I should be unpacking. I should be painting a wall somewhere. I should be doing about 5000 things besides sitting down to write about books, but guess what – THAT IS ALL I WANT TO DO. So, imma do it.
I shared back in this post that, despite all that’s been going on this year, 2022 has been the year of the book for me. Between falling in love with a literary podcast, going all in on audiobooks, and just plain making the time for it, I’ve read more this year than any other in my life. It’s been an absolute joy, and a definite highlight of 2022.
You can read more about the books I read in the first half of the year here, and we’ll pick up where we left off below…
49. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton: This one was marvelous. My first Wharton, but will absolutely not be my last. Pulitzer Prize-winning dive into Gilded Age NYC.
50. The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz: I can’t remember how I stumbled across this one (I only rarely read new fiction), but it was entertaining. Didn’t stretch the brain much, but an interesting story all the same.
51. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne: The boys and I LOVED listening to this one in the car.
52. Richard III by William Shakespeare: I chose this one for a few reasons. One, I wanted a Shakespeare tragedy since I’d already taken in a comedy of his earlier in the year. Two, I find the story and historical narrative/mystery of Richard III fascinating. And three, I wanted to compare it to…
53. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey: Tey is a mystery/detective writer, and in this book her main detective is laid up in bed with injuries, but does a lot of digging into Richard III to pass the time and keep his brain sharp. Both this book and Shakespeare’s play are obviously works of fiction, but they approach the topic from two completely opposing views, which was so fun to consider (I happen to side more with Tate on the likelihood of Richard’s character and what happened to his nephews…).
54. Range by David Epstein: This is the book I somehow find myself squeezing into most conversations I have. The subtitle is “Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”, and it was beyond fascinating.
55. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit: We did this for read aloud earlier in the year and simply loved it. Nesbit is Queen. Not sure what to read with your kids (or give them to read)? The answer is Nesbit.
56. Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch: A simple, short book on the greatness of humility.
57. Verity by Colleen Hoover: Once again, my curiosity as to what could capture a modern audience so fully ends up being a terrible disappointment.
58. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Definitely not my first read of this classic, but I convinced Fultz to let us listen to it on a road trip he and I took in the summer. Still hits hard.
59. The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald: My third, but not final, MacDonald of the year. We did this for read aloud and were blown away. Such a beautiful and rich fairy tale.
60. Profit First by Mike Michalowicz: Not a very romantic addition to the list, but every entrepreneur needs to read this, in my opinion.
61. Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis: His autobiographical account of the early years of his life and coming to faith. Made me feel very great giving my boys all the fairy tales and myths to read.
62. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann: A deep dive into one of those historical events you wonder HOW in the WORLD you’d never heard about (the Osage killings and the birth of the FBI).
63. Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset: It’s hard to write a quippy one-liner about this one. I was deeply, DEEPLY moved by this book; to the point where I don’t really talk about it as I’m still processing it. It’s the first in a trilogy by this Nobel prize-winning author, and I will definitely be reading the rest (as soon as I recover from The Wreath).
64. Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama by Bob Odenkirk: A stark departure from above, I realize. I find comedians and their process fascinating, and Odenkirk’s autobiography didn’t disappoint. Made for a great audiobook (read by the author).
65. A Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli: A sweet medieval tale of a boy and some monks being brave and wonderful. The boys and I listened to the audiobook.
66. How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit by A. W. Tozer: I listened to most of this while walking around Chicago, where Tozer did a lot of his preaching.
67. Hard Times by Charles Dickens: Read it, and read it as a fairy tale. Absolutely wonderful.
68. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: Larson never disappoints. This is his chilling dive into the World’s Fair in Chicago, and the serial killer who did the unspeakable during the same time.
69. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien: It was fun to introduce the boys to this classic. We listened to the audiobook and it held them rapt (was trying to make a rat pun, but it worked better in my head).
70. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin: I found Martin’s autobiography extremely depressing. Not saying it wasn’t good writing or undermining his story in any way; I just wasn’t expecting to be so. sad.
71. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: The first in a historical fiction trilogy centering around Thomas Cromwell. It and book two (see below) probably take the cake for best things I’ve read this year.
72. Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor: My recommendation is to read O’Connor’s fiction and letters in equal measure. Seeing her true self come through in her correspondence makes the grotesque nature of her fiction all the more fascinating and comprehensible.
73. The Green Ember by S.D. Smith: We listened to the audiobook version of this on a trip to Florida and, not surprisingly, loved it. My eldest couldn’t wait for the audio of book two to become available from the library, so he’s gone on without us and is devouring the series.
74. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel: Book two of the Wolf Hall trilogy. Want to know how often books of the same series win Booker Prizes? Basically never. Unless you’re Hilary Mantel. I still have The Mirror and the Light to read, and I think I’ve been subconsciously avoiding it because I don’t want to be done with this story.
75. The Terrible Speed of Mercy by Jonathan Rogers: A wonderfully done look at the life and faith of Flannery O’Connor.
76. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: A satirical look at the Gothic novel, but not all farce. I listened to these podcast episodes as I read the book and it was so helpful in guiding my understanding of what Austen was trying to achieve here.
77. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer: I listened to this on 1.4x speed during the most frantic time of my adult life. SMH. Will definitely be putting much of what he suggests into practice…sometime…soon…I hope.
78. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller: A short book with a tremendous impact. I truly don’t know how many times I’ve read this one, but I try to take it in annually.
79. The Educated Imagination by Northrop Frye: Sorry, but I need to give you a quote from this one. On the importance of cultivating the imagination, Frye says: “One of the most obvious uses, I think, is its encouragement of tolerance. In the imagination our own beliefs are also only possibilities, but we can also see the possibilities in the beliefs of others. Bigots and fanatics seldom have any use for the arts, because they’re so preoccupied with their beliefs and actions that they can’t see them as also possibilities. It’s possible to go to the other extreme, to be a dilettante so bemused by possibilities that one has no convictions or power to act at all. But such people are much less common than bigots, and in our world much less dangerous.”
80. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle: One of those books that make up a core part of my identity. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it (or have had it read to me), but this was our second intake as a family (I read it aloud a couple of years ago, and we listened to the audiobook this year). Then I let them watch the most recent movie adaptation and we all raged together at the utter disrespect of it.
81. The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer: Tozer is pretty much always a fruitful read, and many of his works are available for free on Audible, btw.
82. Dracula by Bram Stoker: My first read of this classic, and it was definitely not what I expected. Instead of a sensationalized horror book (which, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some horrific moments), this is a story mainly about friendship, faith, and fidelity. So glad I read this.
83. No One Goes Alone by Erik Larson: This is Larson’s first work of fiction, and it’s only available in audiobook (because ghost stories are meant to be read aloud). I definitely prefer his other works (Larson is the actual KING of the nonfiction narrative), but this was still interesting and diverting.
84. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie: Such a fun, cozy Christmas mystery…about an extremely gruesome death. That’s Christie for you, though. I listened to this one while unpacking boxes in the new house and setting up the Christmas tree.
85. The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald: Part two of this tale, and we loved it even more than the first. Lots of, “Whoa – read that part again!”
86. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: I love reading this with the boys every year around this time. This year we let Hugh Grant read it to us.
I added one or two as I was going that I forgot to put on my list when I finished, so there’s a chance I’ve left a book off, but I think this is it. What a year. I’m so thankful for all of these stories; even the bad ones. I definitely read more than ever this year, but more importantly I read a broader expanse of books than ever before. I jumped into stories and ideas that I wouldn’t normally have dared, and the payoff has been great.
What about you? Did you read anything wonderful (or horrible) this year? I’d love to hear what books made a mark on you in 2022.
Until next year,