As much as I love seeing my Spotify Wrapped (and confirming that once again, I’m in the top 0.1% of Taylor Swift listeners), music just isn’t as much of a love for me as reading. I noticed that Goodreads was now offering a “Year in Books” which gave some great information, but not nearly enough. So I decided to tackle this task myself and create my own Reading Wrapped for 2022.
Here is everything I hoped to achieve in reading and how it actually went. I also included the best books I read this year, as well as my favourite bookish articles! And to round it off, I set some lofty goals for 2023. Time to dive in.
In 2020, I read 35 books. In 2021, I read 45 books. I started this year aiming to read 50 books. I thought that adding 5 more would be a good but manageable challenge. I needed to balance reading on top of my 9-5, writing articles, working on my novels and a little bit of a social life.
But I quickly got ahead and decided to raise the bar for myself. I changed it to 55 books, and it definitely was a challenge. I wanted to make sure I was never reading just for the sake of it, but I did find myself carving out more time when I was close to falling behind. This was the perfect push to sit down and read great books.
And next year, I’ll aim for 60 books! Less time on Tiktok and more time reading in bed.
There are a lot of incredible non-fiction books out there, and a lot of them hold firm spots in my TBR list. However, I am a fiction girlie at heart. When in doubt, I will always pick a fiction novel.
I know there is plenty to be learned from non-fiction, so I always make a separate resolution to read a certain number of them. This year, I managed to read seven non-fiction books:
1. You Are Not a Before Picture - Alex Light
2. Conversations on Love - Natasha Lunn
3. Black is the Body - Emily Bernard
4. Dear Dolly - Dolly Alderton
5. I’m Glad My Mom Died - Jennette McCurdy
6. Getting Published - Harry Bingham
7. Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig
While I speak Dutch fluently, I can struggle with my fluency in reading and writing. I’ve wanted to improve this for a long time, so I decided 2022 would be the year that I actually do it. I’ve always been told that the best way to practice reading in a language is to reread something you know well in your native language. I chose to reread the Harry Potter books and read three of the series. Next year I’ll read the rest of them.
Ideally, I wouldn’t reread anything in a year as my TBR list is long enough as it is. But sometimes, we need a reread. I especially love rereading my favourite Percy Jackson series each year. Whenever I’m sick or depressed, I like to reread my favourite Marian Keyes novels. Those accounted for all twelve of my rereads this year! There’s always a place for rereads as good books simply need to be revisited.
Longest book: A House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (803 pages)
Shortest book: Dear Dolly by Dolly Alderton (224 pages)
I don’t really keep an eye on the length of books. I don’t check before reading them, and on an e-reader you barely even notice. I’m not trying to just read a number of books per year, as then I’d choose short ones. I always choose books I want to read.
‘Dear Dolly’ happened to be my shortest book, but it was also one of my favourites! I’ll definitely reread it next year. And my longest book was one of my final reads of the year, which made it a close call. It also goes to show how ridiculous the ‘ideal length’ of novels are, as this was an amazing book that flew by!
I expected it to be something like this! Nowadays, I read a lot on my e-reader just for convenience. It’s easy to take on the train or on holiday. But I still buy copies of new releases from my favourite authors, or random books that have caught my eye in a bookshop. For example, I bought both ‘Black is the Body’ and ‘Before My Actual Heart Breaks’ on a whim in my favourite bookshop.
Out of these 27%, about half were probably books that I borrowed. A friend loaned me the Harry Potter books in Dutch as I didn’t want to buy them. And my housemate is an avid reader too so always has great books to share.
I’ve only given a 2* rating once on Goodreads and I still feel guilty about it two years later. On average, I give most books a 4* rating. I know it’s terrible, but I just feel so bad for the author. And unless it was poorly written, there are books that I didn’t enjoy simply because of my taste, not because of their quality.
I also tend to choose books I’ll like. I am quite an easy-to-please reader, and that’s reflected in my ratings. I guess I’ll never be a book critic, but I’m hopefully stacking some good karma in case I ever get published.
I’m a spineless rater, but even amongst my too-kind ratings, certain books will stand out. It felt impossible to pick, but here are the 5 books that really stood out this year. These were my favourite books and I can’t wait to reread them.
1. Again, Rachel - Marian Keyes
2. People We Meet on Vacation - Emily Henry
4. Dear Dolly - Dolly Alderton
5. You Are Not a Before Picture - Alex Light
Now it’s time to set my sights on next year! Here are my most ambitious book goals yet, and failure is never an option.
I also recently tried planning a specific TBR list, and I’ll definitely try that again next year. It helped me to read more difficult books that I had been putting off and vary my reading habits a bit more. I hope to play with genre a little more this year, as I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. For example, I definitely want to read a thriller or two, and find more indie authors - recommendations for either, please!
Aside from reading books, I also spent a lot of time in 2022 writing about them! Here are some of my favourite articles I wrote about books in 2022.
7 Books I Rated 5* That I’ve Never Seen Recommended
How to Get Out of a Reading Slump
If You Like Sally Rooney, Read These 5 Books Next
6 Books That I’m Still Struggling to Understand
Whether you read five books or fifty in 2022, well done! At the end of the day, reading should be something enjoyable and personal. It isn't about reading books to brag about; it’s about losing yourself in the joy of words. It's one of our oldest traditions and one I doubt we’ll ever lose. To many great books in 2023!
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Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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