Tuesday, January 3, 2023

2022 End of Year Book Wrap-Up

If you saw this blog post coming, you're an OG, and I appreciate it 


Welcome to the second part of this post, where I talked about all the chef's kiss books I read during the first half of 2022. Now, much later on, I'm giving the people what they want (I hope?) and running down some of the best books I read in the second half of the year. Just like in the previous post, I decided to mention only the best of the best, because I wouldn't want to bore you with mediocre reading and even more mediocre reviews on my part. I'd also like to mention that I'm actually quite picky with the books I read, so almost all of the books I read this year were either 4 or 5-star reads for me, so I think that's a big personal win. If you'd like to sniff around and see what didn't make the cut, feel free to follow me on my Goodreads account. ALSO, you might notice that I added a small recommendation section after each review, which I always find helpful when I stumble upon a book that catches my attention. 

Without further ado, here are my top 10 books that rounded up a successful reading year. Cheers to many more in 2023!

"Interweaving personal essays and revealing interviews with some of the most sough-after experts on love, journalist Natasha Lunn guides us through the paradoxical heart of three key questions about love--How do we find love? How do we sustain it? And how do we survive when we lose it?--to deliver a book that is a solace, a beacon, a call to arms, a tool-kit."

The dedication page says: “For anyone who feels lost in longing”, which is the exact moment I knew this was the book for me. From the very first page, Conversations on Love feels like someone taking you by the hand, and guiding you through a sea of 3am thoughts you thought only you had. It makes you feel seen, not alone, not broken. And by exploring different views on love as an all-encompassing subjective emotion, told through an objective lens, we get to understand different notions of what love is, how we can find it, sustain it, and ultimately, lose it.

This year I developed a slight fascination with personal essays that explore the everyday human condition, without sprinkling scientific evidence to back it up. I wanted the raw, the subjective, the real and honest, heart-on-my-sleeve experiences that I can at least try to relate to and learn from. Because I think that helps us connect, and connection is inherently human. That is why this book is my favorite thing I've read so far. I've underlined, tabbed, and taken a picture of countless passages, which makes me even more excited to re-read it in the future and see if or how my interpretation has changed.

At first, I went into this book looking for answers, like it would tell me the right and wrong ways to approach love, but I gained so much more. Just like Natasha Lunn puts it in her Conclusion: “Through asking people how to love, all along I have been finding out how to live.” And as a cherry on the icing of the cake, Natasha Lunn (herself!!) saw my post about the book on Instagram, and I DEFINITELY fangirled big time!

I'd recommend this book to: Anyone looking to read about real people giving their personal opinions, and relating all the way through.

"After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time. The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first-ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is."

Who doesn’t want to read about magical creatures trying coffee and cinnamon buns for the first time? Legends & Lattes has all the cutesy, fantasy, small village wholesome content vibes I was hoping for, from delicious descriptions of coffee drinking (that are a reminder of why I love the ritual of drinking it more than the actual caffeine effects), to literally tagging along and opening up a coffee shop alongside our MC Viv. Definitely not action-packed, nor does the plot offer a lot of twists and turns. But, if that's not what you're in the mood for anyway, then this will definitely warm you up during these cold months. 

I'd recommend this book to: People in the mood for wholesome vibes that make you feel warm inside. 

"In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door."

I had heard a great deal of praise on this book, so when I saw it was available as an audiobook, I switched my morning commute playlist, and I can safely say that it has two thumbs up from me. I don't necessarily have specific metrics as to what I look for in rom-coms, or what differentiates a good rom-com from a bad one, so I guess I'm just going off on how much I got invested in the storyline, and if I actually want the two protagonists to get together. I thought this was successfully done here, the MCs had great banter and chemistry (very important), and I did smirk A LOT during some chapters. 

I'd recommend this book to: Anyone that finds "enemies to lovers "a cute romance trope. 

"Nine-year-old Oskar Schell embarks on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts of an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey."

