“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.
1. I Never Thought of It That Way
How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times
by Monica Guzmán
Excellent book on how to have better conversations with those we disagree with.
Guzmán suggests starting with these three things:
- Stop sorting each other (getting together in our own little groups)
- Stop othering each other (pushing against groups that seem opposed to us)
- 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
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.
3. My Body Is Not a Prayer Request
Disability Justice in the Church
by Amy Kenny
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
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.
5. Nobody Needs to Know: A Memoir
by Pidgeon Pagonis
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.
6. Standing Our Ground
The Triumph of Faith Over Gun Violence: A Mother’s Story
by Lucia Kay McBath
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
“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
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.
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.
WHAT I’M READING NOW
- 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
- Share Four Somethings—October 2023
- On the Blog—October 2023