What’s on your nightstand? August ‘13

Can you tell I went to the library this month? Variety bumps up when I do.

It’s the 4th Tuesday, so here’s what I’m reading. See what others are reading too.


Nothing_to_EnvyNothing to Envy
Ordinary Lives in North Korea
by Barbara Demick

I’m already uncomfortable. If you ever think you have it bad, just read how others live. But also be encouraged at how people find joy even in difficult places.

by Joseph F. Girzone

This Christian fiction is a story about Jesus returning in the flesh to our modern-day world through the character of Joshua. I’ve read it before (and its sequels) and it increased my love for the real Jesus, so I’m reading it again this year in light of my One Word 2013: Jesus.

The_Way_We're_Working_Isn't_WorkingThe Way We’re Working Isn’t Working
by Tony Schwartz

It’s about how we’re rushing through life at a great cost. Demand exceeding capacity isn’t working out so well for us. It’s directed toward the business world, but I’m drawn to books like this nonetheless because we can apply the same principles to whatever our daily work looks like.

Walking_in_FreedomWalking in Freedom
A 21-Day Devotional to Help Establish Your Freedom in Christ

by Neil T. Anderson

Great truths here about our identity in Christ. My special friend Selwyn gave this book to each in our small group after we finished a study on its root book last year. I’ve intentionally been saving it for a fresh season and this is it. It’s good!

Transforming_GraceTransforming Grace
Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love

by Jerry Bridges

This is another book I’ve been waiting to read. I’m only 6% in (on my Kindle) and I’ve already highlighted lots of passages. We can never get too much grace, right? Or books from Jerry Bridges.


The_Honest_Truth_About_DishonestyThe Honest Truth about Dishonesty
How We Lie to Everyone—Especially Ourselves
by Dan Ariely

Loved it. Similar to his Predictably Irrational (which I also loved), Ariely shares results from experiments to see just how honest people really are in a variety of situations. It was a little discouraging to see that most people will be dishonest (but only to the point they can still rationalize feeling good about themselves), but also encouraging to see we’re not as bad as we could be. A fascinating book and I recommend it.

Unless_It_Moves_the_Human_HeartUnless It Moves the Human Heart
The Craft and Art of Writing
by Roger Rosenblatt

The overall gist is good—write what moves you—but the setting of a classroom of writing students got laborious at times. Trying to keep up with the personalities of the students, who was who, was distracting to me. However, it was still excellent in spots so it was a worthwhile read.  

Notes_from_the_Tilt-A-WhirlNotes from the Tilt-A-Whirl
Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World
by N. D. Wilson

I didn’t like this book. I wanted to. Many people love it. But I couldn’t get past the style. Wilson is obviously gifted with words, but his stream-of-consciousness writing was too haphazard for me. He does make excellent points about beautiful ways of seeing God, if you can get pass the crazy flow. (I should have realized this from the title, huh?)

This Beautiful MessThis Beautiful Mess
Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God
by Rick McKinley

McKinley shows how the kingdom of God looks in our world and in our culture now. And how it has the potential to look if we’re willing to make some shifts in our thinking and behaviors. A good read. [My review here]

Woe_Is_IWoe Is I
The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English
by Patricia T. O’Conner

If you like grammar for whatever reason, you know who you are, you’ll like this book. Just when I think I know grammar inside out, I read a grammar book and discover otherwise. There’s always more to learn (not to mention that sometimes the rules actually change too). A fun book and full of facts.

Jesus-My-Father-the-CIA-and-MeJesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me
A Memoir…of Sorts
by Ian Morgon Cron

It’s a story. But a true one. Ian tells about life with an alcoholic dad who also just happened to work undercover with the CIA (Ian himself didn’t even know for a long time). It’s sad but redeeming. I’m very glad I read it. [My review here

Grace-Walk-Steve-McVeyGrace Walk
by Steve McVey

Excellent, excellent. McVey has a way of explaining grace that always sounds new and exciting to me. He urges us to live our lives fully embracing God’s grace and see what a difference it can make. He interweaves his own journey from a life of legalism to a life of grace.

understanding-jesus-a-guide-to-his-life-and-timesUnderstanding Jesus
A Guide to His Life and Times
by Stephen M. Miller

After several months, I finally finished this extensive work on not only the life of Jesus, but on the life around Jesus. It contained a lot of material I did know (stuff straight from the Bible) so I particularly enjoyed reading the stuff I didn’t know, extracurricular facts about the times Jesus lived in.

Gods-Favorite-Place-on-EarthGod’s Favorite Place on Earth
by Frank Viola

Viola does a good job here of narrating the intersections of Jesus with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha in their little town of Bethany. He tells first-hand stories as if spoken by Lazarus, then follows each section with his own commentary, eventually convincingly concluding that we need to be the real Bethanys of today—sweet homes for Jesus to live in.

Reviving_OpheliaReviving Ophelia
Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

by Mary Pipher

Moms (and dads) of daughters—read this. Those working with adolescent girls—read this. It’s been out awhile, so the examples are dated, but the message is very relevant. It’s eye-opening to the struggles that today’s teen girls experience. (And there’s a movie. I haven’t seen it—I’m guessing it’s fairly different from the book.)


Atlas-ShruggedAtlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand

I tried. Really. But 267 pages in, I still cared nothing about the main characters or their problems. With over 800 pages still remaining, I cut my losses and closed the book. I have a hard time letting go of a book once I start one, so I’m proud of myself when I quit.

