I don’t want to start off yet another blog post with how shitty 2022 started off, although by mentioning this, I’ve actually done what I said I wouldn’t. But it’s a big reason why my reading saw so many crests and troughs throughout the year, so it’s unavoidable, really. I’ve already spoke about how blogging went for me in 2022 (here in this blog post). Today, I’ll talk about how my reading went. I’ve been writing this blog post for what feels like decades and only now am I getting to upload it. But better late than never, right?
I started the year off strong, with the right ideas about how I wasn’t going to force myself to read any given number of books, how TBRs were just stressing me out so I wouldn’t make them anymore even though I love making TBR videos, and how I was going to grab life with both hands and make it work for me. All went according to plan for the first few weeks – about 3 weeks, to be precise – before things went off the rails.
I suddenly didn’t want to read anything. I didn’t want to do anything. No contact with friends. Even my family, I spoke to about once a week and for 3-4 minutes each time. It was like some switch had flipped and I no longer had the energy to deal with life. I still can’t explain that period, really, although it seemed like a bad case of migraine from the outside – holing up in the dark, not wanting loud noises, or not wanting to interact with people. But I know I’m lying when I say that. I won’t elaborate more, however, because I’ve only mentioned it to illustrate why my reading took a massive dip.
Before this, however, I had some FAB reads in January to start off the year with – Honor by Thrity Umrigar, The Poppy War by RF Kuang, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf – all of which made it onto my favorite books of 2022 list. But the 3 months following this period – starting January 22 – were ones of me finding out things about myself I never thought were true and recovering from the abyss I had fallen into. The thing was, I wasn’t even trying to claw my way out. I’d just come to accept that panicking was not going to help me rise out of it. I needed to have patience with myself and the landscape would even out, sooner or later.
And I was right. It did. But what welcomed me was a staggeringly different sight than what I’d started the year with. The avenues and streets and back alleys and beaches and buildings and vehicles had been mixed up and rearranged to give me a whole other idea of what I should be, of what reading should be. And I’ve carried that so far. I will carry it forward until the next change happens because I know it’s coming. People change and evolve, and it’s true for reading tastes as well.
Along with this flux in changing reading tastes and everything else, 2022 brought me a lot of positives as well. Yes, it wasn’t my best year. I’d even say it was my worst, perhaps. But I’ve learned a lot of things that I probably can implement in real life. So yay, I guess?
Anyway, today’s blog post is a quick recap of my 2022 reading. I usually do separate blog posts for my favorite books of the year, my least favorite books of the year, and the books I DNFed. But this time, I thought I’ll do a comprehensive thing where I talk about all of them in short. You’ll find all these videos on my channel and some reviews and discussions on my blog here. I’ll link all of them if you’d like to go check them out.
MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2022
Apart from the first two, all others are in no particular order. In the video, however, I’ve mentioned them in decreasing order – the first is my most favorite, and the last my least favorite among the set. If you’d like to go check that video out, here’s where you can: Watch My Favorite Books of 2022 on YouTube.
In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
This has to be my favorite book of the year because of how much I felt seen when I read it. Another example of how different people have different favorite books for different reasons. Jhumpa Lahiri talks about her passion for learning a new language – Italian in her case – the lengths to which she went to learn it, including immersion, and her feelings and the truths that emerged in this process. It’s fabulously well-written, was relatable for me, and was the book that pulled me out of that months-long funk and pushed me into the light again.
Here’s the full discussion post where I fawned over it: Book Discussion – In Other Words.
The Poppy War & The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang
How am I going to even explain the wreckage that these two books have left in their wake? By the time you see this article, I’ll have finished the third book as well and there’s nothing but fire where my memory remembers this story. A fabulous mix of fantasy, Chinese folklore and mythology, military strategy, politics, and raw human nature, this trilogy is worth every tear, every crack in my heart, and every shocked stare I sent its way. I love it fiercely even while my heart aches, watching it backwards through the filter of time.
It warrants mention that I bracketed the year with this trilogy – somehow – because I read The Poppy War in January and The Dragon Republic towards the end of the year, at the end of December. And I read The Burning God in January 2023. Makes sense, I guess, that I give RF Kuang so much power over me. No, that’s not right. She grabs power, because that’s all her doing. Her writing is like that. I’m powerless.
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
This author is a new favorite and how beautifully she writes! In The Mountains Sing, she talks about life before, during, and after the Vietnam War. It follows a grandmother and granddaughter, both of who are grappling and coming to terms with their own knowledge and lack thereof respectively. The grandmother tells her granddaughter about her life before the war and how everything turned upside down, the decisions she had to take throughout it all, and why she does what she does during uncertain times like these. The author treats these characters with kindness and compassion, something we don’t see a lot in war stories. This is why these characters will stay with me for a long time to come. Love it to no end!
