I rediscovered my love for reading this year, in a big way. After many years in a reading slump, here is my appetite for books, back and bigger than ever.
In 2022, I read 75 books, and 23,418 pages. That’s 150% of my book goal and 117% of my pages! My favourite format is paperback, but the purchase of my beloved Kobo this year definitely inspired me at read a lot more digital. My best months were January and May (10 books) and my worst were August and October (4). I read mostly fiction, and my general moods were “emotional, reflective, and dark.”
I had this grand plan to list 12 books now, my top from each month. But really, everything stuck to my bones in a different way this year and I found it impossible to categorize this way. So then I wanted to put together a list of my top reads of 2022, but realized that this doesn’t include all of, or only, my 5-star books. I can’t and won’t try to explain why these titles were chosen, it just feels right. I’ve included a brief synopsis and since I’m an emotional reader, my initial review – usually written minutes after finishing the book.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
It’s the biography of Seabiscuit. You know, the horse.
Review: I’m a horse girl now. Didn’t think that reading the races would be as exciting as it was! The rich and detailed history shared wit beautiful language and exciting action left my heart pounding and my tears falling. I love love loved it.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
The story of Klara, an Artificial Friend who observes much about the world around her, and the customers that come in to her store. She hopes that one day, a family will take her home – but when her circumstances change, she is at risk of being too invested.
Review: Kazuo Ishiguro never disappoints. This is haunting and sweet and moving and like Never Let Me Go I will be thinking about it forever. Klara is a beautiful fully realized character whose observations and narration make this story so so special. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman with Neil Smith (Translator)
A crime is committed, and the perpetrator disappears into thin air – or into an apartment viewing. There’s a hostage situation and investigation. Nobody will talk.
Review: Funny and sweet and tender and biting. Loved. The Netflix adaptation does it no justice.
Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez
In Scarborough, Ontario, a low-income neighbourhood, three kids struggle to rise above poverty, abuse, and a system that consistently fails them. The adults in their lives either rise to the occasion or fall by the wayside; together, they make up a troubled yet inspired community that refuses to be undone.
Review: This is the Florida Project, but in book form. More or less. A deeply impactful story of community. Flawed people doing their best in a world that works against them, learning how to get through the day and through life and grow and thrive. A masterpiece.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
11-year-old Owen Meany, during a baseball game, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend’s mother. Owen doesn’t believe in accidents; he believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is both extraordinary and terrifying.
Review: “I am doomed to remembe ra boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.” And with that opens up a sweeping story of boyhood and friendship and how one person can fundamentally change your life. While I thought the start of this book was a bit slow, I found myself completely immersed in Owen Many and Johnny Wheelwright’s lives I laughed and cried and got angry and reflected with them. How lucky we are to have friendships like that and to allow ourselves to be changed by people.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small southern town, they run away at 16. We find them years later – one returns to town with her Black daughter, and the other secretly passes as white.
Review: One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Brit Bennett’s use of language is incredible.
Life Events by Karolina Waclawiak
Evelyn, at the age of 37, is on the verge of divorce and anxiously dreading the death of everyone she loves. She discovers a collective of “exit guides” – and trains to provide companionship for terminally ill patients seeking a conscious departure.
Review: Such strange timing for this book to come into my life. I appreciated Evelyn’s deep flaws, her reflections, and her relatable-to-me fears. This book explores big things: death and dying; relationships (parent-child, spousal, strangers); loneliness, and commitment. Readers are invited into Evelyn’s every disjointed thought and reading this did feel like grieving – we grieve people we’ve lost, and people we have yet to lose. Haunting.
Pure Colour by Sheila Heti
Mira’s father dies, and his spirit passes into her. Together, they become a leaf on a tree. Eventually, Mira must remember the human world she’s left behind and choose whether or not to return.
Review: So so beautiful. A heartbreaking story of love and loss and written in prose that took my breath away on multiple occasions.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. Told through Charlie’s diary entries chronicling his entire experience.
Review: This book was heartbreaking. I couldn’t put it down – so beautiful, so sad. This is my favourite kind of sci-fi. A quick read, but not an easy one – be ready for a gut punch.
Venus Sings the Blues by Buck Storm
The conclusion to the Ballads of Paradise trilogy I discovered in my previous job. Set in the American Southwest, it follows a series of imperfect believers trying to muddle through life in a small town. It’s emotional, vivid storytelling featuring characters that captured me immediately.
Review: This is a beautiful story of healing and redemption and writing your own story. Mysterious and multidimensional characters. A perfect conclusion to a story I love. I love Paradise, Arizona, and I always will.
I could talk to you about these titles – or really, any of my 75, at length. I feel so lucky I got to experience these stories this year. Check out my Storygraph for more 🙂