Note: It is the end of July and I’ve finally finished up this reading recap, three months later!
I finished 13 books in April. I will recap 11 of them here. I read two children’s books and I’ll include them in a separate post.
I don’t do a lot of re-reading, but my first finished book in April 2022 was actually one I was reading for the 3rd time. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande is an incredible book, first published in 2014. I was rereading this book in preparation for leading a workshop on the book during a Stephen Ministry retreat. Even on my third read, I was drawing new insights and helpful reminders from the book.
Usually I enjoy Anne Lamott’s writing, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. I was listening to the book on audio and the sound quality was terrible. It certainly detracted from the listening experience. I recently had the realization that Anne Lamott and Jerry Seinfeld actually have a lot in common. They both share noticings, small everyday reflections, which are best considered in small doses. Otherwise, they become somewhat whiny and annoying.
In my March recap, I mentioned a cover confusion when I read Grit by Angela Duckworth. So in April I listened to the audiobook, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink. I liked Drive much more than Grit. I also had a paperback copy at home and I skimmed it after finishing the audiobook. I was very impressed with the physical layout of Drive. The chapters were well organized and there were pictures mixed in. Either audio or print would be a good option for this book.
As we approached Easter, I finished reading the Lenten study book we were using at the church. Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week by Amy-Jill Levine was a wonderful Lenten study. The book was paired with weekly videos and there was also a printed leader’s guide. Amy-Jill Levine is a brilliant scholar and I enjoyed her reflections on the events of Holy Week and the final days of the life of Jesus. I hope to read more of her writing in the future.
I’m a big fan of @blackliturgies on Instagram so when I saw the creator, Cole Arthur Riley, had a book coming out, I preordered it right away. The chapter that will stick with me for a long time is chapter 8 on Lament. This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley was a good book that I could see myself returning to for sermon illustrations.
During Holy Week, I had the opportunity to do a study retreat at Mercy by the Sea in Madison, CT. While I was doing a lot of work and planning on retreat, I used this book to guide some of my personal devotion time, Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus by Fr. James Martin. I love Fr. James Martin’s storytelling. This slim volume, only 144 pages, is perfect for someone who wants to scratch the surface on Good Friday.
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith was a five star read for me. Smith does an amazing job reporting on historic sites and presenting their historical connections to the slave trade. The subject matter is challenging, it can be difficult to wrap your mind around the cruelty and horror. Smith doesn’t shy away from the tough parts. He expertly weaves a narrative thread through this nonfiction book. The two chapters I found most powerful were on Monticello and Angola Prison. Please read this important book!
My next read was a fun audiobook, The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher. Published in 2022, The Paris Bookseller is historical fiction focused on the famous bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. I didn’t know much about Sylvia Beach or James Joyce, the two main characters in the book. It was an enjoyable read, but not very memorable.
It seems like I end up reading one book per month inspired by my 50 states goal. For April, my selection was Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson. This comic book from 2014 is set in New Jersey. I really enjoyed exploring the Ms. Marvel world, even though I’m not usually a big superhero fan.
Some books I plan out when I’m going to read them and others I decide at the spur of the moment. While I first marked this book “Want to Read” in 2016, I finally listened to Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance on audio at the end of April. Elon Musk was in the headlines for his proposed acquisition of Twitter. I am glad I listened to this 2015 book about his life. It was interesting to learn some of his backstory and how he made his fortune.
I lost track of exactly when I started reading The Overstory by Richard Powers. I think I started listening to the audiobook back in February. I had listened to about 10% of the book and then took a long pause. Then in April I decided I would finally finish listening to this 23 hour audiobook. For some reason, The Overstory and Braiding Sweetgrass have always been connected in my mind. I think this is likely because they both have plants on the cover and are both long books. However, while Braiding Sweetgrass will likely be in my top ten books of the year, The Overstory missed the mark for me. I thought it was way too long and slow paced and never really connected with the characters.
April was a great month for reading! What have you been reading lately?