Genre: Adult Historical Nonfiction Year Release: 2022 Source: Libro.fm
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content warnings: Starvation, depictions of mental illness, period-accurate slur against Inuit and northern indigenous people (explained, but present), animal slaughter, alleged death by suicide, dog on dog violence & cannibalism, corpses, graphic depictions of surgery & infection
Levy returns again with an incredible account of several boats and two dozen people trapped in and around the Arctic circle. Anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson organized a scientific and geographical expedition to the Arctic on The Karluk, a ship vastly unprepared for Arctic sea ice and manned by a crew composed largely of scientists with little experience in that treacherous territory. It goes well, with Stefansson abandoning ship to go on a caribou hunt and leaving everyone else in the charge of its captain, Robert Bartlett. Death, mental illness, desperation, and long, long treks across ice pack into Russia around the onset of World War One ensure.
If you enjoyed Labyrinth of Ice, you are in for a treat with incredible characterization and a reverence for the snow and ice many have tried to traverse in previous expeditions, you’re in for a treat. The audiobook does come with supplemental materials like photographs, a timeline, and additional reading.
A note on the content warnings related to animals: if you like cats, there is a cat who survives and lives for several years after the Canadian Arctic Expedition. If you like dogs, however, you might want to skip this one as many do not survive and Levy does not shirk away from descriptions.
Financial fraud that ends in negative consequences for the perpetrators remains one of my key hyperfixations. I also enjoy painting while having a document on in the background. So, it was perfect when Netflix dropped a new document on the largest Ponzi scheme in history, executed by Bernie Madoff, which left literal bodies in its wake and the disappearance of billions of dollars in savings and long term accounts. A friend tipped me off about the book that inspired the documentary, so naturally, I queued that up on my TBR immediately.
I think watching the show and reading the book in parallel helped my understanding of the both the people involved and the execution of the fraud. With its interviews and depictions, Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street definitely focuses more on the human element while Madoff Talks does a good job distilling the finances, economics, and (lack of) governmental oversight that made a fraud this huge possible.
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.
October was my first month without my main WIP. Because I’ve been in such an intense state of revision, I took October off to tap into things I’ve wanted to watch and read for a while, and honestly, it’s been quite restorative. 10/10 highly recommend. I might have a new project in the works, but it’s all joy and no stress. Book-shaped, but without all the other intensity.
Which, speaking of, it’s November. Am I doing NaNoWriMo? Who knows.
Genre: Adult Nonfiction Year Release: 2010 Source: Library Audiobook
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content warnings: war crimes, human experimentation, mention of racism, misogyny
Sam Kean weaves a yarn that takes a trip through the entire periodic table. It’s mostly in order by linear history and delves into a bit about how the table itself can be a communication tool with extra-terrestrials beings (which are more likely to exist than one might think).
Much like The Icepick Surgeon, Kean delivers again on engaging storytelling with appropriate historical context, where madness isn’t as much the focus as it is an emergent property of scientific history.
Somehow, September also saw me in New York City. We can thank the CDC for letting me reunite with my best friend from my childhood in Poland, along with several others who I haven’t seen in years even before the pandemic. This is also a reminder for folks to get the bivalent booster if you are 18 and haven’t had COVID within the last 3 months.
I finished my revision and resubmitted it, which is my big project completion that robbed me lots of reading time. Now, I’m resting an embarking on a reading adventure to learn how to write a horny goth book. Hopefully, I’ll be able recapping that in October’s post. But we’ll see.
Genre: Adult Nonfiction Year Release: 2022 Source: Libro.fm
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content warnings: drowning, deaths at sea, maritime disasters, Atlantic slave trade
I was definitely one of those kids with a RMS Titanic obsession as a child, that honestly, had nothing to do with the Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet romance movie (didn’t want that until much, much later). The level of hubris and poor planning in the name of aesthetics is what captured many people’s attention, but for me, it’s the physics and aftermath that fascinated me. Humans are characters, but the focus here rests on shipwrecks in general, as a study, as a phenomenon, as a hobby, and some of the greatest tragedies that befell humans on the regular before air travel rose to prominence.
The specific lens that this book tells the tale of the fated voyage is strictly through the point of view of finding and uncovering shipwrecks. Entertaining, informative, and so focused on the final phase of a ship’s life time, rather than the story of a single ship’s demise.
Genre: Adult Nonfiction Year Release: 2022 Source: Audible
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content/trigger warnings: COVID-19, overdose, vomiting, prison, drug abuse, structural inequality, death of relatives
This book is a kind of sequel to Dopesick, in that it is a continuation of Beth Macy’s research and investigation into the impact and extent of the devastation left behind by the Sackler’s mismarketing and straight-up lying about the acute and long-term effects of their so-called miracle drug. There is some follow-up with the activists, doctors, and caregivers from the initial investigation, with several new key players in the movement to curb overdose deaths both within Appalachia and nationwide.
Though “hope” is in the subtitle, this volume reckons with the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down many of the boots-on-the-ground work with regards to harm reduction and further stigmatization and rethinking addiction as a disease rather than a personal failing. It does end, however, with action items that the reader can take on personal, political, and local levels.
August saw me flying from New York City back to Texas and spending a bunch of time recovering from psychic damage I’m not going to get into. I also did a bunch of painting, had a weird episode with my Instagram, and just. What a ride of a month it was!
I am nearing the end of my revision journey, and then I’m going to be doing more focused reading lists that I may or may not share as part of the recovery phase after finishing an intense project.
Genre: Adult Self-Help Nonfiction Year Release: 2019 Source: Kindle
Rating: 5 out of 5.
The way I came across this read is via a friend who I think got it for me when I was in a particularly dark part of my professional and creative career that nearly crushed me. I’m not going to get into specifics, but I started reading this book and had to put it down multiple times over the course of the years. I finally finished it when it seemed I needed the last two chapters the most (“What Makes You Stronger” and “Grow Mighty”).
While it is very focused on the experience of woman-identified and the pressures of those assigned female at birth, there is a lot here that resonated with me as someone who grew up with the terrible combination of undiagnosed ADHD, immigrant parents pursuing the American Dream, and gifted child syndrome. The Nagoskis put together a veritable buffet of anecdotes, studies, previous research, psychology, social psychology, behavior studies, and worksheets to get a sense of your own burnout and ways to work around it. Each section comes with a TL;DR section for quick reference, making the read accessible on a short time frame.
It might not be for everyone, but I’ll be referring to it when things get difficult.