Books, Comics & Zines I Read in 2022

I’ll be updating this page throughout the year. I’m having a no goals year but I do have an easy reading challenge of 36 new-to-me books (eligible books are numbered below) and I aim to try and reduce my Unread folders. You can follow me on Goodreads too or read about what I read in 2021, 2020, 2019 & 2018. Most links to buy are Amazon affiliate links but no one is forcing you to shop there.

bookshelves

June

23. Book Lovers by Emily Henry ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Really fun book that knows all the romance cliches/tropes and revels in it. Ambitious New York literary editor travels to tiny wholesome quirky town with her sister and a check list of movie cliche activities. Has a few fun twists and a satisfying happy ending that doesn’t completely change the characters.

22. The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Filling in some gaps in my historical education. This was probably too long and detailed for my needs but it was also very interesting and readable so kind of worth investing weeks in.

(I was also clearing out a bookcase and re-read some books on the maybe pile – and ended up keeping them)

May

21. Impossible by Sarah Lotz ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Starts out with a mis-delivered email that leads to friendship and possibly more and then hits you with a massive twist that is both ridiculous and a lot of fun. Once certain things were introduced, it was pretty obvious how it would end but it never got boring.

20. Fire & Blood by George R.R. Martin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
File under ‘books I really enjoyed but that consistently made me fall asleep after 10 pages’. This was really good but took me forever to finish. Since it’s written as a fake history book, it lacks a lot of the detailed plotting, foreshadowing, dialogue etc. that GRRM is best at but it’s all very cool and fun to fill in all these details hinted at in the main books. I hope we get the follow up – and the end of ASOIAF and the Dunk & Egg stories.

19. London, With Love by Sarra Manning ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Fun romcom about 2 best friends whose romantic timing never works out. It begins in the 1980s and ends with a pandemic epilogue and all the main plot events happen in/on the London tube. Generally a fun read except that (justifiable spoilers IMO) while you might reasonably expect the London bombings to be included, noticing that one character was in New York during September 2001 made me think SURELY NOT? but yeah it goes there and feels really cheap.

April

18. Gallant by V.E. Schwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I haven’t ready any of VE Schwab’s middle grade books and thought this was one was going to be Not For Me and didn’t plan to buy it. But then I got intrigued by the non-verbal protagonist and that it was an illustrated book and went for the hardback. It’s a pretty book but the illustrations are part of an in-story journal and are repeated over and over, along with some of the text, and it gets a bit boring. I actually preferred the earlier part at the orphanage as the characters at Gallant were not very interesting. Nicely spooky and well-written but probably better for younger readers.

Annually 2022 by the Pet Shop Boys & Chris Heath ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
No free CD this time and the content looked not so interesting but I ended up reading it all in one sitting. They’re all so good at just chatting about stuff in a way that’s fun to read, regardless of the topic.

17. A Bit of a Stretch: The Diaries of a Prisoner by Chris Atkins ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Impulse buy after reading an article about his KLF documentary. This is a really readable and fairly fascinating behind the scenes look at UK prison life in all its horrors. It’s not really a surprise to discover how outdated, unequal, bureaucratic and understaffed prisons are, or that mental health, literacy, drug use and rehabilitation are pretty much ignored. However, as a middle-class white man in for a white collar crime (tax fraud), the author manages to avoid the worst of things and quickly gets himself a ridiculous level of privileges through the prison equivalent of the old boy network. Still, if you’re not already in favour of prison reform, this is well-researched enough to hopefully change your mind.

16. Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 4 by Kamome Shirahama ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m reading this series too slowly and panicked a little when the blurb mentioned a character I had no recollection of. Thankfully it was a new character, who was a big part of this almost-standalone story. This world, and the magical education system, are so interesting to me that it’s actually getting a bit annoying that the bad guys keep messing things up. Like, maybe I also think Pokemon would be better without Team Rocket and having more about being a Pokemon trainer.

March

15. The Many Lives of Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Birthday gift and an extremely cute collection of mostly-new comics about everyone’s favourite chubby cat. I especially liked that they split it into all her different alter-egos – Pusheenicorn, Pusheenosaurus, Dragonsheen etc. – and even I learned some new things about her.

14. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
TJR feels like this era’s trashy Hollywood beach book author but her books aren’t really trashy at all, just dealing with celebrities. This is not quite as good as the previous 2 but I enjoyed it a lot and was interested in what happened to these characters – a set of surfer siblings with a famous singer dad who left when they were young. I do still dislike the ‘2 different storylines in the past and present’ format but it works fairly well here. The spin-off book looks terrible though.

13. Berlin by Jason Lutes 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This is an incredible achievement – a massively thick and heavy graphic novel worked on over 23 years. It deserves the ‘novel’ part as well as the story is so ambitious with multiple characters (mostly invented but some real people) living in Berlin between the wars. Together they give you so many different viewpoints into the politics and culture of the time with each character making decisions about who they are and what to fight for. It’s especially impressive that it all comes together for an ending that made me quite emotional knowing what happened next. I haven’t even mentioned the art, which has a lovely clean Herge-inspired style that brought all the characters to life. Extremely recommended.

