My reading list January 2014

These are the books I’m currently reading and have just finished from last month. Every 4th Tuesday we share our nightstands.


when-i-dont-desire-god-john-piperWhen I Don’t Desire God
How to Fight for Joy
by John Piper

I never knew that the desire for God and delight in God were crucial. I was always told that feelings didn’t matter. Now I am finding evidence all over the Bible that that the pursuit of joy in God, and the awakening of all kinds of spiritual affections, are part of the essence of the newborn Christian heart.  – John Piper

I put off reading this book, even though Desiring God by John Piper is one of my top 10 favorite books of all-time. But when Dianna kept telling me how good it was, I knew it was time to dig in. And I’m so glad I finally have! It contains Piper’s classic message: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” but from a slightly different angle. I’m over halfway through, but I already don’t want it to end.

strength-to-love-martin-luther-king-jrStrength to Love
by Martin Luther King Jr.

My review here

Some of us, of course, will die without having received the realization of freedom, but we must continue to sail on our charted course. We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. Only in this way shall we live without the fatigue of bitterness and the drain of resentment. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ve listened to speeches from Martin Luther King, Jr., and have read excerpts, so it was time I soaked in some longer readings. This book is a collection of sermons he preached. And it is powerful! I hear his voice as I read, knowing how much good he accomplished for all people through his non-violent approach to procuring civil rights, before being assassinated in 1968.

made-for-goodness-desmond-tutuMade for Goodness
And Why This Makes All the Difference
by Desmond Tutu

More quotes here

We are all designed for goodness, and when we recognize that truth it makes all the difference in the world. We are perfectly loved with a love that requires nothing of us, so we can stop “being good” and live into the goodness that is our essence. God holds out an invitation to us.  – Desmond Tutu

I picked this up as part of Step 1, “Learn about Compassion,” of Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I know Archbishop Tutu from South Africa could also teach me a thing or two about compassion and social justice and Jesus and love. He’s seen so much evil in his life, yet he remains optimistic that we are made for goodness and that we can succeed in it. In this book he tells story after story, intermingled with Bible stories as well, about good overcoming evil.


embracing-obscurityEmbracing Obscurity
Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything
by Anonymous

The trouble with you and me and the rest of humanity is not that we lack self-confidence (as we’re told by the world) but that we have far too much self-importance. – Anonymous

Ouch. I read this excellent book just when my pride had been injured–an apt reminder it’s not about me anyway, but about honoring God. Four phrases the author recommends we memorize: I don’t know everything. I have limited time and energy. I’m not morally invincible. I’m not irreplaceable.

king-jesus-gospelThe King Jesus Gospel
The Original Good News Revisited
by Scot McKnight

Most of evangelism today is obsessed with getting someone to make a decision; the apostles, however, were obsessed with making disciples.  – Scot McKnight

McKnight repeats often that the gospel isn’t defined as salvation (who’s in and who’s out). Instead, the gospel is Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and appearance. Jesus himself is the good news. Our personal salvation is a result of the gospel. There is one Gospel, written down in four versions. To “gospel” is to tell the Story of Jesus.

moonwalking-with-einsteinMoonwalking with Einstein
The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
by Joshua Foer

My review here

It’s the true story of reporter Joshua Foer as he trains for the U.S. Memory Championship. He also includes the science and history of memory, as well as stories of people he met who had the best and worst capacities for memory. I found the whole book most intriguing and well-written.

wednesday-warsThe Wednesday Wars
by Gary Schmidt

A sweet coming-of-age novel set in 1967 as 7th-grader Holling Hoodhood deals with life at school and home in all its complicated, serious, and funny ways. I particularly enjoyed reading it from my adult perspective because I could relate to the behind-the-scenes’ stories of the adults in his life, but the author shows it from the boy’s perspective. It’s deserving of the Newberry Honor it won in 2008.

the-blue-castleThe Blue Castle
by L. M. Montgomery

My review here

She made a discovery that surprised her: she, who had been afraid of almost everything in life, was not afraid of death. It did not seem in the least terrible to her. And she need not now be afraid of anything else. Why had she been afraid of things? Because of life.  – L. M. Montgomery

I didn’t expect to like this book so much. But it is a delightful novel by the author of the Anne of Green Gables series. A few plot twists I saw coming, but some of the biggest ones caught me by surprise. This book is the January selection in the Reading to Know Classic Book Club.

twelve-steps-to-compassionate-lifeTwelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
by Karen Armstrong

I read it through this month, but I’ll be rereading it all year, one chapter at a time, for my One Word 2014: Compassion. It contains twelve practical steps to becoming a more compassionate person (and thus family, society, and world) but it also contains a lot of history from various faith traditions (including my own, Christianity) as well as lots of recommended readings from outside books. I downloaded the reading guide with additional practical applications to give me more ways to practice each step this year and joined the Charter for Compassion Facebook group.

