4 Books I Recommend—September 2020

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. 
—Joseph Brodsky

Here are 4 books I recommend from those I finished reading in September. See all my recommended books here.

4 Books I Recommend September 2020_Lisanotes


1. Love Matters More
How Fighting to Be Right Keeps Us from Loving Like Jesus
by Jared Byas

Very good! Jared Byas (co-host of the podcast, The Bible for Normal People) writes about putting love first, as Jesus commanded. He reminds us that what we know is important, but perhaps more important is remember we don’t know everything. A life lived in truth is a life that prioritizes love.

My review here of Love Matters More

2. The Enneagram for Spiritual Formation
How Knowing Ourselves Can Make Us More Like Jesus
by A J Sherrill

Enneagram for Spiritual Formation_sm

After a few pages, this book seemed vaguely familiar. I believe it’s a rewrite with a new publisher from Sherrill’s original book, Enneagram and the Way of Jesus, which is no longer for sale. But even so, it’s a tighter book now. Sherrill explains how to use the Enneagram to enhance our spiritual growth in Christ, yet without feeling preachy or like a self-help book. He gives specific upstream and downstream practices for each of the 9 types.

My review here of The Enneagram for Spiritual Formation

3Beyond Your Bubble
How to Connect Across the Political Divide, Skills and Strategies for Conversations That Work
by Tania Israel


A book for these times. The political divide feels sharper than ever. Tania Israel gives us skills here to bridge the gap through conversations and connections available to each of us. I also appreciate the staged conversations she set up between “Kevin” and “Celine” to show us how it can be done, to disagree yet still remain friends. 

My review here of Beyond Your Bubble


4. Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again Yes_sm

This heart-wrenching novel tells the stories of two rookie NYPD officers and their families. They live next door for years, and then tragedy strikes that threatens to tear their friendship apart. Except for a love relationship between their children. A tough but beautiful story.

Also finished but not really recommending:

Can’t Even
How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation
by Anne Helen Petersen

Can't Even_sm

Maybe the timing wasn’t right. I trudged through this book, but never got excited about it. Petersen does make valid points about legitimate reasons that millennials feel burnout. Their generation faces different uphill obstacles that my generation, the boomers, didn’t have (my daughters are both millennials) on the job, in parenting, with technology, etc. But in the end, I hear Petersen’s stereotype when she writes: “…what I’ve come to understand as the boomer refrain: Stop whining, millennials — you don’t know what hard work is.” I don’t go that far. I do believe that millennials know hard work, as much as anybody else. But still, the book felt too long and too dark for me. 

Reading Now

  • Too Much Information
    Understanding What You Dont Want to Know
    by Cass R. Sunstein
  • Compassion (&) Conviction
    The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement
    by Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, Chris Butler
  • One by One
    by Ruth Ware
  • How to Be an Antiracist
    Ibram X. Kendi
  • Stamped from the Beginning
    The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
    by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Color of Compromise
    The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
    by Jemar Tisby

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

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

sharing with Modern Mrs. Darcy

56 thoughts on “4 Books I Recommend—September 2020

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    it is always interesting to me how people see reading differently. While your list does not “turn my crank” I’m guessing mine won’t yours either. I just recently read “Live to Forgive” by Jason Romano. It was an incredible book on him learning to forgive his alcoholic and verbally abusive father. I bought some extra copies to give away and to have at the office. I also just read “Jesus Revolution” by Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn. I like history so it was good reading about the Jesus Movement. Those two I’m thinking you would like. But I’m also reading “Lead” by Paul David Tripp and the “Uniform of Leadership” by Jason Romano. I’m guessing they would not be up your alley. I also have “World Changers” by Greg Laurie in my cue, as well as “Unfolding Grace”- 40 guided readings through the Bible. I’m also reading a couple of smaller books during my Quiet Time on Christmas. Yikes! already?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate seeing your reading list as well, Bill. We have several points of intersection on our taste. 🙂 I just added Live to Forgive to my list. I have read a few Paul David Tripp books and loved each one. And you’re prepping for Christmas already–you go! 🙂 Well, it is almost October, unbelievably so.

  2. Laurie

    I am STILL reading “Stamped From the Beginning” too. My son gave it to me for Christmas.

