December 1, 2022
Today’s post will do double duty. First, a look at what I read in November and then a list of my favorite fiction of 2022. Last year I was asked by a few readers to post my favorite books of the year before the year ended as an aid for Christmas shopping. Next week I will post my list of favorite nonfiction from this year. So here goes.
Compared to October when I read 13 books, I was a slouch this month! Only 9 books.
Three of the fiction titles are on my 2022 favorites list —The Overstory, Foster, and The Beekeeper of Aleppo. Each of those books were emotional reads in which I felt such warmth and concern for the characters, although these books could not be more different from each other. I thought The Maid was an ok read–a good one to read in one sitting. I was disappointed in Fly Away by Kristin Hannah. I have enjoyed other books by her, but in this one the characters never seemed to rise above their whininess and I didn’t see much growth. It was a long running soap opera kind of book.
The last book I read this month was Writing and Healing, which I have had on my shelf for a long time, and it is a series of exercises used in a group of cancer survivors. I got some possible writing prompt ideas for the writing group I facilitate.
I borrowed one of the books from the library, and I am sorry I don’t own it. How The Word Is Passed, A Reckoning With The History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith is an amazing book, beautifully, poetically written and it opened me to so much I didn’t know or had never considered. I littered the book with tags and have made copies of many of the passages. Smith visits several key places in the history of slavery, including Monticello, Whitney Plantation (Louisiana), Angola Prison (Louisiana), Blandford Cemetery (Virginia), Galveston Island (Texas), New York City, and Goree Island (Senegal). It felt like an honor to read this book, and at the same time I felt shame for the necessity of this book.
No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate Bowler is about the author’s struggle with colon cancer (at age 35). She writes openly, honestly about this life-threatening challenge and wonders about the ways we approach adversity in this culture.
Finally, The Electricity of Every Living Thing, A Woman’s Walk in the Wild to Find Her Way Home by Kathering May. I was attracted to this book because I am always attracted to books about people going on extended walks (I wonder about that attraction in myself!) and also because I loved her more recent book, Wintering, The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times. This book was a surprise, however, for it was really a journey in her discovery of herself as someone with autism. The walking gave her room to realize and contemplate this about herself. Quite the book.
I suspect I won’t read as many books in December, but there is always January and snow days. Now onto the end of the year lists.
Favorite Fiction This Year
When I decided which books to include on my “favorites” list and then gathered books to illustrate this post, I realized how much I now use the library. Most of my favorites are books I borrowed from the library and few are ones I acquired. Because my list of favorites is so long, I divided the list into First Tier and Second Tier. I listed the books in the order in which I read them–not according to which favorites were my most favorite!
First Tier Favorites
- The Sentence by Louise Erdrich
- Oh William by Elizabeth Strout
- The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
- Transcendent Kingdom by Yea Gyasi
- Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk (a reread)
- Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams
- The Floor of the Sky by Pamela Carter Joern
- A Town Called Solace, The Other Side of the Bridge, and Road Ends–all by Mary Lawson
- Beneficence by Meredith Hall
- Great Circle, Seating Arrangements, Astonish Me –all by Maggie Shipstead
- The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (a reread)
- French Braid by Anne Tyler
- Three by Valerie Perrin
- Honor by Thirty Umrigar
- Recitative by Toni Morrison
- The Midcoast by Adam White
- Fencing with the King by Diane Abu-Jaber
- The Lioness by Chris Bohjalian
- The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
- Landslide by Susan Conley
- The Other Mother by Rachel Harper
- The Overstory by Richard Powers
- Foster by Claire Keegan
- The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
Second Tier Favorites
- Celine by Peter Heller
- The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan
- Zorrie by Laird Hunt
- The Eighth Life by Nina Haratischvili
- The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Sharfak
- Belgravia by Julian Fellowes
- Matrix by Lauren Groff
- Jubilee by Margaret Walker
- Solar Storms by Linda Hogan
- The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher (a reread)
- The Love Songs of W. E. B. DuBois by Honore Fannone Jeffers
- Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
- Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
- A Single Rose by Muriel Barbery
- Violetta by Isabel Allende
- Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
As I write this I await for the arrival of Louise Penney’s latest. Because I am such a generous soul, I will hand it over to my husband to read it first. I will wait for a day when I can fully immerse myself in it and savor every word.
- The fist two in the series by Richard Osman: The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice. I am on the list for the third one.
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
- A Sunlit Weapon, the latest in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
- The Frieda Klein series by Nicci French. The first is Blue Monday and they progress through the days of the week, ending with Sunday Silence
- A couple by Chris Pavone: The Expats and The Paris Diversion
- The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
- The Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. I think there will be more in this series.
- Fox Creek by William Kent Krueger, the most recent in the Cork O’Connor series. I didn’t think this was his best, bu I can’t not read WKK.
I make the decision to not continue reading a book quickly, which is why I don’t have many books listed in my Book Journal that I didn’t like. Sometimes I will bring home a pile I have requested from the library and only read one or two. I am sure that there are times if I had continued to read a specific book, I would end up enjoying it, but that is a chance I am willing to take. Too many books–too little time.
What were your favorite fiction titles of 2022? I would love to know.