Books to Read With a Pumpkin-Flavored Drink: The November 2020 Brilliant Reading List (#2 Will Probably Horrify You)

Pumpkin pies (and lattes), Adoption Month, Thanksgiving, National Novel Writing Month…there are so many reasons to be thankful for November 🙂

And here’s another: If you’re looking for some interesting books to gift your book-loving friend for Christmas (you know, the one who almost always has his/her nose in a book and never ventures out of the house…oh, that’s you? Shh, I won’t tell!) this might be a good place to start.

(All except for #2, I don’t recommend that one unless “your friend” has a morbid bent)

In this month’s Book List, I have for you:

  • A children’s book that breaks a long-held Disney-honored convention, and does it beautifully
  • The biography of a pro athlete whose faith helped him to overcome racial hatred in a politically charged climate (you probably can guess who this is)
  • A collection of shocking biographies on some of the smartest, most awful people whose work continues to influence our society today.
  • And more 🙂

Let’s dig in!

42 Faith by Ed Henry

42 Faith by Ed Henry

When telling the story of someone like Jackie Robinson, the temptation is to rose-color Jackie and his supporters, and paint his detractors as evil/ignorant/horrible/irredeemable human beings.

But the reality is a bit more complicated than that.

Real life and faith is messy. Just learning to grow into a healthy, mature human being, without having to deal with politics and fame and racism is hard enough for most people.

And Jackie was no different.

In 42 Faith, Ed Henry tells Jackie’s complete story, and shows that Jackie was a man like every other — with a temper, a chip on the shoulder, and the capacity to misunderstand others just as others misunderstood him.

But he also had a loving mother, a wise pastor, a mentor, good friends, and a powerful faith in God that helped him, ultimately, to succeed.

Intellectuals by Paul Johnson

Intellectuals by Paul Johnson

If you hero-worship philosophers and famous writers like Rousseau, Ibsen, Hemingway, and Tolstoy, you might not want to read this book.

Then again, maybe you should.

Because, in Intellectuals, writer Paul Johnson pulls back the curtain on the lives of highly esteemed (in some quarters, at least) writers and thinkers. And the result is…pretty ugly.

Johnson doesn’t just delve into the “quirky bad habits” these writers had (alcoholism, a lust for winning medals, etc). He plunges headfirst into the horrors of these leading thinkers’ private lives.

Part expose, part cautionary tale, the messed-up true stories of these oft-admired intellectuals will hopefully disabuse readers of the idea that just because someone uses fancy words and sounds intelligent, does not mean you should unthinkingly take advice from them.

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Though Waters Roar is a novel about four generations of women living through significant eras in American history: the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, the Suffragist movement, and Prohibition.

Floods plays a large thematic role in the interweaving stories — literal floods, metaphorical floods, floods of consciences — as the women battle society and their own lesser selves to do what is right.

Lynn Austin is one of the best writers when it comes to creating funny, plucky, three-dimensional characters and describing their relationships across generations.

The way the characters navigate the tension between desire and duty, overcoming darkness with faith and determination (and not without some serious missteps along the way) isn’t just true-to-life, it also helps remind readers of what matters, and inspire them to take courage in their own lives.

If you’re a fan of women’s historical fiction and have never hear of Lynn Austin, look her up! You‘ll be glad you did 🙂

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Ever notice how often Disney heros/heroines are orphaned, abandoned, abused, and/or without-good-parents in general?

When it comes to children’s fiction, too often the rule is to kill off the parents. Or make them the villain.

It makes sense, from a literary perspective, because the main character is the child, after all, not Mom and Dad. So many storytellers simply get family members out of the way to clear a path for the main character to have adventures unhampered by mundane relational ties.

But in Flush, Carl Hiaasen pulls off a 180 degree turn, allowing his brother-sister protagonists to have supportive parents (and even a zany grandfather) who play an important role in their crazy adventures.

As Noah and Abbey Underwood try to expose law-breaking, ocean-polluting casino boat owner Dusty Muleman, they recruit a host of quirky characters and come up with a genius plan to catch Muleman (literally) red-handed.

If you’re looking for a funny adventure story, or somehow missed this book in your youth, now is the time to make up for that by checking out Flush.

Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

When I first read Talent is Overrated as a college student, it changed my life. This was the first time I learned about metacognition, deep learning, and skill-building.

The ultimate message Colvin wants his readers to take away is that the greatest achievers in every field made it to the top through lifelong, deliberate practice. No exceptions.

In other words, whether or not “talent” actually exists, the important thing is not what you’re born with, but what you do with it. And to prove it, Colvin includes research and examles from chess, violin, business, and more.

So if you’ve ever feared that you’re too old, too dumb, too uncreative, too “untalented” to succeed, read this book. You just might find that you have more potential in you than you thought.

And that’s the book list for November~

If you’re a part of the Brilliant Writer Family already, you’ve got something extra special coming to your email box. If you’re not yet part of the tribe, use the link below to stay in the loop! 😃

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