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)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dead Space by Kali Wallace – A slow build of a sci-fi thriller.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?).
“Hot & Heavy” by Lucy Dacus (41 times)
“Holiday (Green Day)” by Half Past Two
“Glowing Review” by Maisie Peters
“Love Me More” by Mitski
“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:
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.
Five Iron Frenzy – I listened to a lot of Five Iron leading up to their Denver show, so no big surprise there either.
Maisie Peters – She’s one of my favorite new discoveries this year.
Taylor Swift – I don’t even think I listened to her new album that much, so it’s probably older stuff.
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?
Milo and I recently took a six-day trip to Tennessee so he could compete in a national taekwondo tournament. Airfares were pretty pricey, so we ended up driving, spending some extra time in the mountains, and I brought my mountain bike for some extra biking time.