My 2022 Year of Reading

A photo of myself next to a neon red love heart

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.

102 Books

Fiction: 29 – Romance fiction: 25

Audiobooks: 20

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. 

Pink cover for Love and Other Puzzles
Blue cover for Flirting with Forever


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: 

Deep blue with bioluminescence of sea creatures on the cover of Phosphorescence

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.

Picture Books

Purple book, stars in the scar, sweet young girl. Cover of When Molly Ate The Stars

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

White cover of a narwhal holding a yellow blankie

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.

Weirdest Book

Green and mottled cover for Upright Women Wanted

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey




lesbian librarians

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

A couple on the cover of Promoted to the Greek's Wife. She's in a pink flowing dress, he's in a tuxedo.

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.




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.

ShallowreaderBingo! May Edition!

It’s already the end of May and woot woot! A Willful Woman has won this month’s ShallowreaderBingo! Not only did she win Bingo early in May but she tells me she has scored a book for every single square! So excitement!!!

Seinfeld celebration - all four main characters are running and dancing on the spot with their arms up high.

As for me… *sigh* my own reading has slowed down due to having to do not-so-shallowreading (see my new page on this here blog). Stay tuned for the June Bingo sheet which will be much easier than May’s doozy! Link me to your own Bingo scorecards or tweet to me!

So my squares: Continue reading

VaVeros’s Favourite Australian Picture Book Picks

With Aussie Author month coming to a close I wanted to highlight some fabulous Australian authors and illustrators in the realm of children’s picture books. These are my surefire picks.

Gordon’s Got a Snookie by Lisa Shanahan and Wayne Harris

Gordon’s a silverback brought in to service the ladies. The ladies expect an alpha gorilla but they get a beta instead. This book is fabulous. It’s about teasing, loneliness, comfort and lurrve! I have bought many copies of this book – many for family overseas.

Flame Stands Waiting by Corinne Fenton, illus by Sebastian Ciaffaglione

You know those picture books you pick up and start reading and you suddenly feel that you are standing in the illustration as it is incredibly life-like and mesmerising. Well, this book is it. The story of the only horse on the Merry-Go-Round that does not move, the fun park lights come to life and the emotions of the kids seem quite tangible. A gem of a book.


Goodnight Me – Andrew Daddo, illus. Emma Quay

Goodnight Me is a sweet, lovely bedtime book for young children. It’s the kind of book that has your 3 year old curling up to sleep with their board book copy.


Lilli-Pilli – The Frog Princess by Vashti Farrer & Owen Swan

A historical picture book romance with kings, queens, dukes and the search for the perfect match. Poor Lily though has frogs legs. The illustrations are dream like and in keeping with fairytales.


Leaf – Stephen Michael King

Quiet, introspective with a childlike, whimsical perspective of the world. Everytime I read a book by Stephen Michael King I want to climb a tree and watch birds flying around for the whole afternoon. He gets to you that way.


Miss Llewellyn-Jones Goes to Town by Elaine Forrestal, illustrated by Moira Court – I love the cadences and rhythms in this gorgeously illustrated book. I wish I could get a series of prints for my kitchen from this book too. Love it.



Hunting for Dragons by Bruce Whatley

You know how as a child you walk around the house searching for that monster and it is always lurking close by appearing in everyday movements and items. Well, Bruce Whatley has this imagining down pat. I love pouring over all his books but this one, with its dragon hunter, is a standout choice.

So, you’re going to have a baby picture book review

There’s Going to be a Baby

by John Burningham

illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

a shallow reader review

This is one of the best picture books I have read on preparing a child for the arrival of a sibling. Helen Oxenbury uses two different illustrating styles to deliver a delightful story that follows a mum with her young child throughout a 9 month gestation. The mum and child’s interactions are straight illustrations whereas the younger child imaging how life with a new sibling will be is illustrated in a comic book style. An enjoyable and highly recommended read, particularly if you have a 2nd baby on the way.

A Picture Book on Handselling/Readers Advisory

Dog Loves Books

by Louise Yates

A Shallow Reader review

This book is beyond cute. A gorgeous little doggie opens a bookshop yet he has no customers. So he reads. And then when customers come in he revels in suggesting books for them. There is loneliness, escapism & readers advisory. A story that book lovers can easily relate to and with illustrations that are delightful. This book is a storytime must for librarians and for the budding bibliophile.

Picture Book Historical Romantic Comedy

Sir LaughalotSir Laughalot

Written by Tony Mitton

Illustrated by Sarah Warburton

a shallow review

I snorted in the library when I was reading this book. Sarah Warburton’s illustrations are brilliant. They are quirky & childlike yet with a nod to illuminated manuscripts and heraldy. This  suited the medieval setting of the book. Tony Mitton, once again, delights with narrrative that is rhythmic and funny and with absurd concepts such as twirly nose hair, that will have you laughing out aloud alongside Laughalot himself. The challenge he must face is whether he can save the cheerful damsel in distress….which of course brings us to a picture book historical romantic comedy.

Sir Laughalot has so many wonderful qualities. It’s funny, it’s romantic, it’s heroic and it’s lots of fun 🙂