2022 was a wild year for me! Nothing typified its wildness like my reading experience. While I am not one for counting the number of books read and measuring the value of a reading year by the number of books read, 2022 was probably the only year in recent times where I fell woefully short of my TBR list. A general apathy afflicted my reading, but the external factors that led to this were evident and known.
Irrespective of this, I found joy in the pages of the books I read (besides the joy I found in the sounds I listened to to). The following are necessarily not the best books I read. Tthey are the ones that resonated most with me, especially after reflecting on them all at the end of the year.
SHORT STORY – There were many Short Story collections in my 2022 TBR list. This is one of the surprises of picking a reading list randomly. It throws up books I ordinarily would not pick up despite owning them on the shelves. While Short Stories are still not my favourite sub-genre of fiction, I relished some of the stories in several collections I got to read this year. Such a shame that I still had 2 or 3 collections unread by the end of the year. There are about 6 short stories I could pick as my favourites for the year but since I have limited myself to only two picks for each category in this piece, I have chosen to go with the two that stick most to my mind. I have chosen a story from each of these two collections International Sisi Eko and Other Stories and Joburg Noir. Each collection centred on a big African city; Lagos and Johanessburg respectively. Road to Yesterday by Temitayo Arowolo and Dreams and Others Deceptions by Keletso Mopai are my respective picks from each book. While writing this, I revisited both stories, just to remind myself how much I enjoyed them. Both stories are not only well written but resonated with me so much.
For a favourite quote, I have gone for this one in Weep For Me, Willow by Fred Khumalo.
NOVEL – In retrospect, I think the quality of novels I read this year were not up to the standard of those read in previous years. This measurement is valid as long as the unit of measurement is my enjoyment of the novels as a collective. I think there were only about 4 novels left in my unread pile of the 2022 TBR list, so I am not sure if completing the TBR list ould have changed my view of the collection. Despite the assessment, I have chosen two books that I not only enjoyed but found very well written. Ann Petry’s The Street and Kirstin Valdez Quade’s The Five Wounds. The former was published in 1946 and the latter in 2021. Excellent writing is no respecter of time. Both are my picks for 2022.
For a favourite quote, I am spoilt for choice as I found a lot of captivating quotes and paragraphs this year, as usual. I had wanted to go for something from other novels I read this year but I found the pull of these two paragraphs virtually irresistible. The first is from The Street and the second is from The Five Wounds. The first is probably the cleanest paragraph I have read in a very long time and I struggle to imagine a better opening to any novel. the second is a universal fact that resonated so much with me following recent happenings. Both are worthy picks, in my view.
I did not read as many faith-based books in 2022 like I planned to. I had about 4 unread ones by the end of the year. However, 2022 was the year I read the very excellent How To Like Paul Again. I got a recommendation for it off a podcast I listened to and found it very refreshing and insightful. Books that contextualize scripture within the 1st century world in which they were written, always hold a special place in my heart. It is pointless reading a letter written to 1st century converts with 21st century lens and asking 21st century questions.
For a favourite paragraph, I have chosen to go for something from a book apart from the one I have chosen as my best for the year. However, I am spoilt for choice here and have gone for two paragraphs in The Longest Week by Nick Page. Nothing surprising there as I am a very big fan of his works and ministry.
I am undecided about the quality of non-fiction I read this year. Maybe the external factors mentioned earlier constrained my enjoyment of them. Reflecting on all that I read, my favourite pick is Michael Sandel’s Justice. Philosophical questions are oftne draining but Michael Sandel has a knack for not simplifying them but presenting them in an accessible way for the philosophically untrained. This book analysis the great question of political philosphy: Does a just society seek to promote the virtue of its citizens or should law be neutral toward competing concepts of virtue, so that citizens can be free to choose for themselves what is the best way to live?
For the favourite paragraph, I have chosen this one from The Fortunes of Africa. This paragraph (split into two pics) haunts me exceedingly as it brings in stark reality the never-ending land issue in South Africa.
These are my best reads in 2022 and I heartily recommend them. I wish everyone a bookish 2023 and I look forward to even better reads this new year.
Happy new Year!