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
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.
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 the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
How a Jewish Perspective Can Transform Your Understanding
by Lois Tverberg
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
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What good book have you read this month? Please share in the comments.
- Blessed Are the Misfits – Is That You?
- On the Blog – January 2018