As things have been since the pandemic began, I’ve been really lackadaisical when it comes to reading all year. Honestly, I’m not sure when this trend will end, but it is what it is. I read 50 books in 2022, including 3 rereads and a further 3 books that I abandoned past the halfway point. Here are a few further bookish stats from the year:
Book Type: 44 fiction – 6 nonfiction
Fiction Type: 25 speculative – 19 realistic
Media: 27 text – 22 audio – 1 visual
Audience: 40 adult – 9 YA – 1 children’s
Authors: 38 women – 7 men – 1 nonbinary – 4 combo/multiple
New to me authors: 19
Most read authors: Brandon Sanderson (6 including the 3 he co-wrote with Janci Patterson) – Note that this total also includes two rereads, but even if I exclude those, Sanderson still has the most with 4 this year.
Shortest book: Community Cats (127 pgs)
Longest book: Any Way the Wind Blows (574 pgs)
Shortest audio: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (2:37)
Longest audio: The Ink Black Heart (32:42)
A few bookish things:
- 1 translation (Swedish)
- 4 chunksters
- 1 collection
- 3 books that I wish I’d abandoned
- 5 books out of my comfort zone
- total pages read: 8,988
- total audio listened to: 262 hours and 38 mins
- most and least popular on Goodreads (excluding rereads) are The Paris Apartment (~250k) and Community Cats (23) **as of 12/27
- highest and lowest rated on GR are Tiny But Mighty (4.75) and Horror Hotel (3.36) **as of 12/27
Best bookish experience: Brandon Sanderson’s announcement and accompanying kickstarter for his four secret novels and a year of Sanderson material and swag coming in 2023!
Best book-related discovery: I do not want to go mountaineering (ha!). I know that sounds silly, but as an avid hiker, I’ve discovered through books that mountaineering is just a step (or five) too far for me.
Best of the Year
So I have two things to say about this. First, even books that were stand-out to me while reading ended up fading to nothing by the time I’m writing this, just because of the way my brain is processing books these days. I’ve had to kind of look back and guess what my favorites would have been had my brain been fully into reading. Second, the book that stands out the most, the one that I really ended up loving far more than expected, is one that I wish wasn’t in my best-of-the-year. That book is The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith, aka JK Rowling, aka one of the biggest slimeballs in modern fiction. It has been really hard to separate the author from the work, and I’ve only attempted it because I was several books into the series (one I really loved) before discovering the slimeball nature of the author. In setting aside my loathing of the author, the book itself was really, really good, and not at all what people (who haven’t read it) have been reporting it to be (in plot, theme, or message). It has stayed with me for months, and I’ve had to concede that it’s probably my favorite of the year. Other favorites include:
- The Second Blind Son: gorgeous writing, brilliant story, such a comfort to return to this world
- The Change: I don’t think I’ve ever read a book as bad-ass as this one!
- Runner up: A Stitch in Time: genre-bending in the best way
- Runner up: The Book of Cold Cases: there are parts of this book that I still can’t stop thinking about!
I abandoned three books this year. The first was Cackle, which I wrote about toward the beginning of the year. The second was a book called Hotel Magnifique, which had this weird promise of being like both Caraval and The Night Circus. Having read both of those books, I don’t feel like they have anything in common except a general (VERY general) setting, and in the end, HM ended up far more like Caraval, which I hated. The main character (of HM) does nothing but get people in trouble and has the oddest luck, both good and bad. There’s also a lot of “let’s use the main character’s ignorance as a way to world-build.” The whole book was frustrating and I eventually gave it up. The last abandoned book was a short nonfic called Haunted History of Old San Antonio, which I also write about separately.
Most Fun to Read
- Love & Other Disasters: sapphic romance by way of GBBO? Yes, please!
- Curfew: This almost made my best-of runner-ups, another bad-ass book about a society that actually protects its women
- The Change: menopause = development of magic powers that allow women to protect other women? This is another yes, please!
- A Stitch in Time: I have never been so excited to find a new author as I was reading this delightful time traveling mystery-romance!
Most Beautiful Writing
- The Hacienda: At first I struggled to catch the rhythm of the writing, but once I did, I was immersed in the most beautiful poetic lilt.
- The Locked Room: Rather than the writing itself being beautiful, it’s the incredibly evocative way that Griffiths brought the early days of the pandemic flooding back to your senses that landed this book under this category!
Most Disappointing and/or Distasteful
- The House Across the Lake: Can we say “distasteful use of indigenous tropes to flood in a horror element to the book”? Gag.
- Any Way the Wind Blows: I literally thought my copy was missing the last few pages, it was so incomplete.
- You’re Invited: I thought I was getting a look into Sri Lankan culture, but instead ended up with played out stereotypes and shock-writing and an extremely predictable story.
Best Settings, Vividness, and/or Visceral Moments
- The Book of Cold Cases: There’s this moment with the narrator has her first paranormal experience, and in the days that follow, her brain doesn’t just accept it. Instead, she’s constantly whipping around, expecting objects to be moving behind her or to see something impossible. It was the most realistic description of a reaction to the paranormal that I’ve ever read.
- Remote Control: When Fatima becomes Sankofa, and her experience of the village post transformation – I can’t say more without spoilers, but this was an extremely visceral bit of description
- Breathless: I felt like I was on that mountain, with little air, with the cold and the fear and the next-to-dying nature of above-8k-meters mountaineering – I could definitely tell the author had lived through the visceral experience of climbing a mountain
- The Locked Room: I discussed above, but Griffiths really managed to bring in that chaotic, confusing, and claustrophobic feel of the early days of Covid.
- the mountaineers and the Sherpas, Breathless: I don’t know if this is always true in real life, but the narrator of this book and several of the other mountaineers were so respectful of the Sherpas helping them (aka keeping them alive), and I loved that, especially in a world where “the help” is often treated invisibly at best, like garbage at worst.
- the three female friends, The Change: We all deserve to have a circle of friends this supportive and loyal!
- Harbinder and her roommate, Bleeding Heart Yard: Oh, she is so, so clueless that her roommate (and crush) wants to be more than friends…
Books that Changed Me
- How to Take Awesome Photos of Cats: Taught me a series of photo-editing tricks that I was later able to expand on, greatly improving my photography skills in general.
- Tiny But Mighty: I learned so much from this book, which helped me keep several kittens alive when I had zero experience in caring for ones that young!
Physical Books I Bought / Kept From My 2022 Reads
Once again, let’s hope that next year will be a better one in books. Though honestly, if I continue to read around 50 books a year with just a few that stand out over time, I’m okay with that. Better than the years of 200 a year and very little sticking around longterm…