8 Books I Recommend—July 2020

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
– Haruki Murakami

Sometimes it’s fun to read what everyone else is reading.

But other times? Make your own path. Read your niche books. Find a topic that interests you and dive in, whether anyone else is or not.

I like to do a little of both.

Thankfully, many people are reading similar books right now on anti-racism. (Although it makes for a longer wait on my library’s hold list.) I have snagged a few copies—either bought or borrowed—of some informative and helpful books on race this month. I finished three (reviewed below) and am currently reading three others on race.

Here are 8 books I recommend from July. See all my recommended books here.

8 Books I Recommend July 2020_pin

Nonfiction

1. Me and White Supremacy
Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
by Layla F. Saad

Me and White Supremacy_sm

This excellent book was first an Instagram challenge, #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, 28 days to uncover white supremacy and start dismantling it. Author Layla Saad turned the challenge into a book after its widespread popularity. I’m glad she did. It helps us see things we need to see so we can make changes we need to make so white people can stop hurting (even if unintentionally) people of color. Topics include tone policing, white apathy, white centering, color blindness, cultural appropriation, and more.

“Continue to show up, even when you are called out, you feel discomfort or fatigue, or you are not rewarded for it (socially or financially).

Antiracism is not about perfectionism. It is about the intention to help create change, to keep learning, keep showing up, and keep doing what is necessary so that BIPOC can live with dignity and equality.”

2. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
by Reni Eddo-Lodge

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People_sm

(But thankfully, she still is.) This began as a blog post in 2014 about racism in Britain. But Reni Eddo-Lodge discovered she’d touched a nerve with it. So she continues to talk about race in this informative book. (The principles are applicable to everybody, but the history section is mainly about the British.)

One of her messages is this:

“White people, you need to talk to other white people about race. Yes, you may be written off as a radical, but you have much less to lose. Talk to other white people who trust you. Talk to white people in the areas of your life where you have influence. If you feel burdened by your unearned privilege, try to use it for something, and use it where it counts.”

3. So You Want to Talk About Race
by Ijeoma Oluo

So You Want to Talk About Race_sm

Many digital libraries are offering this as an audiobook to all right now. I listened and was glad I did. Ijeoma Oluo shares personal stories and touching insights to help us all think more clearly about racial injustices and act more humanely.

“1. It is about race if a person of color thinks it is about race.
2. It is about race if it disproportionately or differently affects people of color.
3. It is about race if it fits into a broader pattern of events that disproportionately or differently affect people of color.”

4. Holy Envy
Finding God in the Faith of Others
by Barbara Brown Taylor

Holy Envy_sm

One of my favorite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor, chronicles her journey of teaching a college course on different world religions and what can be gained from each. She writes beautifully and open-mindedly. And even despite having “holy envy” over the beautiful truths found in other religions (every religion has some basic things in common), she still remains rooted in her own faith of Christianity. 

“However many other religious languages I learn, I dream in Christian. However much I learn from other spiritual teachers, it is Jesus I come home to at night.”

5. The Stoic Challenge
A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient
by William B. Irvine

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Why do some people work through obstacles while the same obstacles may devastate other people? William Irvine says it might be because they behave like the ancient Stoics. This is an interesting book for alternate ways to view setbacks.

“When you add up the costs imposed on you by being set back, you will often find that the biggest cost by far is the emotional distress a setback triggers.”

“When the number of options available is limited, it is foolish to fuss and fret. We should instead simply choose the best of them and get on with life.”

6. When Things Fall Apart
Heart Advice for Difficult Times
by Pema Chödrön

When Things Fall Apart_sm

Since 2020 seems to falling apart, the title drew me into this older Pema Chödrön book taken from her talks between 1987 and 1994. It’s a helpful book to live in the moment and deal with life as it comes. 

“The main point is that we all need to be reminded and encouraged to relax with whatever arises and bring whatever we encounter to the path.”

“We can aspire to be kind right in the moment, to relax and open our heart and mind to what is in front of us right in the moment. Now is the time.”

7. Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire
The Guide to Being Glorious You
by Jen Hatmaker

Fierce Free and Full of Fire_sm

Jen Hatmaker tells is to us straight: be all God created you to be, no holds barred. This book is your own personal pep rally to follow God’s path for your life, and to enjoy others around you as you go. Very encouraging.

