9 Books I Recommend—October 2023

“A good book, when we return to it, will always have something new to say. It’s not the same book, and we’re not the same reader.”
– Anne Bogel

Here are 8 nonfiction books + 1 novel I recommend from what I finished reading in October. 

[See previously recommended books here]


1. I Never Thought of It That Way
How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times
by Monica Guzmán

I Never Thought of It That Way

Excellent book on how to have better conversations with those we disagree with.

Guzmán suggests starting with these three things:

  1. Stop sorting each other (getting together in our own little groups)
  2. Stop othering each other (pushing against groups that seem opposed to us)
  3. Stop siloing from each other (sinking so deep into our own groups that we can’t bear to hear anything else).

I’m excited to participate in an online book club with this author in a few weeks. Here’s Monica Guzmán’s TED talk if you’re as interested in this topic as I am: “How Curiosity Will Save Us.” 

2. Language Power
100 Things You Need to Make Language Work for You
by Norbert Schmitt

Language Power: 100 Things You Need to Make Language Work for You

We use language constantly, even when we’re talking only to ourselves in our heads. Language Power is such an intriguing book, touching briefly on every aspect of language (some of which I hadn’t even thought of) and how we can communicate better. It also includes multitudes of weblinks to articles and videos for more information on each topic.

[see my book review here of Language Power]

3. My Body Is Not a Prayer Request
Disability Justice in the Church
by Amy Kenny

My Body Is Not a Prayer Request

I highly recommend this book for those who don’t (yet) have a disability and for those who already do. It opened my eyes to some unconscious biases (not to mention vocabulary) that I didn’t realize I was carrying about disabilities. When we know better, we do better, right? I’m working on both. #AbleismExists This book is my October selection for Lory’s Spiritual Memoir Challenge. 

4. American Idolatry
How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church
by Andrew L. Whitehead

American Idolatry

Here is Whitehead’s premise:

“Christian nationalism—a cultural framework asserting that all civic life in the United States should be organized according to a particular form of conservative Christianity—betrays the example set by Jesus in the Gospels. Christian nationalism leads us to practice various forms of idolatry, revering a god or gods other than Jesus, trusting in them for protection and provision.”

Maybe you agree with Whitehead. Maybe you don’t. But in American Idolatry you’ll likely appreciate how he lays out his premises that Christianity should at least reflect Christ.

[See my book review here of American Idolatry]

5. Nobody Needs to Know: A Memoir
by Pidgeon Pagonis

Nobody Needs to Know: A Memoir

This is another topic we don’t talk about much. When Pidgeon Pagonis was born with both male and female reproductive organs (called intersex, and it happens far more than we realize), doctors made lifelong nonconsensual decisions for Pigdeon then and later that were devastating for Pidgeon. This is their story. These voices deserve our attention, even more so when we know so little about this.

[See my book review here of Nobody Needs to Know

6. Standing Our Ground
The Triumph of Faith Over Gun Violence: A Mother’s Story
by Lucia Kay McBath

Standing Our Ground: The Triumph of Faith Over Gun Violence: A Mother's Story

Her 17-year-old baby boy had stopped with his friends at a gas station to get some gum. A man in a car beside their car said their music was too loud. After a brief verbal exchange, the man pulled out a gun, shot 10 bullets into the teens’ car, and fatally wounded Lucy McBath’s son, Jordan Davis. This book is the story of a mother’s heart when her son is taken away too soon. It’s heart-wrenching and powerful. It’s the November choice for the online book club I’m in. (Followup: Lucy McBath later decided to run for a seat in Congress and won! She currently serves in the House of Representatives for Georgia.) 

7. The Other Side of Sadness
What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss
by George A. Bonanno

The Other Side of Sadness

“Sadness comes equipped with a built-in safety mechanism. When we feel sad, we also tend to look sad.”

And that’s a good thing. But ugh, when *I* am the one looking sad, I can feel uncomfortable about it being so obvious. However, our puffy eyes and red noses signal to other people that we are hurting and could use some compassion. This book addresses the complexity of grief from many different angles.

8. Love Every Day
365 Relational Self-Awareness Practices to Help Your Relationship Heal, Grow, and Thrive
by Alexandra H. Solomon

Love Every Day: 365 Relational Self-Awareness Practices to Help Your Relationship Heal, Grow, and Thrive

These short daily chapters are full of quick-reading but lasting wisdom for relationship-building. I’ve decided it will be the daily devotional I read through more slowly in 2024. Each day’s entry is another invitation to love better, deeper, stronger. A more full book review will come soon. 


9. Search
by Michelle Huneven

Search by Michelle Huneven

If you’ve ever served on a church committee of any kind, you’ll relate to this novel on several levels. The story here is about a church search committee for a new minister of a long-standing Unitarian Universalist congregation in California. It’s humorous, insightful, and entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


  • Right Kind of Wrong
    The Science of Failing Well
    by Amy C. Edmondson
  • The Last Lecture
    by Randy Pausch
  • Necessary Endings
    The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward
    by Henry Cloud
  • I Didn’t Sign Up for This
    A Couples Therapist Shares Real-Life Stories of Breaking Patterns and Finding Joy in Relationships, Including Her Own
    by Dr. Tracy Dalgleish
  • The History of White People
    by Nell Irvin Painter
  • Find the Helpers
    What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope
    by Fred Guttenberg
  • The Day the World Came to Town
    9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland
    by Jim DeFede

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

20 thoughts on “9 Books I Recommend—October 2023

  1. Lynn

    The books on communication intrigue me, Lisa! Learning how to communicate better in our world where misunderstandings are prevalent is so important. I’m starting to read more non-fiction again, and I will be adding a few of your recommendations to my library holds list!

  2. Jeanne Takenaka

    Lisa, I’m always fascinated by the books you read. 🙂 I love how the books you share about seem to be perspective-broadening books. I am a fiction lover. One of my favorite books from the month actually came out a few years ago. It’s The Joy of Falling, by Lindsay Harrel. It’s about two widows who were married to brothers. They learn their husbands had signed up for an ultramarathon and decide to run it in their place. The story is beautiful as each grapples with dealing with her grief and discovering how to move forward in a life they never anticipated. It’s a beautiful story.

  3. Donna Connolly

    Hi, Lisa – What a powerful post of incredible reads. I haven’t yet read any of the books that you have featured here but your summaries alone were very provocative. I’ve just subscribed to your website and look forward to connecting with your further over great reads!

  4. Joanne

    I learned a lot about hermaphrodites and how parents and doctors making those choices early on about what sex to make their child can have lifelong consequences when I was in college; it was fascinating to me in my psychology classes particularly because I had never heard of any baby being born with both sex organs ever before and was surprised to hear statistics on just how often that does happen. I’m going to have add that book to my list!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      How interesting that you learned about this in college, Joanne. That’s wonderful. I didn’t know much at all about it until my niece became a labor & delivery nurse and told us how prevalent it was. Anytime I wake up to one thing, I wonder how many more thousands of things I still have yet to find out about.

  5. Linda Stoll

    Henry Cloud’s Necessary Endings is a favorite, Lisa. And you’ve given us such a beautiful variety of titles. I tend to stick to tried and true subjects so thank you for inviting me out of that well-worn comfort zone.

  6. Jean Wise

    My hubby asked today why I keep getting books from the library when I have so many of my own to read – One answer is your wonderful suggestions. Just ordered two of these from the library. LOL. You are like my dealer for my addiction. LOL

  7. Dianna

    Thank you for sharing about these books, Lisa. I definitely want to read Fight Right! I mean, even after 52 years of marriage, there’s still much to learn, right? It’s just been added to my wish list.

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