7 Books I Recommend—October 2020

Read books that are relevant to what you want to achieve and reading will never seem boring.
—James Clear

It took me a long time to finish some of these books! But it was worth it. It just goes to show you: reading just a few pages a day will eventually get you through even the longest of books. Just keep at it.

Here are 7 books I recommend from those I finally finished reading in October. See all my recommended books here.

7 Books I Recommend October 2020_Lisanotes_pin


1. “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”
A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity
by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria_sm

And it’s not just kids. I often notice Whites sitting with Whites, and Blacks sitting with Blacks in all kinds of social settings. Why? This book helps us understand. Originally written several years ago, it’s been updated and is as relevant as ever.

2. How to Be an Antiracist
by Ibram X. Kendi

How to Be an Antiracist

Hardly anyone thinks they are racist. But Ibram X. Kendi shows us otherwise. He defines racism and antiracism in terms we can understand. And helps us understand what we can do to change. He also shares much of his own personal journey. 

3. Stamped from the Beginning
The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
by Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped from the Beginning_sm

This is a much longer book by Ibram X. Kendi about the history of racism in the United States. It is eye-opening to learn how much of American history we have omitted because it makes us uncomfortable. Well-researched and documented, if you can stick with this one, you will likely learn lots of new things. I did.

4. Hood Feminism
Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
by Mike Kendall

Hood Feminism_sm

Whether you call yourself a feminist or not, this book is another eye-opener from the Black female perspective. Mikki Kendall shares from her own experience as well as her research about our modern culture’s effects on women of color.

5. Compassion (&) Conviction
The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement
by Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, Chris Butler

Compassion and Conviction_sm

We don’t have to choose between social justice and Christianity. There is room for both. The AND Campaign is working hard to bring Christians together to engage and witness within the culture in positive ways. Politics, in various ways, affects everyone. Instead of withdrawing from it, we can learn to engage it responsibly and lovingly.

6. The Listening Life
Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction
by Adam S. McHugh

The Listening Life_sm

As God listens to us, we should learn to listen more to Him and to each other. Adam McHugh writes with a gentle touch but a strong message to help us improve how we listen, building healthier relationships and more loving bonds.


7. One by One
by Ruth Ware

One by One_sm

I read all of Ruth Ware’s novels. They catch me off guard with their plot twists. This one is about a tech company’s retreat at a ski resort in the French Alps. And then an avalanche occurs.

Reading Now

  • Too Much Information
    Understanding What You Dont Want to Know
    by Cass R. Sunstein
  • The Color of Compromise
    The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
    by Jemar Tisby
  • Furious Hours
    Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
    by Casey Cep
  • A Month of Sundays
    Thirty-One Days of Wrestling with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
    by Eugene H. Peterson
  • Always a Guest
    Speaking of Faith Far from Home
    by Barbara Brown Taylor
  • The Store
    by James Patterson

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

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

42 thoughts on “7 Books I Recommend—October 2020

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    Hi Lisa! This has been a busy season for me so I have read less than I want to. I did read Another Gospel by Alisa Childers. It is a must read for those who want to counter a lot of the false teaching being seen as Progressive Christianity. I’m reading Love Has a Name by Adam Weber. I heard him on a Sports Spectrum podcast and thought I would get his book. It is about people he has met who showed extraordinary love to him. At home I am reading The Auschwitz Detective by Jonathan Dunsky (fiction). One thing for sure: I am learning more about the horrors of the Hitler camps. I am also reading World Changers by Greg Laurie.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I always appreciate hearing what you are reading, Bill. And often add a few more titles to my own to-read list from your list. Jeff has recently had shoulder surgery so while he’s at physical therapy, I bring my Kindle and sneak in a little extra reading.

  2. Stacey Pardoe

    So nice catching up with you in this space, Lisa! My kids have been needing my attention lately, so I haven’t been reading the blogs of my sisters or linking up as often as I’d like, but connecting with you in this space deeply blessed me today! Hoping you are well!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I understand, Stacey. Kids come first! I haven’t been able to read as many blogs myself lately, and not comment as frequently as I’d like. But there is a season for everything, and it will come back around. Blessings to you!

  3. Martha Jane Orlando

    I have read The Listening Life, which I enjoyed tremendously, Lisa. I keep seeing books by Ruth Ware popping up in recommendations, so I will certainly have to check those out down the road. If I were to buy every book I really want to read, I’d be broke!

    1. Lynn D. Morrissey

      Martha, this made me smile. I so get your sentiment! My husband Michael says our basement is sinking w/ all my books shelved in bookcases down there. Plus, I have books in my study (another bookcase and in stacks on my computer desk + in boxes in the closet), in our bedroom on my end table (and in the walk-in closet), in some bathrooms, in shelves in the hearthroom, stacks on the kitchen table (we eat in the dining room or family room!), in our kitchen pantry (food for thought), in the car (when Michael drives), and at our cabin. Our daughter tells me I have tsundoku (she’s studying Japanese right now, and this means piles of books one does not read; I do read them, but have bought a lot on sale, or or I fall prey to great reviewers like Lisa, so no longer do I read a book, then buy a book . . . )! Anyway, just wanted you to know, you are not alone! 🙂

      1. LisaNotes Post author

        I have too many books too…and sadly, the ones I actually purchase are the ones that get shoved to the bottom of the pile. I’ve had a book I bought months ago that I haven’t even opened yet. It needs to get its turn soon! 🙂

    2. LisaNotes Post author

      I had been wanting to read The Listening Life for a long time, and finally chose to prioritize it this year SLOWLY. I read just one chapter a month so I could linger with it.

