I read 192 books this year in a split of: 54 ARCs (up from last year), 33 audiobooks (down from last year), 72 manga volumes (down from last year), 20 physical copies (up from last year), 8 light novels (up from last year), and 5 eBooks (down from last year). I want to share my favorites, so please enjoy my favorite 20 2022 books, favorite 10 books from before 2021, and my favorite 5 manga. I would have done a favorite 20 of backlist books, but, unfortunately, I did not prioritize this year, and I think that contributed to my exhaustion.
Overall, it’s not as many things as last year, and it did bring me dangerously close to burning out on reading. 2023 will be a year for resetting some of my priorities with regards to reading, which will focus on my backlog and reading a whole lot of light novels.
March is another month I largely took off because of Futurescapes and traveling to a work convention. In that time, I played a ton of Elden Ring and mostly did a hard reset of my brain. My writing brain has somewhat defrosted and after setting some boundaries on the work I’ll be doing moving forward, I’m hoping my reading brain will defrost a bit as well.
No author interviews this month but there will be plenty in the next few months.
Read an eARC from the publisher Content warning: anti-Japanese racism, anti-Asian racism, slurs, white supremacy, arachnophobia, gore, blood, miscarriage
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Alma Katsu’s historical horror novels. This one takes a little bit of a different approach, delving into a specific historical chapter but using characters largely invented for the story. In one of the very real Japanese internment camps in Idaho, Meiko Briggs notices a mysterious shipment arrive while her daughter, Aiko, sees portentous demons in the corner of her room. In Oregon, preacher Archie Mitchell eagerly awaits the birth of his first child, while those dreams are dashed when a mysterious balloon explodes and kills his wife along with some local children. In Nebraska, a journalist, Fran Gurstwold sees one of these mystery balloons and falls down a rabbit hole of government conspiracy and further abuses.
Unnervingly relevant, The Fervor offers a critique and condemnation of racism and xenophobia while weaving a terrifying story featuring demons from Japanese folklore and a mysterious illness.
2022 will continue to slap as far as reading goes. So many old faves releasing new work, several new blog interviews to come. You are in for a year that will turn that to be read list into a to be read horde.
I read 153 books this year in a 50/50 split between audiobooks and other formats. Being unemployed helped that along, didn’t do much for me in terms of my mental health. But there were so many good reads consumed and published this year, I had to make two lists. Enjoy!
Here we are friends, in a time of social distancing where staying at home is the most productive thing you can do to keep yourself and those around you safe. Which for me, includes working my dayjob from 9 to 5 and then spending time with audiobooks while playing video games (currently playing Animal Crossing). This is what I read in March. I should really consider augmenting my reading goal, I’m 17 books ahead already.
Having loved Katsu’s previous historical horror, The Hunger, I had high expectations for her second. The Deep is a fictional take on the events of the Titanic and the Britannic, ships which had sunk in very different circumstances, but shared a few passengers, including main character Annie Hebbley.
Katsu has such a knack for managing several timelines and points of view in one narrative. In addition to the great historical tragedies, Katsu delves deeply into one personal tragedy which spans both ships’ journeys. The one that carries the story—the Fletcher family consisting of Caroline, Mark, Ondine, and the late Lilian Notting—was particularly compelling. It features the promise of better, jealousy, terrible choices, and redemptive arcs which try to right the wrongs of the past. Katsu also narrows in on the stories of other passengers, like the Astors, Guggenheim, and more. The depth of research simmers on page, maintaining immersive dread.
Much like in The Hunger, each character gets ample page time. The supernatural, folkloric scares in this one work so well because this narrative is so character-driven. The ships simply serve as a backdrop and madness thrives independent of its majesty. Personal sins and tragedies haunt everyone every step of the way, making for yet another heart-wrenching narrative.
Once again, I found myself the kind of upset in a way that makes me say thank you.
This book has been on my mind ever since I learned the story of the Donner Party over at Last Podcast on the Left. Having survived a horror read like The Devil in Silver, I figured I dive in with this historical horror.
Dear reader, I found something far more upsetting.
Come for the rumors of cannibalism, stay for a story of human error, loyalty, and fear of the unknown as a wagon train falls under a series a mishaps. Could it be the witch, Tamsen Donner? Could it be the scoundrels of John Snyder and Lewis Keseberg? Could it be biting off more than you can chew when trying to escape your tragic past, a la Charles Stanton? The book answers these questions and more.
Katsu expertly navigates several points of view while trying to humanize the members of the Donner party. After finishing the book, I think the tragedy came from an unfortunate concoction of error, fear, and interpersonal conflicts. From the outset, it’s hard to decide whom to trust and the morality there is kept so gray. If you know the story, then you’ll know who the villain is. Worry not, there’s no sympathy given there.
This read left me equal parts nauseated and the crying kind of upset in a way that makes me say thank you.