Books I’m reading – June 2015

Once a month we share what’s on our nightstand at 5 Minutes for Books.

Here are the books I’m reading now and the ones I finished in June.


1. Unoffendable
How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better
by Brant Hansen


my review here

Do you get angry and stay angry too often? Are your feelings easily hurt? Then let this book mess with you. Hansen uses scripture to show us that the goal is to release our anger as quickly as possible while still staying motivated by love to do what needs to be done. I share an excerpt here.

2. Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy


Written in 1875-1877, this is one of Leo Tolstoy’s two greatest novels (the other is War and Peace).  You’ll see it here for the next several months because it’s long (almost 1,000 pages, sigh) and I only read a little each day. But so far, so good, because Tolstoy stays on track far more than several other classic writers of his time.

3. To Sell Is Human
The Surprising Truth about Moving Others
by Daniel H. Pink

To Sell Is Human

Surprisingly, Pink says that we’re all in sales. I don’t like to consider myself in that category, but I see what he’s saying. We try to sell education to our kids, better nutrition to our families, good habits to ourselves, etc. Pink writes in such a clear and interesting way that I love reading his books, regardless of what they’re about. Including A Whole New Mind, one of the favorite books I read in 2013.

4. True Community
The Biblical Practice of Koinonia
by Jerry Bridges

True Community

How are believers to interact with each other? Bridges walks us through several ways that we are to enrich each other’s lives. Every book I’ve read by Jerry Bridges has been good. No exception here so far.

5. Some of My Best Friends are Black
The Strange Story of Integration in America
by Tanner Colby

Some of My Best Friends Are Black

Colby, a white man, set out to discover why he didn’t have black friends. He ended up writing a book on integration. The book starts with the history of integration in Birmingham, Alabama. Very interesting; very relevant; very sad in many ways.

6. The Untethered Soul
The Journey Beyond Yourself
by Michael A. Singer


This one is about how to stay present in the moment. It’s turning out to be a great companion book to The Power of Now, and great practice for my One Word 2015: Now.


7. The In-Between
Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing: A Spiritual Memoir

by Jeff Goins


An inspiring book by Jeff Goins about how those “in-between” moments are just as valuable as the “big moments.”

8. Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley


Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this classic novel about Frankenstein. (I finally decided on reading the 1818 version instead of the 1831 one.) It was quite different than the stories I’d seen in movies through the years, actually a better one. This was my pick for the “19 Century Classic” category in the Back to the Classics 2015 reading challenge.

9. When Mockingbirds Sing
by Billy Coffey


My review here

This is a poignant novel about 9-year-old Leah’s mysterious paintings dictated by the Rainbow Man, and the havoc the paintings cause with the townspeople and the preacher. Enjoyable reading but also enough conflict to keep you going and make you uncomfortable at times.

4. The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted
by Gary Chapman


I didn’t really learn much new, but it was still helpful to remind myself of certain truths for keeping a healthy marriage. I’ve passed the book along to my daughter Morgan to apply in her own marriage.

11. The Westing Game
by Ellen Raskin


A fun mystery novel to figure out a murder, revolving around the reading of the will of the millionaire, Samuel W. Westing. I enjoyed it, but I struggled to keep up with the huge cast of characters. Thankfully I read it on my Kindle and I could do a name search within the book to remind myself of who was who. This is a great summer read for kids (or adults) out of school. I read this for the Newbery through the Decades Challenge, the 1970s.

12. The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger


This novel from 1951 felt like I was reading a blog post from today. It was written in a rambling style from the perspective of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield. Honestly, I’m not sure if I liked it or not. It had a lot of bad language; sometimes the ramblings were interesting, sometimes not. I have a feeling maybe it would appeal more to boys than girls?

13. The Creative Habit
Learn It and Use It for Life
by Twyla Tharp

The Creative habit

Some interesting guidelines in this book on how to stay creative throughout the years, regardless of what your art of choice is. Tharp gives lots of examples from her life as a ballet dancer and choreographer, but she makes them applicable to practices you can experiment with in your own life.

14. The Art of Stillness
Adventures in Going Nowhere
by Pico Iyer


A sweet little TED book about the unexpected things we can learn about ourselves when we choose a life of intentional stillness. Ironically, the author Iyer is a world-renowned traveler and writer, but it makes his lessons even more poignant. Watch his TED talk about it here.

15. The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd


Read this novel! It’s about a slave girl Hetty “Handful” Grimke in Charleston in the 1800s and her master family, the Grimkes, particularly the 11-year-old daughter Sarah. Sue Monk Kidd weaves lots of historical facts into this (you find out which ones at the end of the book), including Denmark Vesey, one of the founders of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

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What are you reading this month? Please share here.


My books on Goodreads
Previous reading lists

26 thoughts on “Books I’m reading – June 2015

  1. Bill (cycelguy)

    I’m reading two books by Leslie Vernick (well, one at a time): The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and The ED Relationship. I also hope to get to PROOF by Montgomery and Jones. I have a book on order from the local library called The Book of Strange New Things. My home reading book is “Voyagers of the Titanic.”

