10 Books I Recommend—May 2024

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”
– William H. Gass

Here are 9 nonfiction books + 1 novel I recommend from what I finished reading in May 2024. 

[See previously recommended books here]

NONFICTION

1. Cloistered
My Years as a Nun
by Catherine Coldstream

After Catherine Coldstream’s father died when she was 24 years old, she felt unsure which direction to take in her life. So she became a nun. It went well at first. Then things began falling apart. In this memoir she shares both the good and bad parts of her years as a nun . . . and what eventually led to her running away.

Cloistered

[See my full review here of Cloistured: “Silent Escape: A Nun’s Journey from Confinement to Freedom”]

2. Say Good Night to Insomnia
by Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs

Say Good Night to Insomnia

Well, I’m sad to report that even after reading this book, I haven’t totally said good night to insomnia. However, when I follow through with Jacobs’ suggestions on any given night, I either sleep more soundly or have less angst about it if I don’t. Because I’m making progress, I’ll continue working on it. His approach is a healthy and rational way to getting better sleep.

3. With the Devil’s Help
A True Story of Poverty, Mental Illness, and Murder
by Neal Wooten

With the Devil's Help

This is a fascinating memoir. Wooten not only is an excellent storyteller, but he also has a story worth telling. He grew up on Sand Mountain in Alabama, with a legacy of abusive men and family secrets. He unfolds the plot masterfully in this book. 

4. Our Last Best Act
Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love
by Mallory McDuff

Our Last Best Act

As I was preparing for the death of my friend V, this book stood out to me. It’s written by a professor as she planned her own funeral and burial arrangements as eco-friendly as possible. I learned so much about the funeral industry from her findings.

5. The Exvangelicals
Loving, Living, and Leaving the White Evangelical Church
by Sarah McCammon

After growing up as a believer in an evangelical family, Sarah McCammon’s faith began to unravel as she watched disturbing trends occuring in the Christian world. She writes here about her own experiences as well as about her extensive research among others who have come out of the evangelical movement. Excellent book.

The Exvangelicals

[See my full review here: “The Exvangelicals: If You’re Curious About Why They’re Leaving the Evangelical Church]

6. Minority Rule
The Right-Wing Attack on the Will of the People―and the Fight to Resist It
by Ari Berman

Minority Rule

I read this book in preparation for an online democracy book club (it was a fascinating interview with the author Ari Berman!). Berman takes a fair look at the history of democracy in the United States and where it appears to be headed next. Will we be able to keep a democratic form of government in the years to come? This book helps explain why we may or may not.

7. No Bad Parts
Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model
by Richard C. Schwartz
No Bad Parts

I’m relatively new to learning about the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model. This book is a great explanation of it. IFS is a way of addressing the various parts of ourselves (as in, part of me wants to do this, yet part of me wants to do that), to bring healing to our whole self.

8. Healing After Loss
Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief
by Martha Whitmore Hickman

Healing After Loss

This book contains beautiful daily meditations on healing through grief. It’s been around awhile (originally published in 1994) but it holds up as timeless. I found it encouraging as I go through my own grieving process. 

9. Hidden Potential
The Science of Achieving Greater Things
by Adam M. Grant

Hidden Potential

This is one of those amazing books that you really need to read multiple times to really grasp all of it. Grant writes succinctly yet fully about the character skills we each can build to grow into our best human selves. I highly recommend it!

FICTION

10. The Latecomer
by Jean Hanff Korelit

The Latecomer

I found this novel so intriguing. It’s about the individual lives of a very unique set of triplets and their wealthy parents, the Oppenheimers. The plot moves along quickly, with enough twists and mysteries to keep you wondering about the “latecomer” foreshadowed early on.

WHAT I’M READING NOW

  • Jane Eyre
    by Charlotte Brontë
  • Worth Fighting For
    Finding Courage and Compassion When Cruelty is Trending
    by John Pavlovitz
  • Write a Must-Read
    Craft a Book That Changes Lives―Including Your Own
    by A.J. Harper
  • Life After Doom
    Wisdom and Courage for a World Falling Apart
    by Brian D. McLaren
  • The Light Shines in the Darkness
    Choosing Hope After a Mass Shooting
    by Melinda Rainey Thompson
  • The Age of Magical Overthinking
    Notes on Modern Irrationality
    by Amanda Montell
  • Do/Walk
    Navigate earth, mind and body. Step by step.
    by Libby Delana
  • It’s Not All Downhill from Here
    by Terry McMillan


What good book have you read lately? Please share in the comments.

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18 thoughts on “10 Books I Recommend—May 2024

  1. Jean Wise

    great list. I have a friend and fellow writer and therapist who is huge fan and follower of IFS. I have learned lots from her. And that book about planning funeral – I will check it out. funny how in the second half of life we tend to think more about that. You always have great suggestions

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Glad to know that you’ve been exposed to IFS too, Jean. I’ve found it quite a fascinating theory and have used it in my own ways in my journaling. 🙂

  2. Harry Katz

    I read Adam Grant’s previous book Think Again, which I really enjoyed. Hidden Potential looks great too. I’m eager to read what you think of The Age of Magical Overthinking — that one looks interesting too.

  3. Joanne

    I may just have to pick up that insomnia book; I used to be such a good sleeper but menopause has really made that a thing of the past…. and I miss it so much!

  4. Dianna

    Saying Goodbye to Insominia, Hidden Potential and The Latecomer are definitely going on my wish list. I’ve currently sworn off buying books until I finish my TBR pile. Thank you for the reviews, Lisa.

  5. Lynn

    Gosh, lots of good reading here, Lisa! I like that you’ve added a classic to your reading list for this month. The Age of Magical Thinking intrigues me. What a great title. I look forward to reading what you though of it, too.

  6. Farrah

    Thank you for linking up! :] Love that you got so much reading in!

    I’ll have to check out Say Good Night To Insomnia to see what else I can recommend to my patients for better sleep! Will be checking out Our Last Best Act + Hidden Potential as well.

  7. Elena Wiggins

    Saying Goodbye to Insomnia seems like a book that might be helpful for me. I woke up at midnight a few nights ago and couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. This happens every few weeks or so, but not that early (that was 2 hours of sleep total that night). I ended up reading a ton that night since I couldn’t fall asleep, so it wasn’t all bad, but by the afternoon the next day, I was having trouble keeping my eyes open while caring for the kids. No Bad Parts also sounds intriguing. I heard about the IFS model through The Body Keeps the Score, a phenomenal book and was fascinated with the model.

    Linking my recent reads, if interested!

  8. Betty Draper

    I found you again Lisa by blog hopping. I have not seen your blog for quite some time and it was encouraging to see you are enjoying good books with those who come for a visit. Blessings

  9. cheriee weichel

    Thanks for this list of nonfiction titles. I like to have at least one NF on the go at all times. I’m especially keen to read Silent Escape. I wonder if all orders are like this, or if it was primarily the one she had joined. In my youth I remember meeting radical nuns whose lives were not at all like this.

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