Author: Alex Joyner

  • #1 & a Recap:The Heartlands Best Reads of 2021

    #1 & a Recap:The Heartlands Best Reads of 2021

    George Saunders is our first time two-time recipient of the much-coveted Heartlands Best Reads award. Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo haunted and charmed back in 2017, but it was his master class on storytelling that captivated me this year. Saunders is a professor of creative writing at Syracuse University and he has influenced a generation […]

  • #2 — No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler — 2021 Best Reads

    #2 — No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler — 2021 Best Reads

    To read Kate Bowler in her latest book, No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear), is like hearing from the dead. As she did in her last book, Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Told), Bowler takes a blow torch to received pieties when intense suffering comes […]

  • #3 – My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson – 2021 Best Reads

    #3 – My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson – 2021 Best Reads

    Moving back to my old hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia in the summer of 2021, I was aware that a lot had changed since I left 16 years ago. No book chronicled and processed those changes better than the debut collection of stories by Charlottesville writer Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. My Monticello, particularly the included novella with […]

  • #4–Hunting Magic Eels by Richard Beck–2021 Best Reads

    #4–Hunting Magic Eels by Richard Beck–2021 Best Reads

    No book was better at giving voice to things I was feeling about our contemporary landscape than Richard Beck’s Hunting Magic Eels. The title was catchy, referring to an ancient Welsh pilgrimage site that featured prophetic eels who could predict the prospects of your love life. But the whole book worked a kind of magic. […]

  • #5 — A Burning in My Bones by Winn Collier — 2021 Best Reads

    #5 — A Burning in My Bones by Winn Collier — 2021 Best Reads

    Winn Collier’s biography of Eugene Peterson, A Burning in My Bones, was easily one of my best reads of the year. Collier had access to the journals and papers of the pastor/writer who is best known as the translator of The Message version of the Bible. He also knew the man and brings an appreciative […]

  • #6–The Making of Biblical Womanhood–2021 Best Reads

    #6–The Making of Biblical Womanhood–2021 Best Reads

    The 6th book on our Top Ten list is Beth Allison Barr’s The Making of Biblical Womanhood. Barr got a lot of buzz for this book, making her perhaps the country’s most popular medieval historian. Barr also happens to be an evangelical Christian trying to help her branch of the Christian church move out of […]

  • #7–Braided Creek–2021 Best Reads

    #7–Braided Creek–2021 Best Reads

    If you’ve followed this Best Reads exercise before you know that a 2021 Best Read doesn’t have to have been a book published in 2021, although more recent books do get more weight in the discernment process. So far we’ve had three great 2021 books, but this one from 2003 had to make the list. […]

  • #8–Saint Agnostica–2021 Best Reads

    #8–Saint Agnostica–2021 Best Reads

    “My poetry got a lot better,” Anya Krugovoy Silver told Macon Magazine in 2010. “Nothing focuses your mind and helps you see clearly what’s important quite like cancer. It made me want to explore, even more, the beauty and divinity of the ordinary world.” The breast cancer diagnosis came in 2004 when she was in […]

  • #9–Across the Airless Wilds–2021 Best Reads

    Earl Swift is a great writer who likes to shine a spotlight on out of the way places like Tangier Island and, now, the moon. His history of the lunar rover program takes us back to a period that now seems like an anomaly…a time when confident engineers and competent bureaucrats built something amazing that […]

  • The Heartlands Best Reads of 2021 –#10 On Juneteenth

    The Heartlands Best Reads of 2021 –#10 On Juneteenth

    The end of the year is approaching quickly so it must be time for the Heartlands Best Reads list. It’s been a good year for reading, even with a move and shift in environment. This is the fifth year for this list. A quick reminder of the criteria for making this list: writing with a […]