2022 Books in Review: Relationships, Faith, Fun

Last year a few people asked me if I was no longer going to do book reviews.

I guess I just got caught up in planning a rather large event that has been a rather large life change.

Perhaps this year I can do quarterly reviews again as they are more handleable.

The books this year were heavily influenced by two factors: 1) dating and getting married 2) signing up for a free 30-day use of the Deseret Bookshelf app for something I needed for work and then forgetting to cancel said year-long membership. The books this year also appear to be mostly audiobooks upon further review.

Books in order of when I finished them, not in order of what I liked best or would recommend.

Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find–and keep–love by Amir Levine

*The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

*The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams

*The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

*Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper

The 80/80 Marriage: A New Model for a Happier, Stronger Relationship by Nate Klemp and Kaley Klemp

*Eve and Adam: Discovering the Beautiful Balance by Melinda Wheelwright Brown

*Real Vs. Rumor: How to Dispel Latter-day Myths by Keith Erekson

*Women and the Priesthood by Sheri Dew

Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John Gottman

*Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

*And They Were not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through S* Fulfillment by Laura M. Brotherson (P.S. I’m not afraid of the word, but it can get your blog flagged as potential inappropriate content so that is why it is not written out)

*Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

*Between Husband and Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy by Douglas Brinley and Stephen Lamb

*Pioneering the Vote: The Untold Story of Suffragists in Utah and the West by Neylan McBaine

Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

*The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

*The Sister Preachers: Based on the True Story of the First Sister Missionaries in 1898 by Gale Sears

*Proclaim Peace: The Restoration’s Answer to an Age of Conflict by Patrick Q. Mason

*The Holy Invitation: Understanding Your Sacred Temple Endowment by Anthony Sweat

*The Holy Covenants: Living Our Sacred Temple Promises by Anthony Sweat

Maus II by Art Spiegelman

First: The Life and Faith of Emma Smith by Jennifer Reeder

*The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother by James McBride

*The Doors of Faith by Terryl Givens

*The Spirit of Revelation by David A. Bednar

*The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear by Kate Moore

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

*Saints, Volume 3: Boldly, Nobly, and Independent

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

*Original Grace: An Experiment in Restoration Thinking by Adam Miller

*Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz

*Let’s Talk about Faith and Intellect by Terryl Givens

*Insights from a Prophet’s Life: Russell M. Nelson by Sheri Dew

Blended by Sharon M. Draper

*Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Designing Experiences by James Robert Rossman and Mathew Duerden

Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly by Bernadette Jiwa

*Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant

*audiobooks

Reviews

Relationship Books

Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find–and keep–love by Amir Levine

I’d read this book a number of years ago when recommended by a previous counselor. The counselor I worked with during my dating relationship also recommended this. Steve is a good sport and read it as well so we could talk about our thoughts. I definitely have some weird attachment issues but discovered that maybe our relationship was working because Steve was very secure in his attachment style. Bless him.

The 80/80 Marriage: A New Model for a Happier, Stronger Relationship by Nate Klemp and Kaley Klemp

I read this book while Steve and I were dating and to facilitate good conversations, Steve read sections we thought it good to talk more about. While there are a million philosophies of how to have a good marriage, we liked a lot of the discussions in this book. The main idea is that as we try to develop equal partnerships in marriage, sometimes we think that means 50/50 and we just split things down the middle. But this book suggests instead radical generosity. This provided many good conversations of what we wanted our marriage to be like and I find myself often thinking “radical generosity” and trying to do things simply because they are kind or helpful–not trying to count what’s “fair” as to who has done what (I am really good at keeping track and tallying, so this was an essential concept for me to embrace). We’re just new to all of this, but I hope I can keep this thought in mind.

Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by John Gottman

This book provides a pattern and questions for eight deep conversations for couples. We’d wanted to discuss these topics before getting married, so this was a helpful structure. We switched off who took which date and it was really fun to plan something that led to a good conversation. The book does assume that the couple is already living together, so we did have to modify the section on intimacy, but the framework was still helpful. After every conversation, even if some of them brought up differences or challenges in our worldview, we felt closer together. Highly recommend for seriously dating couples.

