quick lit – next page, please {2022 best fiction}

“[Read fiction] to make the unknown known, to make the other familiar….to make magic with words.”

– Professor Jerome Playfair, BABEL

Below are the best works of fiction and five-star reads of 2022. I have been looking at it to see if there are any connective themes: what made me excited about reading each of them? What kind of books are they? If you see any let me know. 

MY OXFORD YEAR by Julia Whelan

I LOVED this book so much.  This was a reread and I fell even more in love with it this time than I did the first time around.  One of the reasons is because I didn’t fully experience the poems in this story until my second reading. I should mention, I have a thing for Oxford, England. I considered attending a school in Georgia named Oxford to get as close as I could to the place.

A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT and A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY by Becky Chambers

A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY is the second novella in the Monk & Robot series. A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT saved me in 2021.  When I read it the first time, I hugged it to my chest and cried literal tears.  It is such a lovely book; like a warm cup of tea on a cold night and I reread it on the first of the year. I do hope there’s a third in this series. 

SO MANY BEGINNINGS by Bethany Morrow

This meticulously researched YA novel is a reimagining of LITTLE WOMEN by Louise May Alcott featuring black sisters during the same time period. Bethany Morrow is quoted as saying that she is “telling a completely different story.” She has to because a black girl’s story in the late 1800’s would be a totally different than a white girl’s story. It was a beautiful story and one that I wished had been available when I read the original LITTLE WOMEN as a young girl. 

RING SHOUT by P. Djèlí Clark

I don’t typically read horror stories but my friend, Ginger, told me that this was one of the best books that she has ever read. Period! This story reimagines the members of the Ku Klux Klan as actual demons and makes very clear the horrors of that time. P. Djèlí Clark is an academic and his knowledge of history is evident in all of his work.  I will read anything he writes. 

SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Emily St. John Mandel

I read SEA OF TRANQUILITY in February of this year and yes, it maintained a top spot from the day I finished it until BABEL came along. I adored the interconnectivity and multiple storylines spanning 500 years and into the future (love a well-placed sci-fi element). It is a novel about art, love, and COVID; but don’t let that deter you from reading it. It took me a long time to get into it and I wasn’t fully invested until halfway in. The storylines all come together brilliantly into an ending that I adored. I picked this one up because Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy told me that I would like it.  She was right. 

BABEL: AN ARCANE HISTORY by R. F. Kuang

This book slayed me, wrecked me.  Stories about wanting desperately to be a part of something and searching for a place to belong deeply resonate with me.  With more than a passing interest in linguistics and etymology, and my thing for Oxford, this book was right up my alley. It’s thoroughly researched, almost historical fiction with a mild fantasy element which I love.  Be warned, the book raises a lot of questions but answers none of them. Don’t let that deter you.  The writing style is genius and I will definitely reread it at some point. 

BURY YOUR DEAD by Louise Penny

This is the book that relieved me of my BABEL book hangover. The sixth book in the Inspector Gamache Series, this book is an in-depth look at grief and loss. But is weirdly comforting.  It was the perfect book for me to read at the end of a very hard year. 

Per usual, I’m linking up with Anne Bogel’s Quick Lit post over on Modern Mrs. Darcy. If you are here because of her, thank you. 

quick lit – next page, please {best books of 2021 edition}

For the past few years I have been intentionally compiling my best books of the year.  So I thought I would share my top 10 books of 2021. Counting down…

#10 | The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

A practical guide to comfort you in difficult times, including playlists, food, and practical advice.  I have enjoyed everything that I have read by Matt Haig, and have this one on my nightstand to pick up when I am feeling a bit low.

#9 | You Got Anything Stronger: Stories by Gabrielle Union

Though not as funny as her first book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, this one stood out because of Gabrielle’s openness and honesty in discussing difficult topics including infertility, motherhood, and racial justice. For example, she talks about how everyone else was so happy when her surrogate became pregnant but she was mad! This book was so very painful at some moments but it has stayed with me and I cannot stop thinking about it so, on the list it goes.

#8 | The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Delila Harris

This one was unlike anything I have ever read. Some have said it was a book written by a black woman for everyone, but that included often unexplained references to a black woman’s life (IE. Putting on a silk scarf at night). I loved that about it.

#7 | The Wayfarer Series by Becky Chambers

I read all 4 of these books starting with A Long Way to Small Angry Planet.  And thus began my love of Becky Chambers. I will read anything she writes.

#6 | Writers & Lovers by Lily King

This book has the second best ending of a book I read all year so, on the list it goes.

#5 | The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this one but such a lovely, hopeful story. Anyone who is struggling to feel accepted and loved by others should take a peek at the magical story.

#4 | Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

In March, the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club read this one; I hadn’t read it since I studied it in college. It held up. I love it as much then if not more now. And it was very interesting to read it as an older woman and how my perspective have changed since then.

#3 | Address Unknown by Katherine Kressman Taylor

Everyone should read this! And at about 70 pages, it won’t take much of your time. Originally published in the early 30’s before the start of WWII, it is a fascinating story told in letters about two friends, one German and the other a Jew and what happens when the German moves home at the rise of Hitler. Fascinating! Short – only 72 pages.

#2 | Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

This book is epic! The longest I have read in a long time. But very much worth my time.

#1 | A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

I heart this book so much! I read it for the third time last week and hugged it to my chest when I was done.

What was the best thing that you read last year?

enjoy life…

Per usual, I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and her Quick Lit post.

quick lit – next page, please {april 2021}

As I said in my Keeping Me Sane post, April was a very challenging month for me. So, my reading took a dive. I’m not that upset about it; last month I read 17 books and that was way too many, I think.  This month, I read five, which historically, is closer to my norm.

Read

  • Writer & Lovers by Lily King. If I’m remembering correctly, Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy said that this book had one of the best endings that she has ever seen. I have to agree.  It had a very very slow start but that ending? It was just what I needed.
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. This was a reread for me in anticipation of my participating live in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club discussion of the work. The first time I read it was in 2012. This is a classic for a reason! If it was possible, I got more out of this reading than I did the first time I read it. This was a great flight for Writers & Lovers.
  • Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. I have gushed here about Haig’s forthcoming release The Comfort Book. This was in the similar vein.  I enjoyed it but I LOVED The Comfort Book. Buy it, read it, if you’re feeling the need for a smidgen of comfort.
  • More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys. I enjoyed this memoir a lot more than I initially thought I would. And it was a nice unexpected flight pick with my next read.
  • The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. This book has gotten a lot of press right out of the gate and I can see why. It’s very similar to Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but with a singer of color and the implications/reverberations of that. As I was reading, I unfairly, was comparing it to Daisy Jones and thus was a smidge disappointed.  The books are not the same. I do own a physical copy and intend to reread at some point now that the comparison game is over.

Currently Reading

I’m linking up with Anne’s Quick Lit post. If you are here because of her, thank you. 

Let me know what you’re reading in the comments below.

enjoy life…