The adventures, thoughts, and general scrawlings of a classical pianist

2022 in Books

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:


“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.

  1. bell hooks / All About Love ⭐️
  2. Amor Towles / The Lincoln Highway
  3. Anthony Veasna So / Afterparties 
  4. Casey McQuiston / One Last Stop
  5. Jess Zimmerman / Women and Other Monsters
  6. Jean Hanff Korelitz / The Plot ⭐️
  7. Silvia Moreno-Garcia / Velvet Was the Night
  8. Rebecca Donner / All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days
  9. Damon Galgut / The Promise
  10. Kazuo Ishiguro / Klara and the Sun
  11. Joshua Ferris / A Calling for Charlie Barnes
  12. India Holton / The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels
  13. Emily St. John Mandel / The Glass Hotel ⭐️
  14. Francis Spufford / Light Perpetual 
  15. Gary Shteyngart / Our Country Friends 
  16. Reginald Dwayne Betts / Felon
  17. Kawai Strong Washburn / Sharks in the Time of Saviors
  18. David Sedaris / Carnival of Snackery
  19. Rachel Kapelke-Dale / The Ballerinas 
  20. Julie Otsuka / When the Emperor Was Divine
  21. Chang-Rae Lee / My Year Abroad
  22. Louise Erdrich / The Sentence 
  23. Julie Otsuka / The Swimmers 
  24. Colson Whitehead / Harlem Shuffle 
  25. Jasmine Guillory / By the Book
  26. Grace D. Li / Portrait of a Thief 
  27. Gwendoline Riley / First Love
  28. Alexandra Kleeman / Something New Under the Sun
  29. Jean Chen Ho / Fiona and Jane
  30. John Koenig / The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows ⭐️
  31. Andrea Elliott / Invisible Child ⭐️
  32. Louise Glück / Winter Recipes from the Collective
  33. Stuart Turton / The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
  34. Aja Raden / Stoned ⭐️
  35. Amanda Montell / Cultish ⭐️
  36. Hernan Diaz / Trust ⭐️
  37. Sophie Kinsella / The Party Crasher 
  38. David Sedaris / Happy-Go-Lucky
  39. Mark Forsyth / A Short History of Drunkenness
  40. Ed Lin / Ghost Month
  41. Élif Batuman / Either/Or ⭐️
  42. Dara Horn / People Love Dead Jews ⭐️
  43. Margaret MacMillan / War 
  44. Akwaeke Emezi / You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty 
  45. Greg Jenner / A Million Years in a Day 
  46. Jean Hanff Korelitz / The Latecomer ⭐️
  47. Ottessa Moshfegh / Lapvona 
  48. Marie Le Conte / Escape ⭐️
  49. Shelley Parker-Chan / She Who Became the Sun ⭐️
  50. (Anthology) / On Cats
  51. Barbara Ehrenreich / Nickel and Dimed ⭐️
  52. Véronique Hyland / Dress Code
  53. Louise Erdrich / The Painted Drum 
  54. Alexandra Petri / A Field Guide to Awkward Silences 
  55. Jasmine Guillory / Drunk on Love
  56. Sofi Thanhauser / Worn ⭐️
  57. Abdulrazak Gurnah / Afterlives 
  58. Séamas O’Reilly / Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?
  59. Yiyun Li / The Book of Goose
  60. KC Davis / How to Keep House While Drowning
  61. Don DeLillo / White Noise
  62. Taylor Jenkins Reid / The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo 
  63. Richard Powers / Bewilderment 
  64. Patricia Highsmith / The Talented Mr. Ripley
  65. Barbara Ehrenreich / Bait and Switch 

As always, mini-reviews/thoughts on each book are posted on my reading Instagram.

Previous Book Logs

2021 in Books
2020 in Books
2019 in Books

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