I haven’t blogged since I wrote about the books I read in 2021, which I realize was a long time ago. I”m not sure what will be the future of this blog–if I want to pick up where I left off, if I want to take it in a new direction, if I want to keep it going at all. But I couldn’t close out the year without reflecting on what I’ve read in 2022. Here are some highlights.
The longest book I read
Fayne by Ann-Marie MacDonald (736 pages)
The shortest book I read
The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann (77 pages)
The book I had on my bookshelf since childhood
White Fang by Jack London. While I don’t know for sure, I feel like I bought my copy of this book at a Scholastic book fair when I was in elementary school. Why didn’t I read it until now? I honestly don’t know, especially since I have read and enjoyed some of London’s other work. But I am glad I got to it in 2022. I felt the landscape, the cold, and the adventure in this tale about the domestication of a wild animal. But there also felt like there was a deeper allegory going on that made the story interesting on several levels.
The book that had me saying “WTF?”
Dog Boy by Eva Hornung. If you’re wondering what this book is about, let me assure you that the title is apt. Set in Moscow, this novel is about an abandoned 4-year-old boy who is raised by stray dogs. It’s weird and disturbing. I still don’t know if I would say I “liked” it, but reading it was certainly an unforgettable experience.
The book I expected to like but didn’t
Verity by Colleen Hoover. If you are on Bookstagram or Book Twitter, you’ve probably heard about Hoover. She’s published a lot of books. But this one in particular kept showing up in my feeds. I enjoy a good thriller, and, TBH, I wanted to see what the hype was all about. So I tried it. And I didn’t get the hype. Listen, I know that not every book is gonna be for everyone. And I do get why some readers would like this novel. But why it’s reached the levels of popularity that it has, I don’t think I will ever understand.
The book that gave me a lot to think about
Her Name Was Margaret: Life and Death on the Streets by Denise Davy. This was difficult to read for multiple reasons. First, the obvious: It’s a non-fiction work about a woman who has experienced homelessness and severe mental illness for most of her life. Also, from very early on, we learn of Margaret’s sad and lonely death. It’s also difficult to read because I know I’m in a position of privilege, and that I can close the cover and put it back on the shelf at any point. I can just put it away and not face it. Stories such as Margaret’s are important, and hers has stuck with me. But I also know that simply thinking about a story like this one is only a first step to making any difference. Doing anything more is the harder part.
The books that had me saying “Just one more chapter”
- Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet: This book starts out with a woman who believes her sister’s therapist drove her to suicide. The woman takes on a false identity and becomes a client of the therapist’s to see if she can get him to fess up. This was a fun puzzle that surprised me more than once.
- Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls by Kathleen Hale: A well-written work of non-fiction about two young girls who lured their friend into a park before stabbing her. The first part of the book deals with the lead-up to the attack, and the second half examines what happened to the girls after and looks at the American judicial system.
- The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean: This novel is both a coming-of-age story and a gothic tale that follows the consequences of a prank performed by 13-year-old twin brother and sister. Gripping and haunting.
- How to Be Eaten by Maria Adelmann: The characters in this book are modern-day versions of women from classic fairy tales who tell their stories during weekly support-group meetings. So fun and so smart.
My 5 favourite books read in 2022
- Fayne by Ann-Marie MacDonald: This novel takes place in the late 19th century on the border of Scotland and England. Fayne is where adolescent Charlotte has spent all her life because of a mysterious condition, but as Charlotte gets older, she begins to learn more about the world beyond Fayne and to uncover family secrets. A mesmerizing and important examination of identity.
- Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen: A story set in 1970s America, alternating between perspectives of family members who are each at a crossroads. This is might not be the most plot-driven book, but I was invested in the characters and in their relationships with one another. A joy to read and humourous at times.
- The Furrows by Namwali Serpell: A 12-year-old girl witnesses her younger brother’s death, but, as she gets older, she sees him everywhere. A creative and intelligent illustration of the grieving process.
- The Missing Word by Concita De Gregorio: Powerful prose about of a woman whose children were kidnapped by her ex-husband and never seen again. A beautifully written narrative about a true and terrible event.
- The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier (Translated by Adriana Hunter): This book spends a big chunk at the beginning introducing various characters in their own individual chapters. I was already hooked by the time it was revealed how the characters are connected. A very readable, wild ride of a book.
By the numbers
Books bought: 44%
Books borrowed from the library: 18%
Books borrowed from friends and family: 13%
Books received as gifts: 18%
Books received as advance reading copies: 7%
Books written by Canadians: 28%
Books that were first published in 2022: 50%