Books I Read This Year

I believe book collections say so much about a person. From these you can glean: curious, irreverent, nerdy

Books I read in 2011
Books I read in 2012
Books I read in 2013
Books I read in 2014
Books I read in 2015
Books I read in 2016
Books I read in 2017
Books I read in 2018
Books I read in 2019
Books I read in 2020
Books I read in 2021
Books I read in 2022

When I initially began this project, my intent was to try to fit more books into my busy life and to gain a little encouragement by seeing my lists grow. It was more successful than I expected it would be, and I have been reading many more books than I expected to be able to. My second goal was to help gain a better breadth of genres, so I will continue to try to improve that aspect. Please drop a recommendation into the comments if you know of a book that should be read!

Full disclosure:

Most of the time I read audio books on my iPhone. I love you,! Though I value holding a book above all other forms of reading, it isn’t practical in my life.  Always the multitasker, I read stories (and listen to APM, BBC, and other podcasts) while washing dishes, working in the garden, driving, mowing the lawn, going for a run, folding clothes. An unexpected bonus is that I now look forward to folding the laundry and washing dishes! Another bonus is that I am able to enjoy the impressive voice talents of many narrators. It adds an important dimension to books that I haven’t experienced before.

The following are books I read so far this year. If you want to see what I read in other years, hit the links above.

