Five Books I Recommend – July 2016

Below are five books I recommend from books I read this month. Also included are short paragraphs from each.

A strong education theme runs through many of them. May it be an encouragement to all of us:

  • to continue learning,
  • continue growing,
  • and continue loving each other stronger and better.

Five Books I Recommend-July-2016-Lisanotes


1. Warriors Don’t Cry
The Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High
by Melba Pattillo Beals


My review here of Warriors Don’t Cry

This book will likely make my Top 10 list of favorite books I read this year. It’s the story of the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to integrate into a previously all-white school, told by one of those students. Written several years ago, I just now am discovering it for myself.

Black folks aren’t born expecting segregation, prepared from day one to follow its confining rules. Nobody presents you with a handbook when you’re teething and says, “Here’s how you must behave as a second-class citizen.” Instead, the humiliating expectations and traditions of segregation creep over you, slowly stealing a teaspoonful of your self-esteem each day.

2. I Am Malala
The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai


Another 5-star book. Because of the person. In Pakistan in 2012, 15-yr-old Malala refused to be silent about the closing doors of educational opportunities for girls. She was shot in the head by the Taliban. She survived and now tells her story. She is the youngest Nobel Prize recipient ever.

“Are you scared now?” I asked my father.

“At night our fear is strong, Jani,” he told me, “but in the morning, in the light, we find our courage again.” And this is true for my family. We were scared, but our fear was not as strong as our courage.

3. Success Through Stillness
Meditation Made Simple
by Russell Simmons


This book helps you see that anyone can meditate: just sit still and be quiet. I like this snow globe analogy:

“Think of your mind as like one of those snow globes you used to play with as a kid. When you’d shake them up, the snow would be everywhere and it would kind of obscure what was inside the globe. But when you just let the globe be still, eventually all the snow would settle down to the bottom and you could easily see what was inside it.”

4. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
by Frederick Douglass


This autobiography by former slave Frederick Douglass in the 1800s is short but compelling. It’s another book that will make you cry. But that’s okay. We need to remember these things actually happened. And continue to work toward a more equitable future.

But, alas! This kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon.


5. Paperboy
by Vince Vawter


This novel (Newbery Medal Honor winner, 2014) is about 11-year-old Victor in Memphis in the summer of 1959. He takes over his friend’s paper route for July. But because he stutters, he runs into problems. This (somewhat) autobiographical book moves quickly and keeps you engaged.

I used to have my own secret trick but I used a thumbtack instead of a safety pin. If I knew I was going to have to read or recite in class I would keep a thumbtack in my hand and push it into my palm when I started to talk. I kept hoping the pain would make me forget about stuttering but it never did. I decided it didn’t make much sense to keep sticking myself and I got tired of always having a bloody hand when class was over. You can’t replace one hurt with another one. You just end up with double hurts.

Reading Now

  • Running Scared
    Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest
    by Edward T. Welch
  • The Language of Flowers
    by Vanessa Diffenbaught
  • The Jesus Creed
    Loving God, Loving Others
    by Scot McKnight
  • 10 Things Jesus Never Said
    And Why You Should Stop Believing Them
    by Will Davis Jr.
  • The Happiness Dare
    by Jennifer Dukes Lee

* * *

What are you reading this month? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

Sharing at Month in Review

29 thoughts on “Five Books I Recommend – July 2016

  1. Linda Stoll

    Oh I loved The Language of Flowers. It truly was one of those novels that you completely lose yourself in. Can’t wait to read your review, Lisa.

    Thanks for the prompt to re-read. It’s a classic, for sure …

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I really needed to hear that, Linda. I’m only about 10% into The Language of Flowers and I’m having trouble connecting at all with the main character. But because of what you’ve sad, I’ll keep reading on. 🙂 I like the premise of the plot so far (even though I know it’s got a lot of sadness behind it).

  2. bekahcubed

    Looks like some good books – I’ve added the top two to my TBR list. It’s heartening to see that the Frederick Douglass book is short – I’ve had it on my list for years but haven’t read it yet because old books often intimidate me at this point in my life, where time for sustained reading (and sustained ATTENTION to what I’m reading) is scarce. Knowing that a book is short gives me more impetus to pick it up!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’ve got two wonderful little reasons to have scarce reading time these days. 🙂 Hope all is going well with your family! Yes, the brevity of the FDouglass book was a plus to me too. I wish more authors (or publishers?) today would understand that it’s an asset, not a liability, to use fewer words than too many to say what needs to be said.

