My reading list – April 2015

Once a month we share the books weโ€™ve finished reading and are reading now at 5 Minutes for Books.

Here is my list for April. I successfully finished some books from my TBR list–always a good feeling. And I finished a few books that I’ve been reading for months. Several of the other books I read were short though, so altogether it looks like I spent lots more time reading this month than I actually did.


1. The Age of the Image
Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens
by Stephen Apkon


My review here

Visual literacy has grown to be important in our society. How literate will we be? A great book addressing and teaching on this subject.Very interesting so far!

2. The Invisible Man
by H. G. Wells


This classic is about the troubles of a man who finds himself invisible. It’s short and is moving along quickly. It’s an enjoyable novel so far. Somehow I’ve never read it before (first published in 1897).

3. 50 Women Every Christian Should Know
Learning from Heroines of the Faith
by Michelle DeRusha


My review here

I’m learning so much from Michelle’s breakdown of Christian women I wish I could talk to in person. It’s not just a book of facts (although it is full of facts); it also reaches deeper into virtue and inspiration.

4. When Mockingbirds Sing
by Billy Coffey


My review here

Have you read this book? I hear Billy Coffey is an amazing author so I’m looking forward to reading this novel that I know nothing about.


5. Searching for Sunday
Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
by Rachel Held Evans


My review here

Such an encouraging book from Rachel Held Evans about church and community and God. She opens up about her journey of faith—the ugly and the pretty—and helps us see our own journey through the lens of these seven sacraments of baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing the sick, and marriage.

6. Scary Close
Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy

by Donald Miller


My review here

I happen to be a Donald Miller fan because I love how he keeps it real. He’s at his most vulnerable yet in this book about his fears of getting close and letting himself really be seen.

7. Middlemarch
by George Eliot


I loved this classic and beloved British novel about community and relationships and life in the early 1800s. I’d had this one going for a long time, but I’m so glad I kept at it.

8. Billy Budd, Sailor
by Herman Melville


A very short novel about a good sailor being mistreated. It was okay; not my favorite.

9. Abandonment to Divine Providence
by Jean-Pierre de Caussade


Written by a French Jesuit in the 1700s, this was originally a series of letters to nuns to navigate spiritual concerns they had. I didn’t get all of it (i.e., it was written in the 1700s). That’s ok. I grabbed what I could. It was enough. Fiat! Fiat! Be faithful; submit to God’s will; resign yourself to the present moment in what God is doing. I’ve been reading this one for several months, too, so it was good to finish.

10. Ruby
by Cynthia Bond


My review here

This novel is about an abused woman’s return to her small town in east Texas and the way it responds to her and how she responds to it. The writing was beautiful, but the content wasn’t my cup of tea.

11. Coffee Talk with Jesus
Intimate Chats with the Savior
by Barbie Swihart


A small book of 31 devotionals. Each day includes an encouraging devotional thought, Bible verses, and questions for journaling. Barbie also includes recipes here and there. I have a friend that it’ll be perfect for, so I’ll gift it to her this week now that I’ve enjoyed it.

12. In Search of Balance
Keys to a Stable Life
by Richard A. Swenson


I liked Swenson’s book Margin better. This one felt repetitive to me after awhile, restating the obvious—we need more balance. Summary: You’re doing too much. Cram less things into your day. He did offer lots of specific advice though and the message itself of balance is a valuable one.

13. Pride
The Story of the First Openly Gay Navy Seal
by Brett Jones


I met the author Brett Jones at a book signing and speech he gave a couple weeks ago. He’s had an interesting life as a Navy SEAL and being outed during the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell era. I loved his positive perspective of always taking the high road, reflected in his character and in his book. I left encouraged after meeting him. I wrote about it here.

14. For Women Only
What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men
by Shaunti Feldhahn


I came to this one with a bad attitude—what more can she tell us about how men are different than women? Why should I read this? Well, maybe it wasn’t necessarily new stuff. But it was good reminders that I needed to hear (even if reluctantly). And it was short. I’ll pass it along to younger women in my life who may not have heard this kind of information before.

