Reading highlights for 2022

Regular readers of my blog will know two things about my end of year reading highlights post, but I’ll reiterate them here: I always do my list right at the end of the year when I have read (even if not reviewed) all the books I’m going to; and I do not do a list of “best” or even, really, “favourite” books. Instead, I do a sort of overview of the year through highlights which I think reflect my reading year. I also like to include literary highlights, that is, reading related activities which enhance my reading interests and knowledge. All being well, tomorrow I will share my blogging highlights.

Literary highlights

My literary highlights, aka literary events, saw a return to more live events this year, though the pandemic has taught us that there are opportunities to be had by also continuing online experiences – so this year like last I enjoyed a bit of both

Reading highlights

I don’t have specific reading goals, just some “rules of thumb” which include reducing the TBR pile, increasing my reading of First Nations authors, and reading some non-anglo literature. While I didn’t make great inroads into these, I did make some, and, regardless, I had many reading highlights. Last year, I framed this post around my reading preferences, but this year I’m returning to my practice of pulling out random observations that epitomise my year’s reading.

  • Re-find of the year: Elizabeth von Arnim was an author I loved back in the 1990s, and I managed to finally revisit her again this year, via not one but two novels – Vera and Expiation – which reminded me why I enjoy her so much. She is sharply observant about men and women but also witty. I also read this year one of the three biographies recently published about her, Gabrielle Carey’s Only happiness here.
  • Retelling of the year: Retellings can be hit or miss for me but I was greatly moved by Tom Gauld’s graphic novel, Goliath.
  • Topic of the year (1): Mothers and daughters featured heavily in this year’s reading, through Jane Sinclair’s memoir Shy love smiles and acid drops, Elisa Shua Dusapin’s Winter in Sokcho, Lucy Neave’s Believe in me, Nell Pierce’s A place near Eden, Jessica Au’s Cold enough for snow not to mention that absolute classic, and a reread for me, Jane Austen’s Sense and sensibility.
  • Topic of the year (2): Colonialism and racism are issues that many of us read about in order to educate ourselves, and this year I read some magnificent explorations, from Damon Galgut’s The promise and Audrey Magee’s The colony to several works by people of colour, including Nella Larsen’s classic 1929 novel Passing, Julie Koh’s astonishing Portable curiosities, Evelyn Araluen’s Stella winner Dropbear, and Anita Heiss’s historical novel Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray.
  • New nationality (for me): I love to add new nationalities to my reading diet, and this year it was Uruguayan, via Ida Vitale’s intriguing Byobu.
  • New genre: Bibliomemoirs are not new, but the term for them is relatively so! Besides Gabrielle Carey’s Only happiness here (mentioned above), I read Carmel Bird’s thoughtful and engaging Telltale.
  • Totemic critters: Every year something interesting pops out from my reading. An odd narrator, perhaps – like a skeleton. This year, it was totemic critters with a few books featuring a lurking critter, such as Nigel Featherstone’s quoll (My heart is a little wild thing) and Lucy Neave’s fox (Believe in me).
  • The locals have it: I like to support local authors, and this year I have read more than usual – Nigel Featherstone’s My heart is a little wild thing, Shelley Burr’s debut rural noir Wake, Lucy Neave’s Believe in me, Nell Pierce’s A place near Eden, and (then resident) Margaret Barbalet’s Blood in the rain, plus two nonfiction works, Mark McKenna’s Return to Uluru and Biff Ward’s memoir-of-sorts, The third chopstick. I also read, but didn’t review several books by local picture book creators. For a little region, we achieve a lot!

These are just some of 2022’s highlights…

Some stats …

I don’t read to achieve specific stats, but I do have some reading preferences which I like to track to keep me honest to myself! This year I was closer to my preferred ratios in most of the categories than I have been for years – without specifically trying. It just happened:

My preferences are …

  • to read mostly fiction: 74% of my reading was fiction (meaning, everything not non-fiction, so novels, short stories, and poetry). This is close to my plucked-out-of-the-air 75% rule of thumb, and I’m pleased with that.
  • to give precedence to women: 64% of this year’s reading was by women writers, which is similar to last year’s 65%, and around my preferred two-thirds proportion.
  • to read non-Australian as well as Australian writers: 32% of this year’s reading was by non-Australian writers, which is close to my goal of around one-third non-Australian, two-thirds Australian.
  • to read older books: 34% of the works I read were published before 2000, which is more than in recent years. I did say last year that I wanted to increase this, because I love checking out older works.
  • to support new releases: 19% of this year’s reads were published in 2022, which is rather less than last year’s 25% for that year’s releases, but I’m fine with that – even if my to-be-reviewed pile isn’t.
  • to tackle the TBR, which for me means books I’ve had for over 12 months: This year I read just 5, which is similar to the last few years. I’d really love to lift this number because I have so many good (older) books there waiting to be read!

Overall, it was a perfectly fine reading year but I didn’t read as much as I was hoping, mainly because Mr Gums and I are travelling more often to Melbourne to visit family. This is a good thing so I’m not complaining, but still, I’d like to have read more. 2023 is going to be a challenging year with a downsizing move in the offing, as well as our trips to Melbourne. Watch this space!

Meanwhile, a huge thanks to all of you who read my posts, engage in discussion, recommend more books and, generally, be thoughtful and fun people. Our little community is special, to me!

I wish you all an excellent 2023, and thank you once again for hanging in this year.

What were your 2022 reading or literary highlights?

42 thoughts on “Reading highlights for 2022

  1. Crime writing is what I read (present and past tenses) most of, and British writers are my favourites. Very recently discovered the extremely readable Peter Grainger who, together with his narrator, Gildart Jackson, are my current pash. Crocheting to a really good audiobook is, imnsho, as delightful an activity as there can possibly be.

