6 Books I Recommend – November 2019

“One of the paradoxes of writing is that when you write nonfiction everyone tries to prove that it’s wrong, and when you publish fiction, everyone tries to see the truth in it.”
– Scarlet Thomas

Every month I share the best of what I’ve finished reading. Here are books I recommend from November. See all my recommended books here.

And to complete the Nonfiction November challenge, I also include a roundup of books recommended to me from other participants this month.

Books I Recommend


1. A Thousand Lives
The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown

by Julia Scheeres

If I didn’t know this really happened, I’d say it’s unbelievable. Jim Jones took his cult members from the United States to live in a commune in Guyana in the 1970s.

By 1978, Jones had such a grip on them, he convinced the adults to commit suicide as a group. (And the more than 300 kids? The adults gave them the cyanide first, then took it themselves.) 918 people died.

It’s an atrocious, horrible story. But well-written and well-documented by Julia Scheeres.

No time for the book? Here’s an interesting article about it instead.

“Jonestown: Government inaction haunts 41 years after grisly deaths”

2. The Complete Enneagram
27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge

by Beatrice Chestnut


There are lots of books on the Enneagram out there (here’s a list of my 3 favorites). But this is one of the most thorough books.

Chestnut goes into detail on the three subtypes of each of the nine types, for a total of 27 types to learn about.

(Can a book be too thorough? This book left me more confused about which type to identify with.)

3. Something Needs to Change
A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need
by David Platt

Something Needs to Change

This book is a travel diary. That makes it different from Platt’s other books. However, the message is the same: believe in Jesus and share his love with others.

The setting is a week-long mission trip to the Himalayas. Platt keeps a record of and shares with the reader about who he meets along the way, their struggles, and his struggles with their struggles.

The book is easy to read and moves quickly, as Platt travels through the mountains. I don’t agree 100% with Platt’s theology, but I love his heart for others and for God.

4. Unbusy
How to Leverage the Physics of Flow to Accomplish More of What Truly Matters and Feel Less Busy at the Same Time

by Andy Dragt


This is a short book about time management from the perspective of flow. It went a little long for my taste covering rivers and trees and the Constructal Law.

But I did gain from it about values, purposes, and priorities.

And Dragt affirmed my use of calendars. He is a big believer on freeing up your time by getting predictable about everything you can.

My review of Unbusy here.


5. Washington Black
by Esi Edugyan

Washington Black

The story begins on a sugar plantation in Barbados with an 11-year-old slave, Washington Black. His life takes a big turn when he meets the master’s brother, Titch, an inventor and abolitionist.

You go a lot of tender places on this journey with Wash. Hard truths but also sweet graces are in this novel.

This book has won many awards, and I understand why.

6. A Place for Us
by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place for Us

This novel begins at the wedding of an Indian couple in America. You immediately feel the tension between the bride’s brother and the rest of the family.

The story progresses back and forth through time to deliver the backstory, bringing you back to the wedding. And eventually catches up, progressing a few years beyond the time of the wedding.

It’s a sweet story of hardships and struggles among each family member as they interact with each other and the broader community as Muslims in America.

Reading Now

  • The Alice Network
    by Kate Quinn
  • What Is a Girl Worth?
    My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics
    by Rachael Denhollander
  • Blessed Broken Given
    How Your Story Becomes Sacred in the Hands of Jesus
    by Glenn Packiam
  • Millenneagram
    The Enneagram Guide for Discovering Your Truest, Baddest Self
    by Hannah Paasch
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow
    by Daniel Kahneman
  • Introverts in the Church
    Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
    by Adam S. McHugh
  • Outer Order, Inner Calm
    Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness
    by Gretchen Rubin

Books Recommended to Me

These are books I have NOT read. But I’ve added them to my TBR list from other Nonfiction November bloggers for our final week of #NonficNov (this week’s linkup is hosted by Rennie). Any comments on which I should read?

