When people ask what kind of books I read, I never know the answer. Booky kind of books, I dunno. Perhaps this question is meant for those who read only one genre. They’d have an answer ready to go, like “I love crime.” (An alarming sentence if taken out of context.)
But if you’re like me and believe that checking out someone’s bookshelf is akin to taking them through a full Myers Brigg, but with less room for error, then let me reveal every book I read in 2022.
To make it on this list, I had to have read the book in full. For the first three or so decades of my life, that’d be everything I ever picked up. But as I age I’ve realised that, no matter how long I live, it is not humanly possible to get through my To Be Read (TBR) pile. I add more to this metaphorical pile (although there is a real one too, bedside) than I can ever hope to subtract. The result: if I’m not fully immersed, then it’s gone. Next!
Near the end of 2021 my first book was released, prompting 2022 as the year I psychologically embraced the deceptively simple phrase, “I am an author.” Those four words—combined with the turmoil of pretending we were post-covid—sent me into a tailspin I’m still extracting myself from. My salvation? As always, books.
So if my 2022 reading had a theme, it would be ‘navel-gazing’. A few years ago I listened to Oprah’s 10-part book club series discussing A New Earth with the author Eckhart Tolle. This year I actually read the 2005 book. Still hippy-trippy with the surprisingly revealing Tapping into Wealth by Margaret M. Lynch (2013), Wisdom from your Spirit Guides by James van Praagh (2017), and the right-book-right-time You Already Know by Helen Jacobs (2019). (Helen has a podcast too—The Guided Collective—which I’ve listened to this year.)
On a far more practical level, Time Wise by Amantha Imber (2022) offered quality strategies; I really recommend it. It comes off the back of her widely-listened podcast, How I Work.
My interest in the nature of creativity and living a creative life meant I enjoyed Creativity Sucks by Phil Hansen (2020). I was relieved to recognise myself in The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield (2003). Don’t know if I’ve won yet, but I’m trying.
Now onto the craft of being creative. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (2021) was a masterclass in the great Russian short story writers. Like my attempts to read great poetry, much of it was beyond my ken. Thank goodness George would swoop in and explain what I’d just read and why it worked as a story and, even better, how he worked as a writer. (It’s an ongoing love affair with all things George – see my 2020 and 2021 books).
Feeding my perpetual interest in how others live, I read two memoirs. Rather than attempting to document the story of a whole life, a memoir instead seeks to explore either a moment in time or a longer timeframe through a very specific prism. Actor Stanley Tucci, publicly best known for his roles in The Devil Wears Prada and The Hunger Games (which I discovered last year), has had a life-long (previously) private love affair with food. Eating is the best, right, but if I can’t eat it, I’ll read it: Taste: My Life Through Food (2021). Yum. For entrepreneur Samantha Wills’ memoir Of Gold and Dust (2021), her chosen prism is a fabulously successful business life. For a dose of Australian-in-New-York (my second-favourite city after Sydney) I follow her on Instagram. (And here I am on Insta).
I also follow author Sally Hepworth on Instagram. I was seeking authors using the ‘gram really well so I could learn the ropes. Instead, social media worked a treat building ‘know, like and trust’ till finally I thought, gee, better read one of her books. In an interview, Sally said her favourite character out of all nine of her books-so-far is Fern from The Good Sister (2020) so I grabbed it as an audiobook. Yes, Fern is memorable in the very best way.
For the second year in a row, I volunteered at the Sydney Writers Festival. To prepare for anticipated sessions, I bought three books. Two remain on my TBR pile but I did manage the wonderful The Space Between the Stars by Indira Naidoo (2022).
As usual I picked up a massively mega bestseller a few years later. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2018) was released as a movie this year so I thought I better read the book first. Loved it. Now I want to visit a swamp. Books can have strange and unintended effects.
There’s more. I read kids stuff too. I plan on writing a kids novel because I love how big truths can be wrapped in easier packaging.
I finished my 2021 reading year with Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake and started 2022 with its follow-up, Egg Marks the Spot (2021). I gleefully forced others to read both.
I wonder if six books from now I might also write historical fiction? Maybe. Kicked off my curiosity with The Boy Who Stepped Through Time by Anna Ciddor (2021) and the thoroughly wonderful CBCA short-listed We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad (2020). Then serendipitously saw them talk side-by-side on a writers festival panel.
My primary-school aged kids are avid readers and hugely into graphic novels. Waluk: The Great Journey by Ana Miralles and Emilio Ruiz (2017/19) was, admittedly, more like a comic book than graphic novel, lacking a narrative arc. But these other ones were all extraordinary: The Way of the Hive by Jay Hosler (2021), White Bird by author of the best-selling Wonder, R.J. Palacio (2019), and The Bridge by Peter J. Tomasi (2018). The latter was fuel to my New York desire.
Then there’s this other little-known book you may have heard of: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997). Quite good actually. I was precisely the wrong age when the Harry Potter phenomenon first hit and have avoided seeing any of the movies until I’ve read the books. When my three-kids-in-three years were all under four years old, I started. It was poor, poor timing. By book number four I realised my sleep-addled brain wasn’t up to it. Stopped. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing in Melbourne and naturally, I can’t see it until I’ve read the series. Started again. Expect more on 2023’s list.
Everything I Read in 2022 in Chronological Order
- Creativity Sucks: And 30 Other Things I’Ve Learned While Living a Weird, Amazing, Crazy, Creative Life by Phil Hansen (2020)
- A New Earth: Create a Better Life by Eckhart Tolle (2005)
- Tapping into Wealth: How Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) Can Help You Clear the Path to Making More Money by Margaret M. Lynch (2013)
- A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: What Reading the Nineteenth-Century Russians Can Teach Us About Stories, Truth, and Transformation by George Saunders (2021)
- You Already Know: How to Access Your Intuition and Find Your Divine Life Path by Helen Jacobs (2019)
- The Space Between the Stars: On love, loss and the magical power of nature to heal by Indira Naidoo (2022)
- The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth (2020) (audiobook)
- Of Gold and Dust: Memoir of a creative life by Samantha Wills (2021)
- Wisdom from your Spirit Guides by James van Praagh (2017)
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2018)
- The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield (2003)
- Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci (2021)
- Time Wise: Powerful Habits, More Time, Greater Joy by Amantha Imber (2022)
- Egg Marks the Spot by Amy Timberlake (2021)
- The Boy Who Stepped Through Time by Anna Ciddor (2021)
- We Are Wolves by Katrina Nannestad (2020)
- The Way of the Hive by Jay Hosler (2021)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (1997)
- Waluk: The Great Journey by Ana Miralles and Emilio Ruiz (2017/19)
- White Bird by R.J. Palacio (2019)
- The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York by Peter J. Tomasi (2018)