2022 in Review

I hope to have read my 100th book by Dec. 31, 2022, but as of now, I have read 99 books. My Good Reads goal was an ambitious 100 books.

I probably shouldn’t have selected a chunky Stephen King book, If It Bleeds, for my last read of the year, but I wanted to end the reading year on a high note or at least a book I thought I would love.

  • Children/YA books: 16
  • Memoir/Nonfiction: 12
  • Adult Fiction: 24 (25 if I finish book #100)
  • Poetry: 47

Breakdown of Ratings this Year:

  • 5 Stars: 57
  • 4 Stars: 29
  • 3 Stars: 11
  • 2 Stars: 1
  • 1 Star: 1

Top Memoir/Nonfiction:

Top Children/YA Books:

Top Adult Fiction:

Top Poetry: (this category is always the hardest for me to pick from)

Share your favorite reads from 2022!

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 77 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

A little unconventionally, I found Jericho Brown on Twitter without having read his poetry, but what he says on the platform caught my attention and I’ve followed him ever since. When the pandemic hit, I was a poet without a group of poets to fuel my revision and writing and I found a number of Zoom workshops and events to fill the void.

However, when the opportunity to have a workshop with Brown came up (for free), I was, first, stunned it would be free, and, second, that I could workshop with Brown! This workshop turned my writing on its ear. I have not forgotten his methods, his exercises, or his advice during that session. In many ways, his workshop led me to break out of the box I pinned myself in. With that in mind, I just had to pick up his book when I finally had money and could enter a bookstore in person again — yes, I waited because bookstore trips are like spiritual experiences.

Without further ado, here’s my review.

The Tradition by Jericho Brown explores the violence that has become tradition in the United States and elsewhere and its effects on not only the body, but the soul. He opens this collection with “Ganymede,” that breathes the modern world into Greek mythology and the kidnapping of the young Trojan by the gods and equates it with the taking and selling of slave children across the plantations. “The people of my country believe/We can’t be hurt if we can be bought.//” he says in the ultimate lines of the poem. How true and untrue that statement is. The truth of it is that they are harmed, but that others perceive that they are not because they are property.

From this opening, we know as readers we’re taking a journey into deeply emotional territory for Brown from the choice of a mother to side with a father and forsake her son to the bright lives of Black men and women who are cut down so easily and without remorse on the streets every day.

From "Bullet Points" (pg. 16)

Calling worst. I promise if you hear
of me dead anywhere near
A cop, then that cop killed me. He took
Me from us and left my body, which is,
No matter what we've been taught,
Greater than the settlement

But it isn’t just the violence against Blacks that he talks about, it is the coverup of history and that we gloss over the atrocities of our history. The stealing of land from native peoples, even as those people never laid claim to the land but merely subsisted on what it gave them. The conquering of other lands merely because we wanted to or could, all in the name of democracy or some other twisted ideal — only to turn our back on it when everyone wanted freedom.

The Tradition by Jericho Brown pushes us to ask why violence has become a standard for us and to look at where it comes from. It is rooted in all that we are as a nation. In order for us to find that “something vast” and to leap toward it, we must break this tradition and create something new.

RATING: Cinquain

Mailbox Monday #679

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

The Tradition by Jericho Brown, which I purchased.

Jericho Brown’s daring new book The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we’ve become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown’s mastery, and his invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—is testament to his formal skill. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong, which I purchased.

In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave, and propulsive, Vuong’s poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.

The author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize, and a 2019 MacArthur fellow, Vuong writes directly to our humanity without losing sight of the current moment. These poems represent a more innovative and daring experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we perennially live in and question are truly inexhaustible. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, Time Is a Mother is a return and a forging forth all at once.

What did you receive?