I read slightly fewer books this year (40) than the previous few, but given the fulfilment of my resolution to watch more movies (49, at least ten times more than any recent year, follow along on Letterboxd), I’d say I broke even.
I’ve heard it said that when it comes to resolutions and habits, it’s easier to stop something than to start; after all, what could be easier than not doing something? But it’s so much more fun to add more of what you love. That was my mindset this year, when I decided to add movies (back) into my life, which had unpredictable and wonderful consequences to say the least.
I’m not sure what I want to add in 2023. Writing, maybe? I didn’t post a single traditional book review this year. Much as I enjoy lighter and funnier writing about books, there’s something special about a real, formal book review. I recently discovered a review I wrote back in 2021, for a publication that never went forward (will post it here soon!) and remembered how much I like the close reading, the research, and the writing and rewriting process.
I also hosted a readalong for the first time in a few years, and while it was technically a bust (no one joined except my sister and brother in law!) it reminded me how much I love to immerse myself in a topic, and allow myself to follow various rabbit holes and threads.
Aside from books, I’m submitting a piece to a publication for the first time in a long time, about two subjects that are special to me: malls and food. I don’t really expect it to be accepted, but I’m getting the same buzz (and same frustration!) of over-researching and over-writing, in the hopes that I can pare it down into something readable.
So perhaps, if 2020 and 2021 were years of reading and survival, and 2022 was a year of pleasure and movies, 2023 can be all of those things and more, and I can write about them?
Anyway, here are my favourite books of the year and some light stats. I already wrote about my worst books of the year, a new tradition!
Top ten books of 2022
- Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takamori (my hold on Life Ceremony is due in soon, thank goodness)
- Larry’s Party by Carol Shields
- Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt (new book when???)
- The Chiffon Trenches by Andre Leon Talley
- The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarcuk, translated by Jennifer Croft
- Either/Or by Elif Batuman
- Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton
- Quartet by Jean Rhys
- A tie, because these are really short stories and only books for marketing/reading goals purposes: Foster by Claire Keegan and The English Understand Wool by Helen DeWitt
Book of the year
And resurrecting another Reading in Bed tradition, I hereby name my book of the year to be Either/Or by Elif Batuman. Hilarious, sad, and meta, Either/Or is both a realistic reflection of life in the 90s and a glimpse of a world that could only belong to Selin. I’m not ready to leave her behind and I hope it’s not true that this is it; Selin has two more years of undergrad left and I demand a full tetralogy! I knew this would be my book of the year when I read a very valid criticism that had to do with an inaccurate reference to an episode of Sex and the City, the sort of thing that would usually drive me nuts, and immediately thought “nope, Elif is allowed to do what she wants!”
- 25/40 woman and nonbinary authors (more than last year and well represented in my top ten)
- 9/40 in translation (bit more than last year)
- 12/40 Canadian, much stronger showing than last year