asking for trouble

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 & 2017.. Most links to buy are Amazon affiliate links but no one is forcing you to shop there.



I will do a round-up/stats post on my blog in January and set myself a new challenge.

44. Manga Classics: Dracula by Bram Stoker 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Christmas present that I started reading immediately. This is so good and the perfect companion to Dracula Daily. It actually makes a lot of the same choices in reordering the storylines and is a very faithful adaptation, only dropping some of the more, uh, lengthy contributions (looking at you, overly-verbose local newspaper reporter!). The art is lovely too and our good friend Jonathan Harker is very handsome. Definitely did not think I would be reading Dracula twice in 2023.

43. Pain and Privilege: Inside Le Tour by Sophie Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Interesting look behind the scenes at the Tour de France, one of my favourite things I watched in 2023. The author is a reporter who attended many recent Tours, plus there’s insights from cyclists and team members. Not hugely in-depth as even a newbie fan like me knew a lot of this but still fun to read on the long train journey home.

42. Remainders of the Day: More Diaries from The Bookshop, Wigtown by Shaun Bythell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Another very readable year of bookshop diaries, with an extra level of interest now that I have been to Wigtown. I had been hoping this would cover some of the pandemic but it’s actually from 2016 so a little bit too similar to the previous books. Reading the postscript of what’s been going on since then, I wonder if there will even be any further books in the series. I hope so!

41. Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
A collection of all her short stories so far and some new ones too. Despite having read some of these a bunch of times, they are so delightful I was happy to re-read. The new stories are mostly even better though, especially new ones about Simon & Baz and Beth & Jennifer and a really beautiful story that is really about writing. Super pretty book too and a great place to start if you haven’t read anything by her yet.

40. Tips from a Publisher: A Guide to Writing, Editing, Submitting and Publishing Your Book by Scott Pack ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Someone shared this on Twitter when it was on offer so I picked it up. Pretty quick read, and not a huge amount that I don’t already know, but if you are thinking about publishing a book, particularly fiction, this has tons of excellent advice from someone who has been an editor and bookseller.

39. What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Still completely fascinating and laugh out loud funny. It never fails to amuse me how he’s like, I wasn’t sure about one part so I called up [some important scientist] and asked them what would happen if [completely ridiculous thing happened] and they are always delighted to help. He’s also an expert at running a joke so far into the ground that it starts being funny again.

38. How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Such a fun book! It’s based around all the research he did for The Good Place (on Netflix, worth a watch) so if you’ve seen that, you will recognise some of this but there’s lots of new stuff too. I really loved the way it builds on each chapter so you learn about different philosophers and then he discusses how their ideas might help you decide what to do in various, increasingly funny, ethical situations. Helpful and entertaining! Unfortunately I’ve now forgotten why I docked a star. Possibly because there are so many footnotes and they’re totally broken in the ebook.


37. Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve really liked Claudia Gray’s Star Wars books but this one was just…fine. It’s mainly about Qui-Gon Jinn, which is a shame because Obi-Wan Kenobi comes across as way more interesting. Most of the other characters and locations are new, which is always good, but nothing hugely memorable. Also does that annoying thing of (vague spoilers) putting huge SUSPICIOUS BAD PERSON signs on characters and then -surprise! – they’re actually good guys.

36. Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop by Bob Stanley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This is a great primer of every important genre/band/singer/producer etc. from the first pop charts in the 1950s to the end of TOTP in the early 1990s. This filled in a few gaps for me and was interesting to see how one scene developed from, or as a reaction to, a previous one – and how things in the UK, US & Europe differed. Suffers a little from the impossible-to-please aspect of wanting much more about your favourite genres/eras/bands but also means the less personally interesting ones are short enough to get through. Still took me THREE MONTHS to finish.

35. Dracula by Bram Stoker 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Via Dracula Daily of course! I enjoyed this experience so much, mainly due to the hilarious efforts of the tumblr community. When it started (back in May!) I was 99% certain I had read Dracula before, but by the end that had dropped to about 5%. If I did read it, I do not remember it being this entertaining or that a centuries-old evil vampire was basically defeated by a bunch of obsessive diarists. I really need to make a list of the funniest moments. It’s happening again next May if you want in, and there will be a printed book version too.


