Books, Music, Podcasts

2022 in Review: A Year of Books

I so appreciate the blog posts some of you write where you share what you’ve been reading and your reviews. I read a lot (for me but likely not a lot in comparison to some of you who are voracious readers) in 2022, both fiction and non fiction, and I thought I’d share what I read and my book reviews.

Billy Summers by Stephen King

4.5 of 5 stars

My friend Michele recommended this book and I am so glad I picked it up. It’s not a Stephen King horror novel but more of an action/thriller like his book 11.22.63. I listened to the excellently narrated audiobooks and read the actual hardback book (which I purchased as once I got into the book I knew I would read it again). The book is about a hired assassin’s assignment gone wrong…oh so wrong. It is one of my favorite Stephen King books of all time. It’s one of those cannot put down thrillers!

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montrell

3.5 of 5 stars

I wanted to really like this book which was very engaging when it began but it did not stay strong.This book defines what cults are, their common features, and discusses her research on various cults from religious cults to political,  social and financial cults (like Multi-Level Marketing). The research was interesting but the whole book got tedious after a while.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

5 of 5 stars!

I’ve read a lot of science fiction books over the years, it is my favorite genre. I thought Andy Weir’s The Martian was one of the best science fiction books I’ve ever read, but it has been usurped by Project Hail Mary – what a masterpiece! The main story is that a junior high school science teacher is sent into space as one of the only people who can save the planet. How it got to that point is hysterical and amazing, and what happens after he’s in space will blow your mind and completely entertain you (and there’s lots of interesting science of course!). Exceptionally awesome ending and the kind of book the whole family can read together. It’s a tribute to junior high school science teachers everywhere!

The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin

3 of 5 stars

This book started out great with an interesting premise: what if you could know when you were going to die, how would you live your life. It follows the lives of a group of siblings growing up in the late 1960s (I think, or early 70s) forward. But the author did not seem to know where to take the book and what to do with it. It did stay interesting 3/4 of the way through and then took a huge nose dive. Others give the book high reviews but didn’t work for me.

It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine

5 of 5 stars

Definitely the best non-fiction book I read in 2022. I dedicated a whole blog post to it – see my post from May 2022 – On Grief .

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

4 of 5 stars

This book reminded me a tiny bit of one of my favorite fantasy books of all time – The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It is one of those “story within a story” and an engaging fantasy tale set in the early 1900s about “secret doors” that lead to other worlds and realities. It was very engaging and had the standard tropes of an innocent girl in a difficult situation surrounded by adults who do not have her best interests in mind. It is good entertainment but a little bit forgettable after you finish the book. This is why I gave it 4 stars.

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

5+ of 5 stars

The main character in this book Tookie now lives rent free in my mind forever. What a book, one of the most memorable I’ve read.

“Small bookstores have the romance of doomed intimate spaces about to be erased by unfettered capitalism” – Louise Erdrich.

It is an ode to independent bookstores (my second favorite place to hang out after public libraries) and reading books; while exposing injustices done to Indigenous peoples and beauty and complexities of Indigenous cultures. It takes you through the early days of the recent pandemic and social injustice and how it impacted a local Minnesotan Indigenous culture. I listen to the glorious audiobooks narrated by the author (who is an excellent narrator). I feel this book was a gift from the author to the world.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

3.5 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from the library after listening to the author speak on a podcast. The book had useful information for people starting out in their artistic careers and I got a couple tips here and there, but it was mostly forgettable hence the 3.5 stars.

Circe by Madeline Miller

5 of 5 stars

You’ve head the term “Girl Power”, well this book was about “Goddess Power”! Another one of my favorite fiction reads of the year. The story is very unique and creative: the author takes a smaller story from Greek Mythology and fleshes out/expands it to an epic novel! The novel is about a banished lesser goddess who grows into her own. Just a freaking awesome novel!

Find Your Artistic Voice by Lisa Congdon

4 of 5 stars

The title of the book is what the book is about! I did find it engaging and inspirational but I was wanting more, hence the 4.0 rating. I listened to the audiobook and I recently came across a paperback copy of the book and did pick it up to re-read again. I think it is worth a read for any artist but it does repeat some concepts you’ve likely already heard.