A Room of One’s Own is a feminist nonfiction and the book that made me fall in love with Virginia Woolf, something I never thought would happen after the fiasco that was To The Lighthouse. But it has a hold on me that I cannot really explain in a few words. I have done a full discussion and will be coming up with part 2 soon, if you’d like to go check it out. Here’s where you can read it: A Room of One’s Own – Discussion.
84 Charing Cross Road is an epistolary memoir in which Helene Hanff corresponds with a London bookshop called Marks & Co., and it is one of the most heartwarming, funny, and heartbreaking books I’ve read in a while. The very memory puts a grin on my face! 😀 Next is The Yellow Wallpaper. The edition I read had 3 short stories, the most prominent of which is The Yellow Wallpaper and there’s a reason why. It’s the story of how dismissive society is of women and our (mental) health complaints. Goosebumps.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is a narration of how women are treated in society, right from us being treated as the less important siblings in our childhood to being treated as a nanny for our husbands or a container to carry children when we grow up – these are just a couple of examples as to how society treats us and how it manifests in our everyday lives. In a nutshell, if you’re a woman, this book will piss you off because of how much you related to it and more. If you’re not a woman who’s reading this, then it should piss you off. That’s all I’ll say.
Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown, on the other hand, deals with racism against Asian people. We follow Willis Wu who is trying to make it in Hollywood. But his dreams are limited by the industry he is part of. He is Generic Asian Guy but he aspires to be Kung Fu Guy, which is the ultimate achievement for his people (in the book). But even in this, there are things that pull him down. How he deals with all this is what Interior Chinatown is about. Told in a screenplay format, this book will make you think of things that you never thought you would, because racism comes in a thousand different colors and shades. And this book puts forward just a few of them.
Ooh, this is a superb set!
Tin Man is the story of two men who meet as kids and immediately form a bond that grows and evolves. When they grow up, a woman enters their lives and marries one of them, although they do form a trio of sorts. But the other guy is slowly moving away and at one point, is no longer part of the story, although his presence is still felt. What has happened to cause this? And how will the characters handle this pain, forms this entire story. It became one of my favorite books of 2022 and one of my favorite books of all time. I did a whole blog post, gushing about it. Here’s where you can read it: My Review of Tin Man by Sarah Winman.
Sadie is a rather violent story of a sister looking for her missing sister and is told in a documentary format. Because of this, I’d recommend you listen to the audiobook – it’s so well-made and sounds so realistic, it just sends chills down your spine. Roar does this in a similar yet different manner. It has 30 short stories, all with female protagonists, and each of them is a powerful, feminist story that will reach out to you in some way or the other. You will find something to relate to in at least one of them.
How do I even begin to talk about these two books? While All My Rage is the story of racism and discrimination from other races, Honor is the story of honor killings and family turning on family. Both are hard-hitting, with Honor being a more violent story. While Honor was my first read of 2022 – meaning I entered the new year crying – All My Rage was one of my most anticipated book releases of 2022 from one of my favorite authors of all time. I’m glad I read them and I’m grateful to have been able to read them.
I did a full book review for Honor here on my blog. If you’d like to go check it out, here’s the link: My Review of Honor by Thrity Umrigar.
These next 3 books are a combination of one or all of these: fast-paced, will keep you on the edge of your seat, or will take you on a roller-coaster ride from which there’s no looking back.
Dark Matter is about a man who wakes up and finds that his life seems to have changed. His wife is no longer his wife, his son is no longer his son, and people seem to think that he is some sort of a scientist genius and not the college professor he actually is. What has happened to have brought these changes? How will he find his way back to his family and to the truth? This is a story that will keep you invested throughout while keeping a firm hold on the plot twists and doling them out in carefully measured intervals. Brilliant!
The Broken Ones is a chilling tale of a woman trying to find out if the stalker she has noticed is real or a figment of her imagination. And Sarah A. Denzil ties it up amazingly well, sending goosebumps of fear racing across your skin. Salvation of a Saint is a murder mystery in which police officials, with Detective Galileo, are trying to find out who murdered a man in his own house while his wife, the only person who could have done the act, was thousands of miles away. Another fabulously well written story that will keep you asking for more. Keigo Higashino is a master for a reason!
These next two books are love stories and both I love to no end because of reasons I will explain here.
