Reading. The crank of time seems to rotate faster each year. For me, it’s noticeable when I look back on my year in books. I find Goodreads indispensable for keeping track of what I’ve read, but also for giving me a snapshot of where I was. On the cusp of 2023, I finished the year with 75 books read. In general, my nonfiction reading at any one time is geared toward my research writing, non-university style. So I began the year reading about ghosts for an article I was writing, then I read about Celtic religion for my Wicker Man book. I started reading quite a bit about “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” toward the end of the year. And I try to keep a healthy selection of fiction going as well. So looking back over 2022, what were the most memorable tomes?
In nonfiction Brett Hendrickson’s Border Medicine, Gwen Owens’ Ghosts: A Cultural History, Harry M. Benshoff’s Dark Shadows, Edward Jarvis’ Sede Vacante, Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell, Douglas E. Cowan’s The Forbidden Body, Shane McCorristine’s The Spectral Arctic, Russell Shorto’s The Island at the Center of the World, W. Scott Poole’s Dark Carnivals, and Philip Ball’s The Modern Myths stand out. I think the most lyrically written book also falls into nonfiction was probably Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night. There were many other good books mixed in there too, but these give a pretty fair snapshot of the year, as I experienced it in the quiet hours before work, mostly, when the real work gets done. (If you ever get curious, one of the categories on this blog is “Books” and that will bring up the many posts written on my literary year.)
Fiction’s always a little more subjective, it seems to me. For example, I read Dark Shadows novels for nostalgia, not because they’re good. What was good this year? Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House, Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions, Andrew Michael Hurley’s Devil’s Day, Christina Henry’s Horseman, Shaun Hamill’s A Cosmology of Monsters, and Yan Ge’s Strange Beasts of China particularly suggest themselves by being memorable. I also started reading collections of stories again, and Jorge Luis Borges’ The Alpha and Other Stories, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, and Daphne du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now were all well worth the time getting back into short fiction. So many of the books I read were good on multiple levels. Even those I didn’t so much enjoy, I learned from. And I’m already anticipating a 2023, knowing no matter what else it will bring, there will be books.