Books I’m reading – January ’15

Once a month we share the books we’ve finished reading and are reading now at 5 Minutes for Books. Here is my list for January.


1. Just Mercy
A Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson


Okay, this one! Read it! I was overwhelmed with the stories told by attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson writes compassionately and compellingly of his true-life cases with death row inmates and youthful offenders. I know it’s only January, but I see this book being one of the most influential I’ll read all year.

2. Your Family in Pictures
The Parents’ Guide to Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, and Everyday Life
by Me Ra Koh


My review here

This book on taking better photos is helpful for both the beginner with a point-and-shoot camera as well as those of us wanting to better use our DSLR cameras. The chapters are short, to the point, and provide practical tips as well as help you remember the bigger picture of why you’re taking photos in the first place.

3. Think Like a Freak
by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner


Another winner from Levitt and Dubner in their Freakonomics series. They share new stories in a fun yet informative way on culture and economics. Topics this time include what we can learn from Nigerian email scammers, hot dog eating champions, and more things you’d never think of.

4. The Secret Life of Pronouns
What Our Words Say About Us
by James W. Pennebaker

The Secret Life of Pronouns

This is for us word-nerd types. So naturally I found it fascinating! Author Pennebaker—who is also a social psychologist as well as language expert—shares his findings on how our word choices reveal more about us than we know. An interesting tidbit in the book is this website, Analyze Words. Enter your twitter name (or anyone else’s) to see how your words are reflecting your personality.

5. Born to Blog
Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time
by Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith


My review here

This book says most bloggers fall into one (or more) of these categories: dreamers, storytellers, persuaders, curators, or teachers. So you don’t have to be a business blogger (I’m not!) to find helpful nuggets in this book, such as reminders to not aim for perfection; share your moments of truth; improve your posts by wiping out the first third of the story.

6. The Narcissist Next Door
Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed–in Your World

by Jeffrey Kluger


Not my favorite, but this book did provide interesting and new information about the narcissists in our lives. In my section of the country, I see the most common garden-variety narcissism among sports fans (collective narcissism) which isn’t necessarily harmful (although it can be), but is definitely annoying (except to marketers, who find it profitable).

7. Gay-Neck
The Story of a Pigeon
by Dhan Gopal Mukerji


This novel is about training carrier pigeons during WW1, and was the 1928 Medal Winner of the Newbery Award. I read it for the Newbery through the Decades Challenge, and it was only so-so to me. Maybe if I had read it as a child in the 1920s I’d feel differently? It was slow on plot and heavy on bird research. Nonetheless, it was worth reading and makes me look forward to more modern award winners.


1. The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak


I’m going slow on purpose. It’s that good. I don’t want this novel to end (even though I’ve already seen the movie and know how it ends). The writing is SO beautiful and the story is engrossing about a young girl’s life in Nazi Germany and about her love affair with books.

2. Simplicity
The Art of Living
by Richard Rohr


Warning: I’m in a Richard Rohr phase. This book is about finding joy through vulnerability, through self-surrender, through letting go of our preconceived notions of God and instead having a real relationship with him.

3. Falling Upward
A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
by Richard Rohr


This Rohr book is about understanding the different tasks of the two halves of life (and spoiler: the second half of life is even more exciting than the first!). We are already participating in something very good, and true religion embraces that participation.

4. Simply Open
A Guide to Experiencing God in the Everyday
by Greg Paul


My review here

After reading what Jean Wise said about this book, I knew I had to read it too. Greg Paul invites you to greater awareness of God all around you, particularly through your senses, to deepen your spiritual journey. I just finished the section about having open eyes. Good so far!

* * *

What are you reading this month? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

36 thoughts on “Books I’m reading – January ’15

  1. Nicki Schroeder

    Every time I visit your lovely place on the web, Lisa, I want to read more! I love that! I used to be a voracious reader. Growing up I would have my nose in a book, school or fun, it was always in a book. As a younger adult, still in the books, school or otherwise. But as I entered my 30s the love of reading goes in spurts. Sometimes I can go for a weekend and not put a book down. Other times I can go for months and not pick a book up. It’s crazy. I think I need to gather a little pile together and just challenge myself to take the time to just enjoy it again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. David

    That twitter analyser is hilarious ๐Ÿ˜€ also fairly accurate (tried it on my work account and some of my cohort).

    I’m still slogging through the Sceptical Feminist. It’s decent, painstaking and correct, just not very exciting.

    Oh and a Psalm or three most days since new year.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I thought the twitter analyzer was pretty fun too. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s awesome that you’re continuing through the Psalms. I pray the words continue to bless you. I’ve been reading through 2 Samuel of late. Some tough stuff in there. I need a trip through the Psalms to balance it out.

  3. Linda@Creekside

    Interesting categories of bloggers, Lisa. I’m guessing that if we haven’t quite figured out who we are, we’ll be all over the map in our styles and approaches.

    I’ve got a whole bunch of books stacked high these days … I talk about what’s happening in the link below.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Glad to see you’re still reading Yancey. He’s always good for new thoughts and affirming old ones.

      The blogging book uses a little quiz to help you decide what style you are. I have to say I was surprised that my top answer came out to be “curator.” ha. But whatever. Maybe so. Hope you’re staying warm!

  4. Barbara H.

    I keep hearing such great things about The Book Thief – I may push back some of my challenge reading to get to it.

    I would probably enjoy the one about pronouns to dip into here and there.

    That sounds like a good book for picture-taking. I really don’t know much besides pointing and shooting.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It took me awhile to read The Book Thief because it is over 500 pages (and I went slow), but it was nice to have a copy I didn’t have to return in a few weeks. My daughter bought it for herself awhile back so I read hers.

      I got the pronoun book from my library so maybe you can find a copy in your library as well.

