I started 2022 with a goal to read at least 20 (non-assigned academic) books. In December, I totaled my final number of 24 books and categorized them into six main topics. Each book is pictured and linked for easy identification and includes my personal rating out of five stars (exclusively in the context of its book category.) Last, the plus sign (+) indicates my favorite(s) of the category.
Black History & Black Literature
1️⃣Listen To Me Good: The Story of an Alabama Midwife by Margaret Charles Smith & Linda Janet Holmes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Anyone interested in midwifery or the Black History of Alabama should read this book! I enjoyed learning about birth prep with herbs and the medicinal healing that comes with labor and delivery as I seek to strengthen my own healing and herbal hands.
2️⃣The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+
The audio version has excellent delivery! I recommend listening whether alone or in tandem with reading the book. This is a book that every USA-born Black person should read, especially if you are born after the 60s. There is so much rich oral history that helps us to better understand our ancestors and elders, the intricacies of our People, and offers insight into why your family may be “that way” or “do these things” in a way that can offer you a celebration of what you want to keep and information to help you release what you do not.
3️⃣Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile ⭐️⭐️(and a half)
I read the original copy (2014) but since then television tie-in is available. Perhaps, had I read the book first and then watched the series I may have received it better. But the book did not hold up to the love affair I had with the television show, so it was rather meh for me. However, do not allow the fact that I did not like this story to distract you from Baszile’s writing, which is great.
4️⃣Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature by Farrah J. Griffin⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I read this book and listened to the audio. Reading through the book on my own was better than this audio for me. If you are a Black Literature/Black Interest consumer, you’d like this book. Griffin sets the scene for being Black in America starting with the 60s and infuses personal stories with historical events/figures and literature. Brilliant!
Also, if you were not raised Christian (or no longer one), she is a refreshing break from that rhetoric. It’s not that she fails to mention it but she firmly admits her detachment from it which gives readers a fresh take as many modern Black American perspectives are often soaked in Evangelical Christianity.
5️⃣It Was All A Dream: Biggie and the World that Made Him by Justin Tinsley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The audio version paired with reading the book was the best! Tinsley’s writing and storytelling are top-notch. I have read many stories on the life of Biggie as well as watched a few movies/documentaries. My first approach to this book was that the author will not tell me anything that I did not know.
In transparency, I only decided to read it to support my husband’s line brother (the author). But, I was pleasantly surprised and so glad to be wrong. Not only did Tinsley expand my knowledge of Biggie’s life, but he also widened my understanding of hip-hop while teaching me the inner workings connected to the songs and artists I hold dear from my childhood and teenage years.
Finally, Tinsley’s writing beautifully evokes compassion for a man (and criminal) we have already been conditioned to judge or have little sympathy for—a sign of excellent writing, in my opinion. I closed the book feeling more for the man known as Christopher Wallace than shooting side-eye for the rapper felon we all knew as Notorious B.I.G. Just wow, Tinsley!
6️⃣Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+
I chose to listen to the audio version when I learned that Auntie Viola narrated it herself. She sounds more like she’s delivering a performance than reading a book, in her true thespian glory. I highly recommend listening to this memoir! This book changed my life. The number of secrets and gems I stashed to help create some meaning to and action in my life absolutely made listening to it worth all my time!
7️⃣She Memes Well: Essays by Quinta Brunson⭐️⭐️⭐️ (and a half)
I only listened to the audio version and enjoyed it. Such a contrast between Davis’ memoir and the much-needed story after it. Admittedly, Brunson was difficult to ignore last year, and she got my attention so this title made it to my list late in the year. It felt so great listening to a Black woman tell her story absent of pounds and pounds of pain and trauma. Brunson certainly represents the “Black All-American” type and it was a joy to be along for her ride.
8️⃣Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Noah’s story is not told in chronological order of his life events, and that can be difficult to follow for some readers. I read the book in one sitting and listened to the audio version in another one. Noah’s narration is great, and just what I needed when I learned he was leaving The Daily! Who doesn’t love Trevor Noah? Anything he produces/publishes, I’d be invested.
Black Spirituality & Healing
9️⃣The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships by Sobonfu Somé⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+
This is a book that you just have to read, but it is totally worth it! I’d dare to say that any Black person in a relationship or desiring one should spend some time with this text. The author spiritually teaches us how to connect to Spirit, create intimacy, cultivate community, and care for each other using Village-like concepts from the Dagara people of Burkina Faso.
1️⃣0️⃣My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Hearts & Bodies by Resmaa Menakem⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+
This was definitely my most slept-on book of the year. I learned about it in February 2022 and benched it until my therapist told me to I needed to read it in light of penning my own book. I am not sure she has ever been more right about a thing! Menakem offers real remedies and solutions to heal this nation of its ugly, racist history.
For Black people especially, he teaches us how to process our plights and tap into our bodies for healing. I finished reading this book with practical, I-know-what-to-do gems to enhance my life, and that’s worthy of great praise. I must extend my gratitude because I am a better Relationship Coach & Mentor having read this book.
1️⃣1️⃣Mojo Workin’: The Old African American Hoodoo System by Katrina Hazzard-Donald⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Spiritually speaking, 2022 was a year for me to add history to my faith and center myself more on heritage and bloodlines. I started with this text as it came recommended for a historical foundation, and I’d recommend it for the same too.
Not that conversion does not have its value, but the more history I learn, I have come to pay attention to origin and birthright. I firmly believe that Spirituality and access to “God” is the birthright of all Black people everywhere. (Not to take away from others, but just to focus on us).
