A belated Happy New Year to you all. My plan had been to post this list early in January, but the weather was lovely and we were on summer holidays and frankly swimming and visiting came ahead of writing. And then, a week ago, after three years of hiding, lockdowns, isolations, vaccinations, masking up and going out, I was finally felled by the plague. Covid hit me early on Tuesday morning and it was painful and sudden, with all the expectant symptoms. Due to having been hospitalised in August of last year with RSV (ambulance dash to the resuscitation unit at my local hospital and an ensuing protracted illness and recovery) meant I was on the high risk list and I received antivirals within a few hours of testing positive and I have been bed bound and isolating ever since. The meds have worked, I am still isolating so I have turned my time into writing for the blog, and gratefully I tested negative just yesterday.
Up until late October of 2022, my reading continued to be fractured and interrupted by life and all its oddities, however, in late October, I felt like my pre-PhD, pre-uni reading mojo was back, having read 70 books from November onwards – over double for the rest of the year. And that reading mojo also had me giving 5 stars to 25 books – a quarter of all I read! I think it is a bit much to go into depth with all 25 books (though 11 of those were picture books), I will have a brief description of my absolute favourites and only list the rest.
Fiction: 29 – Romance fiction: 25
Picture Books and Junior fiction: 27
Non-Fiction: 34 – Memoirs, histories, narrative non-fiction: 21, Design and travel 6, Academic 4
Graphic Novel – all memoirs – 11
Australian authors – 8
YA – 1
DNFd but counted: 2
The five star books for 2022
Flirting with Forever – Cara Bastone
Can’t Help Falling – Cara Bastone
Love and Other Puzzles by Kimberley Allsop
Starfish by Lisa Fipps – made me cry
Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
To Sir With Love – Lauren Lane
Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
Best of the fiction best:
Flirting with Forever by Cara Bastone.
This was such a deep, slow burn of a romance. A flirty, confident heroine, with an awkward foot-in-mouth nerdy hero (who doesn’t turn into a swan). I loved who thoughtfully the main protagonists in this story grew and developed throughout this story. The hero John Modesto-Whitford is a serious man not taken to having fun, serious about his public defender job, serious about not allowing his rich father contribute to his life. He presents as boring but still-waters-run-deep and this man… ““John was being active. Inside the walls of this crumbling but noble building, he was never passive. He was doing something about that complicated world. Each hour of concentration he lent to his cases he was making the world a more just, fair place.” ….this man is a fair man. Just swoon.
Love and Other Puzzles by Kimberley Allsopp.
What an absolute delightful book. I loved the way it was written, the protagonist’s cheeky, clear eyed voice, it was just fun. It was more chick-lit than romance, Rory is devoted to her rigid routines, judges life by the rom-com openings they reflect, and how well they reflect them, and doesn’t really cope when things are out of place. Until she decides that she needs to break her routine so she allows the clues in the New York Times crossword puzzles dictate her life decisions. In the space of a week, her life is changed. I loved it.
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love – Dani Shapiro
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Pérez
Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark by Julia Baird
Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick
A City is Not a Computer by Shannon Mattern
The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays by C.J. Hauser
Best of the Non-fiction Best:
Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark by Julia Baird. An Australian author, journalist exploring the world of phosphorescence and how to find our own internal light. This book worked for me but I think it did this because I was in an unusual headspace even for myself. I read it only a few weeks after my hospitalisation and it spoke to that darkest part of ourselves, especially as I had stopped breathing on two occasions and it was difficult to comprehend the severity of what I was experiencing. This book made me consider how I think about things that give me awe.
Some of quotes that I felt deeply included “Keep in mind that the most important quality in a person is goodness” and “Don’t make the mistake of dismissing decency as dullness” (p. 139) Especially that last one, oh the amount of women I have known who craved the “bad boy” for romance and mistreated the decent man as dull. It always angered me.
“It might take you decades to speak up about things that matter to you, but, being able to speak your truth is a vital part of being human, of walking with certainty and openness on the earth, and refusing to be afraid. Once you have found your voice, you must resist every person who will tell you to bury or bottle it.” (p. 151). This quote stung me. I felt much more outspoken prior to my PhD and somehow, I find that 2 years later, I still haven’t got my voice back. I have stopped trying to get it back too. I hope with time it will come back.
