Phew. I made it in the first week of February at least. The first five weeks of the year is still reasonable for a book recap of the previous year, right? I do really enjoy being able to look back at the books I’ve read over previous years, especially when I’m looking for an easy re-read.
I’m always looking for new books to read, so please share your favorites with me! Bonus points if they’re written by BIPOC, women, or nonbinary authors, have LGBT main characters, or are simply can’t-put-it-down good.
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1 – 2. One Year After, The Final Day by William Forstchen
Similar thoughts to the first book in this series, which I read at the end of 2021. Though the first book is definitely the “best,” the author does a good job wrapping the story with the last book. (Though writing this up I see that there’s going to be a 4th book, which surprised me)
Thoughts from last year: “This book gets mentioned a ton in prepper circles, and I now understand why so many hardcore preppers (especially conservative ones) focus on the potential of an EMP attack. The author definitely does a good job weaving a terrifying story.”
3 – 17. Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy x 2, The Lost Heir x 2, The Hidden Kingdom x 2, The Dark Secret, Dragonslayer, Moon Rising, Winter Turning, Escaping Peril, Talons of Power, Darkness of Dragons, Dragonet Prophecy, Darkstalker by Tui T. Sutherland
We’ve been reading these books as a family in the evenings, and they’re really great. All three of us enjoy them, which is a big bonus.
You’ll notice some of these were read multiple times in 2022, because we read them together in the evenings and then the kiddo and I listen to an audiobook after lights out and he chose to re listen to them.
18 – 28. The Tortall Universe: Trickster’s Queen, In the Hand of the Goddess, Song of the Lioness, Lioness Rampant, Wild Magic, Wolf Speaker, Emperor Mage, The Realms of the Gods, Page, Squire, Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
Same is true for these books – audiobook listens after lights out in the evenings.
My thoughts from the previous year: “Thanks to Gwen, I finally got to re-reading the Alanna books and they were even better than I remembered. And then I got the kiddo hooked via Audiobook, so I got to listen to them again. Will definitely be re-reading them again before another two decades go by.”
29 – 33. MurderBot Diaries: All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, Network Effect by Martha Wells
WPF Insiders recommendation (and unofficial “mascot”?)
These books are fabulous. I’m not huge on sci-fi usually (since I can’t “see” images well in my head and sci-fi usually has some more intensely different worlds). MurderBot’s inner dialogue is perfection.
34. This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
If we could get more people to read this book, perhaps we’d make bigger strides in the fight against climate change. But then again, maybe not.
35. All We Can Save by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
I should probably read more hopeful climate books. Very upfront with the big problems we’re facing, but the author is generally much more hopeful than I am for the future. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast by this same name, you’d enjoy this book.
36. The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber
Really fascinating book. I’ve since read reviews that brought up some problematic points, but overall a solid read.
37. Lights Out by Ted Koppel
A pretty terrifying read, but also very timely considering the recent attacks on power stations.
38. The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
A less…. Cheerful climate book. But also a very good one. I’m always torn on whether I want to read more or less on this subject since I think about it so much as is / do what I can both in my personal and my professional life already.
39. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
I straight up hated this book. The author is a seriously smug man and I will not be re reading. Nor recommending it. I way preferred his book Sapiens, and even that, I was done with about a third of the way in.
40 – 41. The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
Continuing on in the series from the previous year. Those thoughts:
“These were audiobook re-reads. I’ve read them a number of times, so they’re great for “background” listening or late at night when I can’t fall asleep. I’m being patient and getting through the whole series first before I read the newest installation. It’s #9 of #10 in the series, so I figure there’s no need to rush to be left on yet another cliffhanger.”
42 – 60. Ice Planet Barbarians, Barbarian Alien, Barbarian Lover, Barbarian Mine, Barbarian’s Prize, Barbarian’s Mate, Ice Planet Honeymoon, Barbarian’s Touch, Barbarian’s Taming, Barbarian’s Heart, Barbarian’s Hope, Barbarian’s Choice, Barbarian’s Redemption, Barbarian’s Lady, Barbarian’s Tease, Barbarian’s Beloved, Barbarian’s Seduction, Barbarian’s Treasure, Barbarian’s Bride by Ruby Dixon
Also a WPF Insiders recommendation. Smut novels set on an ice planet far away from earth. Decent, yet repetitive story line, books always end on a happy ending, and a good “getaway” from thinking about earth problems. My “palate cleanser” series for when I’m wrecked from a more intense read.
61. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
“More intense read”: aka this book. I dwelled on it for two weeks after I finished it. Very, very well written, but such a difficult, depressing one. If you’re into that, then I’d definitely recommend it. If you’re someone who gets really down after that kind of read, maybe skip it. Fictional account of living through the Dust Bowl.
62. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
This was a fun read after returning from our trip to Italy in the spring. I listened to this by audiobook though, and the author reads it. Often I like when an author reads their own book, but this one could have done with a professional narrator instead.
63 – 65. Witches, Spiders, and Schemes, Jousting and Justice, Old Bones and Ice Cream Cones by Elizabeth Pantley
My mom’s books! Her first fiction novel was what got me back into reading in 2020 after my brain turned to pandemic mush, and each subsequent book in the series has been better than the last.