With that, an immediate question strikes: What is the spiritual origin by way of being African-American (that is born Black and in the USA)? Come to find out, the answer is the original Black Church (which is somewhat different than it is today) and the Hoodoo Spiritual System—which overlap with each other in a variety of ways that remain present today.
I appreciate the connectedness between certain countries in Africa to America and how newly enslaved Africans (and later Black Southerners) intertwined their African roots to their new spiritual beginnings that tell a story that I, a Millenial, recognize as mine (or familiar).
1️⃣2️⃣You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar
I can only tell you to do yourself a favor and purchase the audio version when you have a drive. The playing time on the audio is roughly less than five hours. Entertaining, familial, jaw-dropping, and hilarious!
1️⃣3️⃣The World Record Book of Racist Stories by Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Following up from Book 12 (same authors and all), I say, ditto to the above and add that this one is even better.
1️⃣4️⃣A Black Woman’s Guide to Earning a Ph.D.: Surviving the First 2 Years by Nicole A. Telfer ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A good read if you are preparing for your doctoral studies or approaching your first year. A quarter of the book (in the beginning) is more dedicated to teaching readers how to approach applications and being admitted. If you are beyond that point, jump to the middle and move along. There’s good info that you cannot know before you start your program that Nicole freely shares.
1️⃣5️⃣Marriage Be Hard: 12 Conversations to Keep You Laughing, Loving, and Learning with Your Partner by Kevin Fredericks and Melissa Fredericks⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+
Traditionally, I do not read books on other people’s marriages! However, there seems to always be “that one” that causes you to go against your own grain, and the Fredericks’ were it for me. They both deliver the truth about marriage in transparency and integrity while sharing resources, telling appropriate stories, and offering practical advice.
For me, this book was rather timely as it gave me the language I need to describe my own previous marriage. That language blessed my life and started me on a new path in my personhood and womanhood. Forever grateful for the Fredericks—not just because of the gift they gave me but also because they gave a respectable and honest report on what it means to be married.
I’d also like to give Kevin his flowers! I read the book and listened to the audio, and it felt so good to hear a Black man confess some of the truths that he did in this book, especially as a Black woman.
Psychology, Mentalism, & Male Research
1️⃣6️⃣13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success by Anne Morin⭐️⭐️⭐️
If you can make it past some of the fluff, there are some good nuggets in here about mental strength and your grit as a person. If you like reading e-books, grab the Kindle version as this one does not necessarily require that you keep a hard copy.
1️⃣7️⃣Mistakes Were Made (but Not By Me) Third Edition: Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book chronicles real-life and usually very serious examples of events where some mistake was made and the lengths to which the offenders either could not see it or refused to own it is used for exposure and psychological explanations.
Though serious, some of these lengths are so far gone that they are comical—not in humor—but in disbelief. The authors scarily demonstrate how the human mind seeks to protect itself and the flaws of human behavior.
1️⃣8️⃣T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us by Carole Hooven ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a “science-y”-type book that explains the uniqueness of testosterone in males.
1️⃣9️⃣Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do about It by Richard Reeves⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+
If you are interested in or care about the plight of boys and men, this is a must-read. Reeves combines history, culture, education, sociology, policy, and anthropology to explain the current state of boys and men (in comparison to girls and women in some ways) with helpful information and interesting insight about what to do about it. I would certainly suggest this read for mothers (of sons), educators, politicians, and single women who are active in the dating market!
Human & Female Interest and Female Literature
2️⃣0️⃣No Cure for Being Human: And Other Truths I Need to Hear by Kate Bowler ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a book that could work for all, after all, the author is targeting all of humanity. With that, you’d probably better enjoy it even more if you like reading about life, existentialism, or the process of a matter—bonus points if you’re an academic, mother, survivor, clinician, or Christian (or familiar with its teachings).
Bowler confronts “toxic positivity”, cliches, and religious rhetoric as she comes to terms with the fragility of life and the possible impending finality of hers (while putting up hope for remission).
2️⃣1️⃣Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Oh, just the sex education book you wish you would have from high school, ladies, and the one that men should read if they are still having some trouble with locating the clitoris or having a woman reach an un-faked orgasm.
2️⃣2️⃣It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I found it strikingly appalling that many of Hoover’s reviews were of upset readers accusing her of making them “fall for” one of the male characters only to learn that he wasn’t all that. Why? Because I knew he was “bad” from the first chapter.
I absolutely LOVED how Hoover wrote his character because it more exposed the kind of woman the reader than demonizing his bad behavior. More importantly, in using this tactic, she reveals just how easy it can be to be swooned by the wrong guy. It’s probably a book that every older teenage girl or young adult woman should read. Seriously—I pondered using this book as a blueprint for writing lesson plans to teach how to notice the ways and lines of the “bad guy.”
2️⃣3️⃣It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A feel-good sequel and ending to the first (above) novel that gives readers that background and closure they begged for! Hoover brilliantly demonstrates how a woman can practice kindness and civility while also being firm and bold with ex-lovers who have violated them.
Through the main character, Hoover shows us how to have boundaries through a divorce, co-parenting, and remarriage (and just in relationships in general) in a way that usually is not communicated. She also adds some color to Atlas’ character, but you’ll have to read to learn more about that.
2️⃣4️⃣City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+
One woman’s journey to find self, explore truth, and settle on who she is as a woman starting in 1940s Manhattan until present-day. It’s a story for all women everywhere, and a special treat for girls from New York City or those in love with the city. Read it!
What did you read last year, or what do you plan to read in 2023?
We grow as we go®️,