How was 2022 for me – reading-wise?

For me, 2022 was a crucial year. Even decades from now, I will look back at 2022 and see how drastically my life changed. Some changes have a lifelong impact and this year was full of such changes for me.

My reading reflects this too. I read 57 books, not counting the books I re-read for the umpteenth time. A lot of non-fiction this year, mainly because I was looking for answers desperately. Not every book I read helped. But a few helped more than I could imagine. The fiction I read this year was all over the place. I read some very short books of which barely any left an impact on me. I started several series but left them after reading the first book.

I tried some classics, and I still have mixed feeling about them. I tried some famous authors for the very first time and realized the book I loved was probably the least popular by that author.

Some books gave me hope, and I accidentally read a book that should come with a warning that it can lead to severe depression.

Overall, I read and re-read a lot and every book made me feel a variety of emotions. Some good, some bad, but every book made a place in my life.

Many books I read in 2022 will have a permanent place in my re-read pile of books.

Below are 10 books I am going to recommend

1. The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Marvel movies made Loki popular. At least that was where I first came across Norse Mythology and Loki. Pretty soon, I was down a deep rabbit hole reading whatever I could find on Norse Mythology.

Loki is one character who is the very definition of a grey character. He always makes me question how we decide who is good or bad. And then I read the book based on his wife Angrboda and instantly fell in love with her. And this is probably the first time I fell in love with a character for who they are rather than what happens to them or their story. Not saying that her story is not super cool, though.

To be honest, I didn’t really read this book but rather I listened to its audiobook in my library. Listening to this book added to the magical feel of the already magical world.but

2. The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

This was an extraordinary book. Much different from what I anticipated. It started in a world which had an ancient fantasy touch to it. But very soon the reality is disclosed and it is not what the readers were expecting or rather what the main characters were expecting.

In this book, the readers go on a journey with the main characters. Every new detail is discovered together. As a reader, I related with the main character in my confusion at every new turn and twist.

I simply loved the way this story unfolds. Events are not told chronologically, and that is almost the best part of this book. What beats that is the part after what seems like the ending, but is not the ending. I know I might be confusing you, but you will understand if you read the book. It’s not easy to tell my favourite part of the book without spoilers. I would rather confuse you than disclose a spoiler.

3. To the Sky kingdom by Tang Qi Gong Zi, Poppy Toland (Translator)

Every year Amazon has this world book day, and it makes 10 books from different countries freely available for one week. I got this book from that sale and I am so glad that I did. Else I don’t think, I would have found this book on my own.

This epic story spans thousands of years and features gods and magical beings and wars and so much more. It’s very difficult to explain what this book is about. But this book introduced me to Chinese Mythology and a unique kind of fantasy world.

After reading this book, I found out that there is a TV show based on it, so naturally, I had to watch it and that was probably how I got sucked into Chinese Fantasy TV Shows. Over the year I watched so many shows, many much better than this one, but I still have to thank this book to introduce me to an entirely new genre.

4. # The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty

From the Chinese World, let’s move on to another exotic place. This series covers the wonders of Egyptian Mythology. The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty contains – The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper and The Empire of Gold. Each book expands the magical world of djinns and deserts.

I have never been so attracted by deserts before.

But this series is not just another magical fantasy story. If I have to describe the most important part of the story, I would point to politics. I know, I was surprised too.

We never really think about politics in fantasy worlds and yet this series uses that as the main driving plot-point without making the politics too complex or worse – boring.

I think this is the perfect book for those looking to read fantasy but are not too interested in epic battles. It has a perfect balance of magic, politics and action like a well-seasoned dish.

5. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The story of Achilles is one of the most popular Greek Mythology stories. There are so many references and movie adaptations on the Trojan War that the story itself is not new.

And yet, I could not put down the book when I started reading this. Mainly because it has been written from a very different perspective. Patroclus is not as popular as Achilles and to be honest, when I started reading, I did not really remember him from other stories.

Madeline Miller has retold the story and I know not everyone will like the story she told. This book is certainly not for everyone. I am not going to give any spoilers or scandalous details. But I would just say that search about this book before you start reading this. If you still choose to read this book, you won’t regret it. The book is really good.

