December means books.
New books, old books, wishlist books, books you’re dropping heavy hints about every time someone mentions gifts, books you want to buy for other people as gifts, books you bought for yourself while buying books for other people, the books you bought instead of buying books for other people …
I mean, I realise I’m describing most of the year here, but December always seems a bit more heavy on the books to me. For a start, I assure anyone who wants to buy me something that yes, bookshop gift cards are a very good gift indeed.
Then there’s the daily inundation of emails from bookshops I bought one books from, once, seventeen years ago, reminding me of all the books I want to read, and of all the ones I’d like to give to someone else to read. Which leads to misgivings over giving books as presents (what if they scorn my precious? Or think I’m Saying Something with my title choice? Or return the favour and give me a book I dislike intensely, causing us to view each other entirely differently, and resulting in a complete friendship rethink? The horrors!), meaning I start thinking about book-related gifts as something potentially less fraught with misunderstanding.
Plus there’s the endless question of seasonal reading, and if, as someone who does the Christmas thing in the sense of putting a tree up and eating lots of nice food, it might help me embrace the season more to read festive-themed books (having tried it – no, not really. I am either festive or I am not. But it’s still kind of fun to read them).
And then Spotify jumped in to tell me about my year in music, which I always find quite entertaining, as my music choices tend to veer about the place a bit. Which made me think that I might just do the same thing for my reading, because it’s always kind of fun to look back at the year and see what took my fancy.
Of course, as someone who doesn’t track their reading, this was not as easy as tapping the Spotify app and saying, go on, tell me then.
Luckily I have instagram, which may not have all my reads, but it has most of my completed reads, and a poke around the kindle reminded me of the ones I didn’t post over there.
And so I now have my year in books!
My 2022 in Books:
Most read author:
Authors, really. Heide Goody and Iain Grant just sneaked this away from Caimh/C.K. McDonnell, coming in with a last-minute rush when I read three of their standalone fairytale-inspired stories in a row on the way back from the UK (it was a long trip).
My top pick of those stories would be Disenchanted, which had so many fairytales mashed into it I lost track. But it was very funny and made me laugh on the plane even with a 48-hour trip and a stinking cold. Although I was on a lot of cold medication at the time …
I’m also still loving their Sam Applewhite series and read four of them. And I just bought book five because when searching for that link I found I’d missed it, which just goes to show how dangerous blog-writing is.
Most appreciated sequel:
Look, I had to squeeze C.K./ Caimh McDonnell in here because I love his books. And I was so excited to get my hands on This Charming Man, the second Stranger Times book. It’s just my sort of urban fantasy – funny, a bit bonkers, peopled with weird and inefficient characters who still somehow get the job done, and with a slightly off-kilter take on the usual tropes.
Admittedly, I had a weird year this year, and when I first started to read it I had to put it down because I wasn’t enjoying it. That was down to my headspace, though, not the book, and when I went back a few months later I loved it just as much as the first book. Although can I just point out that my world had Folk and vampires that don’t exist before his did …?
I also have to give a shout-out to Welcome to Nowhere, which was so weird I still keep thinking about it.
I’m not a huge reader of non-fiction, and I really have to be in the mood for it. The majority of my non-fiction reading is writing related (the thrilling world of Amazon dashboards! Understanding linking tools! How to write book descriptions! Gnnh …). However, I do subscribe to all sorts of different newsletters, from nature and science-based to psychology and philosophy and a bit of history, and also one by a food writer who makes truly terrible things, deliberately, then he and his fiancée eat them and try not to be sick. I discovered him because he made blue Gatorade bread and now I can’t stop reading his newsletter. It’s horrifying. Click that link at your own peril and be prepared for sweariness and scatological humour.
Anyhow, I did not buy his cookbook, should he have one. But I did buy Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks, or Time Management for Mortals, which is a beautiful and sensible and ultimately embracing book. It talks about the finite time we have, and how little we can really fit into that time, and makes that alright. More than alright – it makes it wonderful, and reminds us that while we can’t do everything in that span, no matter how we try, we can do many, many incredible things. It gives us permission to let go of what doesn’t really matter and to embrace what does, because trying to do it all is a sure route to achieving – and enjoying – none of it. It’s not anti-productivity exactly, but it certainly shows that productivity isn’t all. I loved it.
Best new (to me) series:
A little bit of a cheat here, as I actually read the first DCI Logan by JD Kirk book before this year, and it didn’t grab me. But, being a mood reader (as evidenced by the This Charming Man incident), when my cousin told me about these brilliant Scottish police procedural novels she’d been devouring (her words), I tried them again and loved them. I haven’t read them all, but I have read the first six, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Dark, full of sharp humour, and definitely gripping. Even the tortured detective trope is done so well it doesn’t feel trope-y at all.
Best new (to me) author:
Bethany Clift with Last One at the Party, which she has rather delightfully described as “the worst-timed pandemic novel in the world”. And which I found myself completely unable to put down, even though I wanted to shake the very, very hapless heroine so many times. Only pick it up if you’re happy with reading about the vast majority of the population being wiped out by a post-Covid pandemic. Ahem.
And Bethany Clift has jumped straight from dystopia to sci-fi romance, which I now know having done this list, and which I’ve accidentally bought. Sigh.
And that, lovely people, is my 2022 round-up! There were many DNFs. There were some meh reads. There were many delightful reads. And there were many days of not really being able to find what I wanted to read at all, or even being able to concentrate on much more than a newsletter about awful food, but that merely serves as the reminder – books are always there for you. They will wait. They don’t go mouldy at the edges (unless your bookshelves are a bit damp), or out of date, or give up on you, or get upset at you for setting them aside for a while. They are escape, and security, and companionship, and a home we can always return to.
So whether you have reading goals or not, whether you track your reading or not, whether you read ten books or two hundred or zero this year – they’re still there for you. Now, tomorrow, next year. Worlds await – and they’re not going anywhere.
Now let me know in the comments, lovely people – what have a few highlights of your reading year been? Share away below! (And then read on for some more fun reading lists!)
Since I’m finding this a really fun way to look at my reading, I have more lists for you! There’s a fab website up called Book Shepherd, which aims to be a new way to find your next read. Basically it’s all lists, but not bestselling this or top-rated that.
So you could look for the best overlooked classic Christmas whodunits, to keep things seasonal, or go with the best books to deliver holiday magic with a dark twist for a different take on things. Or you can pop your favourite author/title into the search box and it’ll serve up some lists and bookshelves it thinks you’ll like.
And you can always check out my contributions, if you’re looking for somewhere to start 😉