Why a list of 9? As I starred titles amongst the 130 books I read or listened to in 2022,
nine, not five or ten, struck me as worthy of mention—for vastly different reasons. Read on!
Hell of a book (Jason Mott). You’ll note that the first three titles address civil rights in
very different ways. The research is in: reading fiction that lets you step into the shoes of those
very different from you can build empathy skills. Empathy isn’t just recognizing the emotions of
others but understanding why they feel the way they do. The premise of an author embarking on
a cross-country tour to promote his bestseller is an amazing vehicle for so much more. No
spoilers. Read this National Book Award finalist and see what you learn about growing up in the
Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution. (Elie Mystal). I will be
rereading this book. Why? Because it articulates arguments I need to have at the tip of my tongue when people defend legal decisions that clearly ensure not everyone is equally protected under our laws, that assume the Constitution is a perfect document instead of one that needs continuous amending, that create or perpetuate a caste system. If you think the right people are on our Supreme Court right now, you’ll find this book offensive. If you prefer polite language, you may also be offended. But keep reading through each chapter, seeing if you can really argue with the arguments being made about where interpretation has gone wrong.
Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights (Dovey Johnson). Our neighborhood book club
chose to read this title and all of us agreed on one thing: Why had we not heard of this amazing,
impactful, contributor/hero/tactician in the Civil Rights Movement? How many other stories
have we not heard?
Braiding Sweetgrass (Robin Wall Kimmerer).She won a MacArthur Grant for the work
this book highlights. It is exquisitely written and thought-provoking and worthy of discussing
and pondering and rereading. What more can I say to entice you to read it!!
Where the Light Fell (Philip Yancy). fascinating memoir that provides insights into
fundamentalist religion and also makes you think about how families shape us, for better or
The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman). The premise? Four people in a retirement
village meet on Thursdays, calling themselves The Japanese Opera Club so that no one else will
be interested in joining them. What do they do? Review cold cases…until a real murder lands in
their laps and the police obviously need their help. Delightful characters—this is worth the read
(the audio is great) for the stream-of-consciousness journal entries by dear Joy alone!
Lessons in Chemistry (Bonnie Garmus). A laugh-out-loud story that also deals with
sexism, grief, single parenting, academia, and more. There’s a reason this debut novel is still on
the bestseller list. Who wouldn’t like it? Someone who thinks all promotions and success is truly
merit-based, or always follows rules, or who has never met a really, really smart dog…
A Song for Comfortable Chairs (Alexander McCall Smith). This return to Botswana and
the #1 Ladies Detective Agency is so civil. Remember when people used to talk with each other, look for facts, try to understand motives? Simply enjoy how Mma Ramatswe and her friends handle a business crisis rooted in possibly unethical behavior by others, civilly.
Frog and Toad are Friends (Arnold Lobel). This is the first book I’ve read entirely in braille. Why list it here? To all of you involved in teaching and encouraging reading, reread this book. And The Cat in the Hat. And other early readers that are actually entertaining. The repetition sped up my skills acquisition. The humor kept my interest. Their friendship is exemplary. Let’s not bore students but rather welcome them to a life of reading with enchanting tales such as these!