A Book A Week Keeps the Brain Sharp – 2022 Books in Review

It was my first 1-star read of the year and deserves its place at the bottom of my list.

Past year in books recaps:

2022 wasn’t a perfect year by any means, but it sure was an improvement from years prior. A lot of positive changes were made which led to a better quality of life for me. For once, I’m excited to see what the new year will bring!

In 2022, I had a goal to read 52 books—basically one book a week—and exceeded that by quite a few. My grand total for the year was 67 books, which is also 21 more books than I read in 2021! Kind of wild to think about. In terms of ratings, I averaged a 3.63 rating on the books I read. A slight decrease from 2021. Finally, I read the most pages out of any year yet, ending with a grand total of 18,947 pages. That’s a whole lot.

Here’s a breakdown of my ratings:

All in all, quite a productive year was had.

Like last year, I don’t aim to try to “rank” books so more as I would like to sort some of my reads by category. So, let’s get started!

Best Fiction Book of 2022

I didn’t have to think hard about this. I almost wanted to call it a tie, but I think I’m going to pick Jade City by Fonda Lee. This book has everything I really like in a novel in general, let alone a fantasy one. It’s been the first book I recommend to people when I talk to them and the series I can’t stop thinking about. I actually finished Jade War, the sequel, on the first day of 2023… now, I hope I get to read Jade Legacy sometime this year, because I really can’t get enough of the series. If you like stories about gangsters, very morally-grey characters, and plots so tense you’ll think you swallowed a live bomb, this is probably the book for you.

I don’t often trust/like books that are prominent in reader spaces, I’ve learned, but my love for this one is pretty in-line with everyone else. And the book deserves it—seriously.

Worst Book of 2022

This one is… really a toss-up. I read one book because I knew it would be bad, but I don’t think I want to count that because I knew, yaknow? I went into it knowing I wouldn’t enjoy it.

…So, instead, the worst book I read of 2022 was Liber Khthonia by Jeff Cullen.

Books on paganism are already a hard sell for me. I’m a Pagan but not… not in the way a lot of people on social media tend to be. A lot of people on Witchtok are fairly different, for example. As a result, when it comes to books about paganism and spirituality, I tend to read more historical.

But, as a Hellenic Polytheist, the quality of more modern books about the topic and about my deities is… variable. And unfortunately, this book was one of the worst ones. It is inaccurate from a factual standpoint about spirituality, pagan spaces, and the goddess Hekate Herself. The author also makes some incredibly outlandish claims, like saying modern day butchers who don’t purify themselves spiritually after every animal they handle will turn into soulless animal torturers. Just all around a pretty shitty, disappointing book. It was my first 1-star read of the year and deserves its place at the bottom of my list.

Most Disappointing Fiction Book of 2022

I really wanted to talk about this book, but I couldn’t decide if it was the most disappointing… But then I split the list in two. So, most disappointing fiction book goes to Iron Widow by Iron Jay Zhao.

I’ll admit it, I fell victim to the hype when this book was first being talked about online. On the surface, it sounded like this book was prepared to deliver a lot of things I was dying to see in books. Polyamory? Check. Fucked up women who get to stay fucked up? Check. Interesting worldbuilding? Sure.

I need to learn to not listen to the hype.

This book had a lot of decent ideas and then executed them all with the grace of an elephant balancing on a beach ball. It’s so clumsy about all of them that it is actively anger-inducing and, worst of all, incredibly frustrating. It’s one of the only books whose rating got lower the more I thought about it.

This book tripped on its entry into the world and when I hear people raving about it I swear I’m going insane. Did we somehow end up with different copies of the book? Somehow, no. I don’t understand it.

Most Disappointing Non-Fiction Book of 2022

The biggest reason why I split “Most Disappointing” into two this year is because of this book. I also would put non-fiction under heavy quotation marks in this case. Most disappointing non-fiction book I read goes to Strix Craft by Oracle Hekataios. First of all, the author name should have been warning enough for me. Second off, this book gets so many basic principles of Greek magic and Hellenic Polytheism so incredibly wrong. Incorrect recounts of mythology. A very strange, constant focus on sex and genitalia. There’s plenty of older books about Hellenic Polytheism and not as much more modern takes, so I was really hoping to get some use out of this book and just… didn’t. It’s not Greek magic, it’s a new age Wiccan mess with a “Greek magic” mask. Pissed me right off.

Book That Most Surprised Me

The honor for this category goes to Orphic Hymns: A New Translation for the Occult Practitioner by Patrick Dunn. Partially because I was surprised by how much I liked his translation work. Mostly, however, the surprise came with each hymn featuring the original Greek on the page beside it, which was super cool to see the first time I opened the book. It also includes miscellaneous sections, including one on how to use the hymns and ideas for using them. All in all, an absolute delight and completely worth the money spent to get it in hardcover. I really enjoyed my time with it and often think of reading it again.

Favorite Cover

I’m not often one for judging books by their covers, but I continue including this category for fun. I was kind of torn, but I think I’ve decided on The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. I loved everything about this book, the cover included. It’s just fucking cool and the contrast means this cover really catches your attention. It’s also incredibly pretty in paperback. I want to get a copy to own some time.

Best Nonfiction Book

I didn’t read a ton of non-fiction this year, but I really enjoyed Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? and Other Questions About Dead Bodies by Caitlin Doughty. It’s an honest and humorous look at death and the many questions people tend to have about it, as answered by a mortician. I found this while at the library and the title immediately captured my attention. Well-worth the read. And it’s pretty short, too.

Best Indie Book of 2022

I’m adding a section this year because, like I said last year, I want to shout out as many books as possible. That and indie books don’t get a whole lot of love in general. So, for this category I’m choosing Everlong by R. Raeta.

I wasn’t fully sold in the first couple of chapters, but the book made a major turnaround and won me over. This was a very interesting take on vampires and on romance and was a fast, very enjoyable read. If you’re choosing an indie author to support in 2023, perhaps consider this one!

Book Plans for 2023

Much like last year, I want to try to one-up myself and read 60 books. I think that’s achievable so long as I keep on the same pace as I did last year. So far I have finished two books: Jade War by Fonda Lee and Better Than New by Charley Descoteaux. A touch behind, but I also have been prioritizing writing these first two weeks, so I’m sure I’ll pick up the pace soon.

Here’s the next few books that are on my list to be read or are currently being read:

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • The Eye of the World, Book 1 in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
  • The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickerson
  • If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Well, that’s my book ramble for 2022. What about you? What were some books you read last year? Anything you hope to read this year?

Author: draconako

Alex is a queer writer, game-maker, and mountain of incomprehensible goo living in the Pacific Northwest. When they aren’t being paid to manage insurance accounts, they’re researching whatever interests them, reading from their arsenal of books, playing video games, or spending time with their partner. They can be reached at @draconako on most of the internet or at authoralexharvey@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “A Book A Week Keeps the Brain Sharp – 2022 Books in Review”

    1. Honestly it was mostly a matter of slotting in books whenever I had a free second. Having ebooks also helped. I’m in line at the bank? Read a chapter. I’m on a long drive and I’m not the driver? Read a chapter or a few. Slow night? Read. A little goes a long way, especially for shorter books haha

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