Happy 2023, friends.
Last week I spent a little time reflecting on some of my personal favorite fiction books from 2022. Now it’s nonfiction o’clock.
Same caveats as last week: I make no claims to know what the “best books of 2022” were. I’m just here to share what I read and liked in the last year. Different books speak to different people in different ways. I share these because they resonated with me, and some of them might resonate with you too.
If I’m counting right, in 2022 I wrote up “super chill book reviews” for ten books. I haven’t really been writing up super chill reviews for books I didn’t experience as good and important, so…take this as a list of recommendations! Here they are, in order of when I posted about them (and with links to the super chill reviews):
- Found in Transition by Paria Hassouri
- Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth by Randy Woodley
- Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough by Candice Marie Benbow
- All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep: Hope–and Hard Pills to Swallow–About Fighting for Black Lives by Andre Henry (Part 1 and Part 2)
- Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez (Part 1 and Part 2)
- God is a Black Woman by Christena Cleveland
- Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta
- Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Can Make Us Whole by Susan Cain
- Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
- The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks (Part 1 and Part 2)
Whew, that was a lot of super chill reviews. So chill right now.
There are also a few books that fall in the category of “I didn’t write a review for this one, but I really have to include it in my totally biased faves of 2022.” I’m trying to keep this list short—and I think I’m doing better than last year!—but it’s hard.
Anyhow, here are a few I especially enjoyed, with some brief notes/reflections, as well as links to bookshop.org for a fuller description of what they’re about.
Spirituality that I’m here for:
- This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley (Convergent Books 2022)
- Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred by Victoria Loorz (Broadleaf Books 2021)
- God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations by Desmond Tutu (HarperOne 2011)
- Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne 2015)
Sometimes I spend a fair amount of energy reflecting on the kinds of religion and spirituality I’m not here for. Particularly the kinds of religion and spirituality I was once here for (or at least participated in) but am no longer.
I don’t regret this; I think this is crucial.
It’s also been good, though, to reflect on the kinds of religion and spirituality I am here for now, or want to be here for going forward. The books above are a few along those lines that I’ve enjoyed—that I felt were good for my soul.
For healing the land and our relationship with Earth:
- All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K Wilkinson (One World 2021)
A collection of essays and poems that are both appropriately sobering and surprisingly hopeful. Took me a while to get through, but well worth reading. Helped me get better in touch with the spiritual side of the climate crisis, if you will (and I will).
- Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming by Liz Carlisle (Island Press 2022)
Bring the buffalo back! Read this book to find out why. Okay, so that isn’t the only thing this book is about; it’s just something that stuck with me. The author is an environmental scientist who went looking to rebuild soil carbon and found out that it’s connected to history and colonialism and race and immigration and so many things. The BIPOC scientists and farmers Carlisle interviews for this book are amazing.
When your justice-seeking soul needs some encouragement:
- The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy by Karen Walrond (Broadleaf Books 2021)
A thoughtful, hopeful exploration of activism and joy. Lots to love about this book. I might have to do a super chill review with a few quotes that stood out to me at some point.
When you need therapy but can’t afford a therapist:
- It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self by Hilary Jacobs Hendel (Random House 2018)
I’m sure this book is not a substitute for actual therapy. But… it’s also not not therapy. I felt like it helped me better understand emotions, painful memories, and what to do with them. Highly recommend for anyone who needs to work through some stuff—which is most of us, I imagine.
These are some of my totally biased nonfiction faves from 2022! Have you read any of them, and if so, what did they get you thinking about? And what have you been reading that you’d recommend?