66 – 71. Twilight, Midnight Sun, New Moon, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
Notes from 2020, my last re-read of these books:
“I refuse to call these my “guilty pleasures.” I have no guilt in knowing that the Twilight saga is one of my “comfort series,” much like comfort food. When life seems especially hard, I find myself drawn back into these books for the lack of death, real strife, and a legitimate happy ending.
Whatever you might say about these books (many of them valid complaints), I enjoy them utterly and will re-read them every year or two for as long as I don’t get tired of them.
72. Becoming by Michelle Obama
This book was so hopeful. Until I remembered that I was reading it in the year 2022, and suddenly it felt a lot less so. Things are so backwards these days.
Huge Hamilton nerd here, so this was a really fun read. Lots of backstory to the play and I love how intentional so many of the lines were.
Good book, could have been half as long. And better written by someone else… ie the premise was great but the author is pretty smug / has some pretty big biases around health etc that aren’t awesome. I did share this book with my dad, and it’s had a positive impact on his life.
Still, probably could have been a series of blog posts.
75. Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
An excellent, thorough history of the state of water in the American west. If you live in California/Arizona/Nevada/Colorado/New México/Utah, I would consider this book a must read.
76 – 79. American Royals, Majesty, Rivals, Inheritance by Katharine McGee
Super fun series re-imagining what the world would look like if George Washington became King instead of president (and subsequently that democracy didn’t take over across the world). Be warned, though: the last book ends on a serious cliffhanger and I don’t think the next one in the series even has a publication date yet.
80. After the Revolution by Robert Evans
This book was…. wild. I first learned about Robert Evans from his It Could Happen Here Podcast (starting with a fictional narration of a future possible collapse of the United States. This book is a lefty, heavy military focused story of what could happen in the future if all hell broke lose. Not quite exactly what I was expecting. I can’t decide if I give it two or five stars, in all honesty.
81. Dry by Neil Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Apparently I went back to back apocalyptic fiction here – this book about what would happen if all the taps went dry in the Los Angeles area. The premise was good, but… not quite there. It definitely feels like a middle school read (and not in a good way, if that makes sense)
82. I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
This book I read on recommendation when I was looking for more LGBT fiction, and this one definitely stood up to the task. A fun, chaotic read, made better by a bi main character and lots of LGBT supporting characters.
83. Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber
Another “could have been a series of blog posts” kind of book. I get why authors stretch them out to be “long enough” to be a traditional book, but they get pretty repetitive and long winded because of it.
84. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Another LGBT recommendation. This one is set in the early AIDS epidemic. Not quite as sad a read as I was expecting, but an important storyline and one we don’t hear nearly as much about as we should. Very different perspective from RENT, the only other story I can think of focused on that period of time that I’ve read/watched.
85. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Enrenreich
I’m pretty sure I ranted about this book on Twitter. Or WPF Insiders Discord. Or both.
Basically, if this book is revelatory for you in the 2020s, you are in a seriously isolated bubble. And “pretending” to be poor sure isn’t the same thing as living it.
86. Where the Water Goes by David Owen
Another nonfiction book about water in the American West. Lots of references to Cadillac Desert, so I would definitely recommend reading that one first. If you’re super into the topic, I’d read both, but there is a good amount of overlap. This one is more “readable,” but doesn’t get into the same nitty gritty detail.
87. The Power by Naomi Alderman
After I read this book, I learned that the author was mentored by Margaret Atwood, which made a lot of sense. Very creative storyline, and a compelling narrative.
88. Huntress by Malinda Lo
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I really enjoyed that the main character was a lesbian and it was just a *part* of the story but in the world it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t get as strong an attachment to the characters as I’d hoped, and the imagery didn’t quite get me.
89. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
Excellent novel. Clearly I was on an LGBT story kick here, because this was another. CW for religious trauma, but such a good story.
90. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
Same author as The Hate U Give. If you enjoyed that book, you’ll like this one as well. I’ll likely read anything that Angie Thomas writes.
91 – 96. Laiden’s Daughter, Findley’s Lass, Wee William’s Woman, Mckenna’s Honor, Rowan’s Lady, Frederick’s Queen by Suzan Tisdale
Re-reads. I’ll repeat what I shared about them: “Your basic Scottish romance “fluff” reads that were a lot of fun. When I struggle with reading, some easy/fun reads help to bring me back in. These would be considered “guilty pleasures” if I considered there to be such a thing with books. But no. All reading is good. What you enjoy and gets you to read? That’s a good book.”
97. American War by Omar El Akkad
Another apocalyptic novel set during/post Second American Civil War. This was a tough, dark read. Not the darkest, but pretty dark. And no “happy ending” to tie things up at the end, really.
98. Downriver by Heather Hansman
Another book on water in the American West, but from a different perspective from the other books I read this past year. The author rafts down the entirety of the Green River, and talks about the current and future water situation from that perspective. Memoir-like, with solid information on the topic weaved into the story.
99. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
CW for animal abuse. Beyond that part, this was a very good book. Though I suppose that interaction made sense for the story line. Turns out, this is the first book of three, so I’m trying to decide if I want to read the other two. I probably (?) will, but not going out to download them today.
100. Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Fabulously gay, fun read. This one also apparently has a sequel, which I will definitely read. It makes my heart happy that there are more popular mainstream books with gay main characters, especially in the YA section. That representation is so dang important. And for all of us to read – not just gay teens.