Transitioning to a new year of reading has been going slowly, as it turns out. I’m still trying to finish up my final read from last year (a fact that will keep bothering me at least a little bit), so I haven’t even given myself the chance to start reading anything new for 2023. As my editing workload increased after the end of 2021, I managed to have less and less time to read throughout the year, so I actually read an even smaller number of books than I was expecting. Still, I did manage to finish a decent amount, and as I’ve done the last several years, I’d like to list my five favourite reads from the past year, in no particular order. As is always the case, these are not books that came out in 2022, simply the five books I enjoyed the most.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
My obligatory King read for the year, this book is deservedly one of his classics. I regret that I haven’t managed to finish my review of this novel yet, though it is still forthcoming. What struck me most about this novel was how much it felt like a Gothic tragedy, rather than just a more straightforward horror story, similar to how I felt after I first read The Shining. Its dealings with death and the otherworldly are certainly frightening, but you become so absorbed in grief the characters experience and the fool’s hope that the burial ground instills in Louis that its atmosphere is more than just the horror of people returning from the dead.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig
Having followed this project since new words were added as videos on a YouTube channel, it was really satisfying to finally read a volume collecting so many terms for obscure sorrows. I love the idea of breathing life into distinct emotional experiences as well. Though I can’t recall many that captured my attention, as it is hard when words don’t actually enter your lexicon, I loved the experience of reading so much that I shared a new word every week, just for the fun of it.
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
I really enjoyed revisiting Robinson as an author with this book, as I hadn’t read anything of hers for well over a decade. I regret not having reviewed this book, as it stood as a fantastic twist on conventional fantasy fiction. The typical ingredients are all there, with Jared secretly being the son of a powerful spiritual being, giving him budding access to an unseen magical world that has always been all around him, but his experiences are so entrenched in his life and tribulations as an indigenous Canadian teen that it becomes a compelling and unique, often dark, spin on a well-worn type of story, defying the typical idealism that comes with such stories.
The Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard
I don’t always include graphic novels here, but this collection of horror stories had such an impact on me that it was hard not to. Exploring brushes with the otherworldly or supernatural that are far too close for comfort, what struck me most about the narratives of this collection was how I really couldn’t be sure of what to expect from all of them—do they mean to help or harm? Though all were creepy in some way, not all encounters with the paranormal need be malignant, you just have to be careful, because you may not be sure until you’re in too deep, one way or another. I found the art fantastic as well, which had more of a comic-strip style to it but didn’t shy away from haunting visuals.
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
This is a series I spent a long time meaning to start, and I’m glad that I finally did. Written in an unorthodox fashion, as chapters are mostly transcripts of interviews, with some reports or journal entries sprinkled throughout, this is a fantastic telling of human beings unearthing and puzzling over alien technology and the ensuing geopolitical nightmare that would result. The fact that the technology is a giant mech suit was especially compelling to me, as it feels like a love letter to more adventurous science fiction but told through the lens of the logistics of reality. Though I have many series that I need to continue at the moment, I may try to get to the next book in this series this year. I’ll almost certainly be picking it up, at any rate.
I hope you enjoyed this year’s list. Let’s all look forward to another year of great books. If you’ve got any favourites of your own from the year, let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading!