7 New Books to Make You a Better Person
—Nonfiction November

We read books for a variety of reasons.

The reasons vary as much as the people do.

But one reason we often read is this:

To become a better person.

Looking over the nonfiction books I’ve finished so far in 2021, here are 7 new books that carry potential to make us better people. But only if we practice the good ideas in them.

I’m guilty to often just read the words, but not live them out. The message lies dormant if I don’t let it move me into action.

Reading alone won’t change us. 

But reading can inspire us to put in the work and be changed. These 7 books below are inspiring me to change. See what you think about them. And add your own book suggestions in the comments.

(Note: books that help don’t all fall into the self-help category; helpful books are found in every category!)


Four Thousand Weeks
Time Management for Mortals
by Oliver Burkeman (2021)

Four Thousand Weeks

The average person’s lifespan is around 4,000 weeks. This book isn’t about organizing your time per se, but about realizing you can’t squeeze it all in. So choose wisely.

[My review here of Four Thousand Weeks—“How to Win Your Fight with Time”]


White Awake
An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White
by Daniel Hill (2017)


If we want to be better human beings, we need to be aware of own culture (even when we think we don’t have one) and how it affects other people. As painful as it sometimes is, this book lays it out for us from a moral and spiritual perspective.

[More book suggestions here on racial inequity]


We Need to Talk
How to Have Conversations that Matter
by Celeste Headlee (2017)


Practice these five strategies to have better conversations: be curious, check your bias, show respect, stay the course, and end well. While we often would rather avoid having hard conversations, sometimes relationships can’t improve until we do.


Think Again
The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
by Adam M. Grant (2021)


Don’t forget to sometimes question what you think you already know. The way to learn new things is to question old things. Doubts are beneficial when we use them appropriately.


The Power of Writing It Down
A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life
by Allison Fallon (2021)


Writing isn’t necessarily about publishing. Having a personal, daily writing practice can help us better understand ourselves and each other, even when no one else will ever read our writings.


The Comfort Book
by Matt Haig (2021)


Haig compiled little notes and stories in this book that show love and light in the world. This small book is packed with nuggets of wisdom to help us all be kinder to each other and to ourselves.


If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk
Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans
by John Pavlovitz (2021)


At a bare minimum, can we Christians at least stop being jerks in the world? Pavlovitz is brutally honest about how Christians can come across to others. And how we can do better. Jesus said our one job is to love. We have room for improvement.

[My review here of If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk—“Are We Failing at Our One Job?”]

What is your favorite nonfiction book of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Share in the comments.

Related Reading:

This is Week 1, “Your Year in Nonfiction” for Nonfiction November. Visit Rennie to link your own posts.

Also check out the daily Instagram photo challenge here with Jaymi @theOCBook Girl.

45 thoughts on “7 New Books to Make You a Better Person
—Nonfiction November

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Books are such a treasure of information. Of course now we also have the internet which steals away some of my book-reading time, but that’s fine too. 🙂 God provides us with so many ways to learn.

  1. Kathryn Trask

    Great bundle of books and so true unless we put it into practice not much use but I agree they can inspire. I have found that sometimes issues explored in fiction open me up as well. I’ve seen a number of readers recommend The Comfort Book and I might take a look at The Power of Writing it Down. I could need it!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Donna. It’s the “if we apply them” part that can be tricky for us. 🙂 It can be easy to just read the words and not let them sink in enough to change us (I’m thinking of scripture too).

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      After I read The Comfort Book, I also read Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive. It’s similar and also very good. But so his novel I read first, The Midnight Library. Now I’m looking for all his books, fiction or nonfiction. 🙂

  2. Jeanne Takenaka

    These books all sound great, Lisa! One book I’ve recommended a TON is Deep Work, by Cal Newport. His thoughts on how to work deeper and more effectively really opened my eyes to how distracted I am when I think I’m working. I’ve implemented a few of his ideas, but I need to re-read the book and see what I can implement this go-around. I just had my son read Dream Big, by Bob Goff. I skimmed it to talk it over with him each day. Now that he’s done with it, I’m going to read it. It really made me think about my ambitions, if they’re good for me to be pursuing and what may be hindering me.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for adding Deep Work here, Jeanne! I read it awhile back and it made an impression on me too. I tend to work sporadically, skipping from thing to thing. So I need to re-read it myself.

      And we love Bob Goff around here! I haven’t read Dream Big. I’ll have to get that for my husband. He’s a big Bob Goff fan too.

  3. Molly

    I could not agree more!!! This is why my NonFiction shelf has so many self-help books this year. I strive to be better.

    I love everything Matt Haig has published and I need to pick up The Comfort Book.

    Enjoy your NonFiction November!

  4. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    I’m must confess that I find it difficult to read nonfiction books, which makes no sense when I write nonfiction on my blog. Walking contradictions as my husband likes to say. I will have to check out some of these books, though. This list is packed with great topics.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We all have our own forms of walking contradictions. 🙂 My husband finds it difficult to read nonfiction too; he’ll listen to a novel anyday (he listens to audiobooks on his commute), but I have to be particularly encouraging to get him to read one of my nonfiction books. lol.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What’s interesting to me about Matt Haig is that I read his fiction book first, The Midnight Library, so I came to his nonfiction books after the fact (which is unlike me!). 🙂

  5. Astrid

    The Comfort Book sounds awesome! I have really been into self-help books lately, particularly those on personality development, such as the Enneagram. For example, Hearing God Speak by Eve Annunziato is a great book, between self-help guide and devotional, that speaks to each personality type from a Christian perspective. I love it!

  6. David

    I would benefit from a few books on your list. I should get back into the habit of using our library.

    Favourite non-fiction book of the year? You remind me of “Bonhoeffer’s Christian Humanism”. Not really charismatic writing (too academic), but clearly laid out Bonhoeffer’s theology and his challenge. I agree, the right non-fiction can really shake you up.

  7. JeanWise

    The amount you read is amazing. You inspire me, I have begun – really starting once again – to read every morning at least 20 minutes. I find I focus better in the morning than waiting until the evening when fatigue sets in. Hopefully I can finally tackle some of those books on the pile

  8. Elena Wiggins

    This looks like a great list of books, Lisa! The Power of Writing It Down seems like a book that could really be useful right now, with memory (I like to blame it on “mom brain” but I had a bad memory even before I was a mom!) as well as lingering in sweet moments through writing vs speeding through them by not taking time to reflect and just sit in that moment.

    Linking my recent reviews, if interested

  9. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

    I recently read Growing Sustainable Together, a guide to being the kind of parent I’ve been able to be because my parents set such a good example! This book explains clear strategies and resources for parents who want to get their children involved in cleaning up the environment and living kind and healthy lives, without frightening them with environmental doom. Here’s my review.

    I read We Need to Talk a few years ago and really liked it. Especially helpful to me was the explanation of why it’s unhelpful to respond to someone’s sad story by telling about the time something bad happened to you–I had recognized that this often doesn’t go very well, but understanding WHY has helped me to resist doing it!

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