• #1 & a Recap – How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith – 2022 Best Reads

    #1 & a Recap – How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith – 2022 Best Reads

    Poets can make excellent prose artists, as Clint Smith proved once again in my favorite read from 2022: How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America. Smith takes a journey to sites associated with slavery from Monticello to Angola Prison to the Door of No Return at Goree Island, […]

  • #2 – Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen – 2022 Best Reads

    #2 – Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen – 2022 Best Reads

    Audacity. That’s the word that came to mind as I gawked my way through Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Crossroads. The man has no compunctions about burrowing straight to the heart of characters like a Navajo man wary of visiting do-gooders to the reservation and a mid-life woman trying to put together her previous life and […]

  • #3 – The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell – 2022 Best Reads

    #3 – The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell – 2022 Best Reads

    Maggie O’Farrell’s breakthrough novel, Hamnet, which was named a New York Times ten best in 2020, didn’t do it for me. I appreciated the gorgeous details of life in Shakespeare’s England, but the connection to Shakespeare himself seemed tenuous at best. However, The Marriage Portrait, O’Farrell’s follow-up novel, hit the sweet spot, even though she […]

  • #4 – Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby – 2022 Best Reads

    #4 – Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby – 2022 Best Reads

    This is the first crime thriller I’ve ever put in the Top Ten, but I got hooked on S.A. Cosby this year. His books are crackling page-turners filled with similes and energy. And, o yes, violence. There’s a lot of that, too. Cosby attracted my attention because he’s a Virginia native and aspires to the […]

  • #5 – Strangers to Ourselves by Rachel Aviv – 2022 Best Reads

    #5 – Strangers to Ourselves by Rachel Aviv – 2022 Best Reads

    At the age of 6, Rachel Aviv was hospitalized when she stopped eating and was diagnosed with anorexia. At such a young age, the details of such a diagnosis were lost on the young girl. She explained her situation to herself by saying she had it because “I want to be someone better than me.” […]

  • #6 – Fatal by Kimberly Johnson – 2022 Best Reads

    #6 – Fatal by Kimberly Johnson – 2022 Best Reads

    I’ve gushed about Kimberly Johnson’s poetry on this blog before. Called Johnson “one of our best living poets.” Noted that she is “the rare poet who consistently evokes for me the presence of the barely-cloaked divine.” Credited her with making me a daily reader of poetry. So when Johnson produced a new collection in 2022, […]

  • #7 – Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty – 2022 Best Reads

    #7 – Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty – 2022 Best Reads

    So much has gone wrong on the Penobscot reservation in rural Maine. Read these fictional short stories by Morgan Talty and it’s hard to get past the poverty and pain along with the sense that the whole place is so marginal as to seem the backside of nowhere. But the place is haunted by things […]

  • #8 – Super-Infinite by Katherine Rundell – 2022 Best Reads

    #8 – Super-Infinite by Katherine Rundell – 2022 Best Reads

    Katherine Rundell is a scholar but she doesn’t write like one. A Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, Rundell has made a name in children’s books, but with this biography she has brought to life one of the most intriguing figures of the Elizabethan Age. And she has done it with a very light touch. […]

  • The Wisdom of the Body – Les Carpenter’s Gospel According to Improv

    The Wisdom of the Body – Les Carpenter’s Gospel According to Improv

    This review appeared on the great Englewood Review of Books site. It is republished here with permission. Is the key to discipleship locked in a book or a body? That’s one of the questions Les Carpenter, an Episcopal parish priest, tackles in his new book The Gospel According to Improv: A Radical Way of Creative and […]

  • #9 – A Place Like Mississippi by W. Ralph Eubanks – 2022 Best Reads

    #9 – A Place Like Mississippi by W. Ralph Eubanks – 2022 Best Reads

    At number 9 on the list of Best Reads of 2022 is W. Ralph Eubanks’s beautiful book A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey Through a Real and Imagined Landscape. Eubanks loves driving through Mississippi, and I do, too. It is a place that has played an outsized role in my understanding of what America means […]