34. Minding the Store: A Big Story about a Small Business by Julie Gaines ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A sweet and whimsical comic book about the couple behind New York housewares shop Fishs Eddy and how they started and grew their business. They are not natural entrepreneurs by any definition and sometimes their mistakes are a little infuriating but you can’t help but love their enthusiasm.

33. Chasing the Thrill: Obsession, Death, and Glory in America’s Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt by Daniel Barbarisi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I bought this for my dad who then lent it to me. it’s all about an art dealer who hid a literal treasure chest in the wilderness with a poem of clues to find it. I read about this a few years ago and remember when the treasure was found, so it was cool to get more of the back story and especially the weirdness of the people obsessed with finding it. The way everyone is 100% convinced their theory is correct (until they come up with the next one) and their willingness to believe all kinds of conspiracies about why they haven’t found it yet, is really kind of depressing.

32. Spaceships Over Glasgow: Mogwai, Mayhem and Misspent Youth by Stuart Braithwaite 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
I joked before reading this that I was looking forward to shouting “I WAS THERE!” constantly while reading this. However, for the record, I would like to state that I was not there for most of this, specifically the mayhem parts which are both hilarious and a little sad. Mayhem aside, this was a very nostalgic read as we’re a similar age and hung out with a lot of the same people. I miss those fanzine, ATP, traveling around the UK to see bands days a lot. I loved all the details about songwriting and recording all their albums and wish it had continued to the present day, though it’s understandable why it picked the clear ending that was there. Hoping for a sequel some day.


31. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Very sweet novel about a cat and his owner traveling around Japan. It’s mostly written from the cat’s viewpoint, which is really well done, and the story unfolds through the friends they visit and you start to understand why the cat needs a new home. The final section will make you very emotional, even more so if you have a beloved cat.

30. How Words Get Good: The Story of Making a Book by Rebecca Lee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Holiday treat and so interesting! Of course I am forever fascinated by publishing, especially after getting to write my own book, and this covers all parts of the industry in a lighthearted way. The author is also an editor and interviews lots of publishing folks to get all the fun facts. If you love books you should read this.

29. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I already read the Empire Strikes Back book (see #12) and this is exactly the same deal but stories from minor characters during A New Hope. Despite having some big name authors, I didn’t enjoy this one so much but there were a few incredible ones that made it worth the read.


28. Idol by Louise O’Neill ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I need to stop buying these buzzy “unputdownable” books when they’re on a 99p offer as they’re always a disappointment. This had a lot of potential, about a wellness guru influencer type who gets cancelled after someone in her past accuses her. It’s far too interested in being twisty though and has an unreliable narrator, a lot of characters that refuse to discuss things and vague flashbacks that confuse things further. Too much plot, not enough character development.

27. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer
This was on offer and I will read anything Jon Krakauer writes but this was….not for me. Unrated because it’s really well written and researched but a horrible topic (Google it if you want!) with a True Crime element that felt too sensationalist. I was still interested enough to finish it though. I can’t imagine how they made this into a TV drama and I’m kind of intrigued now.

26. Fangirl, Vol. 2: The Manga by Rainbow Rowell, Sam Maggs & Gabi Nam 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This works so well as a manga, especially now we have bits of Simon & Baz stories breaking up the real life plotlines. Can’t wait for the next volume.


25. Fludd by Hilary Mantel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ugh, she is such a good writer. This is a short novel about a 1950s village and its religious inhabitants – a priest losing his faith, the nuns in the convent and a new curate who is perhaps an angel or a devil. I was kind of mesmerised by the whole atmosphere and the characters and wished for more when it ended. I can’t believe this hasn’t been adapted for TV/film yet.

24. We Need to Talk About Money by Otegha Uwagba ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Excellent memoir about money and its effects on work, life, class, race etc. Otegha Uwagba has an especially interesting take, being a Black woman who grew up in a working class estate in London and went to private school and Oxford. There’s a lot of great advice and stats while also being very personal with plenty work and flat share horror stories. The section on rent and mortgages was done so well that I had a bad dream that night where my landlord sold my flat and I had to move! So definitely read this, but perhaps not late at night.


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)


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 seems to work 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.


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.


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.


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]


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]


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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