Stacey’s Remearkable books by Stacey Abrams
When Molly Ate the Stars Joyce Hesselberth
The Octopus Escapes by Maile Meloy
Blankie by Ben Clanton
Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
I love you like by Lisa Swerling
Moonlight by Stephen Savage
The Perfect Tree by Corinne Demas
If You Were A City by Kyo Maclear
It Had To Be You by Loryn Brantz
Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack
Best of the Picture book Best:
When Molly Ate The Stars by Joyce Hesselberth was slow, bright, starry, delightful and light. It had an ethereal sense to it that just made me happy.
Blankie by Ben Clanton is a board book with rhythms and humour. It would just be delightful fun to read to a toddler.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
in a futuristic dystopian American West.
Like, I really don’t think I need to describe it any further.
This is a must read.
Just for the cray-cray.
The Best What-the-fuck-did-I-just-read book of the year
And just because I feel I need to make a comment…I did read a Lynne Graham novel this year and yes it made me happy and made me laugh.But I have comments!
Promoted to the Greek’s Wife: An Uplifting International Romance by Lynne Graham
Let’s start with the novel. It was the usual angsty Graham novel which engages in love, romance, rich entitled men and poor waifish women who get the hots with each other while they jetset around the world while navigating the difficulties of unconventional families. Heroine Cleo, billionaire hero Ari, work romance (though they call it before it gets unethical – Lynne’s gone woke!). Lots of tension. Lots of foster kids, lots of social issues and lots of love. This book was fun and I really enjoyed it.
However, there is a particularly large elephant in the room. That large elephant is the subtitle.
An uplifting International Romance.
AN UPLIFTING INTERNATIONAL ROMANCE!
AN UPLIFTING INTERNATIONAL ROMANCE?????
I had to check my book cover. Had I accidently picked up an Inspirational romance? Has Lynne Graham stopped writing Sexy’s?
What is happening?
This is not my Mills & Boon and I really don’t like it.
Inspirational kiss my big fat Greek-Australian arse!
This book was many things but it was not uplifting and it certainly wasn’t inspirational. But it definitely was fun.
15 thoughts on “My 2022 Year of Reading”
I love the Bastones too!!! Sorry to hear of your being felled by the plague and also glad to hear you’re recovering. I think there are many of us getting our reading and blogging mojo back…goodness knows, the lockdown was one of the weirdest, most passive times of my life, probably the most. And you were in grad school recovery, which is HUGE, if I remember it not fondly.
Here’s to many more years of reading and blogging and swimming and visiting, my friend!
P. S. Much of romance is going through “trends” I don’t enjoy, but it’s good to know there good stuff still “out there”…even nutty Graham roms!
I too have noted that many of my reading/writing friends are getting their mojo back. This is a bright light after such a difficult period of our lives. Here’s to continued success in finding nutty Grahams and emotionally satisfying romance fiction. Of course, the swimming will continue.
I am so sorry that you got sick, but I’m also glad you were able to get the antivirals asap. I hope you can continue to rest, even with the negative test; the risk of long COVID is no joke.
I’ve had my eyes on the Sarah Gailey title for a while; I’ve read their “River of Teeth” and liked it, so I figure I’ll like this one too.
Thank you! And yes – every day is measured and slow. Nothing too taxing until teaching starts in late February.
I’m sorry you were finally felled and glad that you’re still standing. And reading. 🙂
I loved Upright Women Wanted. I’m not normally one for futuristic dystopian but it was a western – and well, I’m only human.
Re: the subtitle on the Graham book – I’ve noticed Harlequin has been doing this with some books in some lines but it’s not consistent. I’m a jaded old cuss and think it’s probably their experiment to appeal to the Tik-Tok / Bookstgram crowd where everything is f*cking squee’ed over by trope.
I’ve officially hit Get Off My Lawn 😬
Also, I hope you’re feeling 100% soon!
Thank you! I’m already quite well. I am grateful for antivirals!
Haha – yes! futuristic dystopian is not my thing either but this one was Top Shelf fiction!
Squeeing over tropes: I wish I could enjoy their glee but instead I get annoyed especially when the writing just reads like a reality TV “romance”. I’m only on Tiktok for the armchair travelling.
Oh I’m so dammed tired of trope squee. And especially of writers writing to tropes. I suppose they always did and it just seems more blatant now.
I agree. It definitely feels more blatant, like a cashing-in on reader appeals.
Just a test comment, I’m trying to fix password issues. Because I need a password to comment on my friend’s blog, for crying out loud.
Is it my settings or something at your end?
Oh, lord only knows. Anyway, I think I’ve fixed it now.