  2. David

    W00t! Is it that time already?

    Frankenstein: IIRC in the novel, the monster is good-looking and articulate, while Frankenstein himself comes over as a deranged nutter bent on destroying his creation. I thought it was much more thought-provoking than any of the films (& still probably one of the best ever science fiction novels imho).

    Catcher in the Rye: I thought it was quite good at expressing the internal state of someone having that kind of breakdown — or let’s say crisis. I read it when I was in a similar state LOL. IIRC it had a happy ending of sorts, which I found comforting. Perhaps “sensible” people, who might never have been overwhelmed like that, can’t really see it. (Hope that’s not presumptuous of me.)

    Anna Karenina: Overall I prefered War & Peace, but there were passages in AK that I found very exciting. Tolstoy has a wonderful psychological insight. What do you think of his Christian short stories?

    True Community looks v interesting. Being part of a Christian community (apart from out here) is something I’m putting off thinking about.

    Here: just finished “Revelation Space” by Alastair Reynolds. Completely mindless space opera. Forgetable fun. Would be interested if there is such a thing as Christian science fiction (I know C. S. Lewis wrote something) : just starting “Never”, poems by Jorie Graham. I’ve only recently come across Jorie Graham and I like her a lot. Her work has a distinctly religious feel (some poems in this collection are called “Prayer”):

    Your blog is as refreshing and inspiring as always 🙂


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You recall correctly that Frankenstein the man turns into the real monster, bent on destroying the thing he created. (I kept having to remind myself that Frankenstein was the name of the creator since the movies flip the names around.) I’m going to put this one on Jeff’s kindle because I think he’ll enjoy it too.

      The redeeming grace for me with Catcher in the Rye was when we get a glimpse into WHY he was having these problems. Otherwise, he seemed like just a self-centered teenage boy. 😉 But like in life, knowing the backstory can make all the difference in our perceptions.

      Anna Karenina is the first of Tolstoy’s writings for me! So I can’t compare. I may have started War and Peace at some point, but never finished. But perhaps I should return to it at another time.

      Space opera: new term for me. 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying it. Yes, C.S. Lewis wrote a space trilogy but I’ve never read any of them (although I love the Narnia series).

      Just read the excerpt under “Prayer.” Very poignant! It begs for some meditation time to soak it all in.

  3. Linda Stoll

    Well, wow, Lisa! When do you find the time?

    I’m savoring lazy days in the little village of Mitford with Jan Karon. Leafing through magazines. All mindless and very relaxing.

    Not feeling all that motivated. And allowing myself to be lazy.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, do allow yourself to be lazy, Linda! Several of these books I’m reading are all about fun for me too. Sometimes my definition of fun just differs from others. ha. My husband and I, for example, rarely read the same books. 🙂

  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Catcher In The Rye…when I was compelled to read it for an English class, the title made me think it was about baseball, and I was happy.

    When I read it, I was not only disappointed, but disgusted…I don’t know anyone among my friends who liked the thing, or had any sense of identity with Holden Caulfield. The teacher (it was 9th grade, I think) kept saying “but this is about who YOU are!”.

    NO ONE wanted to be like that!

    What I’m reading now…honestly, whatever I pick up next, from the stack. Keep it a surprise, and I’m rather too tired to plan.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Somehow I didn’t have a clue what Catcher in the Rye was going to be about. And for the longest, even while reading the book, I didn’t know how in the world it got that name. ha. I finally got it when they referenced the little song. I suppose it’s a classic for a reason and hits home with many people. I’m imagining it was very unusual and ground-breaking for its time.

      Reading whatever catches your eye is also a good way to read. That’s what my trips to the library are often like.

  5. Barbara H.

    I read one of Tolstoy’s other long ones this year (W&P) – I think I’m only good for one really long classic a year. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on AK.

    I had heard that about Frankenstein, that it’s really much better than any of the movies based on it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I definitely have to take a break between long classics too (particularly if they’re classics, ha). I think you’d like Frankenstein–it leaves lots of open space for provoking thought. And thankfully it was relatively short! 🙂

  6. bekahcubed

    Some months it just seems I want to add your entire list to my own TBR list – and this month is definitely one of those. I do know for certain that I will indeed read Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings – it’s my in-real-life book club’s pick for next month, and I’ve got it sitting on my library bookshelf right now.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you’re already got The Invention of Wings ready to go! I think you’ll like it too. It’s set in Charleston, and is particularly pertinent in light of the recent tragedy.

  7. Joyufl

    I liked Frankenstein! It was nothing like the aweful movies I watched as a kid. Anna has been on my reading list for a long time. I’m really intimidated by it. Lots of great reads here on your list! Following you on Goodreads helps me, or not {{sigh}} add to my TBR list. (it’s already too big!) 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Agreed—Frankenstein was nothing like the movies I’d seen, thankfully! ha. I have been intimidated by Anna through the years as well, but I have a niece who reads many classics and she recommended this one highly. And it’s actually quite easy to follow. I still check out SparkNotes though from time to time to make sure I’m grasping it all. My TBR list is so long that I only look at the tail end of it these days. ha.

