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My Favorite Books of 2022




Did you know how easy it is to download e-books from your library? Incredibly easy. Click, click, boom, the book appears on my Kindle. For free!


I’ve been able to read more of what I want this year, and not just what is on sale…which means I’ve read more books than usual. There have been some duds, which I no longer feel the need to finish (since- free!). I still purchase books that I need to have and can’t stand waiting for 😊, but overall I’m pretty happy with this new reading reality.


This year I read 83 books, (27,937 pages) although some were audiobooks. Here are my favorites, I split them into Fiction, Nonfiction, Middle Grade, and Young Adult. I managed a few book reviews this year, my goal is to review more books next year.


If I marked any passages, I've tried to share them. Books are in no particular order.



 

FICTION



Sea of Tranquility- Emily St. John Mandel

My Review: I put off reading this book for a while. Given the hellscape that has been the last 3 years, I wasn't primed for another post-apocalyptic book. I was wrong. This was a great read with an engaging structure that kept me going even when I had no idea what was going on, which was intentional. Mandel's exploration of time travel felt fresh and I found myself surprised by the ending.


Quote: “I think, as a species, we have a desire to believe that we’re living at the climax of the story. It’s a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we’re uniquely important, that we’re living at the end of history, that now, after all these millennia of false alarms, now is finally the worst that it’s ever been, that finally we have reached the end of the world.”


A History of Wild Places- Shea Ernshaw

My Review: Absolutely gorgeous book. Ernshaw uses a unique story structure to set up a compelling story and utilizes lovely, lyrical writing to weave nature and emotions together. I stayed up way too late reading this one! Highly recommend


Quote: “There is no history in a place until we make it, until you live a life worth remembering. We have made a history here—some of it was more folklore than truth, more fear than anything else. But some of it was good. Some of it lives inside each of us, the history of this wild, wild land.”


Conjure Women- Afia Atakora


My Review: TW: Child death/rape/violence against women...lots of TWs. Usually my rule is "no dead kids"- but I was emotionally able to handle this book. The structure was initially confusing (3 timelines), but the characters were consistent so there were enough threads to cling to. This felt like a modern classic, I loved the imagery, symbolism and the voice. So much to unpack in the writing alone! Really well done & well edited.


Quote: “The water ain’t worth more than the bucket”


The Personal Librarian- Marie Benedict

Quote: "The deeper we each read, the more we would understand about this world we live in, and the more questions we had."



Moon of the Crusted Snow- Waubgeshig Rice



Evvie Drake Starts Over- Linda Holmes

Quote: “Hey, we’re going past the L.L.Bean store; did you need a tent with a dog door or some boots that are rated for eighty-five degrees below zero?” “I’ve been in that store,” she said. “It’s huge. It’s full of men who want to find themselves but will settle for getting poison ivy on their balls instead.



The Glass Woman- Caroline Lea

My Review: It's 95 degrees in Florida but THE GLASS WOMAN wrapped its icy hands around me and wouldn't let go. This was a unique retelling of the classic, REBECCA and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a few places where the pace slowed or the plot seemed repetitive but they were brief/easy to overlook. Really well done.


Quote: “And this is love, I realize. This broken-bodied stumble forward, one carrying the other in spite of exhaustion, pain and the glare of the outside world.”



Angel Killer- Andrew Mayne

Quote: “Inefficiency is the creeping death of bureaucracy and accountability. It’s what brought the Roman Empire down.”



The Simple Wild- KA Tucker

Quote: “And just like that, I sense a circle closing. Back to the beginning, and near to the end.”



State of Wonder- Anne Patchett

Quote: “No one tells the truth to people they don't actually know, and if they do it is a horrible trait. Everyone wants something smaller, something neater than the truth.”



Don’t you Forget about me- Mhairi McFarlane

Quote: “There are always those worse off than you. Your problems are not invalid as a result, or needing to be measured against an internationally recognised pain scale before we decide if your condition is severe enough to treat.”



Dreaming the Eagle (Boudica #1) - Manda Scott



Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marillier

Quote: "There is no good or evil, save in the way you see the world. There is no dark or light, save in your own vision. All changes in the blink of an eyelid; yet all remains the same."



The Norse Queen- Johanna Wittenberg



Once there were Wolves- Charlotte McConaghy

Quote: “Ninety-nine percent of old-growth Douglas firs have been cut down. Which makes this one of the last of its kind.” “Is it lonely?” I asked, aching for the roots that must be reaching to find nothing to hold.”



Other Birds- Sarah Addison Allen


My Review: This was a lovely meditation on the power of Story and found family. I love Sarah Addison Allen and the magic she weaves into everyday situations. Well done!


Quote: “Stories aren’t fiction. Stories are fabric. They’re the white sheets we drape over our ghosts so we can see them.”



Mexican Gothic- Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Quote: "She thought that men such as her father could be stern and men could be cold like Virgil, but women needed to be liked or they’d be in trouble. A woman who is not liked is a bitch, and a bitch can hardly do anything: all avenues are closed to her."



Piranesi- Susanna Clarke

Quote: “They were all enamoured with the idea of progress and believed that whatever was new must be superior to what was old. As if merit was a function of chronology! But it seemed to me that the wisdom of the ancients could not have simply vanished. Nothing simply vanishes.”