  1. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. I reviewed it in 2020, but reading it again because I read the first ones. At over 55 hours (1,248 pages), this one, this time around, seemed to go on forever. I started the book in 2022. I love Sanderson, but this particular book seemed like too much. What I have to add to my 2020 review is that sentiment: this damned thing went on for freaking ever. Were all those extra side stories really necessary, Mr. Sanderson? I can’t decide if it would have been better to make this into two books, or just cut 1/2 the words out of it.
  2. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabriel Zevin. I liked this book about troubled gamers, Sam and Sadie. Just FYI, I am not a gamer and barely know anything about games but I followed just fine, occasionally not getting a reference. They become friends as kids, and because their love for each other is so profound, their fights and misunderstandings are big and real. When they are in college, they love each other too much to date, and so Sadie makes some terrible relationship choices, which I can relate to. Sam and Sadie and Sam’s perfect roommate, Marx, create a company called Unfair Games, and they build video games. Since Sam and Sadie are brilliant, they create hit after hit and make money and then leverage all of it to make the next game. Sam struggles with his failing physical body that gives him gargantuan insecurity, and Sadie struggles with a victim complex that keeps her from growing. They both make so many mistakes that make their own lives worse and they both desperately rely on steadfast Marx who is always there for them, unquestioning and nonjudgmental. I love Sadie’s observation that Marx may have decided it was his favourite fruit *because* it was growing in his back yard. This is so important. In fact the whole book was about how life and pain are there for everyone, and we can all let it destroy us, or use it to become the best version of ourselves. Sam & Sadie have moments of being perfect friends and moments of being really shitty, and…don’t we all.
  3. Spare by Prince Harry. Coincidentally, one of my main sources of news is BBC. Honestly, they do a better job at world reporting than anything from the US. So when I heard about the upcoming memoirs, I only got it from BBC World Service, and I got their impression that Prince Harry is a spoiled rotten privileged asshole. But then, I happened to catch an interview with Steven Colbert, since I watch a lot of The Late Show. Harry, to my surprise, was genuine from start to end. He was direct, honest, and humble. I have PTSD and I know when people are being real. He was being real. He was talking like a real vet, a real person, an actual victim. You know, with my job at the Department of Veterans Affairs, I’ve talked to hundreds of vets, I’ve read thousands of statements, and I can see bullshit pretty easily. This man was not bullshitting, and I got the impression that he had no reason to. So I bought the book and yeah, he’s for real. Somehow, the legacy of Diana (and her genuineness) showed up in just this one son, but thank god it at least showed up. Yes, I’m a forever fan of Princess Diana – even had my mom wake me up at 2am when I was 16 so I could watch her wedding on live TV. I skipped work and stayed home and bawled all day long the day of her funeral. But ok, yeah, Harry had a lot to say about his life, his mom, his childhood, his family, his brother, his dad, and his gorgeous bride and kids. This book is unbelievably honest. People who said it’s just him whining to get more attention by saying, ‘oh poor me,’ have a poor sense of character judgement. Everything rang true. It was ghost written, but there must have been some tight collaboration. I am surprised to find myself a brand new lifelong fan of Harry and Meghan. Harry is direct and brutal about his assessment of how malicious the Britsh Press can be. I always reserve judgement about condemnation of a person or group or organization until I get some data of my own. But yeah, I soon got it. Just the other day I heard a story on the plans for coronation of King Charles. Prince Harry will be present, they say, but not the rest of his family. “Meghan apparently prefers to stay home than attend this momentous event,” said BBC. WTF?! For real? And just like that, I saw that what he was saying was brutally true. And bless them for holding together under so many years of that kind of BS attack.
  4. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. This one came to me as a recommendation from a friend. What a great story! I have read a couple of collected Sherlock Holmes stories, and I also greatly enjoyed the Enola Holmes shows. This one fits right in as a powerful and whip-smart woman steps into Holmes’ inner life. I see that there are currently twenty novels in the series about Mary Russell. I can’t imagine that any of them are this delightful. I may read another again at some point, but this one stands alone as a very fun book. I think I liked it more because I already knew Sherlock Holmes. Mary Russell is a self-confident teenager who stumbles across an elderly Holmes in a field. She is positively brilliant, and seems to have no idea. Holmes muses to himself, “Ten years ago, maybe, twenty years ago. But now?” and I knew EXACTLY what he meant. Good on ya, Ms. King. This was a smart, engaging and entertaining story about Holmes’ protege and the adventures they got themselves into in their first years of knowing each other.
  5. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. Read in the audio version by the author, this was actually my introduction to Jeannette McCurdy. I had never seen iCarly, the television show in which she became famous as Sam. So my introduction to the star is that she hated Sam, and hated acting. She basically lived her entire life into her twenties for her manipulative, narcissistic mother. The woman was very abusive, and though my own childhood experiences were much different, I could completely relate to the powerful Mom figure that dominated her life. Ms. McCurdy suffered so much. I’m really really glad she found a therapist, and I hope she has light and love in her life now. I saw an interview of McCurdy with Drew Barrymore in which Drew keeps mentioning how the book is comedy. I am sure that for another child actor, the book is comedy. For someone unfamiliar with film/TV, the book was sad and painful. I ached for her the entire time. There is a YouTube video entitled, “I’m glad Jeannette McCurdy’s Mom Died, Too.” That’s how I feel. The book is extremely open and personal about the hell of having an eating disorder. I was educated.
  6. Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson. It was so lovely to read a short, fun chapter in the saga of the Stormlight Archive after the grueling punishment of Oathbringer. All the secondary characters are here, and briefly, so is Kaladin and Navani, but no Shallan, or Dalinar, and the first two only get a moment. We get an intense quest involving a sea voyage and learning about some new life forms in the Horde and to learn about the Dawnshard. It’s good to have a main character who has lost the use of her lower body and must use her arms and a chair and creativity and also nearby helper people to navigate the world. I appreciate the perspective. Navani is pretty sure something weird is up on the island of Aimia and puts out a call for volunteer adventurers to go information gathering. At that same time, Rysn needs to take her familiar back to its homeland to hopefully find a cure for its sickness. It’s serendipitous because she eventually does figure out what’s wrong with Chiri Chiri and she also learns very much about how to take control of her own life as the owner of the ship but not the Captain. The Lopen plays a key role as a helpful Radiant on board, and its great to have him so frequently improving the scene. Rysn is a masterful trader in the end, and does her babsk proud.
  7. Maame by Jessica George. This is the kind of book I especially love. It’s about one person’s, one chapter of life. A portrait of what’s going on in her world. Maame’s life experience is all new for me, but oh, so personally resonant. A young Ghanaian British woman growing up goes through all the same stupid bad decisions that I went through, apparently, to come out wise and much stronger on the other side. It’s a beautiful story, and so personal it feels as though you have been reading the journal of an actual person. The main character Maddie has a hard time with her domineering while absent mother, her absent brother, her terrible job. While living at home in order to care for her dying father, she makes the brave decision to embrace being let go (unfairly) at her job and she finds a new, better one. Then she must be brave and “manage up” in order to fight for the right to be considered a peer at her new job. Her dad continues to ail with dementia, and her mother – mostly absent in Ghana – plans a return while her brother – fully capable of helping but not capable of being accountable – makes excuses. While struggling with the inevitable death of her father, Maddie actually forges her own path and does it well, incurring some regret and heartache. Love you, sister.
  8. Bewilderment by Richard Powers. It’s my first book by Richard Powers and if I read more I’ll have to take them in careful doses. Powers has an agenda. He wants me to care, and because I’m a sensitive empathetic person, I do care and it disrupts what I was doing. Bewilderment never seems to focus on that specific word, but it is almost always a good word for whatever scene unfolds. A man does his best to raise his exceptional, special needs boy in a hard world alone, after his wife – and the boy’s mother – dies. It’s Earth in the future, but not too far in the future. Everything is pretty much the same except that global warming and out of control viruses and wildfires and climate change are wreaking total havoc. American conservative extremists are in charge and are cancelling any people or programs that remind the public of actual reality. Robin is an extraordinary nine-year-old and it seems like his father, Theo, is the only person on the planet who wants to take the time to try and understand him, and work with his out-of-control empathy. Theo finds a miracle in his dead wife’s friend (and later he discovers her former lover) who is completing study of a way to telekinetically manage emotions by tapping into other people’s emotions. He gets Robin into a study for free, as a favor. This part of the book is described so well, I kept forgetting that it’s not a technology we actually have access to. I wish we did. It’s incredible. The book is constantly scientific, talking about the potential for life on other planets that is nothing like what we could ever imagine, talking about the destruction of Earth, talking about endangered species of all kinds, all amplified by the power and intensity of an idealistic child. It’s mostly a hopeful book, which covers up all the drastic background catastrophic events. It left me very, very sad at the end.
  9. The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a couple of years, because of the name Truluv. I wish it were spelled like mine. I wonder where the author came up with this name; if she knew there are Truloves, or maybe Truluvs, and what her connection is and what I can learn about my probable relatives. {Later} Ok, now I’ve read it and I have the same questions. In the story, Arthur is actually Arthur Moses, and he befriends a girl, Maddy, at the cemetery. Both of them are sad and need each other. He is old and has recently lost his wife. She is a teenager and lost her mom years ago, but things are not any better. They both find solace in the cemetery. Arthur realizes his only friend in life can’t be a 17-year-old, and has been trying to make friends with his neighbor Lucille, and Lucille is mildly encouraging, until one day when she shows no interest at all. It turns out that Lucille’s long lost high school sweetheart has looked her up and they are falling in love again. But all too fast, both Maddy and Lucille desperately need Arthur, and he is kind and generous and makes his home available to them both, and then all three of them become happier than they have ever been. It’s a sweet story. Maddy knows Arthur’s last name is Moses, but she teases him for having such an abiding love for his late wife, and calls him “Truluv.” He doesn’t mind the nickname.
  10. The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi.

