I’ve always loved to read.
I always tell people I taught myself to read, which is kind of true, but really I’d memorize whatever little picture book I had and then “read it” to impress whoever. Eventually that strategy caught up to me and it was revealed I actually sucked at reading, I was way behind my classmates even. But, that was sorted by the end of first grade, and going into second my love really began.
I started that year with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and never looked back. Over the years my love of reading has been furnished by a number of key people. My Mom would always recommend books to me, and we’d talk about our shared favorites such as The Hatchet, Animal Farm or Lord of the Flies.
One of my fondest memories of our literary bond is when my Mom let me ready The Deathly Hallows before her.
Somewhere over the years, whether it be through general college/work business, struggling to find series I connected with as I grew from teenager to adult, or just being able to afford any videogame I wanted, my reading habits first stagnated, then declined.
I found myself in a rut, rereading the same series over and over, afraid to branch out, and reading less and less.
In 2020 I decided enough was enough. In previous years I’d set New Year’s resolutions to read more, but evidently the nebulous, free floating notion of more wasn’t enough to motivate me. I needed to set a clear goal, something seemingly challenging, to provoke my competitiveness, yet doable, because I was working full time while also completing my MA.
Eventually, I landed on 50 books as my goal for 2020, which comes out to just over 4 books per month.
And accomplish it I did, with a little assist from world events which kept me, like many others, sequestered more or less at home. All told, I wound up reading 61 books in 2020.
I again settled on 50 books for 2021, ultimately falling short of that goal (though my accounting for 2021 is also lacking so I’m unsure of by how much).
This year I was determined to read a ton again and I figured, better learn from the mistakes of 2021, and set an even more ambitious goal, especially since I would be totally unbound from the constraints of grad school. With that in mind I settled on 75, a figure I found once again, challenging but doable.
Through the first quarter of 2022 I have read twenty-five books, and thus have no choice but to now try to get to 100 books read this year.
In an attempt to better maintain a grip on what I’m reading and how I feel about the books I’ve consumed I’ve decided to keep a running Google Doc of my ratings out of 5 of every book I read this year. I also thought it’d be fun to give a little quarterly update to share my thoughts more in depth.
Here goes nothing.
Warriors by Erin Hunter
Okay so… the first three books I read are from the Warriors series. Yeah, the fighting cat books!
I absolutely loved these books as a kid, and after finding a box of them at my Mom’s house during a Christmas visit, they had my curiosity. When I found the first 6 were on Kindle Unlimited, well, they had my attention!
They almost definitely would not slap for an adult reading for the first time, but revisiting them with nostalgia glasses was quite delightful.
Drive by James Sallis
I listened to this on Audible for an episode of my podcast I was supposed to record with Logan Sandoval about the movie Drive. The book is good, but not amazing, I definitely liked the movie more, though Sallis’ work has its charms.
The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee
These books are so good I don’t even really want to get into them too much. This series, and another we’ll get to in a bit, have quickly moved into my Top Five favorite series ever.
I think the Green Bone Saga is probably the best series I’ve ever read. The world is so real, the way it evolves as the story goes makes so much sense, the characters feel so real, and the emotions this series made me feel were so raw.
Highly recommend for anyone who likes reading at all.
Jade City: 4.9/5
Jade War 4.8/5
Jade Legacy 10/5
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I like Blake Crouch. I feel like the majority of his novels are sort of like popcorn movie thrillers, or well done sex thrillers of days gone by.
His books are kinetic, propulsive, fun, and almost always have cringey sex scenes and/or characters with convoluted sexual relationships.
He has really hit his groove with his recent spate of high octane, high concept sci-fi thrillers, of which Dark Matter is my favorite.
This was another Audible listen, the narrator on this is fantastic, so I highly recommend anyone check this out in any format.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
A very disappointing read for me overall. An incredibly slow burn, which is fine, but this one doesn’t really pay off in the end.
I don’t really recommend, but fans of gothic horror may enjoy.
Midnight Mass by F. Paul Wilson
Another Audible listen, this book starts off well enough, is action packed, and has some cool wrinkles on the classic vampire stories.
But it isn’t anything really special, a nice solid story I liked a fair amount. Sort of a popcorn movie level book.
The Faithful and the Fallen by John Gwynne
This is the other series I’ve read this year that has bounced into my Top Five, though it may be more accurate to name it my Top Three.
Again, and I think this is a fair move, I don’t want to tip anything here. I’m not a team no-hype zealot like some I could mention, but I still think it’s cool not to spoil vibes or anything when possible.
