I did not think I would get to this post, but it happened! I listed out the titles of all the books I read this year and then added notes to each from my phone at various times over the last week. All of a sudden, it’s done. Who says you can’t write blog posts on your phone.
These are the books I finished in 2022, in chronological order.
Limber: Essays, by Angela Pelster, for the second year in a row. Michelle gave this to me at the end of 2020 and it was our first book club pick of 2022. I noted the collection as having more sadness than I remembered the second time through. I enjoy these essays so much that I’ll likely start 2023 with it as well. Trees are great and I seem to like stories written around them.
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, via Michelle’s ask whether I had read any Russian fiction after I was cynically complaining about something or other. This book took me a good 4 months to get through, but it has remained in my head all year. I can see rereading it now that I’m familiar with the structure. Dostoevsky captures and communicates everything so well.
Orwell’s Roses, by Rebecca Solnit, a book club pick of mine. I have a small ongoing obsession with Orwell and enjoy Solnit’s writing. The idea of tracking down his garden was fun and the book was a nice reflection on things.
The Man Who Smiled, by Henning Mankell, the fourth book in the Wallander series. I appreciate the straight forward pace and process of Swedish crime fiction. I also can’t help but picture Kenneth Branagh while reading. This is a comfort series of sorts I’ll keep enjoying my way through. (See also: the Martin Beck series.)
Second Place, by Rachel Cusk, because I’ll probably read every book she writes from here on out; I enjoyed her Outline series and as I said in April: “I still can’t describe what I like about her books, but they’re extremely readable.”
The House on the Borderland, by William Hope Hodgson, because Phil said it made him yell “oh no!” out loud at some point. It dragged quite a bit, though started with an interesting premise. An addition to the world in my brain that contains House of Leaves and Piranesi.
Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney, was very readable even though I realized at about the 90% mark that I didn’t like any of the characters and just wanted it to be over. I’ll probably still read the next very readable Rooney book.
No One Is Talking About This, by Patricia Lockwood, because I’ve enjoyed Lockwood’s writing in other places, particularly her reviews in London Review of Books. It was very good. I expected the extremely online. I did not expect the sadness.
Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, my second time. I remember thinking when I read it 20 years ago that it’s the kind of book that should be read every so often because the lessons would change. One of my lessons this time is that this is probably not true.
12 Ways to be Better to Work With, by Jaimee Finney, was a short breakfast read with some nice tips. I noted “silence will hurt you” and “follow up and follow-up” at the time. These are firmly in mind this year.
Wild Kingdom, by Vijay Seshadri, is a collection of poetry my dad gave me 20 years or so ago, well before Seshadri won a Pulitzer. I’m happy to have finally finished it; it was very enjoyable and I’ll revisit in the future.
The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu, a book club pick, was very exciting. I enjoyed it so much I was ready to dive into the second of the series, but then I postponed. I enjoyed the mostly hard science fiction, the concept, and the way the old clever detective was written.
The Long Fall, by Walter Mosley, is a standard detective novel, picked via Warren Ellis post—before I realized there are two famous Warren Ellises. I thought I was following the RSS feed of the musician! I still follow the author after clearing the confusion because I like the way he narrates his work.
The Quiet American, by Graham Greene, was well written, as always. I wish I remembered more, but my inclination is that I enjoyed it slightly less than other Greene I’ve read. It was an interesting lens into the First Indochina War and the beginning of America’s involvement in Vietnam.
The Last White Man, by Mohsin Hamid, I picked up as soon as I could because I’ve enjoyed all of Hamid’s work. This wasn’t as powerful as Exit West, but a very readable and thought provoking exploration of what if.
American Prometheus, by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin, was an excellent biography of Robert Oppenheimer and a book club pick. I’m very excited for the film this year. I’m still stunned by how much we were un-and-misinformed about the bomb in school.
A Brilliant Void, a collection of Irish science fiction edited by Jack Fennel, which I learned of via Stan Carey on Twitter. This took me a long time—almost 4 years!—to work through. There are some interesting stories that often seemed better when they finished than while I was reading them. I think many could have used sharper editing—or the verbosity was just how it was.
Silence in the Snowy Fields, by Robert Bly, was also pleasant. I was drawn to it via a screenshot somewhere on Twitter, particularly the description of telephone polls rising out of the snow when driving outside of Chicago. I probably won’t go racing to read more Bly, but I won’t avoid it.
All in all, 21 books, 12 of which were fiction, 5 non-, and 4 poetry.
If I was picking favorites, which I guess I am now, American Prometheus (non-fiction), Crime and Punishment (fiction), and High Island (poetry) are probably them.
Even though my expectations are generally low on achieving a high number in 2023, I’ll keep my ongoing annual goal at 52 and see what happens.
I’ll write more on this later, but I think 2023 will be the year that I leave Goodreads. I’ve been thinking through how to organize my reading on this site instead while participating in a distributed community of readers through BookWyrm, whether self-hosted or not.
Reach out if you have recommendations, want to chat about a book, or read something together! 📚