Book Lovers is about two book lovers falling in love. Both work in the publishing industry and due to fate or circumstance or just plain coincidence, end up meeting each other in a place they never thought they would. I love the fact that the author focused on the familial relationships of the main characters as much as she did on the romance. This is something I will always be a sucker for! Sick Kids in Love is the story of – you guessed it right – two chronically sick kids in love. And the reason I adore this story is because of how the author has taken chronic illness and given it a voice. My rheumatoid arthritis was nodding vigorously throughout – something that I hardly get to see in books. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it’s compassionately true!
Three male authors I’ve come to love the writing of and all of them have such vastly different writing styles!
First off, Shatrujeet Nath’s Warlord of Ayodhya: Rebellion is a kind, compassionate retelling of Bharat’s side of the story from the Hindu epic, Ramayana. It’s fast-paced and gripping, keeping you inside the story from page 1 to the end, and will make you crave for the next book in the series because you HAVE to find out what happens! I’ve already done a review of this book here on the blog. If you’d like to go check it out, here’s where you can find it: My Review of Warlord of Ayodhya: Rebellion.
The Overcoat is the story of a common man, his lack of a sturdy overcoat, him getting a new one, and what happens throughout it all. It’s a study on the behavior of humans in society and how capitalism unfortunately plays a huge role in how we treat each other. I only got to Gogol because of The Namesake but I know that I’m going to go and read his other works soon!
Our Nana Was a Nutcase made me shed tears because of how it talks about the relationship between a maternal grandfather (‘Nana’) and his grandchildren. A retired Army personnel, he keeps a routine and establishes a beautiful rapport with the children, and when he starts forgetting things, his grandchildren are obviously thrown into the deep end. For someone who didn’t see either of her grandfathers, this was a beautiful, touching, heartbreaking story that I will treasure till the very end.
The All for the Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic
Another trilogy that I ended up loving in 2022 was this one by Nora Sakavic. I did a full review of it here on the blog. If you’d like to go check it out, here’s the link: My Review of The All for the Game trilogy by Nora Sakavic.
A great example of found family done right, this trilogy has character development unlike any other I’ve seen before. Of course, many of the characters are unlikeable but follow them through to the end and perhaps you’ll end up loving most of them, keyword being ‘most’. It’s about Neil Josten, the fictional game of Exy, a mafia, a bloody past, and all of them coming together in ways that nobody thought they would but are prepared because they know life is unpredictable anyway. Read my review (link above) for more details. 😀
BOOKS I DNFED IN 2022
There weren’t many books that I did not finished in the past year, which I think is a good thing. But let’s hope that in 2023 and forward, I DNF books I don’t feel good about rather than sitting through the pain. I’ve done a video for this on my YouTube channel. If you’d like to go check it out, here’s the link: Watch the Books I DNFed in 2022 on my Channel.
The Music of Solitude by Krishna Sobti (Hindi), Vasudha Dalmia (translated into English)
I started reading this for a readathon I did in January before things went downhill and was so disappointed! This was originally written in Hindi and I wish that I had read that version instead. I probably would have gotten into the story better. The English version made me feel like a lot of things were lost in translation. This is the story of two middle-aged people who connect with each other and how their relationship develops. For me, the writing style was stunted and this is the only thing I can remember about this book, which should tell you how unmemorable it was. I gave up on it just 30-35 pages in.
Salt by Danielle Ellison
I bought this book a long time ago based purely on the stunning cover and because of that, only belatedly realized that is the first in a series. This is the story of Penelope, who comes from a family of witches who can destroy demons using salt. But she is the exception because she can’t summon these powers no matter what. But when she encounters a demon in a side alley, she is somehow able to get rid of it. That’s all I can remember about this book, it’s that unmemorable. The storytelling is repetitive and stagnant. I would have flown through it if there was some intrigue in the story. So 8% in, I went, “You know what? I’m losing nothing by not reading this book. I’m moving forward and on even if story isn’t.”
Do Epic Shit by Ankur Warikoo
I know this author has helped a lot of people and he has value in what he says. But this book doesn’t show that value. This is a non-fiction book in which he has listed out a bunch of his thoughts that he had put up as tweets. This collection of bite-sized motivations could have been good inspiration for those like me who don’t follow him on social media. But in some places, he says with what I imagine is a polite smile, “Look! You are not doing things because you are lazy!” And that’s not a nice way to win people over. You can’t generalize without knowing what the larger public’s situations are. And even if you don’t know what your audience is going through, that is precisely why you shouldn’t generalize. And that’s why I gave up on this book at 8%.