Immediately, the writing style reminded me of Ruth Ozeki’s (which I adore), so I knew this was going to be an exciting read. Paired with the unusual page format as well as the fantastic audiobook narration (on Scribd), reading this book was a real experience. This book has multiple narrators and POVs, family relations/generational ties, and is rooted in significant real-life events and explores how they impacted the characters - all little niches I love reading about.

I'd recommend this book to: People that like reading from a child's POV, as well as stories involving quests. 

"One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house—a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn't understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, a gentle hum or coo, but others are snide, angry and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous."

This is my second Ozeki, and I knew she would not disappoint. Rich, complex, and totally unique characters set in a metaphysical space, somewhere between dreams and reality. I can see that there are a few themes that she loves to introduce in her books (Zen Buddhism, the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, etc), but it didn’t feel displaced here, or like something I’ve read before. Reading her thoughts on this again felt like coming back to a conversation that was left unfinished the last time around, and I love that.

This isn’t a book that you just whizz through. It’s heavy, both in page count and in topics of conversation, but every time I picked it up I felt like I was back to being a fly on the wall of our MC Annabelle’s cluttered house. Ozeki’s narrative style is one of a kind (especially here, with a conversation-like narration between our protagonist and the book we’re reading itself). At the same time, her way of writing from a young person’s perspective is impeccable, just like in "A Tale For the Time Being". Overall, I am very happy I read this book, and I completely see why it was chosen as the winner of the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

I'd recommend this book to: Lovers of alternative POVs and reading from a child's (or in this case, angsty teenager's) perspective.

"A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous breakup."

Finally, a book whose hype I fully support! I knew it would be a solid (and fast) read based on how praised this book is, but this was better than I'd imagined. The characters felt like real people and I actually rooted for all of them, and the twists and turns were super engaging. The interview-type narrative style is also super fun to read (especially with an accompanying audiobook). During some parts, they're talking about how they'd come up with the songs, I felt like I was watching those Genius videos haha. Can’t wait for the tv show, I’m so excited! And the cast is just chef’s kiss.

I'd recommend this book to: People who find themselves in a reading slump and want something fun and quick to read.

"Oh come on, we all know what Twilight's about :D"

Disclaimer: All critical thinking was checked at the door. This book was read for the ✨vibes✨only during late Autumn, and I was not disappointed. Pair this book with the endless playlists on Youtube titled "Driving Through Forks" or "A Twilight Comfort Playlist", light a candle, have a cup of tea on standby, and you've got yourself an A+ Winter activity. As someone who has never read Twilight before, it was interesting to see the changes made to the movie and compare how dramatic the movies are. Also, Bella is quite spunky, I'm kinda sad that wasn’t translated on screen as well.

I'd recommend this book to: anyone not willing to take it too seriously.

"Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss, and by fate. As they endure the ever-escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation."

Another book that deserves all (if not more) of the hype it gets. Devastating and so compelling, this story made me sob like a child at the end. I feel like I’ve learned so much by reading this book, and for that, I’m forever grateful that books like these exist. I'm definitely planning on reading more works by Hosseini in the future. 

I'd recommend this book to: Lovers of historical fiction and books told through alternative POVs. 

"When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous. But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life."

Coraline is one of my favorite animated movies (if not my number 1), so I have had it on my to-read list for a long time. All I needed was the perfect timing, and the timing finally came on Halloween, the 31st of October. The book itself is quite short so it was a fun one-day reading challenge, and I'm beyond glad I did it. It's always intriguing to compare and contrast the changes made from book to screen, but I can safely say that whatever road you go down, you won't be making a mistake. 

I'd recommend this book to: anyone just wanting to escape into a whimsical and imaginative alternate reality. 

"On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation."

Ended 2022 with this book, and oh boy, what a way to wrap up a successful reading year. Beautiful in every sense of the word, I tabbed so many pages that took my breath away. I had to reread certain passages because it felt so unreal that these observations came from the human mind. I also had to remind myself that this is in fact fiction and not an autobiography. That is how you know the author did an impeccable job of creating a story that feels as real as it can get. 

I'd recommend this book to: anyone looking for beautiful and lyrical writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment