Each month my goal is to read five books on a variety of topics and from different genres. Here are the books I read in November 2022. If you click on the title, you’ll go to the longer post on More to Come. Enjoy!
Lost & Found: A Memoir (2022) by New Yorker staff writer Kathryn Schulz is a gem of a book; the rare memoir written by someone who is happy that is worth reading. Schulz knows that there is both a wonder and fragility to living in this world, but she is constantly amazed by life. Lost & Found is a meditation on loss and love in three parts. She considers loss from the trivial to the consequential. While Schulz is losing her father, she is also finding her life partner. Every love story, “is a chronicle of finding, the private history of an extraordinary discovery.” The final section considers how in the midst of the transitions of losing and finding, life goes on. Schulz ends this generous and perceptive meditation by noting that disappearance reminds us to notice, transience to cherish, fragility to defend. “We are here to keep watch, not to keep.”
The Spirit of Soul Food: Race, faith, and food justice (2021), by The Rev. Christopher Carter, PhD is a revelation from a minister and scholar who has thought deeply about race, food, and nonhuman animals. “Our foodways are an expression of our identity…our foodways are personal and communal, emotional and habitual.” Carter notes that in order to be taken seriously, he needed “to wrestle the culinary deity that soul food has become.” Central to his struggle is the question, “Given the harm that our food production system inflicts upon Black people, what should soul food look like today?” This work is part history lesson, part spiritual meditation, and part call to action to address the often-oppressive underpinnings of our broken food system.
Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else) (2022) by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is a short but powerful work that examines the polarizing discourse of “identity politics” and how political, social, and economic elites have captured a phrase and political viewpoint for their own use. Táíwò’s work explains the complex process of elite capture and helps us move beyond a binary of “class” vs. “race.” Reminding his readers that the point is to change it, he works through ways to read the room we’re in, find ways to ensure that the marginalized are in the room, and — ultimately — to build a new house completely.
24: Life Stories and Lesson from the Say Hey Kid (2020) by Willie Mays and John Shea is a great memoir from a true sports hero. Broken into 24 chapters, Mays recounts stories about his father, “Cat” Mays, in Play Catch with Your Dad; recalls his days in the Negro Leagues with the Birmingham Black Barons in Remember your History; and much more. Mays, who grew up in segregated Alabama during Jim Crow, was no fool, but his life lesson was to Have Fun on the Job. Did anyone bring more joy to the game than the young Willie Mays? Did anyone provide fans with more joy his entire career? I profess to being biased, but Willie Mays is, simply, the greatest baseball player of all time.
Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC (1973) by Frederick Buechner is filled with witty, slightly off kilter, and unconventional insights and asides. Buechner, who passed away in August, wrote this book — a “dictionary for doubters and restless believers” — from a desire to reconsider and return to the meaning of well-used words. It is equal parts thoughtful, spirited and entertaining. Although uneven, it is a very accessible book, that relates to the doubter and the restless believer…which encompasses most of us who are truly human.
More to come…
NOTE: To see which books I read in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October click on the links. You can also read my Ten tips for reading five books a month online.
This Friday edition of the Wednesday Weekly Reader features links to recent articles, blog posts, or books that grabbed my interest or tickled my fancy. I hope you find something that makes you laugh, think, or cry.
Image of library from Pixabay.