50 in 22: my past year of reading

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At the start of this year I decided I wasn’t going to set myself as high a reading challenge as I normally do as I wanted to take my time and just read what I wanted to read. About ⅔ of the way through the year, I realised I wasn’t actually reading too much slower than usual (in part thanks to audiobooks and a 6 month free trial of Audible) so I upped my target to 50, just shy 2 of my usual target: a book a week. 

This felt entirely achievable until right at the end of year and the craziness of December which includes parties, hangovers, and the flu just before Christmas, meant I left myself 8 days to read four books, again. After a frantic sprint read of Brick Lane (it’s 500 pages btw, it wasn’t my most sensible decision) I’m just about there and just finished my 49th book on 30th December. I am halfway through another one and so I think I can count it as a 2022 book given that I’ll have read the majority this side of new year even if I don’t end up finishing it entirely (and my good friend and podcast co-host Ellie said so, so argue with her if you disagree). 

These last two books happen to both be memoirs, albeit very different from one another and it feels like it sums up the theme of my reading this year (I’ve actually consumed 8 memoirs in 2022!). 

Having decided to try and get into audiobooks*, I’ve taken a liking to listening to memoirs when they are narrated by the author themselves. I feel this gives an extra layer to the book and adds something to the story, which I believe to be rare when listening to a novel (although I am told that this is not the case for some novels such as Anxious People by Fredrik Backman and The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, although I read both of these in paperback). I also will always be a paperback over everything else kinda girl, audiobooks, kindles, whatever – nothing will ever beat a paperback. 

My last two memoirs of the year though were Stanley Tucci’s My Life Through Food and Alice Vincent’s Rootbound, both completely different topics and entirely different people but both beautiful in their own right. Stanley Tucci’s memoir is up there with one of my favourite books of the year though, and although I just said I like listening to memoirs, this is definitely one to buy and in an extremely rare circumstance, probably better in hardback too (I know, I know!).

With Tucci topping the charts, here’s some of my other favourites this year and why…

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This is not my usual choice of book but my brother leant it to me (and it’s 500 pages shorter than the other books he reads) so I wanted to give it a try and it. did. not. disapoint. This book is so beautiful and so moving, and I’ve got Circe on my list for 2023. 

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

This book is basically poetry. Caleb is literally 21… TWENTY ONE. His talent is pretty much unparalleled and I absolutely adored this novella. That is all there is to say. Go and read it. 

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Sorrow and Bliss is such a deep, moving novel and I can only recommend it. It depicts mental health in such a nuanced and delicate way and has you questioning all your thoughts and feelings throughout the whole thing. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy her other novel ‘You Be Mother’ as much, but will definitely preorder anything else Meg Mason writes.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy 

Aside from my man Stan, this tops the memoir charts for me… This is hands down one of the best books I’ve read, well listened to, which as per my previous statement does add something to it I believe. And actually, it’s the only time I’ve had an audiobook on the go that’s I’ve chosen over listening to music (aside from when I’m walking somewhere, which is basically the only time I listen to audiobooks). Also I was an iCarly fan back in the day but I don’t think you need to necessary know who Jennette McCurdy is to appreciate this book. 

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak 

This book made me want to learn absolutely everything about the history of cyprus and buy a fig tree (if you know, you know). It’s a beautiful, beautiful novel and from my romantic heart satisfied me greatly. It’s romantic in a poetic way, not in a ‘will they, won’t they’ beach read (although I am partial to this too). The hardback in inoffensive and the paperback comes in multiple colours so it wins points there too. 

Beach Read by Emily Henry 

On the other end of the ‘romance’ genre is this novel, aptly following on from The Island of Missing Trees in this year’s favourite reads, is Beach Read. I love Emily Henry’s novels, they are my kind of BookTok book (read this as: I hate Colleen Hoover) and are a bit cringe but in such a great way. This one in particularly had me in tears and hugging the book (you know it’s good at that point) and would recommend this for a bit of escapism. 

Other notable mentions (lol not sure who I think I am, this is not the Oscars but still I want to give credit where credit is due)

Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide 

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary (and yes, we did go to this book launch and yes it will be one of the best nights of my life forever)

Careless by Kirsty Capes 

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis 

My Body by Emily Ratajowski

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

And here is a list of everything else I read in 2022 (I have put an asterisk next to the memories I listened, and I would recommend them all except from Dave Grohl’s Storyteller because I found it really boring, sorry!). I tried to order them but can you take the top 15 as pretty much equal pls and then the bits in the middle equal too and just note that I shall never understand the hype around The Love Hypothesis!!!!

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Taste: My Life through Food by Stanley Tucci

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy*

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Beach Read by Emily Henry

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary

Careless by Kirsty Capes

The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy by Michael Lewis

Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey*

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

Assembly by Natasha Brown

My Body by Emily Ratajkowski

Magpie by Elizabeth Day

Hope to Die by Cara Hunter

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent 

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page

Heatwave by Victor Jestin

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen*

James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster*

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Autumn by Ali Smith

Wahala by Nikki May

Dear Dolly: On Love, Life and Friendship by Dolly Alderton

Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

People Person by Candice Carty-Williams

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

How the Pill Changes Everything: Your Brain on Birth Control by Sarah E. Hill

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

You Be Mother by Meg Mason

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl*

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

In 2023, I want to get back to my 2022/2021 rate of reading by dedicating time to it at the weekends. Although the hardcore rush at the end of the year to meet my target sounds stressful, I actually just love dedicating crimbo limbo to my books. It resets me for the year ahead and makes me fall in love with reading even more. As I often remind myself at times of anxiety, there will always be books, and books, will always make me happy. 

*Also in case anyone wants to argue this, I think you can and should count audiobooks in your yearly reading target. You are still consuming the book and appreciating it, whether that’s through your ears or your eyes, it counts. The experience might be different but it counts.

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