  • The Library Book
    by Susan Orlean
    Recommended by Bryan
  • Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise
    by Katherine Rundell
    Recommended by Jade
  • Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime
    by Ron Stallworth
    Recommended by Tina
  • Merton: An Enneagram Profile
    by Suzanne Zuercher
    Recommended by Emma

* * *

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

Want more book recommendations? I posted these this month:

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

sharing with Modern Mrs. Darcy

24 thoughts on “6 Books I Recommend – November 2019

  1. Yvonne Chase

    Hi Lisa,

    Not reading any good books this month, however, as I scrolled your list and saw the title Unbusy, I was reminded of a conversation I had recently with a friend. We’re both turned off by our current culture of busyness and realize none of us is ever really as busy as we purport to be. We simply have not carved out our priorities. If something or someone is important to us, we make time for it/them. It’s that simple, isn’t it? Or maybe we have it wrong?

  2. Barbara Harper

    I’ve been thinking of reading What Is a Girl Worth? I think it would be very hard. But, unfortunately, the things it describes are so important and prevalent, it’s probably a necessary read.

    I read Introverts in the Church a few years ago, with mixed emotions. I didn’t agree with everything. But some of what he said was extremely helpful, especially concerning the need to extend ourselves out of our comfort zone sometimes.

  3. Rennie

    I love that quote you shared about publishing fiction vs nonfiction, so true!

    I want to read A Thousand Lives and actually have a copy of it but have been holding off because I read The Road to Jonestown first and although very good, it’s an intense story. I hope I’ll get to Julia Scheeres’ book eventually.

    I absolutely loved The Library Book, it was far and away my favorite book last year. Definitely say you should read that one 🙂

  4. Tina Simmons

    Ooo I loved Washington Black. Such a compelling story. Also A Thousand Lives sounds so intense- I knew about the incident but am looking forward to a well written book to fill in the details.

  5. BettieG

    These sound like some wonderful books, Lisa. I too loved the quote concerning Non-Fiction and Fiction! Knowing about your interest in Spiritual Disciplines, I would recommend a book that I recently finished: Broken Body, Healing Spirit. The author introduces and compares the practice of Lectio Divina with Scripture, and the practice of allowing your body to speak it’s own story of Lectio Divina as you sit with Scriptures. It was a fascinating and truly helpful book for me in processing the healing work that God is accomplished in my own body. Blessings to you this Thanksgiving!

  6. Michele Morin

    I listened to a fairly short podcast recently and had my Enneagram cart tipped over, so I’m going to stay away from the book you referenced. Funny how the Enneagram seems to be a slipperier tool than some of the others.
    I always benefit from your thoughts on books.

  7. Bryan G. Robinson

    You also increased my TBR pile…by TWO. And I thank you. I doubt I’ll get to them until next year, but I definitely do want to get to them. As for what you should you read, I think you definitely should read The Library Book. 😉

  8. Kym

    I’d like to read Something Needs to Change and Washington Black. I feel like maybe I should read Unbusy. As someone else commented – it’s not that we’re so much busier, it’s more that we don’t prioritize correctly. My biggest challenge is managing my time. I haven’t read it, but I’m curious about Why You Should Read Children’s Books – I enjoy reading young adult and juvenile fiction occasionally!

  9. booker talk

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Washington Black. In essence it was a great adventure story and naturally had some improbable coincidences but it didn’t matter because I was engrossed with the character.

  10. Jean Wise

    I wasn’t aware of that Merton Enneagram book, sounds very interesting. I agree with you with the thoroughness of the Chestnut book. And the first quote you include at the top of the post! so true.

  11. Elena Wiggins

    I have had A Place for Us on my TBR for a long time since Anne Bogel mentions it a lot on her blog… I will need to bump it up on my list soon! I really enjoyed Introverts in the Church and am curious what your thoughts are on that one once you finish!

    My November reads are linked if interested!

  12. Danielle Hammelef

    I learned a new word from your post–Enneagram is something I never heard about before and sounds fascinating. The Library Book is also on my TBR and I’ve read great reviews on it. I just finished God’s Hostage, a nonfiction personal account of a missionary that stayed faithful to God during wrongful imprisionment in Turkey in 2016 (he was held without trial for over a year).

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