This Time Tomorrow- Emma Straub

Quotes:

“People changed and they didn’t. People evolved and they didn’t. Alice imagined a graph that showed how much people’s personalities shifted after high school on one axis and on the other, how many miles away from home they had moved. It was easy to stay the same when you were looking at the same walls. Layered on top would be how easy your life was along the way, how many levels of privilege surrounded you like a tiny glass object in a sea of packing peanuts.”


“She’d spent enough time sitting at dinner tables with novelists to understand that fiction was a myth. Fictional stories, that is. Maybe there were bad ones out there, but the good ones, the good ones—those were always true. Not the facts, not the rights and the lefts, not the plots, which could take place in outer space or in hell or anywhere in between, but the feelings. The feelings were the truth.”


“Any story could be a comedy or a tragedy, depending on where you ended it. That was the magic, how the same story could be told an infinite number of ways.”


The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches- Sangu Mandanna

Quote: "Danger rarely wore a monstrous face and a wielded a pitchfork. No, danger came most often in the form of people like Edward, the nice people whose niceness only went so deep, who saved their niceness for people exactly like them, who believed they were more deserving of power and respect than anyone who was a little bit different. And she would never know how many other nice, ordinary people out there were as ugly as Edward underneath."



 

NONFICTION


Ecology of a Cracker Childhood- Janisse Ray (Fantastic audiobook, I also bought a hard copy)

Quotes:

“I drink old-growth forest in like water…I can see my place as human in a natural order more grand, whole, and functional than I’ve ever witnessed, and I am humbled, not frightened, by it. Comforted. It is as if a roundtable springs up in the cathedral of pines and God graciously pulls out a chair for me, and I no longer have to worry about what happens to souls.”


“There’s something about storms. Maybe it’s that wind begs for resistance.”



Outdoor Kids in an Inside World: Getting your Family out of the house and Radically Engaged with Nature- Steven Rinella


My Review: Refreshingly honest account of being in nature with family. It isn't all sunshine and rainbows. I love the way Steven Rinella communicates how he sees the world, which is respectful and realistic. I've read a lot of similar books and I didn't realize that most of them are written by women, I appreciated reading a man's point of view on the subject. I wouldn't normally pick this up-we don't hunt and I rarely eat meat- but I'm really glad I read it.


The Lazy Genius Way- Kendra Adachi



The Wild Heart of Florida (Various Authors)



To Speak for the Trees- Diana Beresford- Kroeger (Lovely audiobook!)



 

MIDDLE GRADE



The Mad Wolf’s Daughter- Diane Magras



The Giver – Lois Lowry



Gathering Blue- Lois Lowry


 

YOUNG ADULT


The Last Cuentista—Donna Barba Higuera

Quote: “The stories we tell ourselves make us who we are.”



Throne of Glass- Sarah Maas



Anatomy: A Love Story- Dana Schwartz

Quote: “Being a woman had closed many doors to Hazel Sinnett, but it had also revealed to her a valuable tool in her arsenal: women were almost entirely overlooked as people, which gave her the power of invisibility. People saw women, they saw the dresses women wore on public walks through the park, and the gloved hands they rested on their suitors’ elbows at the theater, but women were never threats. They were never challenges worthy of meaningful consideration. The footman might have refused entry to a beggarwoman or even a strange or foreign man, but Hazel—dressed like wealth—would be free to walk past him if she did so swiftly and feigning confidence. And so she did.”


Tell the Wolves I’m Home- Carol Rifka Brunt

My review: This book was sad, complicated, and unforgettable. The combination of Rifka Brunt's gorgeous writing and the setting of 1980s New York amidst the AIDS crisis made for one of the most unique books I've read recently. Yes, it's a coming-of-age story, but it also explores relationships among adults and how complicated they can be. How we try to do our best to guide kids... while being flawed ourselves. Overall- a great book for all ages.

Quotes:

“I really wondered why people were always doing what they didn’t like doing. It seemed like life was a sort of narrowing tunnel. Right when you were born, the tunnel was huge. You could be anything. Then, like, the absolute second after you were born, the tunnel narrowed down to about half that size. You were a boy, and already it was certain you wouldn’t be a mother and it was likely you wouldn’t become a manicurist or a kindergarten teacher. Then you started to grow up and everything you did closed the tunnel in some more. You broke your arm climbing a tree and you ruled out being a baseball pitcher. You failed every math test you ever took and you canceled any hope of being a scientist. Like that. On and on through the years until you were stuck. You’d become a baker or a librarian or a bartender. Or an accountant. And there you were. I figured that on the day you died, the tunnel would be so narrow, you’d have squeezed yourself in with so many choices, that you just got squashed.”


“I stood there letting that animal sadness drape over my shoulders, waiting for it to tell me why it was there. And then it did. It crawled in close and whispered in my ear.”


Daughter of Smoke and Bone- Laini Taylor

Quote: “Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”



Uprooted- Naomi Novik

Quote: “They cut them down. They will always cut them down. They come and go like seasons, the winter that gives no thought to the spring.”


 

Drop me suggestions for my 2023 reading list!





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