What I Read in 2022 (and my 2023 reading challenges!)

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It’s time for one of my favorite posts of the year: my reading recap post! I began writing these posts several years ago and usually post them at the end of December. However, in recent years, I’ve unintentionally started the tradition of reading at least one or two books the last week of December while we’re on our holiday break, so for 2022, I decided to wait until January to share my book lists for the year. I’m listing what I read for each category of the challenges in which I participated, my favorite reads of the year, and my plans for reading challenges in the coming year.

I also have a caveat that I mention every year, which is that I include the books I read with, or pre-read for, my kids. Mostly this is because, as they’ve gotten older, these books have become more and more enjoyable for me to read as well, so I almost feel like they’re for me. And also because many of them are lengthy, which means I don’t have as much time to read books for myself, so I feel justified in including these. Not that I need to justify it….I just feel better mentioning it. 🙂

And now on to the books!

Overall Goal

My overall goal was to read 36 books this year, which works out to 3 books per month. I ended up reading (or finishing) 67 books in total, which was a happy thing. Breaking this down, 25 of those books were purely for me and not a pre-read for my kids, a read-aloud with my kids, or read for their school, but as I mentioned above, I’m still including them all in the count.

The Challenges

Back to the Classics

The Back to the Classics Challenge remains my favorite of the challenges in which I participate. I was hoping to do it again this year, but as of this writing, a new challenge has not been posted so I will have to go with an alternative.

  1. A 19th-century classic – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  2. A 20th-century classic – The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1901)
  3. A classic by a woman author – Miss. Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson (1934)
  4. A classic in translation – Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (1870)
  5. A classic by BIPOC author
  6. Mystery/Detective/Crime Classic
  7. A Classic Short Story Collection – Sanditon by Jane Austen (1925)
  8. Pre-1800 Classic – Henry V by William Shakespeare (1599)
  9. A Nonfiction Classic – Toward a Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason (1925)
  10. Classic That’s Been on Your TBR List the Longest – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)
  11. Classic Set in a Place You’d Like to Visit – The Call of the Wild by Jack London (Alaska – 1903)
  12. Wild Card Classic – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (1838)

Literary Life Podcast 2 for ’22 Reading Challenge

Obviously, I didn’t do well with this one. For that reason and the fact that I don’t actually listen to the podcast (I’m not much of a podcast person), I don’t plan to do this one again in 2023. I’ll talk about that more below.

  1. Well Read Poem Podcast #1
  2. Well Read Poem Podcast #2
  3. Favorite Author of Your Favorite Author #1
  4. Favorite Author of Your Favorite Author #2
  5. Biography: Living
  6. Biography: Dead – John Constable: A Kingdom of his Own by Anthony Bailey
  7. Victorian Novel: Male Author – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  8. Victorian Novel: Female Author
  9. Drama: Comedy – The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  10. Drama: Tragedy
  11. Inklings: By an Inkling
  12. Inklings: About an Inkling
  13. International #1 – This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell (Ireland)
  14. International #2 – Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (England)
  15. History/Biography/Topical #1
  16. History/Biography/Topical #2
  17. Classic Literature: New Read – Sanditon by Jane Austen
  18. Classic Literature: Re-read – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  19. Detective/Murder Mystery: Golden Age
  20. Detective/Murder Mystery: Contemporary
  21. 11 Essays from Past Decades or Centuries
  22. 11 Essays from this Century

Reshelving Alexandria 2022 Reading Challenge

While I feel like I did better with this one, this is another challenge that I probably won’t do again in 2023, which I also talk about more below.

  1. A Book Set In Central Or South America – Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez (Colombia)
  2. A Picture Book Biography About Someone You’ve Never Heard Of
  3. A Book “Everyone” Has Read But You – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  4. A Book By An Australian Author
  5. A Book That Makes You Laugh – The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
  6. A Book You Chose Because of the Cover – Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  7. A Book With A One Word Title – Sanditon by Jane Austen
  8. A Book You Have Read Before – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  9. A Fairytale or Fable Retelling
  10. A Book That Contains A Prophecy
  11. A Book Published in 1922
  12. A Book That Takes Place During World War I

Art Book Reading Challenge

This was my own challenge and I also obviously did not get through it, which is a tiny bit embarrassing. ? I’m fairly certain I bit off more than I could chew this year!

  1. A biography of an artist from the 18th century or earlier
  2. A book about an artist from your state/province/region
  3. A book about a piece of art, a group of artists, or a single artist from a country that is not your own
  4. A biography of an artist from the 19th century – John Constable: A Kingdom of his Own by Anthony Bailey
  5. A book about an art controversy (e.g., art theft, forgery, repatriation, etc.) – The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick
  6. A biography of an artist from the 20th century – Mucha by Tomoko Sato
  7. A book of fiction about an art movement, a piece of art, or an artist – The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro

Favorites

I also wanted to share the books (in no particular order) that I especially enjoyed this year in case you’re in the market for more titles on your own TBR list:

  • Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Though it is a work of fiction and there is obviously a great deal of speculation, it did change my perspective on William Shakespeare, his marriage, and his mysterious wife. I enjoy stories like this because, even if they aren’t entirely true, I feel that they add depth to historical figures that makes them more human.)
  • Virgil Wander by Leif Enger (Any story set in Minnesota is probably going to make this list, to be perfectly honest. I wrote in my first quarter mother culturing post that this was so well-written until the end, but even in spite of that, it was a good story.)
  • My Side of the Mountain Trilogy by Jean Craighead George (I finished the second two books in this series this year as pre-reads for both kids and I just really love this series.)
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I think any Austen will probably make this list as well…..almost. 🙂 This was a re-read for me but it still just such a good book. Persuasion is my favorite Austen, but this is a very, very close second.)
  • The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles (Though the ending also felt abrupt in this one, the characters had so much depth that it was probably more that I was disappointed that their stories didn’t go on. I especially loved Sally and shared one of my favorite quotes from her in my second quarter mother culturing post: (when she was pondering why she took the time to make jam) “I do it because it’s old-fashioned. Just because something’s new doesn’t mean it’s better; and often enough, it means it’s worse.”
  • Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland This didn’t feel like a history book, but more like an introduction to friends of the author.
  • The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal. (Another Minnesota pick. This made me want to move back to my home state even more and find a good gluten-free brewery.)
  • The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick (This was just so well written and engaging. I have read a lot of very dry art history books, but this one does not fall into that category. If you have an interest in Vermeer or art forgery or the Netherlands during World War II or art history in general, this is a great book.)
  • Men of Iron by Howard Pyle (Another pre-read for the kids that was pleasantly surprising. Howard Pyle was just a wonderful writer.)

2023 Challenges

Overall Goal

I’m going to renew my goal of 36 books again this year, which means completing 3 per month. Because I really only read 25 books for myself last year, I might alter my challenge just slightly this year and still count all the books I read, but really aim for 36 books just for myself. We’ll see how I feel about this at the end of the year.

Challenges

Because the Back to the Classics Challenge doesn’t appear to be happening this year, I am going to do the 2023 Classics Reading Challenge from Tea and Ink Society. For more contemporary books, I’m also aiming at doing the Beyond the Bookends Reading Challenge, though I don’t know if I’ll be able to follow the monthly nature of it and may just take it as a general list. I’m also tacking on the Hey Reader Read Your Bookshelf Challenge because I have many books on my shelf that are in need of reading!

So there we are for 2023. I’m looking forward to more reading!

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