  5. Loren Pinilis

    Ooo.. those two Rohr books look pretty interesting, particularly the Simplicity one. I just read the Hunger Games trilogy (“guilty” little pleasure, I guess) and am working now on some productivity books, as well as some Martin Luther materials on prayer.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve now finished one Rohr book (Falling Upward) which was very intriguing. I’ll have to think about the concepts for awhile. But Simplicity is really, really hitting home with me immediately.

      I’ve been through the Hunger Game trilogies at least once, so I understand guilty pleasures. ha.

  6. bekahcubed

    Argh! This is terrible! Pretty much every book on your “finished” list sounds fascinating to me – and my library doesn’t have ANY of them. I think maybe I’ll bookmark this and look again later in hopes that they’ll have acquired some.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hate that feeling when you look up book after book at the library and they don’t have them. ๐Ÿ™ Since I finally discovered the Kindle books through my library, it’s opened up a bit more availability.

      But yes, sometimes over time they do acquire books I’m looking for. Hope the same happens with you! So glad you’re enjoying that baby time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Sharon

    Your lists always amaze me. I appreciate how diverse your reading is – and how prolific! Though I am a pretty voracious reader, too, I don’t read like you!! Always appreciate your recommendations.

    I’m reading an installment in a series of mysteries set in Quebec. Love the characters, and the plots are always intriguing. I know I should probably diversify a bit, but I’m on a *mystery jag* right now!!


  8. Sharon B

    I am reading Gay-Neck as well and glad to see I am not alone on my thoughts. Very slow, indeed.

    Ah, The Book Thief. Slow is definitely the way to read it. The movie was well done, but in no way captures all that comes through in the book.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Gay-Neck is in my past now. ha. But I don’t regret reading it; it just won’t be a re-read.

      I’m looking forward to re-watching The Book Thief now that I finished the book itself last night. But yes–the book is SO much richer! Loved it; can’t say enough good things about it.

  9. Lynn Severance

    Lisa – I am so glad you are reading , “The Book Thief”. I felt the same way about it and I had seen the film first It has become my favorite modern novel – unique on so many levels.
    I am just beginning, “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. The opening pages had me riveted in seconds to her writing style and how she got her reader ( this reader ). I was drawn in immediately.

    She is my “mentor” as she lives with chronic vertigo and CFS – writes as she can in between bouts of vertigo and being homebound. I may just get my manuscript finished. She spent 7 years interviewing Louis Zamparini via phone as she was unable to travel and leave her home to get to him! They did have a chance to meet in 2011 when he was able to travel to where she lived. He told her that he knew why God had allowed him to live as long as He had and it was so that she could be the one to write his story.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Lynn, your encouragement for me to read The Book Thief was one reason I wanted to savor it; I knew it would be good. And of course it was! One of Jenna’s friends who is a voracious reader claims it is now her favorite book, and I can understand her enthusiasm. The writing was some of the most beautiful I’ve read. I wonder if all his books are this way?

      I’m glad you’re reading Unbroken! I loved that too. I wasn’t aware that Laura had similar physical challenges as you. Yes, let her inspire you to keep working on your manuscript! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Beth (@SimplyBeth3)

    Oh if only I could read that many books in a month. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am still working my way through the first book of the year: You and Me Forever, by Francis Chan. It’s SO good. Now I did read through all of Leviticus in January too! There are LOTS of books I want to read but it’s a struggle to find the time. Thanks for sharing your list, Lisa. Blessings.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’d think I’m crazy if you saw how I get through books. I often have a book in hand while I’m folding laundry, walking to the mailbox, etc. ha. I rarely read during “normal” hours, but early morning and late nite are great reading hours for me. It’s been a good season for reading. We have to take the season we’re in. Have a great rest of the week, Beth.

  11. Susan

    “Just Mercy” and the freakonomics sounds interesting to me — didn’t know the “freak” guys had written that one. Actually, most all of yours intrigue me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Happy reading in the new year!

  12. Jean Wise

    I always find a new ‘friend’ when you publish your reading list. Just ordered the The Secret Life of Pronouns from the library. Yes I do love words and am a word nerd right along with you. AND love Rohr too. My favorite of his is Everything Belongs.
    keep this feature going, Lisa. I just love it!!~

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, “Everything Belongs”. Isn’t that a great one? I totally agree with you. I never did a review of it because it was just too much. I’m particularly enjoying Rohr’s “Simplicity” this week. So enriching.

  13. Dolly@Soulstops

    Hi Lisa,
    Always love reading your lists…read most of The Book Thief before I had to return it to the library…and this: “This Rohr book is about understanding the different tasks of the two halves of life (and spoiler: the second half of life is even more exciting than the first!). ” …now that made me smile….Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thankfully I borrowed my daughter’s copy of The Book Thief or I never would have finished it from a library copy either. I do know where you’re coming from though; sometimes I really have to rush through a book so I can finish it before it comes due, or else turn it in unread. Hope you’ll get to finish The Book Thief soon! It was good all the way to the end.

  14. Anita Ojeda

    Wow! What an impressive list! I like Freakanomics, so I’ll have to check out their new one. I’ve gotten kind of lazy in my reading–if I can’t find it free on my Kindle app, I don’t read it–mostly because I have a hard time returning books on time to the library and I don’t have money to spend on books :). Did the one about the carrier pigeon make you sad because now it’s an extinct species?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      If you like Freakonomics, you’ll love Think like a Freak just as much. I always enjoy their take on things.

      Yes, Gay-Neck was a little sadder knowing now that carrier pigeons are no more. Such a loss. I hate when species go extinct.

      I understand about not spending money on books. I rarely buy them either. I’m big on library books and free books for review and free Kindle books. My in-laws gave me an Amazon gift card over the holidays though and I do look forward to spending the rest of it soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

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