    “Ask Again, Yes” has been on my list of books TBR for a while. I think I now must read it for sure. And I need to read “Love Matters More”. I have an infuriating tendency to want to be right, rather than loving. That needs to change!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hate to admit how long I’ve been reading Stamped from the Beginning. I ignorantly thought I could read it in 8 weeks over the summer for a book club, but I was very wrong. ha. I do read it consistently, but only about 5 pages at a time. Eventually we’ll get to the end. It’s an important book so I don’t want to rush it. Let me know when you finish and I’ll do the same. 🙂

  3. Pam Ecrement

    Thanks for all these as always, Lisa!

    I am reading The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg (a favorite that I read first a number of years ago) and Eugene Peterson’s wonderful book, Run With The Horses. For those nights I am sleepless I always have a novel at my bedside and at present it is Lynn Austin’s Legacy of Mercy.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad to see you enjoying Eugene Peterson’s book…I saw it on Net Galley and marked it (in my head) to return to, if I heard more about it. Now I can safely do so. 🙂 I like to have a novel for those sleepless nights too (unless it’s a scary one, ha).

  4. Martha Jane Orlando

    How I love your recommendations, Lisa! I found myself attracted to the novel, and will put it on my wish list. Right now, I’m reading the same book Bill mentioned above, “Live to Forgive.” It is so moving and inspiring, I think you’d enjoy it, too.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Rebecca. What’s really odd is that three books I’m reading now are tracking history along the same timeline (Stamped from the Beginning; The Color of Compromise; How to Be an Antiracist). It’s making more of an impression on me, and maybe I’ll be more likely to retain the information! 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Hope you’ll enjoy Ask Again, Yes, if you get around to it. It’s an engrossing novel, including some emotionally hard things in places. Hopping over to check out your recommendations now…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Glad you’re reading the Enneagram book too! What number are you? I’m a 5 (but there are still days that I think I’m a 1). The And book has been good so far. Nothing earth-shattering, but I appreciate their premise. I’m about halfway in.

        1. LisaNotes Post author

          As a 5, I often lean toward my 4 wing so I relate to you there. 🙂 But during the pandemic era, I’ve tilted toward the anxious side of my 6 wing as well. I’m all over the circle. lol.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The funny thing about the Enneagram book was that it took me a few chapters before I realized that it was basically the same book I had already ready! ha. I’m guessing he went from being self-published to getting a new publisher. Nonetheless, I basically reread it all a second time and still found it to be helpful. 🙂

  5. mariel

    Lisa, what a great list! I have not read any of them so I am adding them to my list right now!! I am currently starting Becoming Elisabeth Elliot because she is one of my heros of the faith. But I look forward to your recommendations!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve been hearing good things about Becoming Elisabeth Elliot so glad to know you’ve picked it up too, Mariel. Hopefully one day I can get around to it as well. SO many good books out here; it makes it hard to choose what to read next.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I read So You Want to Talk About Race a few months ago and got a lot out of it too. I’ve heard that White Awake is also very good; I have it downloaded on my Kindle but it has to wait its turn. 🙂 I need to finish these first.

  6. Karen

    I’m currently reading The Sacred Enneagram…. how do you think that compares with The Enneagram for Spiritual Transformation?

    I usually devour books at top speed, but am having to go slow with this one… taking lots of notes. (And reading other books at top speed in the interim… I’ve probably read 8-10 books since I started it, and I’m only 40% of the way into it.)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I totally get what you’re saying about reading some books slow. That’s what I’m doing with The Color of Compromise as well as Stamped. Some books just can’t be devoured at top speed to get the most out of them. So, having said that, The Sacred Enneagram was a slow book for me too, whereas The Enneagram for Spiritual Transformation was a normal speed one. 🙂 In my opinion, Sacred takes you much deeper overall (and is a longer book too), whereas the Enneagram for Spiritual Transformation, while still pointing you to deep practices, is more of a primer for those learning about the Enneagram (even though it doesn’t necessarily help people discover their type). If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with The Sacred Enneagram for overall growth. But they’re both very good in their own way and I benefited from both. Hope you’re doing well, Karen!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Donna. Some months are better than others. 🙂 I didn’t finish as many books this month as I wanted to (there are a few books I’ve been reading for months already!), but that’s okay. I’m enjoying them and that’s what counts.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Truth Matters More was definitely an encouraging book to remind me to prioritize loving people more than correcting people. It makes for better relationships, obviously. 🙂 Ask Again wasn’t what I’d call a “fun” novel, but it was a meaningful one and continues to stick with me even after I’ve finished it.