  2. Your reading and more broadly literary year sounds wonderful. I read (based on your review) and was very impressed by Passing, especially how much more complex it turned out to be compared to what I was expecting. Hoping to get to Au and Magee soon (ish). Happy new year, and looking forward to more interactions in the coming year!

  3. Thanks for another year of fine, informative , perceptive reviewing, WG. Highlights for me were Susan Varga’s Hard Joy, Nigel Featherstone’s My Heard is a Littke Wild Thing and Biff Ward’s The Third Chopstick. Best wishes for 2023, WG, I look forward as always to your insights.

  4. What were your 2022 reading or literary highlights?

    In a nutshell, reading 3 by Richard Flanagan, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Goulds Book of Fish and The Living Sea of Waking Dreams.

    • Thanks Lisa. And haha, I have actually considered doing a post on that! I’ll see if I can get my thoughts together when I get back home (we are in Beechworth today, and will next be in Thredbo for two nights, then home on Friday).

  5. Wishing you more happy, informative reading for 2023, Sue. I probably said the same thing last year but I do enjoy the conversations your posts start for you and your reading community.
    2022 highlights for me were Shirl by Wayne Marshall, Bluebird by Malcolm Knox, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Richard Fidler’s Prague biography, which I haven’t reviewed yet.

    • Thanks Rose … I’m sorry I’ve been less active around the blogs lately. Something likely to continue this year with our downsizing, but we are getting there. I’m glad Bluebird is in your highlights … it was a good read but didn’t get a lot of attention I think. Shirl is one I should try …

  6. Hi Sue, you certainly read a wide varied range of books, and your reviews are always enticing more reads for me. Unfortunately, this year I have read less. This is mainly because I have taken up croquet! However, I do keep a journal of my reads, and the majority are fictional novels by women, next is non fiction books. But the author and book that left me in awe was Annie Ernaux’s, Happening .

    • Oh good for you Meg but beware it’s addictive. Close friends are heavily involved in croquet and travel with it all the time now! Where do you usually play?

      Thanks re Ernaux. I feel I need to read her.

      • Hi Sue, croquet is addictive. I play at least 3 times a week, socially, at Windy Hill. This Monday, I will participate in my first shield competition, but this is within the club. I have a laugh, I do bad and good shots, without any consistency, but enjoy the company. Have a great New Year and enjoy your more visits to Melbourne.

  7. My reading highlight for 2022 was Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber. But I shouldn’t forget the Becky Chambers books which Melanie/GTL and Lou/LouLouReads put me on to nor Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time (which, sadly, I failed to review).

    I’ve never added up how many books I own that I haven’t read, a few hundred of my father’s and of Australian second-hand purchases, probably. But an honourable mention should go to Dibble’s life of Eliz.Jolley which I’ve been saying every year since 2015 that I must read soon.

    • NO, I haven’t counted mine either Bill. I can never understand people who finish a book and don’t have anything at hand to read.

      I have Dibble too – I think we have discussed this before…

  8. Lovely to see Elizabeth von Arnim as your rediscovery of the year. She’s such an accomplished writer with a sharp insight into character – Vera is a particularly good example of this, I think.

    Funnily enough, mother-daughter relationships have also featured quite heavily in my own reading (and film viewing!) in the last couple of years. Anne Enright’s Actress is another fascinating example of a complex mother-daughter relationship explored through fiction – I don’t know if you’ve read it, but if not it might be of interest.

    Wishing you all the best for 2023, Sue – here’s to another great year of reading!

    • Thanks Jacqui … I have t read that Enright so will note it. I’m rather glad you’ve noted that topic too … means I wasn’t just imagining it or reading in some weird other universe!

      I look forward to more book talk with you this year.

  9. Sue, I swear you started a Vera wave this year, too! Several of us read it, thanks to you.

    I finally looked up how far it is from the capital to Melbourne, and it’s funny how the map says a person can fly directly, which looks so tidy as a straight line, or drive the seven hours, which is full of zigzags, making me wonder what is the way. What is hiding in Kosciuszko National Park?! Interestingly, we have a Kosciusko County in Indiana, so I know how to say the name of that park (assuming we would pronounce it the same way).

    I’m impressed that you can recall trends from your reading year. When I look back at my list, I actually forget some of the books if I only see the title, and others I swore I read in the year are not on the list because I read them many years ago, etc.

    • Ooh, I hope I did Melanie!

      I love that you looked it up. We mostly drive but sometimes more zig-zaggy to make a holiday of it. Kosciuszko NP has our highest mountain Mt Kosciuszko. Your county was named after the same man Tadeusz Kościuszko but you’ve dropped the “z”. We’ve just dropped the diacritic! I am staying in KNP right now as I write.

      Re trends, I keep a spreadsheet of my reading … just title, publication details, month snd year read, and form (novel, short story, memoir etc. that’s usually enough for my to be able to work out trends. I certainly couldn’t do it based on memory!

  10. Lovely highlights of a good reading year! I save my post to the end of the year, too, and as I’m so delayed on my blog reading at the moment I can’t remember who’s seen the post and who hasn’t. I did choose favourites, but a rather arbitrary 26 out of the 187 I read! Happy reading for 2023. I am going to concentrate on the print TBR and especially reading new hardbacks before they come out in paperback!

    • Thanks Liz … I thought I had seen yours but I see I haven’t commented so I must have just seen the post appear. I was away in Melbourne visiting family, including two young grandchildren, so didn’t manage to read all the posts. Am trying to catch up now! Thanks for reminding me.

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