My Year of Reading: 2022

Reading is not a chore or just a box to check off on your to do list. It’s intimate time spent focusing your eyes, ears, and mind for understanding, to listen to a story in order to see something from a different perspective. It’s time committed to learn, grow, stretch, and enjoy. When I think of reading I have this image in my mind of Meg March placing a book by her bed and saying: 'I shall keep my book on the table here, and read a little every morning as soon as I wake, for I know it will do me good, and help me through the day.’

Nothing makes me happier than waking up on a Saturday morning with nowhere to go and opening a book to read just a few pages before I make our morning coffee. I feel like Meg March and I’m happy to know that what I’m reading will do me good.

The books I have listed below were some of the most moving books that I read in 2022. At the beginning of 2022 I set a goal to read 40 books from start to finish, and I read 37 books! 

The book that surprised me the most: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonaghot Jr, a classic for a reason. Wow, what a roller coaster. I was moved with compassion, disgust, stress, and relief reading this book. It's a profound anti-war book and I can understand why so many people love it. I don’t want to spoil the book for you but just know that you will wonder where it’s going and if it all really happened, which is why the first line is just perfect: ‘All this happened, more or less.’

My favorite book about books: Also my favorite children’s literature read of the year, Digging For Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built, written by Angela Burke Kunkel and illustrated by Paola Escobar. This story sparkles with the magic of imagination and love for one’s own community. It took the true story of how Jose opened up his home as a library for his community in Bogata. The illustrations are also so fun!

My favorite classic: Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin. I found the audiobook on YouTube narrated by Stephen Fry (I know him as Nikolai Genidze from Veep, a favorite show of mine!). Stephen Fry has also narrated a lot of books and audiobooks that I love, like the Harry Potter series and The Picture of Dorian Grey. Stephen Fry's narration deserves 5 stars alone! 

This, I believe, is my first reading experience of Russian Literature. I was so charmed by this novel written in verse. I loved the humor, the ups and downs of being in love, the longing, the truth, the timeline, the seasons, the imagery. I was even moved to tears at one point, which I did not expect. I was heartbroken for one character and felt compassion for the other. Pushkin makes room for you to feel all the feels for his characters and their woes. I want to ‘think in’ Pushkin's verse now, it's so fun! 

The book that made me feel so seen: Brown Girls by Daphne Andreas Palasi. This book is small, yet packed with emotion and heart. I read this book on a Saturday night on the same day I purchased a copy from an independent bookstore. It's written in verse but in a digestible way. There were lines that popped out at me because of how I related to them or from their conviction. Palasi writes with compassion, vigor, strength, and beauty.

Brown Girls follows the lives of a group of brown girls from the same neighborhood and how they each live their lives, influenced by school, culture, aspirations, family, and friends. I wouldn't say Palasi is trying to speak for all brown girls, her focus was on this group from a particular neighborhood. As a brown girl from New York myself, I felt seen and convicted. I could relate to the uncomfortable feelings some of the girls experienced. I cheered them on, laughed at their quips and cried at their heartbreak.

The book that made me laugh the most: Woman Without Shame by Sandra Cisneros. She’s bold, man. Cisneros did not hold back and I am so happy about that! She gave readers full details of what it’s like to reach her age and answers all our wonders. The title of this book of poems is very fitting.

The most enjoyable audiobook: The Princess Bride by William Goldman, performed by Rob Reiner. This classic has been on my to-be-read list since I first saw the movie many years ago. A classic, a gem, a wacky, fun, romantic tale of a tough, headstrong, beautiful girl and a charming bandit. Reiner’s performance kept you at the edge of your seat. This isn’t an audiobook to have as background noise, you want to give it your full attention – it demands it!

My favorite reread: I reread 4 books this year, one of them being Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados. I first read Happy Hour when it was released in the U.S. in 2022. But after hearing Marlowe speak at panels and on podcast interviews on the themes and hidden gems in the book I felt like I missed a lot. Rereading the book I better understood it, I even bumped up my rating from 3 stars to 4 stars. I felt more compassion for the characters, their behavior didn’t seem so sporadic anymore, rather more intentional and self-preserving. 

My favorite book translated to English: Also the book that made me cry the most, Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Allison Markin Powell. Never have I read a book so emotional that carried the theme of loneliness so elegantly and gingerly. It was a delight to read; it could be a book to read in a day or in a few weeks. I finished this book with a gasp and sat in my emotions before I could move out of my reading spot. I also had so many tabs of favorite lines and moments. I purchased another book by the same author for my 2023 reading list.


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