  7. Sharon Hazel

    Interesting list! I have Run with Horses on my list as my next book – I have just finished – Practice Resurrection by Eugene Peterson, Influence by Kate Motaung, the inspirational Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, and Broken Dreams, Fulfilled Promises by Carolyn Ros. Struggling my way through Gifted, Women in Leadership by Debbie Duncan – as it’s not really the book I thought it was going to be! Always enjoy reading recommendations – tempted by the Enneagram book….

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So many of those titles sound great to me, too, Sharon. Thanks for sharing your list here! I’d love to add them all to my stack. I tend to overestimate how many books I can read so my to-read list is FAR longer than I have lifetime left to read them in. 🙂

  8. Lynn

    Thank you for these reviews, Lisa. Your review on Can’t Even has me thinking as that would be one book I probably would have picked up if came across it. But stereotypes are discouraging and do shut me down as a reader. Currently I am reading a library copy of the classic, The Once and Future King by T.S White. It’s a hefty one and am sure I’ll be renewing for more reading time! Memoirs such as Out of the Ashes (Jesse Thistle) and Educated (Tara Westlover) have been part of my fall reading, and now time to take trip into imagination while learning about the medieval period. For non-fiction, The Next Right Thing and Writing The Short Story (WD). It is hard to just have one book on the go!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Don’t let me discourage you from Can’t Even. 🙂 I heard about it on a podcast and both hosts really loved it. So my opinion may be biased because I’m a little older than the millennials. lol.

      I love your list of books. I haven’t read Out of the Ashes but I did read Educated and loved it; such an amazing story. Your two non-fiction books sound great to me as well. I am headed to look up The Next Right Thing now… Thanks, Lynn!

  9. Lesley

    I always enjoy your book recommendations – just really struggling to get much time to read right now. I think I only managed to finish one book in September – The Powerful Purpose Of Introverts by Holley Gerth. I’d definitely recommend it. I read Ask Again, Yes last year and enjoyed it too!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      If you had to pick just one book, it sounds like you chose well, Lesley! I haven’t read Holley’s book on introverts yet, but from what I hear about it, I know I’ll love it. As an introvert, I always appreciate any affirmation we can get that it’s okay to be just as we are. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I understand what you’re saying, Nicole. It does seem like the two sides keep moving even farther apart, which makes it harder to understand each other. I’m praying that it will get better once we’re past the election. (Although I admit that’s hard to imagine at this point…)

  10. Beth

    I love reading posts where people share what they have read. I play a game, “How many books have I read?” I lost this round. Those are all new books to me. I need to confess that I really know nothing about Enneagram except to hear people refer to different numbers. Personality tests are not something that is followed in the UK. Beyond Your Bubble sounds interesting. Looks like some good books.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I wonder if the Enneagram will become as hot in the UK as it is here. There are more and more books being written about it, some of them better than others. 😉 I appreciate the ones that approach it from a spiritual perspective.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re welcome, Donna. It’s always fun for me to look back and think through what I’ve read, to see which books are worth sharing. And which ones aren’t. 🙂

  11. Jean Wise

    Love your opening quote. I think the book Love matter More will be added to my list soon. I feel so drawn to centering more and more on love and hoping this book may inspire me deeper. Thanks Lisa

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think you would appreciate Love Matters More as much as I did, Jean. Jared takes a little bit of an unconventional approach but it’s one that I agree with. I’ll likely reread this book which means I rank it highly. 🙂

  12. Karen Friday

    Lisa, I just read your article about “Beyond Your Bubble.” So intriguing and good insight. Thanks for your recommendations. I’m currently reading, “Double Blessing: How to get it. How to give it” by Mark Batterson. Have you read it?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      No, I haven’t read Double Blessing. Thanks for sharing about it here, Karen! I have read a few other mark Batterson books and loved them so I’m sure I’d love this one too! I’ll look it up now….

  13. Lisa Blair

    Thanks for The Enneagram for Spiritual Growth and Love Matters most recommendations!
    I just finished The Ratification Debates: The U.S. Constitution by Wendy McElroy; Decision in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention of 1787 by Christopher Collier; The Founding Father’s Guide to the Constitution by Brion T. McClanahan. All are great audiobooks!

    I’m currently reading: the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin and narrated by Fredd Wayne; The Daniel Prayer: Prayer that moves Heaven and Changes Nations by Anne Graham Lotz; Great People of History by Lester Sumrall. All great audiobooks!

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