*And They Were not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through S* Fulfillment by Laura M. Brotherson (P.S. I’m not afraid of the word, but it can get your blog flagged as potential inappropriate content so that is why it is not written out)

This was the best book that I read on preparing for intimacy (didn’t list all books read since some we just read parts of). Steve is a champ and read this as well. It was so helpful for us to build a better context for our marriage. I appreciated the topic from a female perspective and a gospel perspective. I don’t want to be dramatic but this book totally changed my perspective and helped me view intimacy in a much more positive light.

*Between Husband and Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy by Douglas Brinley and Stephen Lamb

This had similar concepts to Brotherson’s book and was also helpful, although a few things were a little outdated. We appreciated reading this book as well to get more gospel insights and some insight from and for the male perspective.

Fiction

*The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

If you like Liane Moriarty books, this is a fun book in the same vein. Lucy’s mother-in-law was found dead of a suspected suicide, but further investigation reveals a likely murder. Lucy and Diana were never really close–was she part of the ruse? A good whodunnit book.

*The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Is Brandon Sanderson really fiction or is he a category all of his own? Hard to know. This book is about a young man named Joel who is attending Armedius Academy to become a Rithmatist–someone who can cause chalk drawings to, for lack of a better explanation, come alive. I quite enjoyed this book, but it was a little dark at times.

*Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara is an artificial friend (AF)–a realistic solar-powered robot that parents buy for their children. But Klara is a little more sentient or real than the other AFs. The story is told from her perspective as she tries to navigate the world of humans–particularly as she becomes an AF to a sick little girl in a world where children can be genetically engineered. It’s kind of weird, creepy, another reviewer said “haunting” and all those things. But I enjoyed the thinking it generated.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

CeeCee’s mother suffers from severe mental illness. When CeeCee’s mother tragically dies, CeeCee goes to Savannah, Georgia where her care is taken over by her great aunt Tootie. This story was intriguing as it felt just like a “day in the life of” journal of a young woman and her learning to interact in a world so different from her old one. This book is good for just some sweet caring kindness and love as even the most challenging of situations and topics are dealt with carefully (because they can be very heavy).

*The Sister Preachers: Based on the True Story of the First Sister Missionaries in 1898 by Gale Sears

This is actually historical fiction. This creates a narrative around the first sister missionaries to serve for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Inez Knight and Jennie Brimhall. I appreciated the research pulled from their personal accounts to create this narrative. I know there are weaknesses with every historical fiction novel, but I just really appreciate these sisters and the beliefs they held to and the path they created for other women to serve.

Non-Fiction

*The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams

I quite enjoyed this collaborative work as I learned about different perspectives on finding and accepting joy into our lives. The book addresses details from the lives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and how even amid their great struggles and trials, they found happiness and joy. A great listen.

*Pioneering the Vote: The Untold Story of Suffragists in Utah and the West by Neylan McBaine

I loved attending the “Sisters for Suffrage” Exhibit at the Church History Museum a few years ago and really wanted to learn more. This book is perfect for understanding the incredible contributions of women in the West to the overall suffrage movement–their ability to gain suffrage, the challenges that caused them to lose it, and their fight to win it back. Loved this book because these women are my heroes.

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

This book was beautiful. On 9/11, the U.S. airspace was closed and about 38 flights were diverted to the Gander airport in Newfoundland. This book documents many different stories of those who were stranded in the town and the incredible people who housed, hosted, fed, and befriended thousands of passengers in their small town. I highly recommend this book and hope to see the musical based on it someday.

*First: The Life and Faith of Emma Smith by Jennifer Reeder

I am fascinated by all that I learn about Emma Smith as she is such a pillar of a woman’s voice in the early beginnings of The Church of Jesus Christ. I would recommend reading this book instead of listening to it. The book is organized by all the “first” things that Emma did or was a part of (not a chronological book). When I was listening it felt like I was repeating some parts, so I’d recommend reading so you can keep sections of “firsts” in context.