  8. Carrie, Reading to Know

    The very first title caught my eye. I don’t think it’s possible for any person to remain completely unoffendable. (My father-in-law likes to claim this but it’s simply not true. I’ve witnessed the opposite.) But I do like that you challenge us to let this book “mess with us.” 😀 I’d be very curious to read it. While I don’t think we should fling the notion of being offended easily or not too far in one directions (being that God Himself took offense to certain heart attitudes and behaviors) it IS a good idea to practice letting go of anger and moving on with contentment and the true joy which comes in trusting in God’s good plan.

    So…I’m intrigued!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right that none of us can remain unoffendable. (Chuckling at your f-i-l comment.) Anger is an emotion that we’re all going to experience. I think one of the main points of the book is whether or not we think we’re justified in holding on to anger instead of feeling it then letting it go. Hansen makes some really good points about that. I’ll write a review when I’m finished but I’m sure it won’t do it justice, so I do hope you’ll read it for yourself if you get a chance. He writes very conversationally so it’s been fun and easy to read. You’ll probably find you agree with him more than you expect to.

  9. Dolly@Soulstops

    I always love reading your lists and I am in awe of how much reading you get done 🙂 I’m reading The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and Tina Bryson, PH.D… reminded me that I didn’t finish reading Anna Karenina 😉

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The Whole-Brain Child sounds like a serious tome! 🙂 I wonder if I’ll return to reading books like that when I have grandkids. Now that my kids are (almost) grown, I’ve laid aside certain categories of reading.

      I hope I’ll get through Anna Karenina. It is VERY slow going. I’m reading it on my Kindle and my goal is 1% a day, which means it’ll take me at least 100 days, because there are often days I can’t get to it at all. Oh well. There’s no rush, right? And I can always stop too. ha.

  10. Susan

    I think I’ve mentioned before that we must have similar tastes, as inevitably most of the books you read sound interesting to me. My teenage daughter read AK last year and enjoyed it overall — although she mentioned there were long forays into the Russian revolution, etc. I watched a film version of it with her and enjoyed it (if that’s the right word for an ultimately depressing tale!). The selling book fascinates me, too — so many interesting non-fiction titles coming out lately that delve into human nature.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, we do have very similar tastes. I’ve noticed that too, Susan. Makes it fun to look at your reading list. 🙂

      Oh no, long forays into the Russian revolution? That’s the kind of material I was hoping wouldn’t be in AK. ha. Might do some skimming when it comes to that… I do hope to watch a movie version of it too when I finish the book (well, IF I finish the book).

  11. Jean Wise

    Great list as usual and I love how you revisit or read for the first time older classic books too. Your reading level is amazing. I AM reading more and less skimming this year – that was one habit I really wanted to work on this year. I just finished My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman. More like a collection of spiritual exploring essays. He had/has cancer and began seeking more about what he really believes. I am not sure if he ever really lets go and falls in love with Jesus – he stays a lot in his head and blocks his heart in my opinion. sort of sad. But does write some interesting mind expanding things. I wouldn’t buy it but I got it from our library. Happy weekend, Lisa

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m very much a library book reader too. That way, if that the book isn’t very good, I’ve wasted no money anyway. My Bright Abyss sounds intriguing.

      That’s great that you’re reading more and skimming less. I’m encouraging myself to the opposite this year just to get rid of some books on my shelf that I’ve had forever. I can’t seem to let go of them without at least skimming them, but some of them aren’t worth reading. A real accomplishment would be if I could just release them without even having to skim! ha. Maybe one day.

  12. Deanna

    Great list of books, there are many that caught my eye.
    The Westing Game does sound like a good summer read with my kids.
    Unoffendable sounds very good. The idea of inciting anger or hanging onto it for action has always troubled me. I think that we can take offense and take action but it’s how we respect no to the offense….in anger, and anger that provokes actions not based out of love…that is not good. I admit, I have troubles with anger. It may not be on the level of a social justice movement, but I believe that our own daily interactions with our own community (family, friends, coworkers, neighbors,etc) are hugely important if not more so than a movement. In other words, if I am not properly responding to an offense, or expressing my anger correctly then I am doing wrong, and not living justly. Does that make sense?. This book sounds like a book that could empower me further as a complement to what the scriptures are greatly teaching me (lately).
    True Community really caught my eye. The description speaks to a place that I am now residing- wanting to enrich other people’s lives, and responding well towards other believers.
    again, great list of books.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think you would really like Unoffendable, Deanna, because your train of thought here goes right along with the book. And yes, how we respond to our own circles of friends and family are of utmost important. If we can’t hold it together with the ones we love the most and work around, how much good can we really do elsewhere? Love is always the best motivation. I’m not there yet, but I want to be.

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