One of my favorite things to talk about is books. Recommending them is one of my love languages. In 2022 I finished 100 books, which included a bunch of graphic novels and short poetry collections but also some doorstops. I like to look at categories to make sure I’m consuming a variety and not just reading within a bubble. Last year I read 39 books by white women, 20 books by a white husband/wife team, 17 books by BIPOC women, 12 by white men, 11 by BIPOC men, and one anthology. I don’t think I read anything by a trans or nonbinary author last year, so that’s a miss. 47 novels, 23 nonfiction, 17 graphic novels, 7 poetry collections, and 6 books of short stories. Only one book in translation. Can do better.
My favorite books of last year, the ones I’ve already recommended multiples times, were Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder, The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan, How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis, and What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J.A. Chauncy.
My favorite reading experiences were ones where I did a deep dive. I read all the Dorothy L. Sayers Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane novels and discovered a new desert-island read in Gaudy Night. (I can see why some argue that The Nine Tailors or Murder Must Advertise is the best of the series.) I read the entire Girl Genius online comic series by Phil and Kaja Foglio, a silly steampunk mystery that also has four novels. I read all four of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead novels. (Lila is my favorite, Jack is my least, but Housekeeping may be the best ever.) And I spent a long time reading The Collected Poems of Anne Sexton and The Collected Stories of Dorothy L. Sayers.
I had a marvelous time re-reading some favorites: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee, There, There by Tommy Orange, Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and Villette by Charlotte Brontë.
Some others that left impressions: An Incomplete List of Names by Michael Torres, The Known World by Edward P. Jones, History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, Deacon King Kong by James McBride, Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt, How to Read Now by Elaine Castillo, Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler, and Dream Country by Shannon Gibney.
Super fun and fast were Flying Solo by Linda Holmes, and Siracusa by Delia Ephron, the latter of which I recommend if you are missing White Lotus season 2, or ever go to Sicily.
And I read a couple great books on writing: Matt Bell’s Refuse to Be Done, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop by Stephen Koch, and Steering the Craft by Ursual LeGuin.
There were some duds along the way, and some books I thought sure I’d love that I didn’t. Overall, it was a very good year, and I’ve begun 2023 with a focus on short books, especially ones that have been sitting on my shelves for a while.