I read a lot of books this year. A LOT. My usual goal for my annual Goodread’s challenge is around 50 books, which I sometimes have handily accomplished and other times have woefully fallen short. I set the ambitious goal of 75 books this year as I read 90 books last year, but somehow, some way, I blew past the 75 books and read over 100 books. (101 at writing, but we still have 2 weeks in 2022. I predict 104.)
I’m not sure how or why I did this; I think maybe it’s a combo of factors. One–and this is a big one–I’m no longer in graduate school nor really working on academic work (sadface), so my reading energy is not depleted with academic reading and writing. Second, I have access to a pretty great library system so almost any book I want is available to me relatively quickly. I’ve also tapped into the bookstagram and bookTok worlds, and I get recs far more frequently than I did before.
Some notable facts about my 2022 reading habits:
- I’m a genre loyalist. This should not be surprising. I read a LOT of romances. A LOT. So many. This year saw a higher number of contemporary romance than previous years, but romance is without a doubt my top genre. Mystery/thrillers also made a strong showing, with appearances by some fantasy romances, memoirs, and nonfiction.
- Queer Romance is awesome. I love seeing what authors are doing with standard Romance tropes in queer relationships. My 2022 reading list featured a healthy dose of romances with same sex and or trans individuals in the lead roles.
- I only re-read 9 books this year. I am a sworn fan of re-reading books. There are some that I visit in moments where I need emotional comfort. My re-reads this year mostly comprise a single series that I never finished and hadn’t read in ages–so it was essentially like reading a new book. (I think this predilection for re-reading may have slowed down my book count in previous years.)
- I leaned into DNF’ing books. I usually can tell pretty quickly whether or not I will like a book and if it will pull me in. When I read, I’m looking for some level of escape or immersion–if stylistic quirks or failings pull me out of it, it’s usually pretty quick to tell. I’ve gotten better at letting go–even when I’ve made decent progress–when it’s just not for me. (Those books don’t count to my “read” count.)
So, without further ado, here are my top books that I read in 2022.
Top 10 Books, in no particular order
**I will say that few books on this list entered into the pantheon of “instant favorite” and prime re-read material. They were good and I enjoyed them, but not many insta-favorites.
- The House on the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune: This book was a delightful, escapist found-family story/LGBTQ+ romance with a magical twist. The magical element was not overbearing or under-done, but rather provided a framework to explore society’s expectations of what and who people are based on categories over which they have no control.
- A Lady for a Duke, by Alexis Hall: This is one of the books that I loved owing to the work the author did with expanding the genre of historical/regency romance. With a trans MC, the best friends turned lovers trope definitely took on a new life in the regency setting. The author said they were hoping to set up the romantic plot NOT to be centered around the character’s transness, and I’m not 100% sure they were successful in that, but I love seeing the inclusivity regardless. MORE LIKE IT.
- A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas (book 2 in ACOTAR) My sister has lowkey been trying to get me to read this for a while. I finally bit the bullet and read the first three books in this series. I couldn’t possibly savor them–I tore through the first three in less than a week. I still don’t know that the whole genre of fantasy romance is for me, but these books are addictive and this book was the best one. My biggest complaint is there were some anachronistic moments that made me wonder exactly the setting that we were in, but I think I’m just ruined because of my academic training.
- All the Feels, by Olivia Dade: This series by Olivia Dade is great for its fat positive storylines, and this was my favorite book of the 3 I’ve read. I do think the primary setting of the series isn’t really my jam (the characters are all actors in a TV show that is Very Obviously Based on Game of Thrones, with strong elements of fanfic, fandom culture, that I just didn’t connect with). I’d love to see her write out of this framework.
- Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, by Ashley Herring Blake: This book and its sequel, Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, were probably two of my favorite romances of the year. These sapphic novels just were full of emotion and depth and definitely fit the bill of delightfully escapist romance that I like. Based on what I’ve read so far, Herring Blake is entering my list of ‘always read.”
- Still Life, by Louise Penny: At my Dad’s recommendation, I read the first book of Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series (and subsequently read several others). A classic Christie-esque mystery series set in the fictitious town of Three Pines in Quebec, this is a fantastic mystery series that I will continue to read in 2023.
- Killers of a Certain Age, by Deanne Rayborn: This book seemed like a step outside of my usual and was definitely a lot of fun. 4 soon-to-be retired lady assassins at around 60 years of age, discover that there are hits on their heads. I don’t usually do this, but one of my friends always casts actors in the roles of book characters. This book is BEGGING to be made into a movie and when it happens, I have some great suggestions for the casting director.
- I’m Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy: The title of this book is shocking, and deservedly so. It was a fascinating read, but it wasn’t really about her working through her gladness at her mother being dead, but more showing you the reasons why. As someone who has a lot of complicated feelings about my own mother’s death, I was looking forward to the unpacking of how you handle well, being glad your mom died. (Not that I am glad my mom died, but my life is in some respects easier now that she is gone. That requires some reckoning.) I kind of hope there’s a follow up in a few years.
- Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter–Then, Now, and Forever, by Josh McWhorter: This book was a fascinating exploration of how English’s rudest words were formed and how their use has shifted over time. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, even if I have some disagreements (like, I don’t think a non-rhotic pronunciation of the n-word makes it a different word than the rhotic version, as he suggests at one point…though with lots of caveats.) [He also since penned a book that criticizes wokeness, that I have not read, but its premise is troubling.]
- Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X. Kendi: This book should be a must read for anyone in the US. It took me a lot longer to get through than it usually takes me because it is such a weighty topic.
Goals for 2023
- Read more diversely. I mean this in a few ways. My read list this year was so romance heavy, it’s clear I have a type. But also, I should be reading more authors of color and non-US authors. I have a few ideas on how I can expand my reading horizons, especially in fiction. A read around the world challenge maybe(a book from every country)? Or pick a continent a year? Or something?
- Read more non-fic. Non-fiction is a weird category for me. I don’t consider academic writing the same as popular non-fiction and I have a hard time figuring out how to incorporate academic reading into my reading habits when it’s not “work,” but I want to keep it up so my brain still works. I need to figure out new habits.