Five Books I Recommend – October 2016

Once a month I give book recommendations from what I’ve read. From October’s nightstand, I recommend these two non-fiction and and three fiction books to you.



1. The Road Back to You
An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile


If you want an introduction to the Enneagram, a personality typing system, this is an enjoyable and informative book to read. My full review and why I liked it is here.

“Every number on the Enneagram teaches us something about the nature and character of the God who made us. Inside each number is a hidden gift that reveals something about God’s heart.”

2. The Road to Character
by David Brooks


I first came to enjoy David Brooks as a political analyst during this election. He writes for the New York Times. But now that I’ve read his book, I appreciate him even more for his gentle spirit in holding up high values and moral character. Each chapter in this book is the life story of a well-known leader and thinker from throughout the centuries.

“We sometimes think of saints, or of people who are living like saints, as being ethereal, living in a higher spiritual realm. But often enough they live in an even less ethereal way than the rest of us. They are more fully of this earth, more fully engaged in the dirty, practical problems of the people around them. Day and her colleagues slept in cold rooms.”


3. The Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead


Excellent novel. This is the powerful story of Cora, a slave on a Georgia plantation, in the 1800s. When she receives an opportunity to escape, she leaves on a literal underground railroad, a system of tracks and tunnels beneath the ground. The story chronicles the ups and downs of how she goes and where she ends up. Excellent both in plot and in perspective and in writing.

“Their fear called after them even if no one else did. They had six hours until their disappearance was discovered and another one or two before the posses reached where they were now. But fear was already in pursuit, as it had been every day on the plantation, and it matched their pace.”

4. The One-in-a-Million Boy
by Monica Wood


Another excellent novel. This is the moving story of 104-year-old Ona and her friendship with a special 11-year-old Boy Scout, even though he dies on the third page of the book. The novel travels nicely back and forth through time as you piece the whole puzzle together. It’s a heart-wrenching story.

“You know, one meets so many people, the years pass and pass, but there are certain times, certain people— . . . They take up room. So much room.”

5. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
by Chris Cleave


This novel is a beautifully-told story of World War 2 from the British side. It chronicles the journeys of the young socialite Mary in London, a black American student Zachary that she befriends, and Alastair, an art curator who enlists in the British army.

“And yet this is when he must write: no, in the lull between attacks when his letter would go straight out on the next available airplane. War made one do everything when one wasn’t at all ready. Dying yes, but also living.”

Reading Now

  • Underground Airlines
    by Ben H. Winters
  • Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age
    by Bob Cutillo
  • Stumbling on Happiness
    by Daniel Todd Gilbert
  • Search Inside Yourself
    by Chade-Meng Tan
  • The Great Spiritual Migration
    by Brian McLaren

* * *

What are you reading this month? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

30 thoughts on “Five Books I Recommend – October 2016

  1. Barbara H.

    Interesting collection! The quote about saints is thought-provoking. The people we usually characterize that way are ones we pictures in meadows or cave or monasteries praying and reading and thinking. Though I am sure they did some of that, many of them were involved in the “dirty, practical problems of the people around them.”

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      David Brooks’ book had many thought-provoking quotes. I appreciated learning the bigger life stories of the people he shared about in the book, from the ugly, not-so-saintly stages to the maturing into wisdom and spiritual growth stages. Being a connoisseur of biographies yourself, you’re likely familiar with several of the stories already.

  2. Barrie

    The “One in a Million Boy” looks wonderful- I will forgive the spoiler, because if it’s on the 3rd page, chances are it isn’t really a spoiler at all! I love how you give us little quotes from the books- makes it easier to see if I would like to read more. The “Underground Railroad” has so much press, and I know I should read it, but somehow I am worried it will be too slow for me, and so I put it on my TBR…but not on top!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for the forgiveness, Barrie. 🙂 I debated omitting the news of the death in the review, but since you find out almost immediately, I thought maybe it’d be okay. It really plays into the whole book.

      I understand your reluctance with The Underground Railroad because of all the press. It actually was very plot-driven and moved along quickly, if that helps you any. I don’t like books that move too slowly either (I actually stopped reading “The Sympathizer” this month because of that). I actually hadn’t planned on reading it this soon but it became available at my library so I snatched it up.

  3. Susan

    Okay, I do want to read about this Enneagram phenomenon — would you recognize this one first, or “Wisdom of the Enneagram” first? I’ve heard so much about “Everyone Brave …” — must read. I like the Brooks quote, too.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’d recommend The Road Back to You first. It’s an overall view and not so heavy on facts-only. It’s filled with stories and examples so it’s a great read as well as informative. But then do take a look into Wisdom of the Enneagram because it’s very thorough. I’ve really enjoyed learning about this!

  4. Bill (cycleguy)

    Hi Lisa! Some of the fiction sounded really interesting to me. I’m going to have to check them out. I have been sort of focused on human trafficking lately so my books have taken me into that world. Renting Lacy by Linda Smith. Dancing for the Devil by Anny Donewald. I read “Lacy” and now reading “Dancing.” Up next are The White Umbrella by Bowley and Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd. Awhile back I read a book by Annie Lobert (married now to Oz Fox from Stryper) called “Fallen.” Excellent insight into the mind of a slave. I’m also reading “The Imperfect Pastor” by Eswine.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You have such interesting titles, Bill. Thanks for sharing them here! I also find it very informative to read novels based on real-life issues that we’re learning about. Sometimes putting a story to the issue makes it more real to me than just reading facts and figures about it.

  5. Lesley

    Thanks for the recommendations- these sound good. I’ve heard a bit about the Enneagram lately and I’d be interested to find out more so I might check that one out. The Underground Railway sounds interesting too.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The Road Back to You would be a great introductory book (and yet complete in itself) to learn about the Enneagram. It’s very interesting to spot the patterns in ourselves and in those we love (although I’m trying not to assign numbers to all my friends and family, ha).

  6. Michele Morin

    Have you managed to catch any of the podcasts that Susan and Ian have done to promote/generate excitement over/explain the premise of their book? They are excellent, very warm and inviting, and even though I haven’t cracked the cover of my book yet, I’m excited about learning more about the Enneagram. I’m so conflicted though– 4? 1? Gotta hurry up and start the book!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you mentioned the podcast, Michele. Yes, I have listened to every episode and highly recommend it as well. I actually went to an Enneagram conference a few weeks back with Ian and Susan. It was so informative. They’re both wonderful speakers and so knowledgeable about the Enneagram (well, about life in general too). I went to the conference sure that I was a 1, but left thinking maybe I’m a 5, with a 4 wing. 🙂 After researching a little more, I’m leaning back toward a 1 again. I’m conflicted, obviously. ha. Let me know if you settle on your own number.

  7. Dea Moore

    Just finished The Road Back to You. Now I know why I’m always swimming in deep waters (4) and why my son (8) and I seemed to be from two different worlds. Thanks for the recs.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Glad you read the book, too, Dea! So fascinating, yes? Being a 4 must be interesting; I dabbled with the idea that I’m a 5 with a 4 wing, but I kept swinging back to being a 1. I don’t know now. ha. With an 8 son, you have your hands full. 🙂 He’s probably a leader in the making though!

  8. Karen Del Tatto

    Lisa, Thanks so much for sharing these book recommendations.

    I remember reading the Underground Railroad in 4th Grade and doing a book report on it. The story of Cora effected me greatly, even at a young age. Thanks for bringing back that memory. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I barely remember learning anything about the Underground Railroad when I was in school, but it could be more of a memory problem than a curriculum problem. 🙂 The book I mentioned in my post is actually a new book published this year, but I do wonder why he chose such a generic name like The Underground Railroad because it’s so easy to confuse with a million other books! ha.

  9. Kristina

    You got a great list here. I never thought of incorporating the enneagram with God. I have seen it a purely psychology thing. And the point of view of world war 2 from a British person is one point of view I have yet tried. I enjoy reading from that time period. Thanks for coming to visit my blog. Hope you have a good rest of the week

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I really appreciated how Ian and Suzanne integrated the Enneagram information with our spiritual lives. They see all 9 personality types as the face of God; it’s quite a beautiful way to think about how it takes all of us to fully reflect God’s glory!

  10. Lynn D. Morrissey

    I always love your book recommendations, Lisa, and appreciate hearing about new releases. My husband will kill you! Little joke. But he swears our basement is sinking w/ my books! I will recommend to you Shelly Miller’s new release: Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. It’s exquisitely penned, filled with invitation, insight, inspiration and practical steps for transitioning into Sabbath. It is not a legalistic book about the subject. I think you and your readers will love it!
    blessings and thanks,

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I definitely get the joke, Lynn. 🙂 My husband likely feels the same way. And I really don’t think I even buy many books. ha. I get a lot from the library, and try to get Kindle books when I do buy them. But still, yes, I have way too many books all over the house.

      I’ve been hearing about Shelly’s book and must read it. It sounds very inviting. Thanks for the personal recommendation.

  11. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Funny about your books too…. and yes, yes books, books everywhere, including in my kitchen pantry–food for thought as I always say. I do Nook just for travel, but it’s a godsend then. You will LOVE Shelly’s book, and she is such a beautiful person as well… like you. Enjoy!

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