While I will always write these posts for myself, I figured no one was actually waiting on tenterhooks to see what I read last year, and that it would be no big deal if I didn’t get around to writing my 2022 reading recap for a while. Then I got a text from a friend saying that she was checking my blog every few days waiting for “2022 in Books” to go up, which warmed my heart so much, so, hi A! This post is for you!
(For the few of you who still follow my blog but don’t follow me on social media or Substack and have been wondering what I’m up to, I do owe you a “what I’ve been up to” update post at some point. For now, please see this Substack post which summarizes a bunch of the things I’ve been doing/preparing for.)
After two somewhat driftless years of focusing on just making it through a global pandemic, 2022 for me was “the year a ton of stuff happened*” which felt extra intense given that I hadn’t been used to running at full speed in a while. That is my explanation for why, after reading 102 and 100 books in the two previous years, I squeaked out of 2022 only having finished 65 books.
*Stuff that happened: I jumped back into performing after several years of a pandemic-forced hiatus, the concerto project picked back up, I continued to write professionally, I got married and went on my honeymoon, etc.
I am aware 65 is a perfectly respectable number of books to read in a year, but I feel a little sheepish about it given that “girl who reads a lot” sort of became my personality; at multiple points throughout the year, friends would introduce me to new people by saying something like “This is Sharon, she reads a lot.” Such an introduction usually prompts people to ask the same questions (I mean, what else do you ask someone who you’re told reads a lot?) so, an FAQ:
FAQ ABOUT “READING A LOT”
“How fast do you read?”
I’m not sure how to answer this question. No one’s ever clocked my reading speed, which varies depending on what I’m reading; I don’t parse dense legal contracts, 18th century manifestos, or frothy romances at the same rate, so I have no idea how you even get some standard number. The only data I have to work with is my e-reader, which gives me stats like this when I finish books:
I’m not convinced the stats I get from my e-reader are accurate, but it tells me that I generally take between 2 and 3 hours to read a standard length book from start to finish; I can knock out a shorter book in a half hour or so, and a really long, dense non-fiction book full of Facts and Dates generally takes me about 4 hours. I don’t consider myself a speed-reader, largely because I like to savor good writing and I’ll re-read particularly well-crafted paragraphs multiple times. If I did speed-read I could (and have) zip through books in an hour, maybe, with some decent reading comprehension, but that sounds like an awful way to live life. Why read if you’re not going to enjoy or appreciate it? All I know is that I do read faster than the average person; exactly how fast, I have no idea.
“Do you finish all the books you start?”
The short answer: no.
The long answer: I have a “don’t read books you don’t enjoy” policy for myself, so every year I ditch several books and don’t feel at all guilty about it. HOWEVER, because I’ve read multiple novels where a blah, unenjoyable first half is a red herring and the book becomes amazing later on, I do typically soldier on through books I’m not feeling just in case there’s a turn, and because I am, as mentioned, a fairly fast reader, I’ll often find myself 2/3 through a book before realizing I’m not feeling it. At that point it’s only another half hour or so to the end, so I’ll often finish a book I don’t love because I might as well. (And to be very honest, sometimes at the 2/3 point I realize the book is a hate read, and those are fun when you can text passages to a reading friend who gleefully chugs the haterade along with you.)
“Do you remember all the books you read?”
This is where we get into “let me try to explain how my brain works” territory. Short answer: uh, yeah, kind of.
Long answer: Generally I remember something about most books I’ve read, like, ever. If you bring up any book I’ve read in my life, chances are likely that I can have a fairly in-depth discussion with you about plot points, characters, iconic moments, and themes. In some cases I find that I can quote lines from books I read once several years ago, and sometimes I can remember specific typos and copyediting errors in books years after I’ve read them. (The same actually goes for movies and TV shows. My childhood piano teacher always said I had an especially strong memory, and while I have no idea what is normal, I have figured out through many conversations that most people don’t remember this many things.)
All that being said, through 2019 and 2020 I could easily pull up author names and book titles with accompanying details in my brain like a filing cabinet without having to consult my reading logs; in 2021 I had to check my list a handful of times to retrieve an author’s name, and last year I found that it took extra time for me to recall an author’s name or book title with full accuracy. I don’t know if that means that there are only so many slots in my brain to keep that info easily at hand, and I’d maxed it out with the hundreds of books I’ve read in the last few years, or what. Science, if you’re studying the brains of people who read a lot, call me.
