The only reading goal I set in any given year is just to keep reading in general. For me numerical reading goals put too much pressure something I do as a pleasurable way to pass the time. However, for the past two years I’ve kept what I call a Media Journal where I make notes about the books that I finish (as well as movies/shows I’ve watched and video games I’ve played). I only make an entry when I’ve finished something, or if I’ve spent a good amount of time playing a game that technically isn’t completeable, like my beloved Groove Coaster. I know that I’ve sometimes forgotten to write something in (for instance, I know I played Man of Medan this fall, but it’s not in the journal), but it’s at least a mostly complete record of what I’ve filled my brain with over the year.
If you’re interested in cold, hard numbers I kept a count of everything as I went along, just curious about where I would wind up. In 2022 I watched 30 movies/tv shows and noted down 7 games (this number feels way too low, but I mostly only noted games I finished and I’m notorious for starting games and forgetting to finish them). I finished 40 books and 25 manga/graphic novels. I split up my reading counts because manga/graphic novels are far quicker reads for me, to the point where the reading experience feels different enough to separate them out.
So with all that preamble out of the way, here in no particular order are my 5 favorite reads of the year (using “reads” and not “books” because there’s a few series on the list)! I read a whole range of things in 2022, but if there is one unifying theme for my favorites it’s “I finally got to this popular thing I always heard people talk about and really enjoyed it myself,” lol. I’m keeping this as spoiler-free as possible, so read on with little fear:
1. The Folk of the Air books (aka The Cruel Prince trilogy) by Holly Black: This was a recommendation from two different friends of mine, and one of them graciously loaned me these. They were right to tell me to read these. This series ticks so many of my boxes. Enemies to lovers. Set in a fae realm. Melodrama and intrigue. I unfortunately have the kind of brain that easily predicts stories, but the plot in this series constantly surprised me. I had a feeling that everything would eventually end happily, but I wasn’t sure how it would get there. I also was surprised at the amount of sex in these books considering that this series is for teens. It’s not terribly explicit or that frequent, but it’s right on the page (as opposed to “fading to black”). However, I do think sex can have a place in novels for teens so they can learn about the different forms sexual relationships can take, and I would say these books have some healthy examples in them.
2. Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater: I finally got around to the Ronan-focused follow up to The Raven Cycle, although I did only get to that series in 2021 so I guess I’m not that long overdue. Ronan makes a great point of view character, and I love how his brothers get fleshed out in this book. Matthew’s story is heartbreaking and I even somehow started to sympathize with Declan, which is something I never saw myself saying. There are great new characters and the unfolding mystery is engrossing. Jordan in particular is an addition to the cast that I really enjoyed. One of my favorite notes in my journal is, “Please let Declan kiss Jordan in one of the later books, as a treat,” lol. Getting my hands on Mister Impossible, and eventually Greywaren when it comes into paperback (because I need to own a series all in the same format), is definitely on my to do list for the future.
3. Gideon the Ninth/Harrow the Ninth (aka The Locked Tomb series) by Tamsyn Muir: Another series that I was late on, but oh how I loved these books. All I knew going into the series was that there was magic and lesbians and that it had a lot of buzz on my corner of the internet. So I was surprised that these books have a sci-fi setting and that the magic really just boiled down to necromancy, but not in any ways that I had thought about necromancy before, and it is presented in many different ways in these books! I do feel that sometimes there are problems with the pacing and a couple of times I managed to spot huge twists way before they came out in the text, but these things didn’t detract from my enjoyment and engrossment with them. I like that even though there are a lot of characters, especially in Gideon, they all feel unique from each other. The development of the connection between Gideon and Harrow is lovely. A third book came out towards the end of 2022 and I will be getting it for sure when it comes out in paperback (because, again, my books need to match, lol).
4. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Hello, it’s me, being very, very, very late to the Song of Achilles party. The writing is somewhat simple, but often poetic at the same time. It’s sweet and sad (because if you have even a little bit of familiarity with Greek mythology you know how it ends). Also, this book is very queer, and the development of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is wonderfully written. It isn’t very long, and I got through it very quickly even though I knew when I got to the end it would probably hurt me. And it did. And that’s good, sometimes I like a story that will break my heart. Not everything has to end perfectly happily.
5. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: I don’t know what possessed me to impulse buy this extremely thick paperback, besides that I’ve mostly enjoyed the two Maas books I’ve read so far (the 1st two ACOTAR books). I found that I prefer the grit of Crescent City way more than the woodsy frills of ACOTAR. I was drawn very deeply into Bryce and Hunt’s investigation, and while I did correctly guess a few of the story beats I found myself frequently surprised. (It’s such a long goddamn book, I’d hope I can’t just predict the whole thing, lol.) I love a good mystery thriller and I also loved the way the enemies(ish?) to lovers romance develops between Bryce and Hunt. It was refreshing to read a book like this with a supportive big brother character instead of a love triangle (because so many books like this have a goddamn love triangle). I wasn’t sure I liked Ruhn at first, but he grew on me. There is a sequel hook at the end and a second book in this series has already been released, but honestly this book stands pretty well on its own as a complete adventure, which I appreciate because it’s exhausting how everything is at least a trilogy nowadays.
An honorable mention is something that’s not a book at all, but is a visual novel so it kind of counts, and that is Disco Elysium. This is SUCH a great game. It was equally fun to aimlessly explore the rich world of Martinaise as the detective Harry as it was to really dig into the plot, talk to all of the fascinating, impeccably voice acted characters, and try to solve the mystery at the heart of the plot. Also Kim Kitsuragi is my best friend and I never want to do anything to disappoint him.
And finally, here are some quickfire, zero explanation recommendations of things that I watched/rewatched in 2022: the Interview the the Vampire show, Anne of Green Gables (Meagan Follows version), Our Flag Means Death, Crimson Peak, What We Do in the Shadows, and The Great.
Here’s to all the things I’m going to read, watch, and play in 2023!