The Year in Reading

Posted on

According to Goodreads, I read 229 books this calendar year, slightly over my goal of 215. The official breakdown is:

  • Audiobook – 17
  • Paper – 18
  • eBook – 11
  • Graphic Novel – 181

Was it an exceptionally good year for my reading? Reviewing the list showed the usual highlights but not as many as in previous years. Some of the novels read were required for one reason or another; others were experiments with genre or author, and maybe I just didn’t choose wisely.

Obviously, the bulk of the list are graphic novels. I am continuing to read these for numerous reasons, partially because I still love the form. I still enjoy some of the characters or the work of certain creators. I’ve also been teaching a graphic novel course this fall, so keeping up with different styles and voices has become increasingly important. But, of the mainstream superheroic fare, I found myself giving a high number of two- and three-star reviews because they failed to tell good stories or focus on the characters instead of the spectacle. Yeah, I’m not the target audience, but good storytelling has fallen to the wayside, which is a shame.

There were, of course, highlights throughout the year. Some were wonderfully written books, such as Amor Towles’s debut work, Rules of Civility, which I have now read after his two subsequent (and highly recommended) works.  Similarly, Lauren Groff never repeats herself, and after being so-so about her short story collection Florida in 2022, I was stunned at the freshness of her Matrix, covering an era I knew little about. This brings me to perhaps the most fascinating book I have read all year: The Dark Queens by Shelley Puhak, covering the bitter rivalry and real-life game of thrones between Brunhild and her sister-in-law Fredegund during the 6th-century Merovingian Empire.

As always, I try and read some classics I missed along the way, and this year, that took me to Dashiell Hammett’s Continental OP stories, in a handsome volume illustrated by my old buddy John K. Snyder III, Farewell my Lovely by Raymond Chandler, and The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vol. IIA.

There were some interesting biographies, notably Abraham Reisman’s Ringmaster about WWE’s Vince McMahon, but I also enjoyed autobiographies from Patrick Stewart and Julianna Margulies.

Some were downright pleasant such as Julie Whelan’s Thank you for Listening and Tom Hanks’s debut novel The Making of Another Major Motion Picture. In both cases, listening to them as audiobooks enhanced the experience, as did Meryl Streep’s pitch-perfect reading of Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake.

Our faculty book club was far more hit or miss than usual, highlighted by Charmaine Wilkerson’s delightful Black Cake, but Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward was a misfire and we were very divided over Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow and Mercury Pictures Presents (both of which I recommended and even I didn’t love the latter).

There were other disappointments, such as Age of Deceit by Deepti Kapoor, which started off really well then fell off a cliff in the final quarter, and Lisa Taddeo’s terrible Animal

I realized I didn’t read anywhere near as much nonfiction as in other years, and the highlight there was Ed Ward’s The History of Rock & Roll, Vol. Two.

Of course, there were digital comics, newspapers, magazines, and academic journals, all of which added countless other pages to my annual consumption.

When I go weeks without reading a book, and I mean sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee for an hour or two, I realize how much I miss and find myself craving it during school breaks.

#Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Blog Listing