15. The Witch of Blackbird Pond
by Elizabeth George Speare


This 1950s Newbery Award book is about an orphan girl’s move from her home of Barbados to family in Connecticut in the 1700s. She befriends an outside Quaker woman considered a witch by their Puritan community. I read it as a child and wanted to refresh what I loved about it. It’s still amazingly relevant in our own culture to the discerning reader, and yet appropriate for middle-school readers and up.

16. The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein


A philosophizing dog narrates this novel about his owner’s life. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s cute. I listened to the audio version, which was read so well. I don’t always remember to include books I listened to, but this one was so good I couldn’t forget to tell you about it.

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What are you reading this month? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

28 thoughts on “My reading list – April 2015

  1. Bill (cycelguy)

    I’m reading Counseling the Depressed by Archibald Hart. I have had this for probably 20 years and am just now reading it. Should tell you about my focus these days in the church. Also re-reading 46 Stones (which I reviewed). Will soon be reading Counseling for Family Violence and Abuse and Counseling for Substance Abuse and Addiction. (Lots of both going on in this town). Reading at home “Voyagers of the Titanic,” a book about people involved in the great ship. I am a Titanic buff. I have a few others which will have to take a back burner to more pressing reads.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So you win the prize of longest book on the shelf. ha. So far anyway. I’m trying to finally get rid of those long-time shelf-stealers from my life, one at a time. What I find though is that there’s usually a reason I hadn’t read them–they’re not that great! ha. But not always true. Your Archibald Hart book is probably an exception to that. Some serious books you’ve got going; I know the Lord will bring it to fruit as you pastor the people in your church and town.

  2. David

    Dear Lisa

    Alas, Middlemarch was the one book on your 2015 reading list that I hated. Are you going to write a review? I’d be interested to hear why you liked it.

    Me: On course to finish first pass through the Psalms by end May. I had a slight epiphany recently, reading Ps 88 in a bar, drinking a bitter beer, with some bluesy musak playing. The musak was musak but just bluesy enough to put the blues in my head. I don’t know if I’ve said, but I’d been finding many of the Psalms rather formulaic and repetitive. Reading a Psalm with the formulas and repetitions of the blues in my ears, suddenly this didn’t seem a problem, and now it’s part of what I like about the Psalms.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So it was Middlemarch! I didn’t know which book was going to be that one. I won’t be writing a review about it so no worries there. ha. While I did find it boring at times (as is the case with most older novels–they move SO slowly at times), I did enjoy the relationship dynamics, especially the male/female roles. And I’m very glad they’ve changed since then! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Interesting commentary on why you like the Psalms. I like the connection you draw between them and the blues. Very apropos. That’s awesome that you’ve almost gone through round 1 with them.

  3. Barbara H.

    Yours is the second nightstand post where I have seen Middlemarch today! It’s one of those titles I keep seeing and think I need to check into some time but don’t have a clear idea what it’s about.

    The Art of Racing in the Rain sounds like something I’d enjoy.

    I’ve read one of Billy Coffey’s books – will have to look into that one.

    I think we read Billy Budd in high school but I don’t remember a thing about it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think you’d like Middlemarch, if you like British novels from the 1800s. It’s similar to other classics from that era, but it did stay on target a little more than some. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Well, nothing against Melville, but I understand why you might not remember much about Billy Budd. I’m not sure I really got it. ha. But at least now I can get it off my shelves and pass it along elsewhere. Not sure why I had it in the first place—probably something I bought during the homeschool years then forgot to make the girls read it.

  4. Susan

    Almost all of the books you discuss sound good to me — we must have similar reading tastes! I read “Heart of the Dark Woods” by Billy Coffey and wasn’t impressed. That said, I’ve read his other books are better, so I’m anxious to see what you think. I’d love to read your Middlemarch thoughts as well, since I’m reading it now. Racing in the Rain sounds like one I’d enjoy, and Witch of Blackbird Pond takes me back … I’d enjoy reading that one again as an adult!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I believe we do have similar tastes, Susan. So now I’m wondering if I won’t like the Mockingbird book. ha. But so far it has been enjoyable so I’ll keep a positive attitude. I enjoyed Middlemarch for all the characters and the intricacy between them. I saw you were also going to read My Life in Middlemarch. Do let me know what you think about it; I love the idea of it.