“We must show up truthfully, because it is in the diversity of our souls this world receives all it needs. We do not need you to be like your neighbor; we already have her. We need you, not for what you do but who you are. Please be her.”

Fiction

8. All the Missing Girls
by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls_sm

This mystery is about two women who disappear, and the woman Nic Farrell who needs to figure out why. It’s a novel told in reverse, from Day 15 to Day 1, which is NOT my favorite style to read. But the plot is interesting so it is worth the extra mental work this time.

Reading Now

  • Be the Bridge 
    Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation
    by LaTasha Morrison
  • Stamped from the Beginning
    The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
    by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Color of Compromise
    The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
    by Jemar Tisby
  • Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints
    by Daneen Akers
  • A Way with Words
    Using Our Online Conversations for Good
    by Daniel Darling
  • The Giver of Stars
    by Jojo Moyes

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

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

sharing with Modern Mrs. Darcy

17 thoughts on “8 Books I Recommend—July 2020

  1. blankbill (cycleguy)

    I’ve already told you about reading “I’ve Seen the End of You” by Dr. Lee Warren. I just finished his previous book on his time in Iraq called “No Place to Hide.” I review it tomorrow on my blog. I also just finished Glynn Young’s newest “Dancing Prince” (fiction) and will review it Wednesday. Wonderful book!! I also read “Out of the Blue” about Greg Murtha’s battle and eventual loss to cancer. Fantastic book! I’m getting ready to read Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and Becoming a King by Morgan Snyder (Wild at Heart).

  2. blankBeth

    I’m following the same book journey as you but in a different order. So I just finished reading and discussion Stamped From the Beginning and I’m now joining a group reading Me and White Supremacy.

    Have a good reading week!

  3. blankLaurie C

    Great list and good reasons to read them all! My favorite most recent reads were Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, and The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory (the last was on audio).

  4. blankElena Wiggins

    I am looking forward to your thoughts on The Giver of Stars and The Color Compromise! I enjoyed both! I really want to read So You Want to Talk About Race soon. Thank you for posting the quotes with each of those books. They seem like fascinating and insightful books to get me thinking and talking about race.

  5. blankLinda Stoll

    Good morning, Lisa! Your reading lists always inspire … your interest in different genres is a good nudge for me as I seem to stay with one kind of reading for awhile and then veer off to something different.

    And yes, please to The Giver of Stars. And I appreciated your take on Holy Envy. I finished that book with more questions than answers. Your words helped clarify the this beloved author’s intent and content.

  6. blankAnita Ojeda

    These all look really good—especially the ones about race. I love the advice that we need to talk to our white friends about race. It’s not easy to do, because so many are completely blind to the fact that they spew racist vitriol 😢.

  7. blankJean Wise

    You DO read such a variety of books, I always come away from your lists with a new find. Did you see Barbara Brown Taylor has a new book coming out in October? YIPPEE>

  8. blankKaren Friday

    As always, Lisa, you have inspired me with titles I was unaware of. These all look really interesting. Here’s something I learned recently from bloggers and their articles on the race topic that I didn’t know. White, entitled women are called “Karens.” I wish they had picked a different name, but I want to remain aware of any hidden things in myself that aren’t biblically sound. If nothing else, it made me evaluate my own heart.

  9. blank~ linda

    I am your next-door-neighbor at a link-up today so here I am and on my favorite subject: books! You always have such a great collection. I am reading fiction right now: “Before We Were Yours.” I have on my TBR list right now “The New Jim Crow,” “On Tyranny,” “The Color of Law,” and “The Yearling.” But now you have given me some more to ponder. Yes, race is so important to talk about and also so very difficult with our own white race, especially those of us living in the South. From the looks of things around the nation, it is not just the South though. Will your daughter be heading back to school soon in the classroom?

  10. blankLaura Thomas

    Some excellent book recommendations there, Lisa—thank you! A couple of reading highlights for me in July were John Grisham’s latest Camino Winds and Beth Moore’s fantastic Chasing Vines. 🤓 Stopping by from #graceandtruthlinkup

  11. blankDanielle Hammelef

    Sometimes I really enjoy reading books others are also, just like Nicole and Shannon offer each month–it’s fun to talk books with friends. I like to mix up my reading and also find new authors and debut authors. Thank you for the recommendations, especially the nonfiction ones.

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