For several years now, I felt like I was in a reading slump. I didn’t finish books, and I didn’t follow up on any series, even those where I enjoyed the first book enough. I missed my days of compulsive reading and series-binging, but nothing changed… until 2022 came.
This year, I seem to have struck a lucky streak of books that I enjoyed or found interesting in some other regard. I’m sure that getting a library card had contributed to this breakthrough, especially that I can request ebooks and audiobooks via an app and send them to my e-reader or phone without ever reading my home.
I also tried to pick some books according to the r/Fantasy’s Bingo which runs yearly and starts every April. I knew it would be unlikely for me to read 25 books in 12 months, but I wanted to try anyway, and picking books to match the themes for each bingo square prompted me to explore some titles I’ve been putting away.
So, as 2022 comes to a close, I have 29 books recorded as read or nearly read (I record my DNF-ed books if I made it far enough into the story) which is a stunning number considering in the previous years I barely managed a book a month. Of course, not all my reads were stellar ones, but some were outstanding, and today I’d like to share my favorites.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
In fairness, the whole Murderbot Diaries should appear on this list as I binged through all the available books in 2022. Murderbot is such a wonderful character, and any introvert or anyone with an of not wanting to socialize with people can relate to it. The books perfectly balance human (and non-human) relationships with intrigue and just the right amount of action. Even though the setting is more in the vein of dark science fiction rather than the positive and hopeful one, and the story ventures into the darker themes at times because of that, the balance I mentioned makes this series stay firmly in the entertaining and refreshing aisle instead of a depressing one.
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
I’ve been promising myself that I’d eventually read something by Scalzi, and then the opportunity came in the form of a book that is—as I’m told—nothing like Scalzi’s other books. But what mattered was that it was a perfect match for me. I enjoyed this burst of adventure with an interesting take on kaiju. Jamie is a relatable character, and the supporting cast comprises friendly and competent people, which is a pleasant change from grimdark antiheroes or naïve teenagers running the show. As the author mentions in the afterword, this isn’t a book to address serious issues, this is a pop song of a book, and I can assure you, it delivers. From the first page to the last one, it’s one epic joy ride.
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
When my library hold came through, I had no recollections why I requested this book, so I went in with no expectations. This story turned out like a dark fairy tale, but one in the vein of the best Grimm tales, rather than one explicit with gore and shock value. The main character, Mara, is great in being a level-headed but perfectly normal and somewhat inexperienced, and as far from the chosen one archetype as one can get. The book perfectly weaves the fairy tale setting and rules of storytelling with an adult fantasy addressing family matters and domestic abuse. And the idea that you can go against an evil prince when your best skill is embroidery, and your companions comprise a dog made of bones, an old grumpy dust wife, her demon-possessed chicken, a godmother with very limited power, and an ex-knight you bought in a Goblin Market is fresh and fits the fairy tale atmosphere perfectly.
Honorable mentions go to Storm of Locust by Rebecca Roanhorse, a sequel to Trail of Lightning which was one of my favorite reads of 2021, and two urban fantasy series I enjoyed throughout the year, continuing with Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and starting on Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.
And next week, I’ll share the list of books that for various reasons didn’t become my favorites, but are noteworthy as my most unique reads of 2023.
What are your favorite reads of 2022? Did you discover any interesting new authors? Unexpectedly binge-read a series? Let me know.