  5. Sharon

    I’ve heard about Dancing in the Rain, but someone told me it was sad – and dogs and sad are hard for me. But, they also said it was a wonderful book, so I might just have to read it. Thanks for sharing your book list. It is always so informative.

    I’ve been hooked for awhile now on historical detective novels. I just started a new series, the first book is called Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. Maise was a nurse in WWI, and is now setting out on her own as a private investigator. Two other authors that I really enjoy in this genre are Louise Penny and Charles Todd. Great characters, and I’m always up for a good mystery!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Hmmm…yes, Dancing in the Rain does have some serious sad parts, so I’m going to recommend you NOT read it since you’re a serious dog-lover. You’d love the perspective (it’s so adorable, and I didn’t expect it to be cute–written by a dog???). But it’s also painful. Stay with your novels because they sound wonderful. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. floyd

    You’re still my hero! I did read The Art Of Racing In The Rain and I want to read Coffey’s latest. I usually read all of his. I’m in the middle of Unbreakable and the Jerry Lee Lewis biography by Rick Bragg.

    You don’t need to look in your rearview mirrorโ€ฆ I’m not even close to you…

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ha. I thought I felt you breathing down my neck, but I was mistaken? ๐Ÿ™‚ Looks like you’ve got your own stack going on though! Jeff actually got me to read/listen to The Art of Racing in the Rain. He listened to it first and really liked it. I started listening to it through earbuds one night when I couldn’t sleep–until I found myself laughing out loud. Had to listen only during the day.

  7. floyd

    Oh yeah. Your dust has long settled over me as I trudge through the Sahara on foot… wish I had a jet like you do!

    The Art Of Racing was a little rough around the edges, but funny and crazy clever!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right that it was a little rough; good to mention that. Another reason I couldn’t recommend “Ruby” to anyone in good conscious is because it was VERY rough, not only around the edges, but right at the heart of it.

  8. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    I’m reading 50 Women Every Christian Should Know, too! I love how much it inspires me to live a life of committed faith. I also love that it is to read one story at a time even when you don’t have much time.

    Thanks for sharing your reads, Lisa. The Invisible Man sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the suggestion.

    May He continue to fill your cup to overflowing!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Excited that you’re reading Michelle’s book, too! I love how inspiring the stories are about women who had it MUCH tougher I can imagine, yet they persevered in their calling and in their faith in God.

  9. ibeeeg

    I love The Witch of Blackbird Pond back when Inwas reading it with my oldest child years ago. I should reread it with my younger kids.
    I am not a big fan of Donald Miller or Rachel Held Evans but your comments have made me interested in her book.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, The Witch of Blackbird Pond is always good to re-read. I’m glad I took the time to read it again. I’m never quite sure when I return to a book if it’ll be as good as I remembered it the first time. ๐Ÿ™‚ But this one was.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ah, nice, Carrie. Wish I’d thought of that pun. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It has been very interesting; it’s written well and is staying on target, two of the things I look for in non-fiction books. Plus teaching me things I didn’t know and things I need to be thinking about.

  10. Cathy

    I’ve never heard of ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond.’ I’ve just reserved it at the library! Sounds really interesting. I’m reading ’50 Women’ also and enjoying it for the most part. Middlemarch is on my bookshelf but don’t know if I’ll ever get to it. : )

    Love seeing what you are reading Lisa. Always something new to me.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Well I hope you’ll like The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It is a children’s book, but I found it could go as deep as I wanted it to. Glad you’re enjoying 50 Women too. Many of the stories are new to me and are surprising. Middlemarch took me several months to read, but it was worth it, if that encourages you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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