      I actually rarely buy books myself, so I know what you mean! 🙂 I’m a huge library book reader and I watch for free books on Net Galley. Of the 7 books on my list today, I only bought one of them (Stamped) because it was SO long and I knew the library wouldn’t let me keep it for months on end. lol.

      1. Lynn D. Morrissey

        What exactly is NetGalley, and how do you get free books? (But promise you won’t tell Michael that I am asking, ok?)! 🙂

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          Ha. I promise not to tell Michael! NetGalley offers new books in exchange for reviews, for anyone who is a librarian, bookseller, educator, reviewer, blogger or in the media. It’s really quite awesome because they have a very wide selection of books. But yeah, it can also be a problem! I currently have 7 books that I need to be reading and reviewing just from Net Galley. 🙂 Here’s the link to their site: https://www.netgalley.com

  4. Laurie

    You did it, Lisa! You beat me to the finish of “Stamped From the Beginning!” Ha! Now, I will have to get on my game and finish my copy of the book too. Thanks as always for the wonderful book recommendations. I think I will try the Ruth Ware book.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I forged through to the end and made it to the finish line with Stamped! Just don’t challenge me to a foot race. 🙂 It was worth the read though. I learned so much!

  5. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Lisa, always so much appreciate your reviews. My pastor recommended Compassion and Conviction, which I am currently reading. Also I appreciated McHugh’s The Listening Life. Surely these days, when everyone is shouting in all caps on social media, each trying to drown out the other with his (right!) opinion, it would behoove us to have ears to hear, so as to understand and not to demonize. thanks again for your faithfulness to read and to share and to recommend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m looking forward to reading back through the passages I highlighted in Compassion and Conviction. Sometimes that’s what really makes a book stick with me. I follow them on Instagram too and they are always posting challenging thoughts!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ha. I know! I agree that it would be nice to have a viable option to encompass the best of all worlds. 🙂 Yes, I do recommend Compassion and Conviction. It had lots of good practical advice in it as well. I plan to do a full review of it soon.

  6. Nancy Ruegg

    I’m rereading Jan Karon’s Mitford series–such a delight, even the second time around. Also mesmerized by Elisabeth Elliot’s These Strange Ashes about her first year as a missionary in Ecuador before she married Jim. I wish I had the time and resources to read all the books recommended by others (others whose choices I can trust!), including these that you’ve suggested, Lisa. But Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and The Listening Life are definitely going on my wish list! Oh–and Ruth Ware’s books too!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I totally have that same wish, Nancy! I’d love to read all the books that interest me from others’ recommendations. But I can’t even keep up with reading the samples that I have sent to my Kindle. ha. We have such easy access to so many good ones. These Strange Ashes needs to go on my list; I’ve been hearing about it. Thanks for sharing what you’re reading too!

  7. Beth

    Thanks for the recommendations – I read the Listening Life and enjoyed it and was challenged by it.
    What am I reading? Good question –
    Radical Womanhood – good except a bit too American for the UK.
    Even Better Than Eden – Excellent, doing a Biblical Theology day with Nancy Gutherie
    The Grand Design
    The Shadow Land – a novel set in Bulgaria
    Summer Moonshine – just a fun light novel.
    Plus others I will share in my blog later this week.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for sharing your list too, Beth! I love hearing what others are reading. Interesting about the book that was too American for the UK! I can imagine that many of our books feel that way. We’re pretty self-absorbed over here. ha. I’ll be watching for other books you share on your blog.

  8. Lesley

    Sounds like you’ve read some interesting books! I have been struggling to focus on reading lately but I am in the middle of Another Gospel by Alisa Childers (which I see someone else mentioned above) and I am really enjoying it and wanting to read more, so hopefully I’m getting back into it!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ll have to look into Another Gospel since it’s been mentioned at least twice! Thanks for sharing about it. I find it easier to read in some seasons versus others, so I understand what you’re saying about struggling to focus on reading lately.

  9. Linda Stoll

    Lisa, hi! You always share such a rich variety of reading options. Thank you. I find myself far behind the number of reads from last year but I’m ok with that. I seem to be less motivated.

    I’m thinking 2021 will be a far more productive year for me! Thanks for the encouraging prompts …

  10. Tammy L Kennington

    Hi Lisa. What a challenging list! Compassion and Conviction and The Listening Life really resonate with me. I wish we were all better at listening. It would serve us well. Thanks for the recommendations.

    Peace and grace,

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It was an interesting month to read several of these books concurrently because the topics overlapped. I hadn’t really planned it that way per se, but it was a great benefit to my understanding! Thanks for the visit, Jill.

  11. Jean Wise

    wow this list really stretched you I bet. Good for you for being open enough to read such diverse reading. Love this quote; Read books that are relevant to what you want to achieve and reading will never seem boring.
    —James Clear

    I too take my time sometimes too long of a time to read a book.

    Just got Always a guest here too.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, this list did stretch me, Jean. I’ll need to revisit the notes I took from some of them too to more fully digest them. Some books are heavy meals meant to be lingered over.

  12. David

    Novels: still re-reading old friends. Non-fiction: enjoying The Four Laws of Love after your review — making sure I read and ponder something every morning.

    I’ve had a “Race & Racism” TBR list on the go for a while but I’ve avoided reading on the topic as it’s become such a bandwagon. I don’t think I entirely agree with the BLM perspective, and the reading I have lined up reflects that. Mainly Kenan Malik’s 2008 “Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides Are Wrong in the Race Debate” and Karen & Barbara Fields’ 2014 “Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life”. I’d also like to read CLR James’ 1938 history of the Haiti slave revolt “The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution”.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for sharing the list of your books on race because I haven’t read any of those. I wonder how similar versus distinct our racial issues are on either side of the pond….

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