  3. Barbara H.

    I hope to read Malala’s book some time. I loved Running Scared. I read (or listened to) Douglass’s book earlier this year – quite compelling, and as you said, we need to remember.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I remember you liking both Running Scared and Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, which prompted me to read both. It’s wonderful being part of a community of readers! 🙂 I value your thorough reviews. My husband started listening to Malala’s book on CD, but it was too heavy in history for him, so he didn’t stick it out. I think he would have enjoyed it more if he could have gotten past the introductory material. Anyway, I enjoyed it all, but I’m kind of weird like that. ha.

  4. Kristi Woods

    Loved, although there were a few cringes amid the page turns, the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. I’ve not read the others, but they sound intriguing. Thanks for listing and sharing them, Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, definitely some cringes with me too as I read about Mr. Douglass’s experiences. It’s just so incredibly sad to see how cruel we are capable of treating each other. 🙁 But there by the grace of God go I….

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think you would like Warriors Don’t Cry, too. It’s history but it reads so smoothly like a novel. I wish it HAD been fiction. 🙁 So sad to think these things actually happened.

  5. Bill (cycleguy)

    I’m not sure what I have said in the past month or so but my reading has slowed down some with the summer. I am reading Life as a Sport and The Champion’s Mind (both at home). I’m also reading “Gospel Treason” which is about idols in our lives. My next book will be When Trouble Comes by Ryken. To justify by lack of reading: I did work about 30 hours on a 1000 piece puzzle for my brother and his wife of one of their favorite places in Italy. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      My reading has slowed down this summer too. That’s okay; it just means we’re doing other things, right? 🙂 Oh, to do a 1000-piece puzzle! I love puzzles. We used to do one together as a family (well, mainly just me, honestly) over the Christmas holidays when the girls were younger but now I have to wear glasses to see the pieces and it takes the fun out of it a little bit. 😉 But this year I must get one anyway. Your reading list sounds great, Bill. I look forward to hearing more about those books.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Me, too, Susan. I downloaded “10 Things Jesus Never Said” as a free Kindle book awhile back, not knowing anything about it. I’ve just read the first chapter on what he didn’t say: “You’re too far gone to be saved.”

  6. Ginger Harrington

    What an interesting list of books you’re reading. I loved the snow globe analogy for meditation. I enjoy clear, visual illustrations like that. You are motivating me to be more intentional about reading. I get so bogged down wanting to take notes and such that I don’t get through as many books as I’d like.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      But there’s a lot of value in slow reading too, Ginger. I’m guessing you’re doing exactly what’s right for you. I usually have at least one book going that I intentionally read slowly so I won’t miss a thing. I loved that snow globe analogy too—visuals speak loudly to me. 🙂

  7. Dolly@Soulstops

    I always appreciate your lists. And yes, those hard reads but yet we must honor the truth and the experiences of those who went through them.

    I finished the novel, The Light Between The Oceans. Nonfiction: Rising Strong by Brene Brown. Reading How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. I am also reading Flannery O’ Connor’s Manners and Mystery. All I can recall for now…

    Blessings to you,

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like how you phrase that, Dolly: “we must honor the truth and the experiences of those who went through them.” I couldn’t agree with you more. If I think it’s hard to read, I can’t imagine how difficult it was to live through. 🙁

      I loved Rising Strong by Brene Brown. Well, I’ve loved all her books I’d read so far. Hope you enjoy it too!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The stillness book will be a quick read for an expert like you, Jean. There isn’t a lot of new information in it, but sometimes just hearing affirmation of what we already know can also be encouraging. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love hearing Malala speak, too. I watched a documentary on TV about her during July, and it helped me “hear” her voice in my head as I read. Such courage from one so young!

  8. Kym

    I keep meaning to read Frederick Douglass, and keep putting it off. Would also like to read I Am Malala, and Paperboy looks good too. Great reading list and recommendations!

  9. floyd

    The first and last ones piqued my interest. I’m gonna keep a look out for them, they sound good. Thanks for the suggestions, oh rapid reading one.

    Not reading anything this month. Just finished a manuscript that I started four and a half years ago… and now I’m like a zombie. Not the scary part, just the glazed eyes and drooling part.

  10. Kathryn Trask

    The shared paragraph from Warriors Don’t Cry just makes my heart squeeze, so sad. I now want to read Paperboy and just might seek it out. Thanks for sharing all these great reads from July.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I can easily recommend both Warriors Don’t Cry and Paperboy. In a way they share a similar theme of struggle and standing out as “different.” May we all learn to better respect and honor our differences. Hope you enjoy these books if you get around to them, Kathryn!

  11. Ashley Davis

    Loosening Your Grip: Letting Go and Living in True Security by Harold Shank. So far, a great book!
    Just finished Spiritual Equipping for Mission: Thriving as God’s Message Bearers by Ryan Shaw. Really enjoyed this book. Great tips even for those who aren’t doing mission work.

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