5 Books I Recommend – March 2017


Here are five books I recommend from what I finished reading in March. Each month we share what we’ve been reading at Jennifer’s.

1. Grit
The Power of Passion and Perseverance
by Angela Duckworth


This is a powerful book about sticking with it. Grit is often a better predictor of success than skill or personality or talent. Keep showing up at something day after day. Endurance counts.

Grit is well-written, well-researched and a very interesting book; I highly recommend it for your own life or as a parent or teacher.

2. Wolf Boys
Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel
by Dan Slater


Disturbing, but important. I know relatively nothing about the world of Mexican drug cartels and their recruitment process of teens.

This book chronicles two American teens in Texas who turn into killers for the Zetas. The author does a great job in moving along the narrative as he lets us peek behind the curtain of things we could never imagine on our own.

3. Toxic Charity
How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It)
by Robert D. Lupton


I know I do this wrong at times. We can “serve” the needy in ways that encourage dependence, instead of helping them grow independent.

This book helps explain the difference and offers suggestions for making permanent healthy changes. It’s a short book but it’s not light reading.

4Becoming Wise
An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
by Krista Tippett

Becoming Wise

Do you listen to Krista Tippett’s podcast On Being? It’s enlightening. She interviews a wide spectrum of guests on spiritual and life matters. This book is a compilation of insights  and words from some of her best interviews.

5Slavery by Another Name
The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II
by Douglas A. Blackmon


Did you think slavery of blacks by whites ended when the Civil War was over? It didn’t stop. It just changed forms. Derived on much research, Douglas Blackmon shows that blacks instead were arbitrarily arrested and forced to work off their “debts” in coal mines, lumber camps, farm plantations, etc.

This book was too dense for me (almost 500 pages—I skimmed over tedious details), but the meat of the content was excellent and sobering. I haven’t seen the PBS documentary of the same name so I intend to watch it online soon.

Reading Now

  • Democracy in Black
    How Race Enslaves the American Soul
    by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
  • The Naked Now
    Learning to See as the Mystics See
    by Richard Rohr
  • Invisible Influence
    The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior
    by Jonah Berger
  • Disrupted
    My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble
    by Dan Lyons
  • Practicing the Power
    Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life

    by Sam Storms
  • The Enneagram
    A Christian Perspective
    by Richard Rohr
  • Grace Behind Bars
    An Unexpected Path to True Freedom
    by Dudley Mitchell

* * *

What good book have you read lately? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

42 thoughts on “5 Books I Recommend – March 2017

  1. Michele Morin

    I LOVED Becoming Wise and pretty much devoured it in just a few days. I appreciate the fact that although Krista and I would not agree point for point on a statement of faith, her writing comes from a graciousness and a place of listening to others that I am able to enjoy and to learn from her.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you loved Becoming Wise, too, Michele. You put it so well: “her writing comes from a graciousness and a place of listening to others.” I find that very endearing and traits worth emulating!

  2. Susan

    I know I say this a lot, but I feel like we’re sharing a lot of the same brain. I always stress (on a low level) over the charities I give to — are they spending $ wisely, is it truly helping, etc. I should read that book. And “Grit” — I feel like most of what I’ve achieved in life is due to that. I may be mediocre in many ways, but I do have tenacity. Adding that one to read also!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, we do have very similar interests, Susan. 🙂 I love that.
      Agree; it is so hard to know the optimal way to spend our money and time. 🙁 I just have to turn it over to the Lord and let him do with it what he will, while at the same time making sure I’ve done my due diligence.
      I admire tenacity even more after reading Grit!

  3. Barbara H.

    I think grit is an underrated trait. I think I have it sometimes, or in some ways, but not in others. What a sad situation in Wolf Boys. Toxic Charity sounds like a good read. It’s so important to be aware of what we’re giving to, but so hard to know what’s really going on behind the scenes sometimes.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, the author of Grit pointed out that we sometimes have grit in one area, but not another. (And sometimes it’s good to know when to give up anyway.) But having it at all is a huge plus. She also says it can be a learned trait, so that is comforting as well. 🙂

  4. Trudy

    You amaze me with the diversity of what you read, Lisa. I have not heard of any of these books, but they all sound interesting. Some of them sound like pretty heavy reading. You seem to favor nonfiction over fiction. Am I right? Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You are right, Trudy: I definitely favor nonfiction over fiction. 🙂 Although when I do read a novel, I usually really enjoy it! I just feel like novels are more guilty pleasures. ha. I did read Thirteen Reasons Why this month, a novel, but I didn’t like it enough to include it in the list. Blessings to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      There are just so many good books out there! 🙂 I typically have a list when I head to the library, but sometimes I just pick something interesting off the shelf that looks good. I do like to broaden my thinking through books.

  5. Kristi Woods

    Your book lists intrigue me. It’s a treasure coming here and seeing one noted. I’ve not read a single one on your list this time. In fact, my overloaded brain has detoured from reading a bit – a ditty that surprises even me because reading is such a joy. Alas, I’m glad you’re still reading and providing us with glimpses into solid books, Lisa. There are a couple on this list that might make it to my own. 😉 #tellhisstory

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You know you’re busy if you are a reader and don’t have time to read. 🙂 So you’ve obviously got a lot going on, Kristi. That’s okay! Seasons for everything….