12. From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A book of short stories set during the movie from different minor characters – mostly invented but some named characters – including droids, low level workers, stormtroopers, bounty hunters etc. It’s a fun idea and all for charity but there are far too many. Most of them are enjoyable but the ones set on Hoth and Cloud City feel endless. There’s also a couple of really brilliant ones that should have been yanked and given a whole novel. I’ve since picked up the one for Star Wars/A New Hope but I’m taking a big break before I read that.

11. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve definitely read these before but since I never added it on Goodreads and I forgot everything, it counts! These are the Dunk & Egg stories which are so much more fun than ASOIAF (relatively!) and still packed full of main story easter eggs and historical details. Glad to hear a TV adaptation is on the way.

February

10. Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This was recently translated into English (with lovely illustrations!) and it was nice to read the inspiration behind one of my favourite Ghibli films. The setup is very similar but the details are very different and Kiki’s adventures are much more whimsical and storybook-ish. I prefer the slight darker aspects Ghibli added but it makes me want a TV show with a different delivery every episode.

9. Shine by Jessica Jung ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A quick breezy YA novel about the world of K-Pop, written by a K-Pop star. It’s also unfortunately chock-full of cliches and paper-thin characters. If you’re looking for a Crazy Rich Asians-style cartoonish story of elite kids doing anything for fame, you might enjoy this more than me.

8. Misery by Steven King ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
It’s weird when you finally experience the original of something that lives large in pop culture. It is kind of hilarious how this is essentially a horror story about a writer trying to write a book (also that book is TERRIBLE omg). Despite knowing some big plot points it was all quite surprising, though there were a few bits I had to skim because I don’t like horror stuff. I really wish Steven King wrote more of the kind of books I like because I enjoy how he writes – but that’s unlikely to happen.

7. The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Always a highly entertaining writer, this book is about his apprenticeship on a Swedish sailing ship, traveling round the world from Ireland to Australia and back. Since they left in 1938 it turned out to be the last ever race (between similar ships, all carrying grain to Europe) due to WW2. I know nothing about sailing and there is A LOT of boaty jargon, which initially is equally incomprehensible in both Swedish and English. However, by the end of the book, you find you’ve become fairly fluent in the crew’s mash-up dialogue of English, Swedish, Finnish and cursing. Life on ship is generally horrendous but there’s a lot of weird characters, mishaps and cabin fever – and even a few moments of reflection – that keeps it light and readable.

6. The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a delightfully old-fashioned YA romance about Jewish Austrian refugees in London during WW2 (as the author was in real life). Usually these sort of heroines are orphans so it was a really nice change to have the same kind of found-family community and an actual family too. The romance is a little iffy in age difference and teacher/pupil dynamic but they’re both great characters, and all the side characters feel like real unique people too. Her original fiance is so much fun to hate. The story gets very rushed and full of ridiculous twists and misunderstandings at the end but isn’t ruined by it – and it really deserves a sequel. It looks like she wrote a whole series of these with very similar heroines and plots, so I’ll be saving those for when I need a comfort read. [Buy]

5. Sherpa Hospitality as a Cure for Frostbite by Mark Horrell ⭐️⭐️⭐️
(Unrated on Goodreads as 3 stars is really a negative review for self-published authors). Continuing to support bloggers whose content I enjoy for free. This is a collection of blog posts about the role of Sherpas in mountaineering from the 1950s to current times. They’re all interesting and have a unique personal viewpoint from the author witnessing the recent disputes. However, they do get a bit repetitive with the same information in multiple chapters and it’s a bit too cut and paste. It feels like a missed opportunity as everything is there to create a much more interesting book. [Buy]

4. Uniquely Japan by Abby Denson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I received a preview ebook for review and that will be on Super Cute Kawaii in March. [Buy]

3. Two Hitlers and a Marilyn by Adam Andrusier ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Not the best title for a surprisingly interesting memoir about autograph collecting written by a Jewish Londoner whose father is a collector and obsessed with the Holocaust. The author starts out collecting autographs as a child and then becomes a dealer – while also studying music at Oxford! The personal and family stuff was less interesting to me than the autograph stuff but it all comes together well and is often very entertaining. [Buy]

January

2. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
(Unrated because it was too difficult to). Despite feeling like the only history we were taught in schools was the 2 world wars, there were a few things about Hitler’s rise to power that I was still a bit unclear about. Since history is currently doing a worryingly good job of repeating itself, I picked up this classic. It is very long and detailed but broken down into readable chunks. It’s also very unique, since the author was a journalist based in Europe at the time and personally witnessed so many of the main events, as well as having access to the German archives that were seized by the Allies. The way he can compare what he heard or saw with what is actually in the meeting minutes, personal diaries and other documents is fascinating and you can really sense his anger knowing how well he was duped by the propaganda. It’s not without its faults, being written in the 50s, but it’s made a lot of things much clearer for me. [Buy]

1. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I’ve had this for ages, and been recommended it lots of times, and I have no idea why I didn’t read it sooner. Just the sort of book you need as we head into pandemic year 3 with a lot of fun space adventures involving a bunch of diverse humans and aliens on a mining ship. [Buy]