11 thoughts on “Books I Read This Year

  1. Gee, someone who reads much the same things I do. Would like to recommend a couple of Japanese novels that I absolutely love: “Deep River” by Shusaku Endo and my all-time favorite read, “The Old Capital” by Yasunari Kawabata. I read Kawabata’s novel once a year and always find the writing wonderful. If I ever could write something like that, I would be so happy I would just die. That’s the way my mama would put it.

    1. Thanks for the recommended titles! I find it amusing that you say we read much the same thing, because my tastes are all over the place. but yes, you read Joyce and Kawabata annually, so you are making your case. 😉 I am curious to see what else Shusaku Endo would write, since Silence was so overwhelmingly pious. Are you a writer? Oh, of course you are; you have a blog. I guess I’ll get myself over there and read it!

  2. one of the reads in my life that truly hit home
    I didn’t read it until age 50
    If you haven’t crossed paths with it
    my vote would be don’t wait as long as I did .

    * The Road Less Traveled – M Scott Peck *


  3. I was at “Laurelhurst Buds” when I saw the books I read at the top. How have I missed this all this time?? Well, you got me. If it’s funny, I’m all in. I’ll have to get to those last 2. I have the headboard stacked with to be read books and rarely do audio, which I should because I can’t see. 🙂 So now I’ll go back where I started and come back here for more later. Darn, more books. There will be some tech issues to be worked out living down in the hole here but I’ll make it work. Thanks for the reviews. BTW, fingers still crossed. 🙂

    1. Ooh, my 2015 list is so short, too, so I’m glad you found two that you like. Yes, they are both very funny. I have purchased multiple books that claim to be funny, and they usually only rise to the level of “amusing.” These two are FUNNY! I can loan you Hyperbole and a Half after we unpack.

      1. 🙂 Tech support had to rebuild my closet yesterday. The shelf started coming down. Something about too much weight. .;( Tuesday he hooked up his sisters stereo with surround sound and my rails are up the terraces. I’m a very good worker! ( pointer actually) 🙂

  4. Hi CMLove,

    Great set of books. Recently, due to the problems in the US and given my background, I read three books about refugees in Europe from about 1935 -1942. Ground level of a refugee experience. Martha Gellhorn’s A Stricken Field, Anna Seghers’ Transit, and finally Antal Szerb’s Journey by Moonlight. I worked with refugees and IDs for 25 years and what I see now is the same thing that has been going on for hundreds of years. I agree with you the root cause is racism with a touch of xenophobia to spice it up a bit. Also, I am reblogging your recent post. Nice writing. Good luck. Duke

    1. Hi Duke. I just now spotted your comment because I am belatedly updating my 2021 book list. I am sad but not surprised to hear that you have decided that refugees today are created the same way as refugees from any time in history. What’s your opinion of those three books? Would you recommend one over the others? I read a surprisingly chilling YA novel in 2019 called Internment, by Samira Ahmed. Chilling mostly because of how easy it was to believe that the apocalyptical United States portrayed could actually happen in a few years. This chilling reality is why The Hunger Games (also with refugees) freaked me out too. What is it with scaring the bejeebers out of our teens? haha.

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