I will say the world is cool, the fantasy elements are awesome, and the twists and turns, the little wrinkles John Gwynne adds to various fantasy clichés and tropes are thoroughly welcome.
The first book is a bit of a slow burn, and seems more tropey than it ends up being, but stick with it and I promise your patience will not only be rewarded in the long run, but in Malice as well.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
By far my most disappointing book of 2022 thus far.
I really loved The Guest List, Foley’s work immediately preceding this one, and I liked her thriller debut, The Hunting Party, but I found The Paris Apartment so… lacking.
This might be a case of me getting too excited and developing too high expectations, but based on other reviews that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Sure there are some good moments, unfortunately every time I think about this book I decrease its score just a little more.
The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart
I found this to be merely fine. Another Audible listen with a really good narrator.
The book is surprising, totally different from what I was anticipating, which was welcome! I just don’t think the ending hit for me as it was intended too, nor did a lot of the middle or beginning frankly.
The concept of the book is amazing, it is a well written and enjoyable work of sci-fi, it just isn’t an all time favorite for me.
The Spiderwick Chronicles
This is another re-read of a favorite childhood series, though this time I was not driven by nostalgia, but by necessity. I’ve been working on a little short story involving the fae, and thought revisiting this series might prove useful, which it definitely did.
Creepy and meant for kids, but with some SUPER dark moments, sort of like Avatar the Last Airbender in some ways.
Again, nostalgia glasses prevent me from wanting to drop a star rating, but these actually slap, they held up really well.
Showtime by Jeff Pearlman
The first nonfiction work of the year for me. This shortage has been driven by two things. First, I’m still a little hungover from the sheer amount of reading I had to do while completing my MA in history. Second, I’ve been reading a bunch simultaneously as I prepare for my Alexander the Great season of Highkey Obsessed, so while they’re not done yet, a bunch will be finished soon.
Back to the matter on hand, this is one of the most insane books I have ever read, maybe the most insane.
Jeff Pearlman is a gifted writer, benefiting from an ensemble cast that could make even Kevin Feige blush.
This is a big recommend for any fans of basketball, obviously especially fans of the Lakers, and probably for people who are interested in social history as well, though this only hints at some of that.
Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past by Paul Cartledge
I am not great, perhaps not even good, at reviewing works of nonfiction, (if you don’t believe me ask some of my Professors!), so this next stretch is a bit of a challenge for me.
I have read excerpts of some of Dr. Cartledge’s other work, and he is a very well regarded historian, but I’m not a huge fan of his writing.
There are much better histories of Alexander the Great, I found this repetitive, mediocre prose wise, and not super groundbreaking, though it may have been when originally published in 2004.
The Treasures of Alexander the Great by Frank L. Holt
This seems to be a classic case of an excellent 50-100 page article, turned into a slightly overlong and repetitive book.
Overall I really enjoyed Dr. Holt’s work. This doesn’t strive to tell the complete history of Alexander the Great, it largely glosses over his life and military career, in favor of trying to determine the true nature of his wealth. How large was his treasury? Of what was it comprised? What impact did it really have on his empire? What legacy did it leave?
Well written and thought provoking!
The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman
One thing about me, I love the unexplained. I love mysteries. I love cold cases. I love stuff like Jack the Ripper. I’m super into the paranormal, though I think I’m more or less rationale about it. (Interested but skeptical).
One of the categories in that sort of world are the mysterious disappearances of literally uncounted individuals in America’s National Parks and Forests. These are mostly covered in David Paulides’ Missing 411 series, which has been covered extensively by my favorite paranormal podcast Expanded Perspectives.
The Cold Vanish is a more mainstream look at this phenomena using the disappearance of Jacob Gray in 2017 as a case study, fleshed out with various other cases as the book goes on.
The book chronicles Jacob’s families’ heartbreaking and uplifting quest to find him, dead or alive, and sheds some light on the reasons for the myriad missing in America’s wildlands.
Unfortunately, there have been accusations that the author didn’t get approval from the family to use quotes and some stories in his books. That he embellished stories, poorly portrayed Jacob Gray, and in general acted in bad faith.
I was only able to find these allegations on Goodreads and they mostly appeared to be hearsay, I didn’t find any official statements from the Gray family on this, though a facebook page dedicated to finding Jacob Gray included several comments from alleged family members or friends outlining the above accusations.
Therefore I will not rate this work.
Take one at this in the books, no pun intended. Will I maintain my valiant effort? Will I remember to post an update in three months?
Only the gods know.