8 Books I Recommend—May 2022

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
– Charles W. Eliot

Here are 8 books I recommend from what I finished reading in May.

[See previously recommended books here]

Nonfiction

1. Bittersweet
How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole
by Susan Cain

Bittersweet by Susan Cain

The beautiful writings of Susan Cain (author of Quiet) remind us that we often feel multiple emotions at the same time. And that it’s normal. For example, we can feel both joy and sorrow when we watch our young children at play because even as we delight in their joy, we also realize this time is fleeting. This book puts these longings into words and makes you feel right at home in emotional pairings.

2. Plays Well with Others
The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know about Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong
by Eric Barker

Plays Well with Others

This is a fantastic book. If combining scientific data and relationships appeals to you, too, you’ll love this book. Barker writes with wit and clarity as he debunks several false theories we inherently believe about relationships, and confirms several theories we intuitively believe already.

[my review of Plays Well with Others is here, Two Things Your Friendships Need to Survive]

3. Do I Stay Christian?
A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned
by Brian D. McLaren

Do I Stay Christian

I just spent this past weekend at a spiritual retreat with Brian McLaren, so it makes me love his book even more. Written with great humility, curiosity, and research, McLaren walks us through question after question about why we might not (part 1) or might (part 2) want to remain Christian. His conclusion for himself is to stay Christian, and he offers advice to others (part 3) who also want to remain in this faith to make their journeys more filled with Jesus and with lovingkindness to become better human beings in this world.

[my review of Do I Stay Christian?]

4. Creative Renewal
An Invitation to Make Stuff and to Stop Clicking Stuff
by Ed Cyzewski

Creative Renewal

Ed has a way of making me want to try something new. In this book he walks us through his own journey of finding greater mental, emotional, and spiritual health through creative connections. For Ed, it takes the form of painting and woodworking. I’m still pondering how it might look in my own life as I decide which creative tracks I want to follow. Ed reminds us that creating is something we do for ourselves, but it also is a way to gift the world with more beauty.

[my review of Creative Renewal is here]

5. Fearing Bravely
Risking Love for Our Neighbors, Strangers, and Enemies
by Catherine McNiel

Fearing Bravely

Are Christians more known for their love of others or from their fear of others? Sadly, it’s often the latter. This is a book meant to challenge us to see beyond our own tribes and offer open hands to others who may be very different from us. How are we to love other people if we’re so afraid of and repelled by their presence among us?

[more thoughts from Fearing Bravely are here, Can You Love Your Enemies Too Much?]

Fiction

6. The Four Winds
by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds

This novel set in Texas during the Dust Bowl/Great Depression era of the 1930s is about a young girl Elsa, then wife and mother, who has to find her way through poverty in a man’s world and through extreme conditions. Her difficult life choices involve staying on the family farm that is being pelted by disastrous storms or move west to California in search of a better life and the American Dream.

7. The Stranger in the Lifeboat
by Mitch Albom

The Stranger in the Lifeboat

This short novel by the author of Tuesdays with Morrie is about the survivors on a lifeboat after their ship sinks. After being at sea awhile, an unexpected person arrives out of the water. He claims to be “the Lord” that they had been calling for. The story goes back and forth between the people on the lifeboat and the people in an island town a year later where the lifeboat washes ashore with a diary from one of the survivors.

8. The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project
This was my whimsy read of the month. The main character in this novel, Don Tillman, reminds me of the character Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. He’s a quirky genius who finds himself in awkward social situations. The plotline was satisfying enough that I’d like to read more in this series.

Reading Now

  • Native
    Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God
    by Kaitlin B. Curtice

  • Undistracted
    Capture Your Purpose. Rediscover Your Joy.
    by Bob Goff

  • A Tale for the Time Being
    by Ruth Ozeki

  • You Got Anything Stronger?
    Stories
    by Gabrielle Union

  • The Happiness Trap
    How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT
    by Russ Harris

  • It’s OK That You’re Not OK
    Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand
    by Megan Devine


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

More books I recommend

sharing at these linkups

16 thoughts on “8 Books I Recommend—May 2022

  1. Jean Wise

    A retreat with Brian McLaren????? I am so jealous! How very very cool. You once again have given me a full list of books to check out. Heading to the library website now with many of your suggestions. Thanks so much!

  2. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Always so appreciate your recommendations, Lisa, and now that it’s summer, hopefully, you will have more time for reading. Because I own 40-million books, which Michael says are sinking our basement, I have a stack awaiting me at the library. One is Undistracted, per your overall recommendation (I know you’re not yet finished). I’m curious once you finish it, if you will still read several books concurrently (which I think you told me you do), or if you will read one at a time, straight through. 🙂 I get sidetracked w/ my books. Must run, but wanted to wish you a happy summer, and I know we’ll stay in touch.
    xo
    Lynn

  3. ~ linda

    Hi my friend, I so appreciate this monthly recommendation list. I have “The Four Winds” on my shelf of TBR, plus it looks like Brian McLaren’s book needs to be there as well!

  4. Andrew Blackman

    Hi Lisa, Sounds like a great month of reading! My recommendation for the month is The Last Night at the Ritz by Elizabeth Savage. I also liked Elif Shafak’s new novel The Island of Missing Trees. Hope you enjoy those books you’re reading in June!

  5. Barb Hegreberg

    I had only heard of about 1/2 of these books. We have similar taste in books so that makes your reviews a must-read for me. 👓

    Have a wonderful month in your favorite chair🪑 with a hot cup of coffee☕ or ice-cold lemonade🍋 as you discover more good books for me to read. 😉

  6. Linda Stoll

    I just couldn’t get into Bittersweet. I tried, but it just didn’t connect for me. I love the author’s other books. Maybe I just need something different right now.

    I’m fascinated that you’ve got 6 books going. Wow. Any more than one and I’m sunk.

    I always love a peek at your book pile, friend …

  7. David

    I have that McLaren lined up to start next — intrigued about the retreat! “Plays well with others” looks interesting — I’m increasingly noticing interpersonal and inter-team interactions at my work. I am really enjoying Spinoza’s Religion, and treating myself to On Believing (collection of poems & essays) this holiday weekend.

  8. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    I have to read something by Brian McLaren. I’ve really appreciated his podcasts on “Learning How to See” (the third series just started, need to catch up with that.)

    All your recommendations always sound great to me! I’m having a hard time keeping up at the moment so I have to feel okay with all the books I will never be able to read. But glad to see your recap nonetheless.

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