My Year in Books: 2022
Every year I set a target number of books to read. Although I try to frame it more as an intention, the act of goal-setting does inevitably spark a sense of competition, if only against myself. For the first time, I wound up listening to more audiobooks than turning actual physical pages. (Digital e-readers still remain a no-go.) For me, the modality does depend on the genre. I get far more out of nonfiction, for example, apart from of biographies or citation heavy works, when my body is moving. In motion, I am more open-minded, curious, helpfully distant in a self-reflective way. And calm.
Based on my progress last year, I inched my target upwards to 60 books. The following summary is adapted from Goodreads, which I love using as a near personal digital library or, more rarely, to get inspiration from that narrowly small circle of patient folks willing to traverse its non-intuitive social interface and “friend” me. I am no luddite, but I cannot respond or initiate to messages or connection requests without assistance.
There are books that linger on with you long after you read them. These aren’t necessarily the books I enjoyed the most in the present moment. However, my New Year’s read, “Rest” by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang is the exception. That book was a much needed salve for my over-tired, non-napping self. In hindsight, I didn’t really internalize the messages. I briefly held it in comparison to my internal experience, passed the information around to others, but failed to live by the principle of it. Matrix Morpheous may well have commented “there is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” I strayed. It needs more time to simmer. I’ll return to it in the future.
Apart from “Rest”, the books that really stood out to me this year included:
- “The Disordered Cosmos” by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
- Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga
- “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner
- “Hope in the Dark” by Rebecca Solnit
- “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- “The Player of Games” by Ian M. Banks
- “Antifragile” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk
- “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott
- “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez
There were so many other books I enjoyed this year. I was pleasantly surprised by Jia Tolentino’s witty, biographical-based observations about modern society in “Trick Mirror.” Sobbed at the end of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” and Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon.” Laughed and smiled my way through Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Feverishly annotated Bell Hooks’ “The Will to Change.” Tried desperately to increase my understanding of veganism (scientific and tactical) from Michael Greger’s “How Not to Die” while embracing a radical view of agency within mortality and what it means to live from “Between Two Kingdoms” by Suleika Jaouad and Atul Gawande’s “On Being Mortal.” The list goes on.
If I could rewind time, I would skip Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. As someone who finds it miraculously easy to suspend reality (I welcome being transported by story) I was not prepared for the horror after emotional slow-building horror of this fantasy epic. Strap in. There is no lightheartedness, an errant and unconvincing sidebar love story, and an awful lot of focus on bloodline as a guide for loyalty. An exercise in enduring abuse heaped on shallow characters. The world building is fantastic though.