  6. Barrie

    I love your picks! I had wanted to read Grit, and I still may- glad you liked it. The Slavery book looks intriguing too, but honestly I was happy to hear there’s aPBS special on it- 500 pages isn’t working for me right now!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Grit was very easy to read and so interesting. I think you’d enjoy it, Barrie. The size of the Slavery book, on the other hand, was a little much, I’ll admit. While the author often used stories and traced main characters, it was still very scholarly, which made it tougher to get through. I’m sure I missed much. So yes, the PBS special appeals to me, too. 🙂

  7. Ashley Davis

    Toxic churches and the Holy Spirit book sounded really good. I’ll have to pick those up later.

    I picked up a book at the book fair called, How Do You Kill 11 Million People? The author talked about the Jews that Hitler killed and why they didn’t fight back. He lied to them. The point of the book is for us in America to stop electing leaders at every level who consistently lie and hold them to a higher standard. It’s only about 80 pages so I read it in one night.
    I’m still reading Captivating. Haha. I’m getting to some of the parts that I think you weren’t fond of. I’ll finish it eventually.
    My friend, Kendra, just sent me a book called Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace. Really good so far, and goes right along with my one word, Freedom.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Toxic Charity was a library book, but the book on the Holy Spirit is actually a paperback that I received free, so I can lend it to you sometimes when I’m finished. I think you’d find it very interesting. I’m not agreeing with everything in it, but it helps me understand others’ viewpoints better. And of course is teaching me new things too.

      I remember hearing about How Do You Kill 11 Million People when it came out and wanted to read it then, but I’ve since forgotten about it. I’m sure it is very convicting. And that size is nice too. 🙂

  8. Beth@Weavings

    Such an impressive list with some interesting titles. I’m going to have to keep my open for Toxic Charity. I have very strong feelings on this topic and yet struggle to articulate why. This seems like it may be a help.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’d been waiting on Toxic Charity at our public library so I was glad that it finally became available. It made me feel both better and worse at the same time, if that makes sense. ha. I know their advice is good and comes from experience; it’s just not always easy to follow through in the hard ways.

      1. Beth@Weavings

        I never even thought to check my library for the book and lo and behold they have it. Now I am hoping I have time to read it in the allotted time.

        Since our church is so small we try to help those trying to be faithful to church, but even with that we’ve had to take a stand and only help with food and in a small way because their mentality doesn’t ever shift or takes years to shift to what the Bible teaches. I also struggle with how the church has become so focused on social justice rather than Jesus is the answer. We may never have social justice, but we will always have Jesus. That was probably more than you wanted to hear–I’m off my soap box now! 🙂

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          I’m glad your library has it, too, Beth! My library doesn’t carry all the books I want to read, but they do carry several; I’m always glad. We all have our soapbox stands from time so that’s okay. 🙂

  9. ~ linda

    Thanks, Lisa. I see many books I will be placing on my TBR list. I see you slogged through “Slavery by Another Name.” I really did learn much that I never knew about this country and slavery through this book. I guess I am liking these long books of late as I am reading a Leo Tolstoy of 803 pages!! : /

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you recommended Slavery By Another Name to me months ago, Linda! It took me a long time to finally get it and read it, but yes, I also learned a lot of things I didn’t know. 🙁 And things I wish weren’t true. Sigh. But because they happened, we need to be aware of them. I sure don’t want to repeat those parts of history! Good look with Tolstoy…803 pages is a lot of time with an author. 🙂

      1. ~ linda

        Lisa, I totally agree with you on the things learned in this book…rugged, mind-boggling, and distressing. We truly do need to be aware. I just read in the news this very day that we have another form of slavery happening now with illegal immigrants. They are forced to live in squalid conditions due to their illegal status and the fears that go with that. They are also being forced to work long hours, get into debt with the owners of where they work, and then are enslaved. The areas of this are tending to be restaurants, agriculture, and a few other types of work. I am sad all over again. Just like Slavery by Another Name but this very day!

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          We always manage to come up with ways to do bad things. 🙁 Sigh. That is sad to hear about the immigrants. I have a friend that I’ve been very concerned about since she came to America last year. So far she is surviving okay but I don’t know what the future will hold for her in the coming months. I love your tender heart, Linda. Thanks for your sensitivity to the plight of others who aren’t as privileged as we are.

  10. Beverley

    A good list, Lisa. My book pile is forever growing, but i have a very list from, which i read from and only transfer one to another as one is read – somewhere in my muddled brain that works 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think that’s a great way to read, Beverley. This is the first year in awhile that I didn’t make a list at all. I’m just free-falling into books this year. 🙂

  11. floyd

    Those sound like great books. There’s a couple I want to check out.

    I’ll never catch you, but I did read three books in the last month! Mostly Grisham stuff.

    Too bad it took a back surgery and epidural abscess to slow me down…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Three books last month? That’s some serious reading, Floyd. But I’m sorry to hear about your health stuff! Not a fun way to be forced into reading. 🙁 Praying you’re recovering well.

  12. Jean Wise

    I think my favorite on this list is Becoming Wise.

    Have a new enneagram book that my spiritual director recommended. Just arrived and looks like a wonderful reference, full of great info: The Complete Enneagram. by Beatrice Chestnut. Knew when I saw it that I had to share it with you.

    Happy Weekend!

  13. bekahcubed

    Toxic Charity sounds interesting to me. I have When Helping Hurts on my bookshelf, waiting to read someday – I wonder how similar or different the two titles are. Of course, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for reading lately, so I’m not sure when I’ll get to either.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I wonder how similar the two books are also. I assume they have much in common. I’d also like to read When Helping Hurts. I’m sure you’re still reading more than you know, just different kinds of books. 🙂 I still have lots of books for toddlers on my shelves that bring back such good memories of times reading with my daughters.

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