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

4.5 of 5 stars

This book could definitely be turned into a movie. I hope it is! Sometimes you just need an enjoyable romantic comedy to read. This was an engaging and well written one. Some of the plot was predictable and surprisingly a lot of the plot was not. It is definitely one of those “beach reads” and lighthearted, very funny and heartwarming!

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

4.5 of 5 stars

I wanted this to be a 5 of 5 stars book as it is the third/final book in the amazing science fiction trilogy (The MaddAddam Trilogy) by Margaret Atwood. The trilogy is worth reading – I highly recommend the first two books Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood – mind blowing-ly excellent writing and story.  The final book was great but some of it felt like the author didn’t put forth her best effort. The trilogy is set in a world wide pandemic – pre and post – and about genetic engineering gone crazy and the consequences. The stories of the different characters in the books are very layered and complex. I was amazing how Margaret Atwood creatively joined the stories of various characters she introduced throughout the 3 novels.

Breath by James Nestor

4.5 of 5 stars

Awesome nonfiction book about the science of breathing and why breathing correctly is important. I listened to the book and the end of the book also has breathing exercises you can try out. I learned so much!

The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer

2.5 of 5 stars

I was so disappointed in this book. It started out excellent and is by the same author that wrote one of my favorite “self-help” book The Untethered Soul. “The Surrender Experiment” was about the author just letting go of trying to control everything in his life and just letting things happen organically. The book was so engaging (part of the book was a 5 of 5 stars) but then it spent too much time about his career as a software mogul and got very boring. I think the author should have stopped the book 1/2 way through and just summarize the second half of the book and moved on to explore his insights more deeply.

Deep Storm by Lincoln Child

4 of 5 stars

A thriller set in an offshore drilling site. There was quite a bit of predictable plot but I enjoyed the non stop action and the twists in the book so much that I give if 4 of 5 stars. What is discovered below the surface of the offshore drilling site is quite fascinating (and very creative on the part of the author) I recommend it if you like Clive Cussler type of thrillers.

Stolen Focus by Johann Hari

4.5 of 5 stars

As the book tagline states – it’s about “Why you can’t pay attention and how to think deeply again”. Excellently researched and presented, this book is much more than just telling you to turn off your social media accounts. It dives deep into the issues in our culture. I would have given it 5 of 5 stars but the ending of the book made me feel sort of hopeless and hopeless for the world. I still think the book is worth a read but you might get pretty upset about the algorithms that Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. use to “steal your focus” (you might want to watch the movie Social Dilemma on Netflix before you read this book, Johann Hari participated in it). This book dives quite a bit into ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and why it is a societal problem vs. an individual problem. It was fascinating how he contrast the childhoods of those growing up in the 1980s or earlier (where your parents let you do much more stuff on your own) compared to the current “helicopter” parent culture and the climate filled with fear that children will be abducted if you let them out of your sight. The author opens the book with an amazing experiment he did where he abstained from the internet and social media for an extended period of time and how he interacted with the world changed.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5 of 5 stars

Now I want to go and read every book by Taylor Jenkins Reid (I have Malibu Rising sitting on my bookshelf). The book was not a literary masterpiece but it was highly engaging and binge-worthy reading (could not put it down at one point). It starts out in the 1950s and tells the story of a “rags to riches” rise of a fictional Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo, while addressing real life awful things that women in Hollywood had to deal with during that era. The book takes you from the 1950s to current date with the elderly Hollywood icon telling her story to a 30s something journalist. And what a story it is.

Upgrade by Blake Couch

4.5 of 5 stars

Excellent scientific thriller about genetic engineering gone awry! Set in the future where genetic engineering has advanced to unprecedented levels and then banned as the results of genetic engineering catastrophe, the author provides lots of in-depth  background on genetics and genetic engineering so that the reader can enjoy the complex science behind the story. I gave the book 4.5 instead of 5 stars as it feels like some of the story is missing. I imagine the book’s editor telling the author he had to cut it down by 100 pages. It was still engaging non stop action but it seems like there was a huge opportunity for more background to be put into the book about the main characters’ relationships.

So those are my reads for 2022. I am currently reading A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan in paper book form; and listening to The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley on audiobook while I go on my walks.

Feature Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay 

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