MY LEAST FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2022
These books are in chronological order i.e. the first book here is the first one I didn’t like in 2022 and the last book mentioned is the last book I decided should make this list. The video for this went up on my channel today. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out: Watch My Least Favorite Books of 2022 on YouTube.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
I’ve thought of a number of ways in which I could explain this book and the best I could come up with is that it feels like this book was a test run for what The Guest List would eventually be – a bunch of people go to a secluded place and someone gets murdered. I really don’t want to use this word but it just felt like a cheaper version of The Guest List – the characters are unlikable, the plot repetitive, and I got plain bored. It just helped that I had some other good books to offset this one.
Gardens of Love by Meera Godbole-Krishnamurthy
This one is the story of a heterosexual couple going through a separation of sorts. They meet their respective parents and through conversations, are trying work through their own personal issues. What they learn through these conversations, whether or not they come up with solutions, and how far are they will to go for each other and their parents forms the entire story. The book is illustrated and a pretty quick read – about 160-170 pages – but the goal remains unclear. I mean, we get what the individuals are trying to do and why things aren’t working out. But because of the stunted writing style that was way too poetic than it deserves, everything felt contrived.
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
This is one of the most infuriating books I’ve ever read! It is the story of a couple who does murder to keep the spark alive in their marriage. And I don’t know how this works, honest! I know that there are people who are bad, but to justify those actions by saying that, “Oh we are doing all this out of our love for each other!” is way too twisted. Plus, the whole plot moves around in circles while giving you the illusion that it’s getting to some point. Other than the fact that they are absolute psychos in the truest sense of the word, there was no other point to it. The ending was rushed and as a result, botched, because you need to take time to unravel these things. You can’t throw them in people’s faces.
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
This is supposedly an enemies-to-lovers story in which Catalina Martin and Aaron Blackford are cutthroat enemies. They work at an engineering office (not even sure here) and 18 months ago, something happened that pitted them against each other. Now, Catalina has no date to her sister’s wedding and Aaron Blackford volunteers. Since she has no other choice, they go together and then, over the weekend, things happen. I’ve heard people gush about how hot Aaron is or how much chemistry they have, but to me, all I can see is Catalina’s lack of personality, her oblique obliviousness, and her mentioning his blue eyes on every page. No thank you very much.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
This is a book that made me realize that even if you loved a book by an author, you can absolutely hate some of their other books. I despise this one because of how it glorifies abuse. The main characters meet on a night when both of them have been through something and he starts flirting with her. Which is fine. But their conversation (d)evolves to a point where he says something like, “We are not bad people; just people who sometimes do bad things.” SIR! EXCUSE ME? HELLO?! That quote doesn’t even make sense! And throughout the book, he hounds her, literally turning up on her doorstep asking to sleep with her, which is like creepy as f*ck. But my biggest peeve with this book is Lily. She says that she is stronger because she is going to stick by her marriage and that she isn’t selfish like the others who ‘give up’ on their marriages, implying that those who leave abusive marriages are weak and selfish.
All of this left a bad taste in my mouth because of how tastelessly it was handled.
Hell Fire by Leesa Gazi
This was a gift and a book that I thought I would end up rating five stars but unfortunately it ended up on this list instead. This is the story of two sisters whose controlling mother has locked them up at home. She hasn’t allowed them out of the house because of some reasons and now, they are 40 years old without having seen the outside world. One day, she allows the older daughter to go out and what the older daughter discovers forms this entire story. I get the concept of a mother trying to protect her daughters but it somehow wasn’t put forward well. It just felt confusing and wasn’t able to convey her actual point. Disappointing.
All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami
Last but not the least is All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami. This book is boring, because there’s nothing in it that’s of any substance, except for the fact that solitude can be lonely. This is the story of a lonely proofreader who doesn’t talk to many people. The only person she talks to is someone from work. How her life moves along and the things she does, the conversations that she has, forms this entire story. This book is 220-230 pages long and draggy as a stretched rubberband. The main character’s whole personality is her pining after a man. Even if you are writing a quiet book – which this book tries to be and ends up being a sleepfest – it’s got to have something that’s not just a main character crying over a man. It’s poetic in some places but how far can poetry or just beautiful writing move a book along?
I did a full review here on the blog. Here’s the link if you’d like to go check it out: My Review of All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami.
Phew! It feels like I’ve been writing this blog post for years! But I’ve finally put it up!
What did you think of this blog post? What did you think of my favorite books of 2022, my DNFs of 2022, and my least favorite books of 2022? What were your favorite books of 2022, your DNFs of 2022, and your least favorite books of 2022? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! ❤
I’ll see you in the next blog post.
Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life! 😀