Well, Happy New Year to you all! I'm going to try and slip in a couple of end of 2022 posts here in the next day or two. The first one being the books I read in 2022. It's not the best books written in 2022, but the best books I read during the year. Soooo, here we go!
I read 39 books in 2022. Some I absolutely loved, and some were just okay.
I read plenty of non-fiction this year. The best five non-fiction books look like this:
5.) "Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty", by Anderson Cooper. Anderson Cooper takes a look at his family history, and how they came to gain and lose their fortune. It was well written, very interesting, and he didn't sugar coat anything as far as how money corrupts, and generally, you don't make that much money unless you are corrupt.
4.) "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI", by David Grann. This book will break your heart in a million ways. It's also about how money will corrupt, and this time it was a whole community of white people preying on Native Americans (again). It also is one of the few things I've read or watched about J. Edgar Hoover that didn't make him seem entirely terrible. So, there's that...
3.) "Dreams of My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance", by Barack Obama. As I've said before, he most certainly didn't write this book thinking he was going to run for president. It was a very open look at his life growing up in two different worlds, and trying to make a difference in a world full of challenges and contradictions.
2.) "Crying in H Mart" by Michelle Zauner. It's a memoir about a woman who is mourning the loss of her mother. It's so beautiful and sad, and self-reflective of her confusing and tumultuous relationship with her Korean mother. It is also about growing up in two different worlds with a white father, and a Korean mother, and trying to figure out how to live in both cultures, with food as the language of her mother's love for her.
1.) In my opinion, the best non-fiction book I read this year was "Just Kids", by Patti Smith. Many people have recommended this book to me, and I bought it a few years ago, but my reading list is long, and I am moody when it comes to books...and really everything in my life. Anyway, this book is a poem, it's a feeling, it's a love song to Patti Smith's youth and her relationship to Robert Mapplethorpe. The writing is brilliant, and their story, and Patti Smith's story of that time is pretty incredible. It took me a while to start another book after this, because of the lingering hang over from "Just Kids".
I read two children's novels in 2022. They were both amazing. One was a reread, and one was a book I have been meaning to read for a very long time:
2.) The second best children's book I read in 2022 was "Bridge to Terabithia", by Katherine Paterson. I cried and cried at the end of this book. It's about two children who don't really conform to their gender norms, and who build a beautiful friendship where they are both comfortable being themselves. I wish it had been written when I was a kid.
1.) The best children's book that I read in 2022 WAS around when I was a kid and I loved, loved it. "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwieler, by E.L. Konigsburg is a wonderfully bizarre story about a brother and sister who run away to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the mystery that they try to solve. It is a sweet, and quirky, and fun adventure.
I only read one Young Adult book this year, and if you have to only read one Young Adult book in a year, this was the one to read.
My top one through five Young adult books that I read in 2022 was "The Hate U Give", by Angie Thomas. I actually read it in less than 24 hours, THAT'S how engrossed I was. It takes place in Mississippi, and it looks at racial injustice from every angle. It is funny, and heartbreaking, and loving, and I wish I could read it again for the first time.
I read a few detective/mystery books this year, all by women authors. What can I say? I love a plucky female detective story.
5.) The fifth best detective novel I read was "More Than You'll Ever Know", by Katie Gutierrez. It's not going to win the Pulitzer Prize anytime soon, but it was a fun read, and I'm never too fancy for Summer fun books.
4.) The fourth best detective/mystery book was part of the Maisie Dobbs series of books I've been reading lately. "Birds of a Feather", by Jacqueline Winspear takes place after WWI. A group of women friends are being killed, and thank GAWD Maisie Dobbs is there to figure it all out. I like about 20 cups of escapism fed to me with my detective novels, and the Maisie Dobbs series delivers on that so far.
3.) My third favorite detective novel that I read in 2022 is "The Likeness", by Tana French. Yes, you have to spend some time suspending your disbelief while reading this one, but if you can do that, the story is kind of fun...Or my idea of fun, which involves murder and mayhem in a novel.
