I don’t have a nightstand since a bed is made to sleep in and…well…you know. But I do have a list of books I have crying out for me to read: Unoffendable (thanks to your recommendation) is being read. Openness Unhindered by Rosaria Champagne Buitterfield (a former lesbian). The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick. (The ED Marriage was excellent). Proof by Montgomery and Jones. What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality by DeYoung. My book at home is on Titanic from the survivor’s eyes (not correct title).

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m about 70 pages into Faithiest now, and he’s really laying it all bare about his journey. Already lots of twists and turns, and he’s still a teenager at this point in the story.

  3. Barbara H.

    I’ve seen a few video clips of Tim Hawkins and follow him on Facebook. I didn’t know he had written a book – must look into that!

    I dropped Pioneer Girl off my list for now, too. I started it but haven’t gotten back to it, though I want to. The main problem is it’s big and doesn’t fit in the places I normally read, so I only get to it when I think to go get it off the bookshelf. I’ll be interested in your thoughts on AK.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think you’d like Tim Hawkin’s book. I love clean comedy. Some of the material in the book has been familiar–I’ve either seen it on YouTube videos or live–but lots of it is new to me. But even the repeat stuff is funny. I need books like this to balance me back out from the heavier stuff. ha.

      Anna Karenina seems like it’s taking forever. I probably need to stop going to the library for a few weeks and just concentrate on it for awhile so I can feel better about my progress. 🙂 It is an enjoyable story.

  4. bekahcubed

    A book about the death industry? I suppose that is a little weird – but I’ll definitely be looking it up. I enjoyed Mary Roach’s Stiff, and this sounds like something along those lines.

    Jerry Bridges is always an excellent read – I just wish my library stocked more by him (my budget for buying is pretty limited.)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m not sure what initially attracted me to a book about the death industry. ha. But it was a fascinating read. And a library book, so nothing lost even if it hadn’t been good.

      I got the Jerry Bridges’ book free on my Kindle awhile back; just now got around to reading it this month. I do love free books most of all. 🙂 My library stocks very little of his stuff too, unfortunately. I still haven’t read his Respectable Sins and I do want to.

  5. melody

    What a great diverse book list. The one on death interests me as we attend a lot of funerals as a pastors family. There’s so much about that side of things that I don’t know or understand. Love Yancey but haven’t read the book you reviewed here. I look forward to getting back into reading and you’ve given me some great suggestions to consider.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Melody, if you attend a lot of funerals, this book would probably be of interest to you on several levels (but not all). There were paragraphs occasionally about things I did NOT want to know. ha.

  6. Jennifer Dougan

    Hi Lisa,

    I always enjoy peeking over people’s shoulders to see what they are reading, or scanning their tables from afar in a coffee shop. Thanks for making that easy today. 🙂
    Neat to see what you were reading and making notes of a few. Have you read “Black Like Me” by John H Griffin? Powerful classic.

    Have a nice week,
    Jennifer Dougan

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love doing that too, Jennifer! Sometimes I feel nosy. 🙂 But I’m always so interested in what books people pick up, or what books are on their bookshelves in their homes.

      No, I have never read “Black like Me” but it’s time I did. I’ll add it to my list. Thanks!

  7. floyd

    Hey! I actually read one on your list already! D and G by Gladwell. I think this is a first…

    I’m stuck in the middle of a few of them, same as last time. But! I did read one book that I picked up by chance in the Austin airport on business. It’s by Dikkon Eberhart and it’s titled “Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came To Dinner, And The Greatest Story Ever Told”. I couldn’t put that book down and even though I picked it up at a secular site, it is the story of this man’s coming to know Christ. I think it’s gonna be a smash. I can’t remember when I read a book so interesting and moving.

    I’ve come to realize that I’m kinda picky…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What kind of a title is that? One that grabs our attention. ha. So of course I’m having to get the Kindle sample right now. Thanks, Floyd. 🙂

      Being picky is a good thing; be thankful for it. I struggle with not being picky enough. It usually takes a lot for me to finally decide to put down a book that is a waste of time.

  8. Deanna

    I already have Unoffendable and True Community on my to-read list and now I am going to add Untethered Soul. I need a book that will give me a good laugh and I like Tim Hawkins humor so Diary of a Jackwagon is also going on my list.

    I enjoy your posts, your tastes seem to agree with mine so I like seeing what your reading, but my to-read list is growing faster than I can read. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know; I need to read more books that make me laugh as much as this Tim Hawkins’ book. He’s a funny man.

      Let me know what you think of those if you do get around to reading them. If you’re like me, your reading list far exceeds the amount of time you actually have left in your life to read them. 🙂

  9. Beverley

    Interesting suggestions as usual, Lisa! Every time i have read a Malcolm Gladwell book i have got half way through and found he has run out of ideas and begins to repeat himself, which ends up being a little tedious.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Interesting note about Malcolm Gladwell. I’ll watch for that in this book. I often think books should be cut in half; sometimes you get the feeling that authors have to continue to write long after the material has run out, just to fill up pages.

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