One interesting note: I’ve noticed that the more I like a book the more I remember of it; there are some books that have been so “eh” that I barely remember anything. On the flip side, I remember a lot about books I hated.
“Do you have a favorite author?”
No. This is a stupid question. How can anyone read thousands of books in their life and have one favorite author? That’s like asking me who my favorite composer is (also a stupid question).
My 2022 Book Log
A quick note about my star system: unlike in previous years, I didn’t mark books as “outstanding” in 2022 because I found that my system had become kind of meaningless. What does a star (⭐️) even mean? Not all books that are outstanding to me are books I would recommend wholeheartedly to every reader, and often when a friend asks for a recommendation I realize that a book that wasn’t outstanding to me personally would be perfect for them (and I have always been right).
I was going to post this list with no books starred, but then I looked it over and thought, you know what, there were books that stood out, and I stand by it. So I have retroactively starred books that have stuck out in my memory as outstanding reads for different reasons. Just because a book isn’t starred doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading; there were so many excellent books this year and I enjoyed almost all of them.
- bell hooks / All About Love ⭐️
- Amor Towles / The Lincoln Highway
- Anthony Veasna So / Afterparties
- Casey McQuiston / One Last Stop
- Jess Zimmerman / Women and Other Monsters
- Jean Hanff Korelitz / The Plot ⭐️
- Silvia Moreno-Garcia / Velvet Was the Night
- Rebecca Donner / All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days
- Damon Galgut / The Promise
- Kazuo Ishiguro / Klara and the Sun
- Joshua Ferris / A Calling for Charlie Barnes
- India Holton / The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels
- Emily St. John Mandel / The Glass Hotel ⭐️
- Francis Spufford / Light Perpetual
- Gary Shteyngart / Our Country Friends
- Reginald Dwayne Betts / Felon
- Kawai Strong Washburn / Sharks in the Time of Saviors
- David Sedaris / Carnival of Snackery
- Rachel Kapelke-Dale / The Ballerinas
- Julie Otsuka / When the Emperor Was Divine
- Chang-Rae Lee / My Year Abroad
- Louise Erdrich / The Sentence
- Julie Otsuka / The Swimmers
- Colson Whitehead / Harlem Shuffle
- Jasmine Guillory / By the Book
- Grace D. Li / Portrait of a Thief
- Gwendoline Riley / First Love
- Alexandra Kleeman / Something New Under the Sun
- Jean Chen Ho / Fiona and Jane
- John Koenig / The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows ⭐️
- Andrea Elliott / Invisible Child ⭐️
- Louise Glück / Winter Recipes from the Collective
- Stuart Turton / The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
- Aja Raden / Stoned ⭐️
- Amanda Montell / Cultish ⭐️
- Hernan Diaz / Trust ⭐️
- Sophie Kinsella / The Party Crasher
- David Sedaris / Happy-Go-Lucky
- Mark Forsyth / A Short History of Drunkenness
- Ed Lin / Ghost Month
- Élif Batuman / Either/Or ⭐️
- Dara Horn / People Love Dead Jews ⭐️
- Margaret MacMillan / War
- Akwaeke Emezi / You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty
- Greg Jenner / A Million Years in a Day
- Jean Hanff Korelitz / The Latecomer ⭐️
- Ottessa Moshfegh / Lapvona
- Marie Le Conte / Escape ⭐️
- Shelley Parker-Chan / She Who Became the Sun ⭐️
- (Anthology) / On Cats
- Barbara Ehrenreich / Nickel and Dimed ⭐️
- Véronique Hyland / Dress Code
- Louise Erdrich / The Painted Drum
- Alexandra Petri / A Field Guide to Awkward Silences
- Jasmine Guillory / Drunk on Love
- Sofi Thanhauser / Worn ⭐️
- Abdulrazak Gurnah / Afterlives
- Séamas O’Reilly / Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?
- Yiyun Li / The Book of Goose
- KC Davis / How to Keep House While Drowning
- Don DeLillo / White Noise
- Taylor Jenkins Reid / The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
- Richard Powers / Bewilderment
- Patricia Highsmith / The Talented Mr. Ripley
- Barbara Ehrenreich / Bait and Switch
As always, mini-reviews/thoughts on each book are posted on my reading Instagram.
Previous Book Logs