Highlights of My 2022 Reading
Links are to the publisher or author’s site or, barring that, to bookshop.org. In previous years, I’ve managed to write full descriptions book. 2023 has been its own difficult year, with family illness and the death of our dog, so I’m just listing the things I want to share. In some cases I could write a sentence or two, in others I couldn’t. But if they’re on here, I thought they were worth sharing.
Faith and History
- Plowshares: Protest, Performance, and Religious Identity in the Nuclear Age by Kristen Tobey (2016). I’ve been interested in the Plowshares movement for nearly two decades, sparked again after reading Dan Zak’s Almighty in 2018. Tobey examines how the movement performs protest and creates a religious identity that’s connected to but distinct from other Christian pacifism.
- The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone (2011). As an adult, I’ve found freedom in my faith to not have to have a hard and fast answer for what the cross means. Cone reminds me I’m not free of engaging with it.
- Dear White Peacemakers by Osheta Moore (2021). Tempers the instinct to righteous anger or self-flagellation. Moore challenges us to do more than flail at injustice.
- The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein (2017)
- Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings (2019)
- A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington (2019)
And How We Spend Our Lives
- Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey (2022)
- Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (2021)
- An Ordinary Age: Finding Your Way in a World That Expects Exceptional by Rainesford Stauffer (2021)
- Ten Steps to Nannette: A Memoir Situation by Hannah Gadsby (2022)
All very different, but fiction that stuck with me and doesn’t sort into a genre below.
- Passing by Nella Larsen (1929)
- Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (2020).
- Roman Fever and Other Stories by Edith Wharton (1964 first pub).
- Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian (2021). Perfect winter break read. Note, from the person who recommended it to me: despite the cutsey cover, it’s an adult romance.
SFF / Weird / Horror
- Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (2021). Alternate reality with magic and intrigue and even though I’ve bounced off quite a few SFF stories that could be described that way, this one was excellent. I look forward to reading more in the trilogy.
- The Chosen and Beautiful by Nghi Vo (2021). I wasn’t 100% sold on the setting’s magical elements (I suppose I felt they weren’t really needed by much of the story), but the story itself was fantastic.
- What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher (2022). Atmospheric novella based on Poe’s House of Usher. Expansive worldbuilding inspirations range from Prisoner of Zenda to reconceptions of gender. Unnerving horror. The hares. My god the hares.
- The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2022). Probably the easiest read in this section. Enjoyable without as much pressure.
- Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig (2021). Mixed feelings on the alternate realities but evocative and chilling. It left me wanting to visit the boulder field next time I’m out that way (I am assuming Ramble Rocks is based on Ringing Rocks, as both are in Bucks County).
- Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (2017). I listened to most of this while driving back from DC, late at night, on twisty backroads straight up the center of Pennsylvania. I think it would be a bit surreal at any time, but it was especially so under those conditions.
Knives were practically a subgenre this year. The first two were clearly in my wheelhouse and, even though I’ve purposefully never watched a slasher film, the second two were by authors I’d previously enjoyed.
- The Old Woman with the Knife by Gu Byeong-mo, translated by Chi-Young Kim (2022). This one’s stayed with me–less the violent parts than the setting that formed in my mind.
- My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018). It’s exactly what the title says. I’ll definitely read more by her.
- My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones (2022). I continue to like his teen girl characters. Not nearly as painful as his The Only Good Indians.
- The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix (2021). Works from the “if slasher films were based on real events – what would it like to be the girls who lived?” premise. Fortunately it doesn’t get lost in that and there’s a fairly good plot to follow.
Mysteries are my comfort place and 2022 was a hard year. Besides some enjoyable series like Thursday Murder Club and Hawthorne & Horowitz, I particularly recommend the following. Some may not be formally in the genre and none of them followed the classic detective/police pattern (a plus).
- Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (2017). Figuring out one’s own belonging as an insider-outsider. A mystery. And obviously quite a few erotic stories.
- The Verifiers by Jane Pek (2022). I hadn’t been sure what kind of mystery it was going to be, but it was both an engaging mystery on its own and intersected with my interest in critiques of technology.
- Family Trust (2018) and Imposter Syndrome (2021) by Kathy Wang. Two very different books, both with elements of mystery and commentaries on the American dream, particularly the immigrant American dream.
- Devil House by John Darnielle (2022). Doesn’t quite fit under the Weird/Horror category above, but flirts with it at points.
- Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2021). Set against student uprisings in 1971 Mexico City, all Maite wants to do is return her neighbor’s cat. Second time in recent years where, midway through a book, I’ve realized that I’m reading toward a massacre. (The other being Sinclair’s King Coal, 1917.)