7 Books I Recommend—July 2021

“I woke up thinking a very pleasant thought. There is lots left in the world to read.”
– Nicholson Baker

Below are books I recommend from what I finished reading in July. 

[See previously recommended books here]

Nonfiction

1. We Need to Talk
How to Have Conversations that Matter
by Celeste Headlee

we-need-to-talk

Ugh. We’ve all either had hard conversations this past year or else we’ve needed to but put them off. This book shows us how to have more productive dialogues. Headlee include five key strategies: be curious, check your bias, show respect, stay the course, and end well. I succeed in some ways, but fail miserably in others. I already need to re-read this book and I just finished it.

2. Think Again
The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
by Adam M. Grant

think-again

It’s okay to have doubts. It’s actually beneficial to have doubts. This book gives evidence that rethinking our stances is more important than we realize. And it’s a skill we can each learn to do.

“The goal is not to be wrong more often. It’s to recognize that we’re all wrong more often than we’d like to admit, and the more we deny it, the deeper the hole we dig for ourselves.”

3. Kent State
by Deborah Wiles

kent-state

Very intriguing. This book is written as an oral conversation. As you read, you hear the voices of those who were at Kent State University, May 4, 1970, when four American students were killed by National Guardsmen. This is a Young Adult book, but I learned a lot.

4. White Awake
An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White
by Daniel Hill

white-awake

Highly recommend! Sometimes we white people don’t realize there is such a thing as white culture.

“I was oblivious to what I didn’t even know. I was blind, but I didn’t know I was blind. And that’s the most dangerous blindness of all.”

If we want to be more fully aware of other cultures, we need to be more aware of our own. And how our culture affects other cultures, for good and for bad. Daniel Hill does an excellent job in laying this out for us from a moral and spiritual perspective so we can be better people to all people. 

“We have encountered race daily since the day we were born. But we’re taught to internalize white culture as normal, so we’re unaware of the profound ways race shaped us during our early years. Not until we have an interruption connected to a person of color or a confrontation with overt racism do we begin to see something outside our cultural norm.”

5. Becoming Kareem
Growing Up On and Off the Court
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

becoming-kareem

Although this is a young adult book, I found it excellent for us older folks too who actually remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar through the years. He tells about his childhood in New York City and his rise to basketball stardom. I appreciate hearing the hard choices he often had to make, and how he chose integrity.

Fiction

6. The Book of Longings
by Sue Monk Kidd 

the-book-of-longings

This is fiction; remember that. Then dive into this fascinating story of Ana, the wife of Jesus, a curious girl raised in a wealthy family. The book focuses more on Ana than Jesus, but it is rooted in many historical and biblical facts (just not the marriage part). It gives a fresh perspective of life in the times of Jesus.

7. The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig

the-midnight-library

Such an interesting premise! This novel is about a special library with an infinite number of books detailing all the different lives that one can experience. The main character Nora Seed finds herself there and must make choices. I zipped through this book. It’s also a wonderfully narrated audiobook. 

Reading Now

  • A More Christlike Word
    Reading Scripture the Emmaus Way
    by Bradley Jersak
  • How God Works
    The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion
    by David DeSteno
  • Murder Your Darlings
    And Other Gentle Writing Advice from Aristotle to Zinsser
    by Roy Peter Clark
  • Scarcity
    Why Having Too Little Means So Much
    by Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Four Thousand Weeks
    Time Management for Mortals
    by Oliver Burkeman
  • Open and Relational Theology
    An Introduction to Life-Changing Ideas
    by Thomas Jay Oord
  • If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk
    Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans
    by John Pavlovitz

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

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

28 thoughts on “7 Books I Recommend—July 2021

  1. blankJean Wise

    love your lists and can’t wait to hear about the ones on your reading now list. You inspired me to read broadly – thank you.

  2. blankMichele Morin

    I need to process The Book of Longing and then write something coherent about it. I love Kidds’s elegant prose and am pondering the big questions her speculation triggered in my mind.

  3. blankDavid

    Nice mix here! The Midnight Library reminded me of that Borges story about an infinite (or perhaps indefinitely large) library. Ironically (or not) it is on the web here.

    I am having a poetry binge. I am a big fan of John Ashbery and a posthumous book of five long poems has just been published (“Parallel Movement of the Hands”) and “Wolf Lamb Bomb” a debut collection by Aviya Kushner of poems inspired by the book of Isaiah.

  4. blankCorinne Rodrigues

    I’ve heard so much about the Midnight Library – I must read it. The other books, especially The Book of Longings are going on my TBR.
    Thanks for putting this together, Lisa. Waiting to read what you say about Murder Your Darlings.

  5. blankGretchen

    The books about conversation and thinking look very interesting and I can relate to having to start it over as soon as you finish. I just finished one in July called Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman about our words and that is exactly how I felt.

    The two young adult books look good. I like reading young adult biographies. They give enough information without being overwhelming.

    Have a good August!

  6. blankLaurel-Rain Snow

    Kent State caught my eye when I first saw it around. I was a college student when that happened, and we set up a “Strike City” in tents around the Student Union. My first big protest.

    There was something so disturbing about that event, and sadly, many things since then have also been hard to accept.

    Enjoy your week and your books, and here are my WEEKLY UPDATES

  7. blankKathryn Trask

    Those non fiction books sound really good and yes we do have to be awake to our bias, easy to say but often hard and challenging to do. I liked The Midnight Library but only read rather than listened.

  8. blankSue at Book By Book

    Oh, I really want to read Kent State – I read the first book in her civil rights series, Revolution, and it was outstanding.

    And my book group is reading The Book of Longings for September, so I;m glad to hear it’s good!

    I also enjoyed The Midnight Library, at the end of 2019.

    Hope you’re enjoying your books this week!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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