*The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother by James McBride

James McBride is a black man who is the child of white Jewish mother. His mother married a black man in 1941 who later died. She married again and he passed away as well. She raised 12 children from those marriages. James’s insights and research into his mother’s history is heartbreaking, beautiful, and fascinating. His own insights into understanding who he is are poignant. Recommended.

*The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear by Kate Moore

This is probably my most highly recommended book of the year but it is also infuriating. Elizabeth Packard was a mother of 6 whose husband committed her to an insane asylum because her religious views differed from his and at the time, men fully had the right to do so to their wives. Elizabeth’s story to prove she was sane, to give women rights in relation to their mental health, and to improve conditions in the asylums is awe-inspiring. Many times in the book, I thought, “How? How is she going to do something? She has to and there is a ton left to this book but it just feels like a dead end!” She still did it.

*Saints, Volume 3: Boldly, Nobly, and Independent (1893-1955)

This is the third volume in the Saints series, which is a history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Much to learn in this volume and understand in our history.

*Insights from a Prophet’s Life: Russell M. Nelson by Sheri Dew

Overall, interesting to learn more about the prophet’s life. I wish that the book had felt a little more real in the struggles of life, though.

Middle Grade

*Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper

This is the first book in The Dark is Rising series. While on vacation, three children find an old map that resembles the coastline of their vacation area. They set to work to decipher the meaning, but their discovery is something others have been trying to find for years. This is a somewhat of a mystery book, suspense, not sure what. It was rather scary at times for a middle grade, but an interesting read/listen.

Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

I checked out this book because there was a lot of attention on it being banned in another state. This is a graphic novel that shares the author’s experience of interviewing his father, who was a Holocaust survivor. Other reviews call this “haunting” and “brutally moving” which I found to be quite accurate. A hard book to read, but skillfully told.

*The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

This is the second in The Dark is Rising series. While the previous book was more of a deciphering a mystery and a race to see who would figure it out first, this book is more like a fantasy journey. I didn’t find too much connection between the first and second book, so I’m sure you could read it without the first.

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

This book was recommended in one of my writing critique groups as a scary book for children that really captures spookiness. And it’s true. While this is proposed as a book for children (no thank you), it creeped me out. A family moves to a new home by a cemetery. And there is of course a ghost. Still get the creeps thinking of this book.

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

I don’t know how to describe this book. It made me uncomfortable with its characterizations and direction at first until I understood the narrative and ultimately led me to wanting to know more (some of the story is based on true events). Young Charlie is forced to repay a family debt by helping Captain Buck capture runaway slaves. Charlie has to learn what is right and who is right and what he’s going to do about it.

Maus II by Art Spiegelman

This is the sequel to the Maus I graphic novel and continues the story. Just as haunting and moving.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

This was a different and snappy little read. Gregor and his sister fall through a grate in the laundry room and enter the underland: a world with giant bats, rodents, and insects and some different type of humans. Gregor is viewed as the hero foretold in a prophecy who can end the conflict with the rats and the humans.

Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Isabella is 11. Her parents are divorced, so she splits her time between her mom’s and dad’s house. This is an exploration of how she deals with always switching between lives, identity, name, and everything–the life she has with her father, who is a wealthy black man, and the life she has with her white mother, who is not that wealthy. I am glad I read this book, but the ending did feel too rushed for resolution.

Religious

*Eve and Adam: Discovering the Beautiful Balance by Melinda Wheelwright Brown

I enjoy studying about Eve and appreciated this look into learning more about Eve and Adam and how their story can benefit my relationship.

*Real Vs. Rumor: How to Dispel Latter-day Myths by Keith Erekson

My favorite thing about this book is that it dispels a lot of latter-day myths and gives the real answers, such as the Salt Lake Temple elevator shaft myth. The book also explores how we can learn to accurately discern what may be real and what may be invented. An interesting little exploration.

