Well, it’s time for my annual reading wrap-up and what a challenging year it has been! I am very behind in my book reviews and barely crossed the finish line on New Year’s Eve to meet my annual reading goal. Nevertheless, books were read and I had thoughts and feelings about them, so here are my best reads, my most popular reviews and a wrap-up of my reading challenges for the year. This was also my first year using StoryGraph as my new reading tracker.
Best Reads of 2022
I read a lot of different genres this year.
However, my favourite reads fell into the following genres:
- literary fiction
- graphic novels
- historical fiction, and
As I mentioned earlier, I am quite behind in reviews but I’ll update with links as I catch up.
I haven’t managed to review it yet, but I really was impressed with “Young Mungo” by Douglas Stuart. Chris Reilly’s narration with a thick but perfectly clear Scottish accent really made the audiobook an immersive experience.
I read a few non-fiction books that really made me think this year. “The Great Beanie Baby Bubble” by Zac Bissonette was part-biography, part-economic history about the beanie baby craze of the 1990s. “Flush” by Virginia Woolf was an utterly charming biography of poet Elizabeth Baker Browning’s cocker spaniel. I also finally managed to get a copy and read Shu-Ling Chua’s short collection of essays called “Echoes” which was so delicately written.
Like so many people this year, I fell in love with the delightful young adult queer romance “Heartstopper” by Alice Oseman and the TV adaptation especially. I also had to review “Rigsby, WI” by SE Case which is an early 2000s slice of life webcomic I have been absolutely loving. I was so excited for the next installment in the 1950s detective noir “Blacksad” series by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido with “Blacksad: They All Fall Down – Part 1”, the first release (and English translation) since 2014. This has been a real favourite of mine and I was thrilled to finally have the next book. I finally got around to reading the utterly charming “Dinotopia” by James Gurney, a beautiful adventure story about a land where humans and dinosaurs live in harmony. I also enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s “Black Dog”, an unsettling story set in his “American Gods” universe.
I couldn’t quite shake “Flyaway” by Kathleen Jennings, a tightly wound story with many complex threads. Ursula Vernon’s “Nettle & Bone” was a subversive take on the fantasy adventure genre complete with demon chicken. “Legends & Lattes” by Travis Baldree was a delightfully down-tempo, queer, cosy, fantasy romance.
Hannah Kent’s “Devotion” was a beautifully written and creatively courageous story about a family who emigrates to Australia from Prussia. “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles was an exceptionally paced, well-crafted novel about a Russian aristocrat condemned to indefinite house arrest in a classy hotel. I loved Kate Forsyth’s Cretan World War II and labyrinth retelling “The Crimson Thread”. I also loved Anita Heiss’ novel “Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray” which explores the story of a historical flood in Gundagai, New South Wales and the effects of colonialism on the Wiradjuri people.
Fictional podcast “Forest 404” by Timothy X Atack was an immersive listening experience about the relationship between humanity and nature. I was completely hooked on China Miéville’s novel “Embassytown” that had everything you could ask for in a science fiction story including faster than light travel, weird aliens and linguistics.
Gillian Flynn’s deeply disturbing novel “Sharp Objects” lingers with you in the same way the journalist protagonist’s troubled upbringing lingers when she returns home to cover a story. I was also haunted by “The Little Stranger” by Sarah Waters, and the question about whether malevolence is coming from inside or outside the house.
I finally ready my first book in Bahasa Indonesia: “Cantik Itu Luka” by Eka Kurniawan, a difficult but highly original novel about the struggle for Indonesia’s soul. I was completely blindsided by K-Ming Chang’s Taiwanese family saga “Bestiary” I became obsessed with the body horror novel “Bunny” by Mona Awad. Nardi Simpson explores the ripple effects of racism and segregation in rural Australia in “Song of the Crocodile“.
Most Popular Reviews of 2022
There has been a bit of a shift in which reviews have been the most popular this year, with erotica and old reviews being knocked down a bit and some more recent reviews jostling for position.
- “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles
- (Adults Only) “The Veiled Woman” by Anaïs Nin
- “The Magic Pudding: The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum” by Norman Lindsay
- “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” by Neil Gaiman
- (Adults Only) “My Monster Boyfriend” edited by C. Spike Trotman
- “Pemulwuy: The Rainbow Warrior” by Eric Willmot
- “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed
- “The Strawberry Thief” by Joanne Harris
- “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
- “New Australian Fiction“
2022 Reading Challenges
I attempted 5 reading challenges this year:
- the StoryGraph Onboarding Reading Challenge 2022,
- Pondathon II: The Quiet Pond’s Story-Driven Readathon,
- the Mount TBR Reading Challenge,
- my own 2022 Short Stack Reading Challenge, and
- my 2022 StoryGraph Reading Goal.
To kick off my first year using StoryGraph I thought I’d give their Onboarding Reading Challenge a go. It was a bit random, but it was great excuse to make a dent in my to-read piles and you can see the books and categories here.
I had a bit more trouble with the Pondathon II: The Quiet Pond’s Story-Driven Readathon. I had a lot of fun setting up my character and loved the designs, but I ultimately found the admin a bit intensive and only logged three books with the challenge (and got a bonus plant for Lunar new year). Unfortunately the challenge ended about 6 months earlier and CW, the blogger behind the Quiet Pond, has discontinued their blog so I never got a chance to catch up.
I signed up for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge and aimed for Mount Blanc: 24 books. I haven’t quite got the final result (not sure if books bought during the year count) but I think I got at least 30 which meets the goal but doesn’t quite meet the next level of Mount Vancouver. You can see all the books for this challenge here.
For the second year I ran my own reading challenge, the Short Stack Reading Challenge, and I smashed out 20 short books in December which helped me achieve my last reading challenge. I was thrilled to see one or two other people joining in this year so I’ll try to promote it more next year.
I was so relieved to meet my reading goal of 80 books. I finished my last one at about 8:30pm on New Year’s Eve, but it was really down to the wire. I really enjoyed the user experience of StoryGraph and will definitely be sticking with them moving forward.
Wishing all my readers a happy new year and hope to have lots of reviews up very shortly.