Hi hello long time no write. It’s been a busy year, but the truth is that I just haven’t made time for this blog. That’s going to change in 2023 though — I’m changing jobs, and at the job I’ve just left (as of today) I was writing three blog posts a week. I figure I should be able to translate into at least one post per week over here, and I’m going to stick to that resolution no matter what. And of course, I’ll start off with my favourite books I read last year.
One thing I’ll start by saying is that there are a few major faves missing from this list. It was such a good year for horror that I’m going to be doing a separate post on my favourite horror reads of the year next week or thereabouts. So stay tuned for that and some great spooky reads, and in the meantime read on for my favourite books from non-horror genres that I read in 2022.
You can always follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading throughout the year!
The best books I read in 2022 (published in 2022)
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
I absolutely loved Station Eleven but then was a bit cold on The Glass Hotel, so when Emily St. John Mandel’s next book was released in 2022 I was incredibly curious but mildly hesitant. I needn’t have worried, because Sea of Tranquility turned out to be one of my favourite novels of the year. For a story with a vast setting, spanning galaxies and millennia, it is close and intimate, a thoughtful work of speculative fiction that offers a puzzle where, over the course of the story, each piece is put delicately, carefully, poetically into place.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
I’ve never seen an episode of iCarly — I think I was just a little bit too old to ever get into it. But I couldn’t resist the buzz around the memoir and its evocative title and cover photo, and it certainly lived up to the hype. McCurdy’s writing is sharp and insightful, and she writes frankly about the abuse she experienced both from her mother and from the television industry as a child actor. The book raises important questions about whether minors should be allowed to act at all, why this field gets an exemption from laws against child labour. I’ll be looking forward to see where McCurdy goes with her writing career, now that she has the chance to use her own voice and tell her own stories.
Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
Do you ever read a book that feels too smart for you, and yet you enjoy it anyway? This was my experience with McCarthy’s latest (and potentially final) novel — I don’t have the knowledge of high-level philosophy or mathematics to understand many of the references made and concepts discussed in this book. Written more like a Socratic dialogue than anything, Stella Maris is a conversation between a woman in a mental hospital and her doctor, and it’s a compelling and fascinating read.
Fairy Tale by Stephen King
As a certified Constant Reader, it’s always interesting to me that some of King’s best works aren’t horror at all, and Fairy Tale is an example for me. While there are a few horror-esque elements, it’s pure fantasy as the name suggests, and I’d rank it high on the list of his novels. An enjoyable and exciting read that perfectly fits the vibe of a classic fairy tale. And for those who are worried about the length vis-a-vis the ending (since his longer books are sometimes known for petering out in the final act), I found it fitting, well-earned, and overall satisfying.
Everything I Need I Get From You by Kaitlyn Tiffany
A deep dive into fan/stan culture on the internet using One Direction fandom as a case study was obviously going to be right up my alley, but this is not only tailor-made to my interests but also a fantastic look at the way fan culture has shaped online interaction beyond fandom as well as looking at both the light (community and friendship, a creative outlet) and dark (conspiracy theories, gatekeeping) sides of fandom. The author offers a good balance of journalistic perspective and context as well as her own feelings as a fan that makes it an insightful thesis along with an entertaining read.
The best books I read in 2022 (published before 2022)
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Another book that lives up to the hype — I quite literally could not put it down. Evelyn is such a multi-faceted character with so much dimension that I actually looked her up on Wikipedia just to make sure that she wasn’t a real person, or based on one. The other main character, her interviewer Monique, is a perfect foil as well, offering balance and nuance to the story and to their conversation. It’s wonderful to read a story that isn’t a thriller but that is so utterly gripping and compelling to read.
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
I also had to repeatedly stop myself from looking up the protagonist of this novel to see if she was a real person; she felt so genuine and this novel felt more like a biography in places than a fictional work. It’s a large, long story, but the strength of the protagonist and the sweeping, soaring style of Shipstead’s writing means that the book flies by as well. With a dual timeline the contextualises the way Graves’ legacy is reviewed and revised by those who come after her, it’s a beautiful novel about adventure, womanhood, and joy.
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
The Island of Missing Trees is probably my favourite book I read in 2023. In 1970s Cyprus, two teenagers — one Greek and one Turkish — fall in love despite the backdrop of conflict between their cultures. In the 2010s in London, their daughter Ada begins to learn about the history of the family she has mostly never met and the homeland she has never seen. In between, there is a fig tree, who narrates some passages of the novel through allegory and natural imagery that enhances the magical realism of the novel and paints a stunning picture of heartbreak and resilience. This is a deeply moving and empathetic story, and a truly magical book to read.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro is masterful at exploring the human condition through unexpected lenses. Imagining a world in which AI technology has advanced to the level that AFs (Artificial Friends) become frequent companions for wealthy children, Klara and the Sun follows one such robot as she finds a place in a family’s life. It’s a quiet book with sparse prose, filled mainly with Klara’s observations of her new home and the people in it; however, it reminds me of Never Let Me Go in the way that Ishiguro slowly reveals the dystopian nature of this version of our world and what has been done in an attempt to improve it, to both fascinating and devastating effect.