*Women and the Priesthood by Sheri Dew

I kind of feel like this book was really more about women in the gospel. While it did touch on some themes of women and the priesthood, I feel The Priesthood Power of Women covers this topic so much better. Some good nuggets, some seem like they need a little more finessing or perhaps updating.

*Proclaim Peace: The Restoration’s Answer to an Age of Conflict by Patrick Q. Mason and J. David Pulsipher

I’m quite certain I need to read this book again. It explores how those who are followers of Christ can become and advocate for more positions of peace in the world and in our personal lives. I want to be a better creator and bringer of peace. I don’t always know how to do that while also wanting to constantly advocate for change but I am learning to invite peace more often. In several instances in the last year, this book reminded me that love and kindness are really the only things that benefit others as well as myself in the long run. It doesn’t benefit me to harbor hatred and it needs to be rooted out.

*The Holy Invitation: Understanding Your Sacred Temple Endowment by Anthony Sweat

I listened to both this one and the one below and I can’t accurately differentiate the differences. But both are lovely works outlining our promises to God and the blessings God wants to give us. Glad we are talking more openly about the temple now.

*The Holy Covenants: Living Our Sacred Temple Promises by Anthony Sweat

see above.

*The Doors of Faith by Terryl Givens

The Givens describe faith and understanding the gospel in such beautiful ways. This is an exploration of faith that reminds me of how satisfying the answers of the gospel are in my life.

*The Spirit of Revelation by David A. Bednar

This may be a little too real, but I don’t always resonate with Elder Bednar’s way of teaching or his talks. So I wanted to read/listen to something of his to better understand him and how he instructs and how he thinks and this book was the one I chose.

*Original Grace: An Experiment in Restoration Thinking by Adam Miller

This. This book is beautiful. It is fresh and describes grace how I so desperately want to believe it to be. Highly recommend this book as it describes some key tenets that I believe about God–that grace is and always was the plan. Please read.

*Let’s Talk about Faith and Intellect by Terryl Givens

This is a short little ditty. Another good Givens book. Understanding faith has been one of the more beautiful aspects I’ve worked on strengthening in my life, and this has some great insights.

Business/Work-Related

*Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

I honestly don’t remember anything from this book on my own but when I googled some stuff to remind me what I read, there are a ton of great quotes from it and I was reminded of lots of things I can do better. Go read the quotes if nothing else!

*Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on it by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz

This book is wow. Really wow. It gets at the heart of negotiating in any and every situation and how you can come through with what you need. And told from the perspective of a hostage negotiator with some really interesting stories. I feel like I need this as a handbook beside my desk. I tried several different techniques while listening to the book and they worked. Hoping I can keep trying!

*Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

I love when I listen to or read a book and think, “That was amazing; I need to just change my thinking like they said in this book and all will be well” and then I can’t remember much about the book a few months later. So much in self-help books feels life-changing and it probably would be if I implemented it more. But at least this book was great in helping me think through how to have more of a growth mindset. I really loved her examples of applying this at work but also in the home.

Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly by Bernadette Jiwa and Designing Experiences by James Robert Rossman and Mathew Duerden

These two books are both about creating great customer experiences whether in person or through the web or whatever situation you are trying to build to delight people. They both address similar ideas of companies that value good experiences for their customers. Meaningful is a bite-sized and easier to read book and Designing Experiences is a little more complex. Both offer great ideas for implementing this in your career.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What you Don’t Know by Adam Grant

This is another of those books that feels so mind-altering and then later you can’t remember much from it. But I do still think those books change us and open our minds. I like the concept of unlearning and relearning and being constantly open to change. One thing I loved from this book was allowing your past self to be wrong about something and letting your current self take on new understanding and meaning and change. I also loved the idea of wholly accepting when you’re wrong because now you’re smarter than you were before because now you know what’s right. Cool stuff.

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