Everybody's Doing It
Books I Couldn't Shut Up About in 2022
Are these the top ten books I read this year? I don’t know. But they’re the ones that are sticking to my innards in some beautiful and uncomfortable ways.
The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. Imagine if Ray Bradberry and Wendell Berry (Way Berry?) got together and wrote a novel about space exploration, colonization, religion, linguistics, the natural world and order, and included in it one of the most beautiful titular sentences you’ve ever read in a book? That is The Sparrow. It is one of the most unforgettable novels I’ve ever read and not for the faint of heart. You must have courage to read this one.
Glittering Images, by Susan Howatch. Oooof, another one you’ve got to have some stout courage to read. This is your cross between Jan Karon, Agatha Christie, and then from left field the love child of Freud and Augustine. You think you’re reading a cozy story about a Church of England priest and then it turns into a page-turning mystery, and then, once you’ve been hooked and reeled in and she has you where she wants you, you’re sat down and suddenly you’re the one whose being read like a book. Another unforgettable novel.
The Book of Forgiving, by Desmond Tutu. I didn’t want to read this one and I didn’t want to like it and I didn’t want to need it. But I had to read and I did like it and I definitely needed it. Never have I ever heard anyone speak/write about the process of forgiveness quite like the Tutus did in this book. I think the ways it changed my life are probably not even cognizant to me fully yet. It’s that kind of book.
Holy Longing, by Ronald Rolheiser. I was really surprised by this book. I expected it to be one thing and by the time I finished it, it was quite another. It felt like, on one hand, a primer for discipleship. But on the other, it set forth a really compelling vision for life in the world and in the church, one I haven’t heard articulated quite like it anywhere else.
The Overstory, by Richard Powers. This was a reread for me (I first read it in 2019), but I think it was an even better read this time through. I love this story. I love the layers and rings and outgrowths and roots of it all. It’s a sad story and even though it’s not a true story, it is still kind of a true story. But let the reader beware, it is not a story about the characters within, it is a story about trees and the characters who live around them.
After Doubt, A. J. Swoboda. I had to read this one for class in the middle of a very crazy summer, in the midst of a really heavy class, and right before releasing A Curious Faith into the world, and it was the perfect time to be reading it. I tell anyone who asks that After Doubt is A Curious Faith’s dance partner. If ACF gives you the courage to ask questions about your faith, After Doubt assures you there is goodness and beauty on the other side of it.
No One is Talking About This, by Patricia Lockwood. I already wrote a long review-ish about this earlier this year, but it is an absolutely unforgettable and very short novel. Again, you think it’s one thing, and then, halfway through, you realize it is the opposite of what you thought. It took me f o r e v e r to slog through the first quarter, but once I hit midway or so, and realized what she was doing, I thought, “This book might change someone’s life.” I hope it does.
The Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel. I just finished this recently and it was just beautiful. If you loved Station Eleven and all the beautiful complex characters, then you will love this one too. She has a gift for saying something without ever saying it directly.
Everything Sad is Untrue, by Daniel Nayeri. I laughed, I cried, what else is there? This is technically a memoir for young adults, but I hope everyone I know reads it. I hope it wins all the medals in the world. I hope Daniel Nayeri never stops writing.
Also, I still have most of December left to read, so I feel these should have been given a fair shot at being on the list up there too. Here they are, just in case they would have made it (let’s be honest, they probably would have made it).
A Hole in the World, by Amanda Held Opelt
The Life We’re Looking For, by Andy Crouch
How to Inhabit Time, by James K. A. Smith
What was your favorite book from 2022? Tell me about it in the comments below. I’m always on the hunt for good books and I know your fellow readers are too!
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