The older I get, the more the days and weeks whiz by and I have almost nothing to show for it. I cannot believe I didn’t post again all year after sharing my initial thoughts about the war in Ukraine and the video from Tracy Chapman. (Coming up on the one-year mark from Putin’s invasion I’ll just say: Fuck that murderous autocrat. Glory to Ukraine!) One thing I did a lot of in 2022 was listening to audiobooks. It’s kind of too late for a “year-end reading wrap-up,” which means it’s the perfect time for me to write one up, ha ha.
The “Charts and Graphs” area of my LibraryThing account says that I read (in some format) 105 books in 2022. That’s not a typo; it says one hundred-five. I looked a little more closely to find my DNF books (the ones I started but Did Not Finish), of which there were three. That takes the total down to 102. Once I looked at all the dates (as best I could), I determined that there were 99 books I read (or listened to) once during the year, and three more audiobooks that I listened to twice. So, a total of 102 titles, and 105 books read when you add in the three “extra reads.”
How many of the 102 titles were audiobooks? Well, I use the tag “audio” to indicate an audiobook, even if I actually own the print copy and the audio is borrowed from the library (usually through Hoopla, which is one of the wonderfulest things in my life). I found it was easier to count the titles without the tag; there were 16. Drumroll, please: I read 16 print books and ebooks, and listened to 86 audiobooks. It’s no surprise that I’ve listened to far fewer podcasts the last couple of years; my ears crave story.
A couple of highlights I’ll share. First, a new mystery series that I found consistently good, read by a narrator I purposely searched for because I’d enjoyed a few other books she’d read. This one is the “Deadly” series by Kate Parker, narrated by Henrietta Meire. Ms. Meire’s voice is likely not for everyone, but I find her crisp delivery just right for certain British historical novels. This series begins in late 1930s London and includes spies, double agents, and fearful interactions with Nazis in the lead-up to World War II. There are also a few warm friendships, the heroine’s difficult relationship with her father, and a romance that begins early in the series and develops nicely through the books.
The new-to-me author who writes standalone mysteries (with generous portions of romance and usually some supernatural elements) and had me hooked from the first chapters is Simone St. James. I listened to three of her titles through Hoopla and went looking for more. I kept seeing references to her earlier novel The Haunting of Maddy Clare but didn’t see that audio in Hoopla or in Overdrive (the company behind the Libby library app). I decided to get it on Kobo, and I’m glad I did because it was a-MAY-zing. I’ve got a hold in my Overdrive account for another of her books, and looks like I might be able to borrow it in another four weeks, woo hoo!
In early January, when I was looking at my totals and thinking about a “year-in-reading” post, I didn’t try to choose my “best books” or “favorite books” for 2022, or to choose my top 10. I read (listened to) so damn many really good books, I knew I’d leave out something that deserved to be mentioned. Instead, I looked at my LibraryThing ratings and listed my highest-rated new reads and my highest-rated rereads. If I love it enough to listen to it a second (or a fifth!) time, I want to share the joy.
New-to-me Books Rated 5 Stars:
Tessa Dare: The Governess Game
Lorraine Heath: Beyond Scandal and Desire; When a Duke Loves a Woman
Elie Mystal: Allow Me to Retort: a Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution
Simone St. James: The Haunting of Maddy Clare; Silence for the Dead
New-to-me Books Rated 4.5 Stars:
Marion Chesney: Snobbery with Violence; Our Lady of Pain
Fran Cooper: The Two Houses
Vicki Delany: A Scandal in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes Bookshop # 4)
Lorraine Heath: The Scoundrel in Her Bed
Anna Lee Huber: A Perilous Perspective (Lady Darby Mystery # 10)
Alex Light: The Upside of Falling
Kate Parker: Deadly Scandal; Deadly Deception; Deadly Travel; Deadly Cypher
Bria Quinlan: The Proposing Kind
Simone St. James: An Inquiry into Love and Death; The Other Side of Midnight; Lost Among the Living
Sherry Thomas: Murder on Cold Street
Series honorable mention to Lorraine Heath. I listened to the first three books in the “Sins for All Seasons” series during November and December and loved them all. (Books four through six are also excellent!) They’re narrated by Kate Reading, who also does my favorite audio of Middlemarch (see next list below); she is always fantastic.
Rereads Rated 5 Stars:
Charles Dickens: Great Expectations
George Eliot: Middlemarch
Eloisa James: My American Duchess; Desperate Duchesses
Victoria Thompson: Murder on Washington Square; Murder in the Bowery
Rereads Rated 4.5 Stars:
Tessa Dare: The Duchess Deal
Bria Quinlan: The Catching Kind
Victoria Thompson: Murder on Mulberry Bend; Murder in Little Italy; Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue; Murder in Morningside Heights; Murder on Union Square; Murder on Pleasant Avenue
I hope to write one day about my continued love for Victoria Thompson’s “Gaslight Mysteries,” but in the meantime, you can see some of my favorite entries in the Rereads lists above. Wishing you happy reading and happy listening!