Black Lives Matter on MLK Day

Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I finished reading When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele. I often try to read something by King or a related topic on MLK Day, not in a performative way (though blogging about it doesn’t help), but to help center my thoughts.

This year, when things seem calm and quiet (forgotten), when the fury of 2020 George Floyd protests is an aberration, it seemed fitting to read a modern voice.

Too often MLK Day is quotes from 60 years ago, voices so far removed from our current reality that you don’t see the continued struggle.

This year, it seemed important to read about the current struggle. I didn’t intentionally pick it, but reading from one of my contemporaries, someone near to my own age (actually younger), makes it a lot harder to shake with rage at Bloody Sunday or the firehoses or the dogs and think I’d have done something.

Reading these stories, that happened in my lifetime and still happen, make me feel, make me realize, that I am complicit.

This book is really a justification of Black Lives Matter, the term and the idea, as well as the movement. It’s a recitation of all the harms and injustices that from a “hatred that tells a person daily that their life and the life of those they love ain’t worth shit, a truth made ever more real when the people who harm you are never held accountable.” (187)

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Top 5 Nonfiction of 2022

I read 87 books in 2022, and here’s my favorite nonfiction reads. I don’t read very much nonfiction (16 out of 87, so 18%), so it usually has to be something I’m really interested in. And this year I struggled through several 2-star books (and even a 1-star book).

  1. Outlove: A Queer Christian Survival Story by Julie Rodgers – A fascinating and difficult memoir about being gay in the church. From conversion therapy to excommunication, it’s not exactly joyful reading. But necessary.
  2. Raising Ollie: How My Nonbinary Art-Nerd Kid Changed (Nearly) Everything I Know by Tom Rademacher – Billed as a parenting nonbinary kids memoir, it’s more about raising unique kids and being a teacher and trying to deal with all the crap our culture throws at us.
  3. Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story by Bono – A few hundred pages too long, this memoir is at times insightful and at times self indulgent (but what do you expect from a rock star).
  4. United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good by Cory Booker – Talk about self indulgent, that’s the definition of a politician memoirs. However, Booker manages to be humble. He’s always admitting mistakes and giving credit to others.
  5. All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson – As nutjobs try to ban books left and right, this one is frequently in the crosshairs. For no good reason. If you’re not gay, you probably have no idea what LGBTQ folks go through as they come of age. That’s why we need books like these.

On that note, definitely a theme this year with my LGBTQ nonfiction. Might keep it up in 2023 as I just picked up Danica Roem’s Burn the Page from the library.

More Reading

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

And how about previous top non-fiction lists: 2021, 20202019201820172016201520142013, and 2012.

Top 10 Fiction of 2022

I read 87 books in 2022, and here are my favorite fiction reads:

  1. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin – Such a fun story telling the history of a video game company, but it’s really about friendship.
  2. The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson – A generational novel about the Dakota in Minnesota. Haunting.
  3. The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi – Just a dumb, fun, sci-fi book. I even wrote about how fun it is to have the right book at the right time.
  4. Light Years From Home by Mike Chen – Another joyous read. I think I started my year with some real clunkers and to finally read a book that was so good was just lovely.
  5. Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott – As much as I love Star Wars, it’s rare for a Star Wars book to be that good. This story is. It gives the backstory of Count Dooku, the Jedi turned Sith who makes brief appearances in the prequel movies. The book is really a script and as an audiobook it’s a full production.
  6. Dead Space by Kali Wallace – A slow build of a sci-fi thriller.
  7. Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell – The final installment of the Simon Snow trilogy, this one felt like a book-length version of the Scouring of the Shire (that’s the closing chapters of the Lord of the Rings trilogy where the real battle is over but the hobbits head home for one last adventure). Surprisingly, a great series.
  8. To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers – Her books often seem to be short on plot, and this one has some of that as well, but it’s also just a fascinating dive into sci-fi exploration.
  9. Cog by Greg van Eekhout – Robots! I’m a sucker for a robot story, and this is a fun one, especially the way the author captures the voice.
  10. Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell – I don’t like short story collections. But this is an exception. Rowell has a delightful ability to tell ‘meet cute’ romantic stories, and this one is full of them. As a bonus, several of the stories feature characters from her novels, but in a way where you can enjoy them as standalone stories but also find some joy when you discover the connection.
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2022 Reading List

I read 87 books in 2022. It’s up from last year, so that’s a win.

You can also check out my previous reading lists: 20212020201920182017201620152014201320122011201020092008200720062005200420032002, and 2001.

If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.

Chart of total books read each year.
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I Started Mountain Biking and Didn’t Die

In 2022 I did a thing. I started mountain biking. And I didn’t die. (Whenever I go out, my wife tells me not to die.)

Instead I biked 239 miles, 37 separate times at 19 different places across 8 states. (And that’s just mountain biking, not counting my road biking.)

It was not without incident.

  • I managed to bruise my tailbone on my second ride out and couldn’t ride for three weeks. I had to sit on a donut. So I bought knee pads.
  • My brand new bike fell off my bike rack. Let’s not talk about how I didn’t notice right away and dragged it let’s not say how far.
  • How hard can a teeter totter be? I never found out, because I fell off the raised platform before I even got to the teeter totter.

But it was also incredible fun. I saw mountain rivers and fall colors, winter frost and waterfalls. The exercise kicked my butt, but it was fun so I didn’t care.

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West St. Paul Reader Member Drive

I’m in the midst of a member drive for my local, neighborhood news site, West St. Paul Reader. We do hyper-local news—like City Council, new restaurants in town, and local election coverage. We’re supported by members—neighbors, really (it’s a small suburb)—hence a year-end push to grow our support.

So far it’s a big success. We hit our initial goal last week—25 new or upgraded members—and then hit one of our ongoing goals—200 total members. Now we’re pushing for 225 members and then our big goal of 250 members—when we’ll add coverage of local school board meetings.

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2022 in Music: Spotify Unwrapped

It’s the time of year when we rehash the year with lists, so here’s my year in music. It’s courtesy of Spotify Unwrapped again, which is still a goofy, app-only, mess of a user interface. But oh well, the basics are there.

I listened to 47,914 minutes of music (more than 91% of users), accounting for 5,964 songs, 2,691 different artists, and 83 different genres. (Here are last year’s stats for the sake of comparison.) I play music while I work, often tuning the music out if I’m really focused, so that’s why I have such ridiculous stats.

Supposedly my top five genres are indie pop, pop, stomp and holler, rock, and alt z (what is alt z?).

Top Songs

  1. “Hot & Heavy” by Lucy Dacus (41 times)
  2. “Holiday (Green Day)” by Half Past Two
  3. “Glowing Review” by Maisie Peters
  4. “Love Me More” by Mitski
  5. “The Story of Us” by Taylor Swift

I’m always looking for a good ear worm, so here are some highlights from my top 100 songs:

  • “The Last Great Sweetheart of the Grand Electric Rodeo” by Sarah and the Safe Word
  • “Cannonball” by Avril Lavigne
  • “My World” by Koren Grace
  • “Who Are You” by Diet Cig
  • “Growing Up” by The Linda Lindas
  • “Raise Up” by Semler
  • “Got Away” by Kady Rain
  • “Under You” by Charly Bliss
  • “F*****g Up What Matters” by Tegan and Sara
  • “Road to Paradise” by TAT
  • “Rehab” by People Planet
  • “Full Metal Black” by The Royal They
  • “Irrelevant” by P!nk
  • “Gay Kids” by Rachel Kurtz
  • “Scotty Doesn’t Know” by Maddie Ross

My Top 5 Artists:

  1. U2 – I listened to 2,236 minutes of their music. That puts me in the top 0.1% of their listeners. No real surprise there.
  2. Five Iron Frenzy – I listened to a lot of Five Iron leading up to their Denver show, so no big surprise there either.
  3. Maisie Peters – She’s one of my favorite new discoveries this year.
  4. Taylor Swift – I don’t even think I listened to her new album that much, so it’s probably older stuff.
  5. Tegan and Sara – Between their new album and the debut of their High School TV show (which is 1990s retro wonderful), I’ve had them on repeat.

Last year my top 3 were Five Iron, U2, and Taylor Swift, so I guess things haven’t changed much?

A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.