His-Word-in-My-Heart-Janet-Pope-1His Word in My Heart
Memorizing Scripture for a Closer Walk with God
by Janet Pope

My review here

On one hand, this book could intimidate you when you see how many books of the Bible Janet Pope has memorized (books, not just verses!). But, she doesn’t let you be intimidated because she makes it very practical, one step at a time, one verse at a time, an approach that anybody can do. I don’t have plans to memorize whole Bible books, but I do find great benefit in memorizing chapters, and this book has already motivated me to continue on with that.

the-shack-william-p-youngThe Shack
Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity
by William Paul Young

The real underlying flaw in your life is that you don’t think that I am good. If you knew I was good and that everything—the means, the ends, and all the processes of individual lives—is all covered by my goodness, then while you might not always understand what I am doing, you would trust me. But you don’t.  – William P. Young

I first read this novel 6 years ago, shortly after it came out in 2007. I loved it then, and loved it now. Do I agree with all the theology? Probably not, but enough to whet my appetite for reading the non-fiction follow-up by Young’s friend Baxter Kruger, The Shack Revisited. It’s on my shelf now patiently waiting its turn.

* * *

Here are my 10 favorite books of 2013.

What’s a good book you are reading or want to read this month?


My books on Goodreads
More nightstands

16 thoughts on “My reading list January 2014

  1. Linda@Creekside

    I loved The Shack when I read it way back in the day. Thanks for the prompting to pull it off the shelf one more time … and for the info about the follow-up book, too. I’m going to check it out {literally}, Lisa!

    Stay cozy …


  2. Tonia

    So many good books on your list. I confess that nonfiction is a harder genre for me to get into but your selections always make me want to stretch myself.

    The Blue Castle is my favorite book by Montgomery.

  3. Carrie, Reading to Know

    I’m so glad that you liked Blue Castle!

    I’m on a John Piper kick myself. I hadn’t heard of the title “When I DON’T desire God” but now I’m interested. I’ma bout to start a Desiring God study with a few friends. Looking forward to it!

  4. bekahcubed

    As usual, you have a whole list of books I want to look into–unfortunately, my library has only a sparse listing of them, but it does have Moonwalking with Einstein. Yay!

    Your comments on When I Don’t Desire God make me think that’s one I would do well to pick up–even buy.

  5. Cassandra

    You have such a great list! I might have to just bookmark the entire blog post. 🙂 I too really enjoyed The Blue Castle and it was my first time reading it. Happy February reading!

  6. Caleb Suko

    Piper’s book looks really good I’d like to get that one on my reading list. Also the book on memorizing Scripture. I need need to get back into memorization.

    Right now I’m finishing up “Strange Fire” by John MacArthur and hoping to get the review up on my blog this week. It’s been an interesting and at times surprising read.

  7. Beth@Weavings

    Embracing Obscurity and His Word on My Heart look like worthy reads. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for them.

    I absolutely loved The Wednesday Wars and The Blue Castle has long been a favorite of mine.

  8. Beverley

    I have read The Shack after Danielle died and have wanted to read it again, but it’s never felt like the right time. Young doesn’t show me the same God that i have in my heart and yet he shares the same hope and compassion that knowing God can bring. I often wonder what it is that God has in store for me or why my life is the way it is and then there is always a reminder that his ways are not my ways.

  9. Dianna

    I’m so glad that you are reading “When I Don’t Desire God”! I’ve been praying for you daily regarding your pain. When I think you are reading the very book that was the turning point for me in my pain and helped me see my health limitations as a way to glorify God it brought a smile and tears all at the same time! Love you!

    Okay…so I’m adding Strength to Love, Embracing Obscurity, and His Word in my Heart are going on my Wish List. Thank you for the wonderful recommendations, Lisa!

  10. mary

    You always have an incredible reading list! I love to read, but I don’t get near as many books read as you do – and I always thought I was a fast reader. Love this list and will have to check some of these out.

  11. Betty Draper

    Finishing up, The Fire Of Delayed Answers, also Becoming a Woman of Strength by Cynthia Heald. Waiting to read is a book called, Writing for Wellness. I love having one waiting, one reading and one finishing.

  12. Jean Wise

    As usual I love your list. Haven’t read the Piper one, sounds good. Several I have read. right now I am rereading both Brene Brown books I have. Love her writing too. We really do have the same tastes in books, Lisa!!

  13. Pingback: On the blog–January 2014

  14. KimP

    I finished Embracing Obscurity last month and loved it. Want to go back through it with a fine-tooth comb 🙂 And I’d love to know the writer…although that would defeat the purpose of the book! I found it a book store for only $3 as a bargain buy and it turned out to be worth a lot more. Thanks for the other book recommendations!

  15. Pingback: My reading list February 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *