Books Read (Consumed? Devoured?) in 2022

December 29, 2022 at 5:59 pm (Uncategorized)

There were plenty of them.

Herewith I present titles that I can presently retrieve from my memory, which used to work much more efficiently than it does of late… sigh..

I liked:

Fiction

Foster, by Clare Keegan. A sweet, but in no way cloying, novel written from a child’s point of view.

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris. Stupendous, rip-roaring historical fiction from the pen of one of the genre’s most astute practitioners.

Fathers and Children (Fathers and Sons) Ivan Turgenev. A new translation. Don’t be afraid of it because it’s a Russian novel. I whipped through it in three days. eminently readable and absorbing, with wonderful characters.

French Braid – Anne Tyler

Oh William! – Elizabeth Strout

Free Love – Tessa Hadley. Read it twice and loved it even more the second time around! (Laughed and cried with these unforgettable protagonists.)

Nonfiction

Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came To America, by Hugh Eakin. To my amazement, I loved this book and learned a great deal from it, painlessly.

A Spy in Plain Sight: The Inside Story of the FBI and Robert Hanssen – America’s Most Damaging Russian Spy, by Lis Wiehl. . The author digs deeply into character and motivation. Positively mesmerizing.

Oh, and the actual takedown – NOT a re-enactment! – can be seen on YouTube (There’s no audio.):

Return to Uluru: The Hidden History of a Murder in Outback Australia by Mark McKenna

The Sewing Girl’s Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America, by John Wood Sweet. An interesting depiction of post-Revolutionary New York City.

A Road Running Southward: Following John Muir’s Journey through an Endangered Land, by Dan Chapman

What the Ermine Saw: The Extraordinary Journey of Leonardo da Vinci’s Most Mysterious Portrait, by Eden Collinsworth. Yes, I’m always looking for a good art history, and this delightful volume certainly filled that bill.

Desperate Remedies: Psychiatry’s Turbulent Quest To cure Mental Illness, by Andrew Scull. A truly fascinating survey.. Believe me when I tell you, lobotomies were just a small part of this stranger-than-fiction story.

Who Killed Jane Stanford? A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits and the Birth of a University, by Richard White

The Hawk’s Way: Encounters with Fierce Beauty, by Sy Montgomery

Keats:A Brief Life in Nine Poems and One Epitaph, by Lucasta Miller. What could be more poignant than the short life and soaring creations of this great writer?

Mystery:

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahawa. In the travail of a determined search for justice for her sister, a young a woman comes triumphantly into her own. Beautifully done.

A Twist of the Knife by Anthony Horowitz. Sparkling entertainment from the creator of Foyle’s War.

Heart Full of Headstones by Ian Rankin. More sterling work by one of the masters.

The Night Singer by Johanna Mo

The Tale Teller and The Sacred Bridge, by Anne Hillerman. Once again, thanks are due to the Usual Suspects Mystery Group for gently leading me back to a series I once loved. I was unsure whether the daughter of the great Tony Hillerman would be able to do this engrossing set of novels justice. Well, not only has she done so, she’s done it with style, grace, and conviction. What a pleasure to be back among the beauties and mysteries of the American Southwest!

Hatchet Island by Paul Doiron. Doiron’s series featuring Maine game warden Mike Bowditch continues along its trajectory off great storytelling coupled with vivid characters.

What Child Is This? Inspired by Conan Doyle’s ‘The Blue Carbuncle,’ Sherlock Holmes Solves Two Brand New Christmas Mysteries in Victorian London, by Bonnie MacBird. As a staunch fan of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, I’m not sually drawn to pastiches, but this one worked for me.

In addition, this novel brought me back to the Conan Doyle oeuvre, and in particular to the meticulous dramatizations featuring Edward Hardwicke and the incomparable Jeremy Brett. Watch this one, for instance, and marvel, as I do, at the high quality of the production values and the performances.

Liked, with reservations

Inspector French: Fear Comes To Chalfont, by Freeman Wills Crofts. So I was in the mood for a story featuring an inspector from the old days. This one largely filled the bill, except that toward the end, French and his team started wrangling over Agatha Christie style minutiae, as in: “Did that happen at 7:14 or 7:17?” Otherwise, an enjoyable visit back to the Golden Age.

Four series entries that did not quite live up to my expectations:

Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffith, The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves, The King Arthur Case by Jean Luc Bannalec, and Fall Guy by Archer Mayor (Am I becoming too finicky?)


A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny. Everyone adores this author, and this latest entry in her Inspector Gamache series in particular has drawn raves from reviewers.

So…Is is just me? I enjoyed certain aspects of this novel, but I also felt that it was overstuffed with obscure artistic and historical matter. I grew impatient with its convolutions. Admittedly, everything Penny writes doesn’t work for me. Still, I wish her legion of fans joy of her work.

My absolute favorites of 2022 are as follows:

Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris

Fathers and Children (Fathers and Sons) by Ivan Turgenev – new translation by Nicholas Pasternak Slater and Maya Slater

Free Love by Tessa Hadley

Picasso’s War by Hugh Eakin

A Spy in Plain Sight by Lis Wiehl

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahawa

Heart Full of Headstones by Ian Rankin

The Tale Teller and The Sacred Bridge by Anne Hillerman


1 Comment

  1. Mary Herbert said,

    So happy to see your favorites list! I always look forward to reading your blog. Happy new year, too!

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