2.) The second best detective novel I read this year was "Maisie Dobbs", by Jacqueline Winspear. This is the origin story of Maisie Dobbs and it takes place before, during, and just after WWI.
1.) The best mystery/detective novel I read in 2022 was another Tana French novel, called "The Faithful Place." It takes place in Dublin. A detective has to go back to where he grew up and face his demons when a suitcase shows up. It is full of dysfunctional families and alcoholism, and working through (or not) your issues. What's not to love?
I reread two books that weren't children's novels this year. I can't say which one was better than the other, because I loved them both, and that's why I reread them both thirty some years after I read them the first time.
1.) The best reread that I reread was "Song of Solomon", by Toni Morrison. Jaysus! What to say about this novel. It is tragic, and difficult, and lush, and so, so well written. It is the story of Milkman Dead trying and failing to fly.
2.) The OTHER best reread of 2022 is Octavia Butler's "Kindred". I originally read this book in the late 80's, and loved it so much that it accompanied me through however many moves into my current house. It takes place in 1976. A young Black woman starts getting transported back in time during slavery to save her White ancestor, while also trying to teach him to be a better person, and trying not to get killed in the process. If you haven't read it yet...Or even if you have, I HIGHLY recommend it.
The Only horror novel I read this year would probably still be my favorite, even if I had read hundreds of scary books. "The Only Good Indians", by Stephen Graham Jones is about a group of Native American friends who are being hunted down by something bad they did in the past. It is suspenseful, and gory, and there is a lesson to be learned. It had everything.
Okay, now we are down to the best five current novels (that aren't detective/Scifi/horror/or rereads) I read in 2022.
It's a little tough ranking them, because most of them are even stevens as far as what I liked, but I'm going to try and rank them anyway.
5.) "Detransition, Baby", by Torry Peters tells the story of a trans woman dealing with relationships, and her issues, and society's issues with her. It's sad, but also self-aware and saucy and fun. It's also written by someone from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, so that's an extra added bonus.I haven't read a novel written by a trans person before, so I was glad to read that perspective in literature. I hope to read many more.
4.) My fourth favorite current novel I read in 2022 was "Hell of a Book", by Jason Mott. It was about an African American author running from his past, and his experiences, and the experiences of so many others. It is funny, and weird, and engaging. It was a very different read than most novels, and I like that about it. I wasn't sure where we were going until close to the end.
3.) My third favorite current novel of 2022 was "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse", by Louis Erdrich. This was written in 2001, so it was strange that I hadn't read it before, but when I thought about it, that was a weird and busy time in my life when I had two young kids and no time to read novels. ANYWAY, this book is amazing. About a woman who transitions into a priest named Father Damien, on a reservation for over 50 years.
2.) My second favorite novel of 2022 is "Great Circle", by Maggie Shipstead. I had read great reviews of this book, but I was hesitant because I tried to read another novel she wrote called, "Seating Arrangements". I got through about 50 pages of that, and had to put it down. It was all about horrible rich people at a wedding on the East Coast, and I was bored by the other thousands of books about the exact same thing, and that book didn't seem to add anything new to that topic. So, if that was the case or you too, don't worry. This book was a MILLION times better than that one. It was long, but the story was interesting enough and full of adventures, and a few twists that I wasn't bored at all. AND I have horrible ADHD. So, if I could read a book that long, most people won't bat an eye.
1.) The best current fiction book I read in 2022 was "The Vanishing Half", by Brit Bennett. It's about two sisters who grew up in Louisiana. One leaves home and passes for white. The other marries a very dark skinned African American man. Their daughters meet as adults, not knowing they are related. It's a very well written, compelling story.
Looking back at the books I did read, I'm always aware of the types of books I didn't read. Except for "Kindred", I didn't read any science fiction/fantasy books, I didn't read any classic novels either, or comic books/graphic novels. All things to rectify next year. As always, happy reading everyone out there for 2023?