I only read 17 books in 2022, confirming the slowdown of the last few years. The total number of pages decreased too, albeit not too much compared to the previous year. In 2021, though, there was a significant drop, as in 2020, I read 28 books or 8073 pages. Stats have been going down since 2015, which is interesting. Like last year, I’m not sure why I’m reading less. More tired? Less interested? I don’t know.
This year I read more fiction than usual. I wouldn’t say what I read was uninteresting or dull; quite the contrary. Do the stats matter, though? Probably not; I might be a bit obsessed with them. As long I enjoy what I read and the time spent reading, I think I’m fine.
Anyway, here’s a selection of my favorite books for 2022. I picked three, but they could easily be five (Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Nabokov’s Mašen’ka made it to the shortlist.) In no particular order:
Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar. Terrific work of historical fiction. The memoirs are drafted by an elderly emperor Hadrian for his young friend “Mark,” the future Marcus Aurelius. Hadrian does not flinch. He tells of his many great successes but does not hide his mistakes and weaknesses. He points out the former so that his protégé can steer clear of them; the latter he investigates, not without the indulgence that every elder is entitled to. My review is available here.
Italica, by Giacomo Papi. Italia is a remarkable collection of short stories from Italy’s twentieth century, all written by prominent Italian writers of the period, including Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, Beppe Fenoglio, Natalia Ginzburg, and Giorgio Scerbanenco. Enlightening short essays introduce each tale, helping contextualize the story. Full review.
Stoner, by John Williams. Quoting the New York Review of Books: John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world. My review is here.
Overall, I read great books in 2022. I’m now glancing at the dozen books waiting for me on the shelf. I hope they’ll provide me with the same level of satisfaction, evasion, and entertainment as their predecessors.
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