Reading and I had a strange relationship in 2022.
I started and stopped several books. I trudged through the books that I did finish, reading much slower than my usual pace (I’m normally a 100+ pages an hour kind of reader). Sometimes, I’d go weeks without reading anything. And I was weirdly embracing nonfiction way more than fiction.
Looking back on it, I feel my reading habits were indicative of the year I was having. I felt…off. We all have those years—the ones where you’re up to your neck in an existential crisis, trying to figure out who you are and what you actually like. Honestly, at certain points, I think I was just picking up books that I had no interest in reading to help drown out the whirlwind in my head. But hey! I’m on the other side of it now. It’s a new year, and I have hindsight to help me avoid the same pitfalls.
“We get it, Bailey. You went on a journey. Now, shut up and share the book recommendations.”
You got it, pal.
Here are the books I read in 2022 that I will not stop singing the praises of.
The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power (Nonfiction) by Deidre Mask
If you’re the type of person who’s curious about how things work—like how streets get named—then this is the book for you. One of the things that floored me while reading this is how there are still places in the world today that just aren’t on the map. I’m not talking about uncontacted indigenous peoples in the middle of the Amazon. I mean places like West Virginia and Kolkata, where there are entire communities without defined addresses. Truly fascinating.
Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road (Nonfiction) by Kyle Buchanan
Mad Max: Fury Road is one of my favorite movies of all times, and the story behind it getting made is BANANAS. It took George Miller decades to develop, shoot, and edit this film. From filming seconds at a time and insane stunt performances to fights between actors and execs trying to strong-arm the production, it’s a miracle this film came together. I love this movie even more after reading this…seriously.
The Hacienda (Fiction) by Isabel Canas
When I tell you I had trouble falling asleep after reading certain chapters of this book—WHEW. There’s an element of this story that reminds me of the movie Crimson Peak, so if you loved that, this might be right up your alley. It’s beautiful. It’s haunting. It was the one fiction book this year that took my breath away, both in the sense of how good it was and because I was scared.
I’m Glad My Mom Died (Nonfiction) by Jennette McCurdy
When former iCarly star Jennette McCurdy said she wasn’t coming back for the reboot, a lot of fans (myself included) were surprised. Well, when you know about the tragedy and trauma behind her life as a child actor, you’ll no longer be surprised. Jennette deserves so much praise for this memoir. I can’t imagine the healing and processing she had to do to get to this moment of clarity, but my god…she’s incredible. And the way she tells her story—it’s funny and heartbreaking all at the same time.
King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (Nonfiction) by Adam Hochschild
It’s an older book with some updates, but it’s been suggested by tons of book clubs and avid history readers. If you’re working on your personal anti-colonialism education, add this one to your list right now. King Leopold II of Belgium was a nightmare, and I feel like even that description is too generous. This man ravaged the Congo region and devastated entire cultures through foreign policy and unbridled greed without setting foot in Africa.
Outside of my favorites, these were other books I read and enjoyed in 2022.
- All About Me: My Remarkable Life in Show Business, Mel Brooks (Nonfiction)
- And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (Fiction)
- Broken, Jenny Lawson (Nonfiction)
- Girlhood, Melissa Febos (Nonfiction)
- Girls Can Kiss Now: Essays, Jill Gutowitz (Nonfiction)
- The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson (Fiction)
- A History of the World in 6 Glasses, Tom Standage (Nonfiction)
- The Maid, Nita Prose (Fiction)
- The Maidens, Alex Michaelides (Fiction)
- Lakewood, Megan Giddings (Fiction)
- Oligarchy, Scarlett Thomas (Fiction)
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, Audre Lorde (Nonfiction)
- Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution, Susan Stryker (Nonfiction)
- The Worst Best Man, Mia Sosa (Fiction)
- You Had Me at Hola, Alexis Dara (Fiction)
- Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No Bullshit Guide to World Mythology, Cory O’Brien (Nonfiction)
Not My Bag
And here are the books that I started reading but couldn’t finish. That’s not to say they’re bad. The stories or the writing styles just weren’t clicking for me.
- Bestiary, K-Ming Chang (Fiction)
- Detransition Baby, Torrey Peters (Fiction)
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk (Fiction)
- Intimacies, Katie Kitamura (Fiction)
- The Margot Affair, Sanaë Lemoine (Fiction)
- Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul? Essays, Jesse McCarthy (Nonfiction)
Time to dive into my 2023 reading list now!