8 Books I Recommend – January 2018

Here are 8 books I recommend from what I read in January. Once a month we share our current reading lists at Jennifer’s.

Books I Recommend-January 2018

Books I Recommend

1. Blessed Are the Misfits
Great News for Believers Who Are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They’re Missing Something
by Brant Hansen


Are you a perfect fit for your church? I didn’t think so. Me neither. This book is for us. With humor and serious insights, Brant Hansen makes it okay. He shares why it’s a blessing to be a misfit.

My review of Blessed Are the Misfits

2. Beyond the Messy Truth
How We Came Apart, How We Come Together

by Van Jones


So good. Van Jones may be called a liberal, but he writes well to both conservatives and liberals in this book. He tells multiple sides of the story and encourages unity despite division.

“We have a giant task before us. And unfortunately a great deal of the work falls, inevitably, to us. Where to begin?”

Jones shows us in this book where to begin. He also lists an invaluable set of resources in the appendix: books, twitter feeds, documentaries, organizations, etc., from both red and blue perspectives.

3. The Knowledge Illusion
Why We Never Think Alone
by Steven Sloman


We know less than we think we do. Can you explain how a toilet works or can you draw an accurate picture of a bicycle? You may realize you understand less than you thought. We take for granted how much we depend on others for much of “our” knowledge. We may have a lot of information at our fingertips, but not so much in our own heads. A fascinating book on knowledge and thinking.

“Before trying to explain something, people feel they have a reasonable level of understanding; after explaining, they don’t.”

4. What Unites Us
Reflections on Patriotism
by Dan Rather


These stories and musings about America and our love for her are both entertaining and informative. Through decades of reporting, Dan Rather has seen and heard much around our country. He shares his thoughts and stories in this book.

“It is important not to confuse ‘patriotism’ with ‘nationalism.’ . . . Patriotism is rooted in humility. Nationalism is rooted in arrogance.”

5. Obama, An Intimate Portrait
The Historic Presidency in Photographs
by Pete Souza


Whether or not you were a fan of President Obama’s politics, this book is a beautiful capture of what a Presidency should look like. Pete Souza was the official White House photographer for both terms. His photos are phenomenal both in structure and content (I now follow him on Instagram). He shows amazing highlights from 8 years of a hard job, from intimate moments with the Obama family to major milestones of government.

Among the gorgeous pictures, Souza also includes a few words about his experience behind the scenes with President Obama.

“But in the 12 years I’ve known him, the character of this man has not changed. Deep down, his core is the same. He tells his daughters, ‘Be kind and be useful.’ And that tells you a lot about him. As a man. A father. A husband. And yes, as a President of the United States.”

6. American Grace
How Religion Divides and Unites Us
by Robert D. Putnam


This may become the go-to book on religion in America. It is a comprehensive look at data, trends, and polls on different facets of religious life in the U.S.

“Who personifies the most religious type of American? An older African American woman who lives in a Southern small town. And the least religious? A younger Asian American man who lives in a large Northeastern city.”

It also clarifies some of our divisions. Some you’ll recognize; others may surprise you.

7. The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell
Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian
by W. Kamau Bell


I appreciate W. Kamau Bell’s comedy. But more, I appreciate the way he blends it with serious social commentary.

“This was bigger than stand-up comedy. I was trying to be a stand-up human.”

This book is both funny and thoughtful. Like his TV series, United Shades of America. I recommend both.

8. The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas


This novel is about 16-year-old Starr Carter, a young black girl living in a hard neighborhood but attending a private white school. When one of her childhood friends gets caught in a random police stop, the story picks up the pace and pulls us in. While not necessarily a work of literary genius, the plot is compelling and you’ll find yourself rooting for the characters. It’s labeled a YA book, but adults should read it, too.

