Some 2022 Reading Superlatives

Longest book read this year: To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (720 pages)

Shortest book read this year: Everything’s Changing by Chelsea Stickle (37 pages)

Authors I read the most by this year: Nicola Colton (4), Jakob Wegelius (3), Tove Jansson and Sarah Ruhl (2)


Publishers I read the most from: (Besides the ubiquitous Penguin and its many imprints) Canongate, Carcanet and Picador – which is part of the Pan Macmillan group.


An author I ‘discovered’ and now want to read everything by: Matthew Vollmer


My overall top discovery of the year: The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius

My proudest non-bookish achievement: Giving a eulogy at my mom’s funeral (and even getting some laughs).


The books that made me laugh the most: Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld, Undoctored by Adam Kay, Forget Me Not by Sophie Pavelle, Blurb Your Enthusiasm by Louise Willder


The books that made me cry the most: Foster by Claire Keegan, The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken

Most useful fact gleaned from a book: To convert a Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit, double it and add 30. It’s a rough estimate, but it generally works! I learned this from, of all places, The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken.


Best book club selections: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier, Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Best first line encountered this year: “First, I got myself born.” (Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver)


Best last lines encountered this year:

  • “Darling, that’s what life’s for – to take risks.” (Up at the Villa, W. Somerset Maugham)
  • “The defiant soul of the city doesn’t die. It stays alive, right below the surface, pressing up against the boot heels, crouched like the life inside an egg, the force that drives the flower, forever reaching for its next breath.” (Feral City, Jeremiah Moss)
  • “Until the future, whatever it was going to be.” (This Time Tomorrow, Emma Straub)


A book that put a song in my head every time I picked it up: Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Adrian Shirk

Shortest book title encountered: O (a poetry collection by Zeina Hashem Beck), followed by XO (a memoir by Sara Rauch)


Best 2022 book title: I Want to Die But I Want to Eat Tteokbokki by Baek Se-hee (No, I haven’t read it and I’m unlikely to, not having had great luck with recent translations of work by Japanese and Korean women.)


Favourite title and cover combo of the year: Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens

Most fun cover serendipity: Two books I read in 2022 featured Matisse cut-outs.

Biggest disappointment: The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki ( for me)


Two 2022 books that everyone was in raptures about but me: Trust by Hernan Diaz and Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (both for me)

A 2022 book that everyone was reading but I decided not to: The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell – since I thought Hamnet her weakest work, I’m not eager to try more historical fiction by her.


A 2022 book I can’t read: (No matter how good the reviews might be, because of the title) I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy


The worst books I read this year: The Reactor by Nick Blackburn, Treacle Walker by Alan Garner, Anthropology by Dan Rhodes, Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra (1-star ratings are extremely rare from me; these were this year’s four)


The downright strangest book I read this year: The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay

24 responses

  1. Since I loved Hamnet and you didn’t, you’re not likely to take my advice and read The Marriage Portrait. Your loss 😉 . Yup, I can still remember the weirdness of The Magic Pudding 65 years on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll be rereading Hamnet in the new year for Literary Wives online book club, so we’ll see if I revise my opinion and feel willing to give her new one a go. I did at one point have a library hold on it, but when I had to fly abroad for the funeral I cancelled most of my reservations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll be interested to see what 2023 brings to your feelings about both titles.


  2. I agree with you completely about not being able to read I’m Glad because of the title. Nope.

    I’m hopeful for Demon Copperhead (I keep going back and forth about it based on who is currently raving about or against it). I liked Marriage Portrait quite well, but then again I also liked Hamlet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of people fell in love with Demon Copperhead. It didn’t live up to my expectations (perhaps because David Copperfield is my favorite book).


    1. Thanks, Kay! It’s one of my favorites to put together.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Big same on the McCurdy title. Ugh. Necessary?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Provocative to sell copies? Were it not for events of this year, no doubt I would have read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh, this is fun! I love the ones on first and last lines, in particular.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This time I made it easier for myself by keeping a running file through the year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very smart—wish I was organised enough to do something like that.


  5. Nice idea for a post! I agree about the Ozeki, Kingsolver (won’t be reading) and O’Farrell (might read but v low expectations – will report back if I do).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s one of my favourite posts to put together. All year I look out for best first/last lines to quote.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I like reminding that bookbloggers I follow and respect don’t always share my tastes, so I wasn’t offended in the slightest that you didn’t rate the Alan Garner, and I’ll never hold it against you, just to let you know! But what a delightful look back at the year. 🙂 And since you did like Wegelius’s The Murderer’s Ape I’m going to see if I still have it on my shelves to give it another go – the first few pages suggested it wasn’t for me, at the time I tried it anyway, so a revisit might find me in a more receptive mood…


    1. I know a lot of people are big fans of Garner. I didn’t grow up with his work. The other book of his that I read was The Owl Service, which I didn’t particularly enjoy but was a lot better than Treacle Walker, from which I gleaned zero sense or interest.

      The Wegelius found me at just the right time, providing a perfect distraction on the 24-hour ferry ride to Spain.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. […] thanks to one of my fave book bloggers and reviewers (and Rebeccas), Bookish Beck, for the inspiration … I present to you my year in books (or novels, really–I do love […]


  8. This was a fun post to read. Do you do the same superlatives in general from year to year or do you just jot things down as the year goes along? I’m curious about your process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I came up with this pool of superlatives (inspired by another blogger, naturally) a few years ago and I pick from it each year now. I kept a running file on my desktop for the last few months of the year so I could remind myself to look out for memorable lines and covers.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I like your list! Cute and clever idea. Came over from Rust Belt Girl… Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting, Lani! Happy new year.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this! I am about to launch into the Kingsolver as Matthew has FINALLY finished it. He said it’s very like David Copperfield, but as he read that directly before this, well, yes. I will see. He thinks, I think, that it won’t be my favourite of hers.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I just found a copy of Demon Copperhead at Frenchy’s (a popular chain of thrift store in NS) – very rare to find such a new book!

    The Magic Pudding *looks* like it might be a strange book. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, you never know what will turn up at thrift stores!

      Liked by 1 person

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