2022 Reading List

This was an interesting reading year for me. I read less than I have in the past couple of years, probably in part due to the easing of pandemic limitations and the return of busyness that came with it. But I also seemed to hit the distracted malaise this year that many described having earlier in the pandemic. So many stories—whether books, shows, or movies—just felt “meh” and I struggled at times to really get into things. But even with that, looking over my top ten I realize that I read some truly stellar books this year, including a couple that may land on my personal “best ever,” which isn’t too shabby for a slumpy year. I’m also struck by how many of my top 10 ended up being non-fiction, which perhaps says something about what was needed to spark my brain. As always, love to hear about your favorites of 2022!

Top 10 Reads of 2022

  1. Olga Dies Dreaming, Xochitl Gonzalez – This book has everything—romance, career-woman-on-a-journey, intergenerational trauma, reflections on white supremacy and American imperialism—all wrapped up in a package that winds up being powerful and moving, but also fun.
  2. Trust, Hernan Diaz – I keep hearing people describe this novel as a “puzzle box,” which is not untrue, but it’s also an exploration of how a story shifts depending on who’s telling it and why, and it unspools in a really intriguing and fun way.
  3. The Marriage Portrait, Maggie O’Farrell – The book that brought me out of blog retirement. Another example of O’Farrell bringing a historical woman back to vivid life.
  4. Vagina Obscura, An Anatomical Voyage, Rachel Gross – Regardless of what bits you have personally this is a fascinating journey into what we know about female sexual anatomy, as well as a frustrating exploration of how much we still don’t know and how long it took to get the information we have because of how it was dismissed as unimportant.
  5. Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis, Brit Wray – My favorite “climate” book of the past year, exploring how we find meaning and purpose in these scary, rage-inducing, heart-breaking times. Wray also does one of the better jobs of recognizing the historical and present inequalities around who has, is, and will be experiencing the worst climate impacts even as she makes space for everyone’s distress.
  6. Ten Steps to Nanette, Hannah Gadsby – I laughed, I cried, my stomach churned. A particularly unique “portrait of the artist” memoir.
  7. A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, Hanif Abdurraqib – An absolutely exquisite collection of essays. More essay collections from poets, please!
  8. Light from Uncommon Stars, Ryka Aoki – A delightful genre mash-up that includes a transgender violin prodigy, a teacher fulfilling a vicious bargain with the devil, and a family of interstellar refugees running a donut shop.
  9. How High We Go in the Dark, Sequoia Nagamatsu – I love a novel that’s also interconnected short stories or vignettes so this was right up my alley. The subject matter is heavy (pandemic! climate change!) and yet the beauty and uniqueness of the settings and characters deftly dances with that darkness.
  10. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, Gabrielle Zevin – As soon as I finished this book I thought, “This is going to be the best book I’ve read this year.” The story focuses on two friends, Sadie and Sam, who become successful video game designers but one does not need to be into or really know anything about video games to appreciate this examination of being a creative person, a friend, a colleague and collaborator, and a lover of immersive experiences to get through the pain and complications of being an imperfect human in a messy world.

Miscellaneous Shout-Outs

  • Honorable Mentions – A Psalm for the Wild Built, which I’ve probably recommended more than anything because it’s just so damn charming, and This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno, a smart, horror mish-mash.
  • Best Series – I had a lot of fun reading V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, including listening to the second two on audiobook, but the top award goes to Naomi Novik’s Scholomance trilogy. I read the first book last year and thought it was fine. But then devoured the second and third, in part because of the unique and very dark spin on a popular trope (school for magic kids) but also the nuanced and smart politics embedded in the world of the book.
  • Best Re-Read – I left older books off my top ten list but I would be remiss to not mention my re-read of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy, Susannah Clark’s Piranesi, and Madeline Miller’s Circe, all of which are superlative reads from superlative authors, hence the re-reads.
  • Best Read-On-A-Dare – This year I finally read This is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s epistolary sci-fi, fantasy romance. But within it one character encourages the other to read Travel Light, Naomi Mitchison’s 1952 fairy tale, which turned out to be a lovely little surprise.

64 Books read (8 re-reads). 18, 679 pages

The Fifth SeasonN. K. JemisinYes*
A Spindle SplinteredAlix E. HarrowNo
To The LighthouseVirginia WoolfYes**
MatrixLauren GroffNo*
UprootedNaomi NovikYes*
Olga Dies DreamingXochitl GonzalezNo*
The Obelisk GateN. K. JemisinYes*
This is How You Lose the Time WarAmal El-Mohtar and Max GladstoneNo
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoTaylor Jenkins ReidNo
PymMat JohnsonNo*
A Psalm for the Wild BuiltBecky ChambersNo*
The Stone SkyN. K. JemisinYes*
Winter Recipes from the Collective, poemsLouise GlückNo
The Blue WitchAlane AdamsNo
Travel LightNaomi MitchisonNo*
No One Is Talking About ThisPatricia LockwoodNo*
Notes on an ExecutionDanya KukafkaNo*
A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance*Hanif AbdurraqibNo*
Grieversadrienne maree brownNo
Light From Uncommon StarsRyka AokiNo*
A Gathering of ShadowsV. E. SchwabNo*
How High We Go in the DarkSequoia NagamatsuNo*
Our Lady of Mysterious AilmentsT. L. HuchuNo
PiranesiSusannah ClarkYes*
CirceMadeline MillerYes**
Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World*Katherine HayhoeNo
A Conjuring of Light (audio)V. E. SchwabNo
Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis*Britt WrayNo*
In the Dream HouseCarmen Maria MachadoNo*
Once There Were WolvesCharlotte McConaghyNo*
This Thing Between UsGus Moreno .No*
The Murders of Molly SouthbourneTade ThompsonNo
The Tradition, poemsJericho BrownNo*
The Lost QueenSigne PikeNo
4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals*Oliver BurkemanNo
Sea of TranquilityEmily St. John MandelNo
The Undiscovered Self*Carl JungNo*
When Women Were DragonsKelly BarnhillNo
Courting the Wild Twin*Martin ShawNo
Red, White and Royal BlueCasey McQuistonNo
Fevered StarRebecca RoanhorseNo
Where the Drowned Girls GoSeanan McGuireNo
Siren QueenNghi VoNo
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and TomorrowGabrielle ZevinNo**
Beneath the Sugar SkySeanan McGuireNo
Mind of My MindOctavia E. ButlerNo*
The Atlas SixOlivie BlakeNo
Ten Steps to Nanette*Hannah GadsbyNo*
The Book EatersSunyi DeanNo
A Prayer for the Crown ShyBecky ChambersNo
A Third University is Possible*la papersonNo*
Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage*Rachel GrossNo*
The Last House on Needless StreetCatriona WardNo
The Last GraduateNaomi NovikNo
The HoleHiroko OyamadaNo
The World We MakeN. K. JemisinNo
The Atlas ParadoxOlivie BlakeNo
The NestKenneth OppelNo*
The Marriage PortraitMaggie O’FarrellNo**
Daisy DarkerAlice FeeneyNo
The Daughter of Dr. MoreauSilvia Moreno GarciaNo
The Method: How the 20th Century Learned to Act*Isaac ButlerNo*
TrustHernan DiazNo**
The Golden EnclavesNaomi NovikNo