6. Fairy Tale by Stephen King

I have a confession – I have hardly read any books by Stephen King. I know he is the King of horror but horror is not really my preferred genre. I am a girl who loves mythology, Fantasy and Fairy Tales. Basically, anything that has magic. So, when I came across a book called Fairy Tales, I just had to read it. Being written by Stephen King added to my curiosity and I was not disappointed.

I know many of Stephen King’s fans might not have liked this book because it was very different from what he usually writes and that’s precisely why I loved this book.

I have read so many Fairy Tales but his take on it is so unusual. At this point, I have to give the mandatory warning that this book is not for children. I don’t know what age this is appropriate for, but please don’t mix it up just cos it’s called Fairy Tale. It’s not the usual Fairy Tales we read while growing up.

7. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

I am still not sure what I was thinking when I picked up this book and I say that in a good way. I mean I wanted to read about Anxious People as was mentioned in the title itself, and this book certainly didn’t have a dearth of very anxious characters.

Before reading it, I thought this would be a very depressing book. But it turned out to be the book that made me laugh the most. I still don’t know what to make out of it.

It has a suspense and thriller element which I was certainly was not expecting at all. The investigation part was entertaining and the ending was absolutely perfect. I have not read that many thriller or mystery books, so at least I could not predict the ending. It was such a surprise.

Don’t feel anxious and read this book. You will love it no matter what genre you usually read.

8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Earlier last year, I was taking a writing course, and this book was required reading. So, like a good student, I read this book and took tons of notes and then participated in the class like a nerd. Then I finally watched the movie too.

I am pretty sure I would have never picked up this book if I was not been sort of forced to read it. While I don’t regret reading it, I still could have lived without reading this book without missing anything. So, if you have not read this book and do not want to read this, then please don’t. You won’t miss much.

Now for those who genuinely want to read this book – It is a great book. Its writing style is so different from anything I usually read. Maybe it’s cos I don’t read this style much. The plotline is simple yet engaging. The characters are so vivid and life-like and you will probably hate every one of them as I did. But again, that’s a sign of a good book – to make you feel so strongly about any character.

The story itself is so tragic and yet I understand that it couldn’t have ended any other way cos that’s the kind of world we live and that just makes me so sad.

9. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

If ‘The Great Gatsby’ made me sad, ‘The Bell’ actually depressed me and I am not using that word lightly. I actually had a depressive episode lasting several days after I finished reading this book.

Yet I don’t regret reading this book. Even if I had the warning, I would still have read this book. I know I am going to re-read it many times over rest of my life.

So, why did I love this book? Well, it’s written in such a raw and emotional way that it’s difficult to stay untouched by it’s effects.

Depression is a different experience for everyone, and yet there are strings that connect everyone going through it.

Don’t read this book if you think you might get depressed. Instead, maybe read it when you are already depressed. In case you have never experienced depression yourself and want to understand what your loved ones are going through, then maybe give it a try. It will still confuse you at places and it is certainly a difficult read.

10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

I am probably the last one to read this book, but I finally read it last year. I have come across so many concepts attributed to this book that I always thought I would not find anything new in the book. Afterall, this book has been discussed and summarized and retold in so many ways.

And yet, I was so surprised when I actually read this book. Well, not read it exactly, but this too was consumed as an audiobook.

This is not a self-help or another book on productivity. Rather, this book is more about psychology than many other books specifically on psychology I have read.

I am not going to talk about the content of this book cos you have to read it to experience it yourself. I would just say that if you are very young or have not seen much of life, then you might not appreciate this book much. The more we experience, the more we can extract from this book.

So, if you read this book ages ago, then maybe read it again. You will find new lessons in this old book.

What’s next for me?

I don’t really have specific reading goals for 2023. I just want to enjoy reading and learning as much as I can. Although, I am planning to organize my book notes better this year. Let’s see how that goes. I am excited to finally start using a Commonplace Notebook. Never done that before. So not sure how it will change my note-taking process.