My reading selection this last year is quite varied! It's an interesting practice to look back over a year's reading selection and look for the patterns that formed consciously or unconsciously. I did intentionally reach for women writers and writers from diverse backgrounds. I toyed around with writing a novel this year, so I read mostly fiction, specifically dystopian series, as a study of sorts. I started 2022 as a part-time tutor, living in the Caribbean with lots of gym/beach time for reading so I made a goal of reading 52 books this year and overshot by about 20 books! I probably won't read this many books in a single year again until retirement. As always, let me know if you want to chat about any of these reads as some of them really left a mark and I would love to discuss your experience of the text!
1. The Glass Face by Frances Hardinge
-Blessings on the curiosity of more imaginative people than I! The use of Faces to remark upon society in the middle of a tunnely new world. So fun.
2. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
-As always after these period pieces, so glad to not be in petticoats, not have to be separated out as the gentler sex, not be dismissed in matters of intelligence. Of course, there are still elements of this, but I would much rather be a woman today than one a few hundred years ago (or even 100 years ago.)
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
-Such delicious imagination for visuals. Plot and imagination were just fine, but it was the visuals that caught me for this one.
4. Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and the West
-Completely new images, names, and ideas for God. Almost felt heretical in its novelty and freedom.
5. Lamb by Christopher Moore
-so perfectly satirical that it actually delivered some deeper reflections on my traditional understanding of the Christian religion
6. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
-Kristin Hannah writes wounded women well. Dear Lord, the suffering. Takeaway, as often, is the power of story.
7. Evolve Your Brain by Joe Dispenza
-Repetitive, but the last 200 pages are fascinating
8. Raybearer and Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko
-Wakanda meets Harry Potter, yes please! You gotta love to see a brown girl as a well-written protagonist making amazing, revolutionary moves.
9. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Kline
-Very cute, Frederik Backman-vibes.
10. Send For Me by Lauren Fox
-lovely writing style, interesting to see the effects of WWII from a distance of time and space
11. A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
-so very interesting! Neurodiverse writer...the perspective and shared thoughts are fascinating and lovely. There is some cursing and sex for those of you who avoid that, but if you don't - I highly suggest for a wonderful trip into someone else's brain
12. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
-I seem to like epics where the protagonist has to both question their sanity and also leave an old way of living behind. Excited to read that Mr. Gaiman plans to write another novel in this same setting, as the complexities of the world he created would be lovely to hear more about and return to at some point in the future
13. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
-I found this so heavy and so sad. That being said, a few sentences and a few images have stuck with me since the weeks reading it. It is sometimes helpful to see fictional sorrow.
14. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
-Layers upon layers upon layers. You certainly have to suspend your disbelief with this one. But I like the imagery, symbolism, and secret society aspects.
15. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
-I seem to like stories that flip a normal set of values upside down. What do you value most when you've been granted a form of immortality? And how do you outsmart a greater force than yourself while staying within your values?
-I found this to be as gloomy as the scenery you stay in for most of the short read. The bit of mystery being unravelled was interesting enough that I kept at it. Not sure if I would recommend it. Though it is unique and well-written, it just made me feel very heavy.
17. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
-I've not read many Russian folk tales, so it was interesting to learn of some of the myths. As often in these books I've been choosing, I'm left with the question of how to get beyond fear? So many of these characters aren't afraid where/when/how others are.
18. Like a Mother by Angela Garbs
-Quick little thing with lots of eye-opening facts. (Louis XIV, what?!)
19. How to Be You by Jeffrey Marsh
-Quick, positive, interesting take on some psych ideas I've become very familiar with. I specifically wanted to read a transgender author and learn more, but this is less of a memoir and more of a self help selection.
20. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
-As always, the continuing takeaway is I'm so glad to live in modern times. Also, this was the most specific picture of a mother mourning her son that I've ever read. Wept through a few of the beautiful and striking scenes.
21-24. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
- Yum. So fun and sharp for YA!
25. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
-I went back for more "fictional sorrow" as I wrote after the first book's reading. And the first review still holds true. You get a bit more idea into how Olive came to be Olive - and more space to see how to approach Olive-like people in reality.
26-27. Flame in the Mist/Smoke in the Sun by Renée Ahdieh
-Little bits of Japanese culture all through here mixed in with the mystical adventure. It was a fun ride with enough small twists and mysteries that kept me page-turning. Love a strong female protagonist.
28-29. The Wrath and the Dawn/The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
-Little bits of Arabic culture, but otherwise, same review as previous series! Fun, light read.
30-32. Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
-The perfect series to read while (still) waiting for the 3rd Kingkiller Chronicles book to come out
33. The Midnight Library by Brian Haig
-Interesting. Not mind-blowing, but quirkily and lightly interesting. Little mind nuggets now a-stewing. Recommend for anyone in a rough season or at a fork in the road.
34. The Humans by Brian Haig
-This has made me chuckle aloud quite a few times - was not expecting that! Alien narrator perspective is where it's at.
35. The Buried Giant by Kazuo
-Not for me, personally. I found this piece to be plodding, heavy, slow, and burdened. I kept waiting for the mist to clear. It left me with a few half-thoughts to mull on, but that's about it.
36. The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
-Lovely collection! These "reviews" both made me chuckle and made me think hard on some elements of our culture. Glorious quotes, wonderful topics to mull over, fun facts, and an honesty and interconnectedness that ties it all together.
37- 39. The Legend Series by Marie Lu (Legend, Prodigy, Champion)
40-41. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
42. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
43. Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad
44. (Oops, book #2) Kingdom of Copper by SA Chakraborty
45. What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine
46. Witchmark by C.L. Polk
47. A Girl is a Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
48. Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
49. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
50-56. The Queen's Thief Series (Books 1-6) by Megan Whalen Turner
57. Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
58. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
59-60 Children of Blood and Bone & Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
61. Normal Family by Chrysta Bilton
62. The Feather Thief by Kirk W. Johnson
63. House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber
64. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
65. We Were Liars by E Lockhart
66. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
67. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
68-73. Harry Potter Series, Books 1-6 by J.K. Rowling
74. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Being a lifelong learner means intentionally seeking out experiences that enforce growth and personal development.