Reading Now

  • Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
    How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding
    by Lois Tverberg
  • Educated
    A Memoir
    by Tara Westover
  • The Path Between Us
    An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships
    by Suzanne Stabile
  • In Search of Wisdom
    A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most
    by Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, Alexandre Jollien
  • Start with Why
    How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
    by Simon Sinek
  • The Sin of Certainty
    Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs
    by Peter Enns

* * *

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


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

22 thoughts on “8 Books I Recommend – January 2018

  1. June

    Always interesting to see what you’re reading and what you recommend! I don’t have much time for reading but I’m currently working through The Chronicles of Narnia, again. I’m just starting The Last Battle. Before this, I re-read The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I like to reread both every year or so. Have a blessed week!

  2. Kathy Martin

    The Obama book sounds interesting as well as Dan Rather’s book. I read so little nonfiction though. I have The Hate U Give on my Kindle but haven’t managed to find a slot for it on my reading calendar yet. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  3. Trudy

    I’m always so impressed by the wide variety of nonfiction you read, Lisa. 🙂 Two of these especially appeal to me – about the misfits and Sousa’s Obama photos. I love Obama’s motto of being kind. Love and hugs to you!

  4. Cori

    I would also recommend The Hate U Give to anyone. It created lots of dialogue at book club too. A few books I would recommend (sorry if you have already read them) Born a Crime by Trevor Noah for nonfiction and The Story of Arthur Truluv. Arthur is a great fiction book that is a refreshing read. I hope Feb is a great month of reading for you!

  5. Mary Geisen

    You are much more eclectic in your reading choices than I. However, sharing your thoughts broadens my view and allows me to mull over new book choices.

    I read fiction before bed every night and have been loving books by Katherine Reay. I finished “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream” by Holley Gerth and “Falling Free” by Shannan Martin. I am starting “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Haley Barton at Linda Stoll’s recommendation and as part of her book club.

  6. Barrie Mooney

    I love the past months reads for you- so interesting! I would love the misfits book and hate you give has been on my TBR for a while now and it seems I need to pull it forward in the line-up! Great reading! Your February sounds promising too- love the Rabbi Jesus idea!

  7. Barbara H.

    I don’t think I’d like the one by Enns. 🙂 Interesting distinction between patriotism and nationalism – I’d never thought about that before. The one about a Jewish perspective on the Bible sounds really interesting. Any time anyone I know comes back from Israel, they have a lot of takes on certain passages that shed surprising light.

  8. David

    Dear Lisa, do you like the Sinek? I have just started seeing a “business mentor”. She is very good – sensitive listener without being obvious, unsettlingly perceptive. First couple of sessions were all about “finding my why”.

    Here: reading Journey to the West, just a chapter or two a night. Beautiful, funny, weird.


  9. Beth

    Wow! I don’t know how you read all of these books and find time to blog about them too, Lisa! You are an inspiration and a great resource for what to read next! Thanks so much! I’ll be sharing.

  10. Betsy de Cruz

    I’m with Meg, above. This is such a refreshing list of reads! New to me. I admire you for all the reading you do. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’m still plugging away at the same ONE book I started weeks ago. So your list does inspire.

  11. Lesley

    You always read such an interesting selection of book, Lisa, and I am always impressed by how many you get through! I like the sound of Blessed Are The Misfits. One I’ve enjoyed recently (which I think you recommended before) is Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

  12. Jean Wise

    when I read your list and comments, I feel like I am meandering in a bookstore looking a the shelves and reading the back covers. One of my favorite activities! Thanks for a great list and review, Lisa

  13. Laura Thomas

    I always love to see the books on your list, Lisa! I just finished The Orphan’s Tale
    by Pam Jenoff, a fascinating WWII historical fiction based around a traveling circus. Reminded me of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. Happy reading, friend! Stopping by from #FaithnFriends 🙂

  14. Lois Flowers

    The book on knowledge caught my eye in this month’s list, Lisa. And though I’m not familiar with W. Kamau Bell, his subtitle says more than some entire books! 🙂 I always enjoy reading about what YOU are reading, my friend!

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