* * *

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


My books on Goodreads
More nightstands

25 thoughts on “What’s on your nightstand? August ‘13

  1. Dianna

    I just finished Transforming Grace…excellent book! Now I’m reading Trusting God: Even When it Hurts by Jerry Bridges dealing with the Sovereignty of God. It must be what I’m hungering for right now because even though I’m reading in on the Kindle, I’m making notes on paper! 😉 This makes the fourth of his books I’ve read and I have to wonder why it was I’ve not read his books before. I don’t know if you saw my book list for August over at the blog or not, but I shared there about his book on TRUE BIBLICAL COMMUNITY. Such a rich book, Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I did see your reading list, Dianna, and it inspired me to push up Transforming Grace higher on my list. I read Trusting God a couple years back and loved it. I didn’t start reading Jerry Bridges until the past few years either; why did I wait so long? I didn’t know any better I suppose. ha. I’ll have to add True Community to my list now. Thanks!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Mary Pipher does have some meaningful things to say. I read her “Writing to Change the World” earlier this summer, and that inspired me to go back to get “Reviving Ophelia” even though it was older. I remember a neighbor recommending it to me when our daughters were preschool age, and thinking, “Why would I need this book?” Wrong! Wish I had read it back then, but I’m still glad I read it even now that my two daughters are grown and almost-grown.

  2. Barbara H.

    I’ve seen Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl pop up and wondered about it – looks like I might pass it by. Same with Atlas Shrugged – I kept seeing it pop up on classics lists, but never could get a good idea what it was supposed to be about, and the size was intimidating. I did put the CIA one on my TBR list.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I was so excited to read “Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl” so it was doubly disappointing when I discovered the style made me dizzy. I don’t want to discourage anyone else from reading it, but they do need to be forewarned that it’s very meandering.

      “Atlas Shrugged”–it must have some redeeming value somewhere to be considered a classic and hang around for so long, but the hopelessness in it was dragging on and on and where most books would have already ended, it still hadn’t even started good yet. Maybe I’ll catch the movie. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I still haven’t seen the Joshua movie but I’d like to. I’ll be on the lookout for it.

      I first read Joshua as a library book, then I ordered a 3-in-1 book of Joshua, Joshua and the Children, and Joshua and the Shepherd. They were all good. But it makes for a BIG book. So now that I’m re-reading it, the 3-in-1 is so heavy to lug around, so I went back to the library to get Joshua as a single book again. Not often that I check out a book that I already have on my shelves. ha.

  3. Kim Adams Morgan

    What a great list. I’ve heard so much about Atlas Shrugged – have not read it or the others on this list. I go from reading phases where I read 4-5 books at a time, to writing phases. I’m in the writing phase now and have a stack of books in various stages waiting to be finished. I need to add a few of yours to my list.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Reading and writing definitely feed on each other. After I read a well-written book, it usually inspires me to want to write more myself. Praying your writing time goes well.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Same thing happens to me all the time when I look at somebody else’s reading list. Always makes mine grow longer. You wouldn’t even want to see it. 🙂 You can trust me on that.

  4. Susan

    I’ve wanted to read Atlas Shrugged, but judging from your review, maybe I need the Cliff’s Notes version! Woe is I sounds right down my alley! I, too, love Jerry Bridges and need to read that one — I haven’t yet. I also read “Reviving Ophelia” about a year back and found it eye-opening as well.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Cliff’s Notes would definitely be quicker for Atlas Shrugged. I was actually going back to read Spark Notes after each chapter just so I’d keep the characters straight. For a book that long, I figured it mattered. But alas, not now. ha. I’ll never know what I missed.

  5. Lisa

    I love it when people are honest and say they gave up on a book! I have a list like that on my goodreads.com page!!! “Nothing to Envy” was eye opening–and I was a Peace Corps Volunteer! I still wasn’t ready for all that those North Koreans endure. Joshua I read years ago. The grammar one looks interesting.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m sure I’m not prepared for all of “Nothing to Envy” either…it’s already been eye-opening and I’m barely into it. Sad.

      Love that you have a “gave up” list on Goodreads. I should do the same. And hopefully I’d let it grow–I’ve wasted too much time thinking “it’ll get better, it’ll get better” versus just giving up on a book. ha.

  6. Jennifer, Snapshot (&5M4B)

    I’m proud of you for quitting too 🙂 I tried to read Fountainhead (I think — or maybe Atlas Shrugged??) in college, and didn’t get through it either. My daughter is reading Anthem first thing in school. It’s very very short, so I think I might join her.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Well, there’s something to be said for reading fewer books more slowly. Sometimes I whiz through a book too quickly and it doesn’t have time to simmer. So your pace may be just right.

  7. Kara @ Home With Purpose

    Fantastic list as usual! Isn’t Transforming Grace great? I loved it! But then again, I love anything by Jerry Bridges! I’ve had the N.D. Wilson book sitting on my Kindle for over a year and have yet to start it. I’ve heard great things about it, but I find your experience with it interesting!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I am loving Transforming Grace so far! And yes, I love anything by Jerry Bridges too. Haven’t read a bad one yet from him. He always makes me think more lovingly and be more thankful for grace, regardless of the topic of the book.

      Maybe you’ll like Tilt-A-Whirl better than I did. I’d heard such good things too so I had high expectations. Just don’t rush when you do read it; it’s even crazier if you try to read it too fast. ha.

  8. Cassandra

    Congratulations on dropping a book! That is always a feat. 😀 I love reading your Nightstand lists. I usually feel like I read a lot every month but then I look at your lists and realize I don’t read that much. 😉
    Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me is on my to-read list. I’m glad you enjoyed it!
    Happy September reading!

  9. Pingback: What’s up in September 2013 | Lisa notes . . .

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