Booksof2023

Stack Overflow: Our Favorite Books of 2022

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Now that we’ve reflected back on last year’s reading resolutions and made some predictions about the coming year, here are some of our top reads of 2022. Note that these are not necessarily published in 2022, but things we read during the past year.


Mariana Ruiz

The highlights of this year for me mainly were translated works, and works by the King family of authors: last year it was Joe Hill and the Locke & and Key compilation, and this year are both Owen King and Stephen King. I must be one more of the legions of fans out there, but, sometimes, you just have to sit back and relax and enjoy what you enjoy.

Sleeping Beauties in comic form closed its installment this year, and it is the adaptation of the horror novel by the same name.

Drawn in a beautiful style that hovers between surrealism and realistic portraits of violence, it follows the development of the Aurora sickness, a pandemic disease where women fall asleep shrouded by cocoons: whoever has the heart and soul of a woman, regardless of genetics, is prone to fall asleep.

If disturbed, the result is terrible violence upon the men that have woken them up, and soon, all women in the world are fast asleep. All except those held at the correctional facility over in Dooling, Maine, where the female inmates will become the test subjects for this particular experiment on humanity. Under the command of the mysterious Evie Black, they will soon have to make a choice. A choice on behalf of womankind.

I have to say I purchased the book shortly afterward, and enjoyed it immensely, they complement each other nicely and work great together, the graphic novel and the novel have, each on their own, unique points of view, and I am thinking of listening to the audiobook as well.

Next comes this ghostly YA novel by Sachiko Kashiwaba: Temple Alley Summer

A mix between three genres: ghost stories, detective stories, and fantasy, the novel features Kazu as the main character: a boy who has a summer project to learn about Kimyo Temple, a temple that is right behind his house in an alley and that has changed names in the past. The mysterious 85-year-old neighbor Ms. Minakami and her nosy cat are there to interfere, there is a ghost girl named Akari, and there is an unfinished story in a magazine from Akari’s youth.

What happens when the dead want to come back to life? Is there such a power?

Would you let a dead girl live again? The story is gripping and satisfying, and it has won many translation prizes since its debut.

Lastly, I want to point you towards my review of a graphic novel made by a married Argentinian couple, The Ghost of Wreckers Cove, because it is an art piece and one of the best graphic novels I’ve read geared towards a young audience this year. I hope it wins both the Angouleme and Bolognia awards!

Finally: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King was a book that I found in a garage sale and that I read in a single day. It usually happens to me when a slim formatted volume crops up, and this girl was no exception for my taste in brave heroines. Rose Madder and Dolores Claiborne are my favorites, but there is a vast array of brave gals in King’s literature (Jessie Angela Mahout Burlingame, Tess Thorne, Susannah Dean… put a woman in a tight spot and watch her be brave as hell is his motto). Written in 1999, it follows 9-year-old Trisha McFarland, who gets lost in the woods and comes out nine days later, thin as a rack and miles off from where she started, even though a devilish creature, not a bear but some kind of monster, was tracking her. She survives through pure grit, determination, and a couple of AA batteries that allow her to follow Tom Gordon and his baseball run on her Walkman.


Jenny Bristol

I read 22 books in 2022, and here are my favorites, in no particular order.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. I’m a big fan of most of Shannon Hale’s other works (both for adults and kids), and this book was a real highlight for me. I relished the entire reading experience. Highly recommend.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune. This one felt like a love letter to the autistic community. I highly recommend it to anyone who ever felt like a misfit as a kid.

Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton. This book blew me away. Written about 50 years ago, it’s about the same age as me, and has so many pieces of wisdom, so many meaningful feelings put down on the page that I never had words for myself… I excerpted more from this book into my commonplace book than any other reading since I started my commonplace book in 2018.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. This book sounds like a cheesy “get rich quick” type book, but it isn’t. Not at all. It breaks down into small parts our habits and why we have them. It helps us understand why we do the things we do, and helps us figure out ways to improve habits, to both take on good habits and minimize bad or less desirable ones.

Persuasion by Jane Austen. This may be my favorite Jane Austen book, and I always love reading it. While I very much enjoy Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility just about as much, Persuasion has a different feel, and it’s just so precious to me.

The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal. I actually enjoyed this second book in the Lady Astronaut series more than the first one, though there were some difficult moments in it. It flowed better than the first, and I can’t wait to see where the third book in the series takes us.


Robin Brooks

2022 was a great year for books for me. I fell in love with them all over again, reading some great ones and also buying far more than I could ever read. Yes, I have a problem. But which were my favorites? Looking back over the last year’s posts, my best books were dominated by two publishers. UK children’s publisher Nosy Crow, and UK indy publisher Orenda Books.

I know many of our readers are US-based but if you can tap into a source of books from either (or both) of these houses, you won’t be disappointed. (I believe Nosy Crow is going to move directly into the US market sometime in 2023, but don’t quote me on that!)

From Nosy Crow I read Alice Éclair, Spy Extraordinaire a children’s mystery on board a steam train that featured mouth-watering pastries. What’s not to love? Also, The Consequence Girl by Alaistair Chisolm. This book was probably my favorite read of 2022. A quirky tale featuring time travel and the ability of the small person to make a difference. Awesome concept, married to an excellent message that delivers an exciting and deeply satisfying story. 

Yet more exciting time-travel shenanigans were to be found in Running out of Time by Simon Fox. Much like Alice Éclair this book had some thoughtful observations on the treatment of refugees. Both felt like required reading in “small boats are a priority” Britain.

From Orenda, two books stood out. The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen featured a geekily literal actuary, who definitely wins my award for “favorite character of 2022.” A tightly plotted novel featuring gangsters and statistical probability. A combination that was in no way on my 2022 bucket list, and yet was an unmissable experience. 

My favorite “grown up” read of the year was The Book of Daves by Will Carver. This was a fascinating read following the stories of multiple characters linked by events in the novel. It’s one that continually asks questions of its readers. It will make you question your assumptions and almost certainly make you think about the way you view the world and your own inherent prejudices. 

Finally, two notable mentions. My final read of the year, Cloud Cuckoo Land fully justified its critical acclaim and Pulitzer Prize. A brilliant and beautiful novel about the power of stories. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin is a book about the art and artistry of computer games. A tale of two creative geniuses creating something beautiful in the digital world. 


Jonathan H. Liu

Lady Astronaut series book covers

Most of my favorite reads this year were series—in some cases catching up on older series. I finally got around to reading the Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal (see here, here, and here), an alternate history take on the space race that delved into both the science and the politics of space exploration.

The Murderbot Diaries series book covers

 

Another series that I dove into right at the start of 2022 and then devoured was the Murderbot Diaries from Martha Wells—I’d read the first four novellas and the subsequent full-length novel by the end of January, and then finally found a copy of the most recent novella and read it in September. The series is about a SecUnit, a sort of cyborg generally contracted as a mindless soldier, who has hacked itself and actually has a very vivid internal life, and then gets into various adventures and misadventures.

Serafina, Shadow Scale, Tess of the Road, In the Serpent's Wake book covers

On the fantasy front, I fell for Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina duology, and then followed that up with the two books in the spin-off series Tess of the Road and In the Serpent’s Wake. They’re about magic and dragons, identity and gender, expectations and dreams, and they’re wonderful.

Giantess

I feel like I’ve read fewer comics this year than usual, but one that really stood out was Giantess by J.C. Deveney and Nuria Tamarit, about a giant girl discovered in the woods as a baby. It feels a bit like a fairy tale and the artwork is outstanding.


Hope you had some great finds in 2022, and happy reading in 2023!

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