Living in Society

Reading 2022

Sorting books for library downsizing.

The garlic rack converts to a table by using a remnant of a 4 x 8 sheet of 3/4-inch plywood used to build our child a loft bed for college. I laid it down on top of the two by fours used to hold garlic as it dries. The rack is tall enough so garlic leaves don’t touch the floor. As a table I can work without bending over. It is a useful space to sort things out.

I read 50 books thus far this year. They are listed on the Read Recently page which is updated after I finish each one. Here are the highlights of this daily activity.

By far, the most interesting book was Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life by Alice Wong. She was born with spinal muscular dystrophy and her book stands out as a tale of living an active life with a disease that confines her to a wheelchair. In her discussion of Twitter, she describes how the social media platform is used by disabled persons who may have no other public voice. As Elon Musk acquired and is changing the platform, I hope he improves the disability community’s ability to participate in this aspect of society.

Memoirs and biography were too small a portion of the books I read. As someone writing their own autobiography, I should be reading more in this category. Each of the four I read was important. I enjoyed Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter more than Ted Kennedy: A Life by John A. Farrell and Like a Rolling Stone by Jann S. Wenner. Lynn’s book was relatable in a way Kennedy and Wenner are not. A person can take only so much of the life story of rich people. I associated Joan Liffrig-Zug Bourret, who died in the care center in town this year, with the many cookbooks she published at her Penfield Press. Her memoir, Pictures and People: A Search for Visual Truth and Social Justice tells a story that goes well beyond her chronicling of the Amana Colonies in Iowa.

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut seemed unique and necessary. The Chilean author presents, as The Guardian put it, “an extraordinary ‘nonfiction novel’ that weaves a web of associations between the founders of quantum mechanics and the evils of two world wars.” It was unlike anything else I recently read.

I read fiction for diversion and to see how other writers do their work. Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway was the best of the lot this year.

In poetry, how did I miss Mary Oliver in my life? I don’t know but Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver was well-written and engaging. I’ll be returning to this excellent volume.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America by John M. Barry tells a story essential to anyone who is from or is writing about life in the Mississippi basin.

Related to my autobiography was The Trader at Rock Island: George Davenport and the Founding of the Quad-Cities by Regena Trant Schantz. This is an essential book about the settling of the Midwest. What was most surprising is it was just published in 2020. I would like to have read this when I was a teenager in Davenport.

There were no real clinkers in this year’s books. What made a difference in reading more was setting a daily goal of reading 25 pages in a book. I hope readers find my review of 2022 reading to be useful. I’d love to hear what you are reading in the comments.

One reply on “Reading 2022”

“A person can take only so much of the life story of rich people.” There’s a general lot we humans share. We all desire, we all know disappointment. We have our fallible and joyous bodies and griefs. But but but, the well-off too often seem oblivious to the mitigations wealth bring to those things in their life. Sure, they can share experiences I’ve never had, but there are blinders there.

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