2022 has truly been the definition of a roller coaster year. It began with the ending of a relationship and the beginning of a move to my own place. Halfway through the year I caught the dreaded Plague after avoiding it for so long. Then at the end I got sick with something the tests assure me wasn’t the Plague but it certainly knocked me out like it, making me miss a large part of the holidays with my friends and family. Add to that my general constant struggle with anxiety and… well, it’s been a lot. I don’t need to tell you it’s been a lot. You know it’s been a lot.
How I managed to read close to a hundred books along the way is honestly a mystery to me. I try to not put much stock in challenges or numbers. I use my Goodreads Challenge not as a challenge but, because I am a ridiculous person, as a memento mori instead, plugging into it whatever age I’m going to be that year. It’s not that hard to meet — I’m not that old yet. But I would be lying if I didn’t like looking at those large numbers. That I didn’t like feeling like I Read A Lot Of Books.
But the thing that I learned this reading year is that I really don’t. Yes, I read a lot of books, but I don’t feel like I have much to show for it. I didn’t read many books that blew me away, for one. Most that I read were just okay. Which is perfectly fine — not every book I pick up has to blow me away. I just wish to pick better choices.
It’s the pursuit of comfort, I suppose. I don’t blame myself for going for the familiar and the comfortable, especially not during fickle, precarious times. But a thought I kept coming back to as I reflected on my reading throughout the year was how I read a lot less when I was younger, but how so many of those books form an integral part of my soul now. And how that had less to do with the quality of the books themselves than it did with the quality of the time I spent with them. I didn’t finish a book and immediately jumped on to the next, on that neverending search for serotonin. I finished them, and dwelled on them. Sometimes I even read them again, which I scarcely do these days. I gave them time to become a part of me. This wasn’t a conscious choice on my part. I just didn’t have the resources that I do today, which I guess made me more deliberate with my reading. And much more adventurous, too, as I often went with books that seemed interesting and new and challenging.
Which is all to say that, as far as reading resolutions go for the coming year, this would be the main one: To find some of that magic younger me possessed. To be more deliberate and particular with my reading. To choose quality over quantity, always.
I believe this in turn would result in better, more thoughtful reviews, too. My poor blog seems to be in a constant state of neglect — not to mention my bookstagram. I always make it a resolution to be better at both, but in particular my website, and that will remain the same for this next year.
I don’t want to give the impression that everything I read this year was a big pile of meh. I still had a lot of fun. Still managed to read some fine books that I hope will form part of my soul in their own way. Some that I have already revisited and plan to do so again. I always make it a point to say that books are my shining beacons of light in this tempestuous world. These were some of my lighthouses in 2022:
SECURITY by Gina Wohlsdorf
This one turned out to be a good argument for the importance of form in stories. I first tried reading it a couple years ago and found it boring and tedious. I got the paperback edition after coming across a handful of reviews saying that the physical version made for a better reading experience.
They were entirely correct.
This time around, instead of finding it a slog to get through, I was fascinated from the word go and positively flew through the thing.
One of the most interesting thrillers I’ve read in a while. Also, if it wasn’t for the film Glass Onion, this book would have my favorite twist of the year.
THE HUNTER / THE MAN WITH THE GETAWAY FACE / THE SCORE by Richard Stark
I found myself in a slump earlier this year. So I did what I normally do and read all of the Parker graphic novel adaptations by the inimitable and sorely missed Darwyn Cooke again. After I was done with those, I figured it’d be fun to finally pick up the original novels by Richard Stark, which I’ve been meaning to do since I first read these comics.
They definitely got me out of the rut, and I went through a handful of them in quick succession. Incredibly fun, incredibly fast reads that don’t demand much other than for you to sit back and enjoy the ride.
These three were my favorite of the ones I read, but I hope to continue with this series.
INTO THE DROWNING DEEP by Mira Grant
I read a handful of excellent horror titles this year. Indeed, I build my entire Hallowe’en around this premise. The one that ended up thrilling me the most wasn’t even read during the spooky season, though, but summer instead. Something that feels just a tiny bit sacrilegious. But Summer Spooks are a thing in my world, and this one is a prime example.
I’m a sucker for more grounded horror*, and this read very much like Jurassic Park-but-with-freaky-mermaids and I dug the hell out of every tense, gory moment of it.
* Nonsense but make it sciencey!
BATMAN: UNIVERSE by Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Derington, Dave Stewart
2022 turned out to be the year that stepped lightly off the superhero train, in a way.* It wasn’t a conscious choice. I just found myself not getting excited about anything that was coming out unless it felt fresh and new.
That only really happened twice this year**, with The Batman pretty much being the Batman movie I’ve always dreamed of, and Universe by Bendis, Derington, and Stewart being the Batman comic I didn’t know I wanted and needed. The most fun I had reading all year.
* In film and television, anyway. I will probably always read superhero comics.
* The fact that both instances involved Batman shouldn’t be surprising, as Batman is the best.
PATINA by Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds is an author who never fails to impress me. His dowright poetic use of language. The way he manages to pack so much into such compact packages.
Patina is the second book in the Track series, which I’m going through slowly because it’s so obviously something special. The title character was one of my favorite protagonists this year.
THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY by Sulari Gentill
I do love when mysteries turn towards the meta. (Again, blame Rian Johnson.) Like Security, this one plays with tropes and conventions in a way that deeply satisfies me. I had an absolute blast reading it.
My third favorite twist of the year. (2022 was a good one for twisty fiction.)
THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE by Richard Osman
Murder mysteries still reign supreme in this household, although I read only a few of them this year. But the Thursday Murder Club continues to capture my heart. Osman has a wonderful knack for writing immediately engaging characters — especially so with his antagonists who, while not exactly lovable, are certainly charismatic. It’s really an enviable quality.
I didn’t like this one more than the first book, but only because nothing quite compares to meeting favorite characters for the first time. The central mystery here was much more up my alley, though. Magnificently twisty.
EXHALATION by Ted Chiang
This was also the year I rediscovered the joy of the short story. And Exhalation was the perfect book with which to do so.
Chiang’s work astounds me, and this brief collection easily has a couple of stories I would now consider all-time favorites. “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” is a perfect, precious pearl of a story, and one of the absolute best things I’ve read in years.
LEGENDS & LATTES by Travis Baldree
Another entry into the “low stakes stories about people just hanging out” genre that I find myself gravitating towards more and more the older I get.
Went into this one without any great expectations, but it ended up becoming one of my favorite reads of the year.
Cozy, clever, and heartwarming. I loved the world of this book and see myself coming back to it often.
A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY by Becky Chambers
My most anticipated book of the year and it did not disappoint. Chambers has turned into a favorite author in just a scant handful of years.
Like its predecessor, I read it twice in as many days. Illuminating, soul-enriching, life-affirming. I love this world and the characters of Sibling Dex and Mosscap like I’ve loved precious few others.
The news that Chambers would not be revisiting this series any time soon pretty much devastated me, but as it stands, it is a perfect duology.
My favorite read of the year, to the surprise of literally no one.
Once again, I hope you had a wonderful year, in both your reading life as well as your personal one. Always look towards the light. See you next year.