I had missed my regular midyear post, but I just can’t let 2022 pass without posting my favorite books from this year at all! So here is part 1 of 2 of the best reads in 2022.
1. Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
Like the book The Year We Learned to Fly in my latest favorite children’s books list, I love the idea of having selections in our family library that mark the historic and human experience of COVID-19 over the past few years, sort of as a memorial to this unique experience. Gorman’s poetry feels grounded and present, acknowledging the pain, struggle, loss, loneliness, as well as hope and rest that the pandemic had brought into our world. It is such a gift to have poetry express our felt experience in language.
Considered a classic, this book is a primer on what prophets and prophetic ministry are, per Walter Brueggemann’s formulation. It poses prophetic ministry as a contrast, an antithesis, an “alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.” Prophecy is pathos, compassion, sensitivity to suffering and death. The insights in this book are so profound, it’s impossible to encapsulate them in a soundbite. But the message is highly relevant and contemporary in our current world.
I read this book together with the previous selection, which made for a cohesive and profound reading experience. They reveal the prophetic power of keeping the Sabbath that stands in defiant contrast to the endless pursuit of economic gain. Of resting, in contrast to the profit-chasing that tends to reduce human beings into commodities. As part of a community of faith that keeps the Sabbath, this book also made me think a lot about how some of our practices may lean more into the anxious kingdom of Pharaoh as oppose to the kingdom of rest… (more on this later, maybe).
This selection is pretty specific to my community of faith, the Seventh-day Adventist Christian community. It’s an important historical overview of the church, its relationship to the state and its engagement in the public square since the 1800s. It’s a super fascinating book, helping us contextualize where we are today and how certain ideas came to be. History is always helpful to evaluate the present, to see that the present is never inevitable.
Truism: most people like to quote MLK Jr., but have never read a single work by the prolific man. I was that person not too long ago. This selection is not really part of his books, but is part of his writing (and speaking) legacy. In this audiobook, you’ll listen to the recordings of various MLK Jr. speeches over the many topics that he spoke about, the well known ones and the less known ones. There’s nothing quite as engulfing as listening to the voice of MLK Jr. himself and experiencing his soaring rhetoric. I let my then 4-year old son listen to some of the speeches after reading about MLK together and even he was enamored. Much recommended.
I really enjoyed the Vanishing Half, exploring the somewhat arbitrariness of race as it appears phenotypically. The story follows a pair of twin sisters who chooses to live in two different worlds, one as white and one as black, and these impact the lives of their descendants.
Favorite Books Lists
2022: Best Books of 2022 Part 1, Best Books of 2022 Part 2.
2021: Best Books of 2021 Part 1, Best Books of 2021 Part 2.
2020: Best Books of 2020 Part 1, Best Books of 2020 Part 2.
2019: Best Books of 2019 Part 1, Best Books of 2019 Part 2.
2018: Best Books of 2018 Part 1, Best Books of 2018 Part 2.
2017: Best Books of 2017 Part 1, Best Books of 2017 Part 2.
2016: Best Books of 2016 Part 1, Best Books of 2016 Part 2.
2015: Best Books of 2015 Part 1, Best Books of 2015 Part 2.
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