Top Ten of 2022
Updated: Apr 12
Well, 2022 was interesting. I almost wrote 2020 because my brain hasn't yet caught up with the fact that though the last two years have flown by, it still feels like no time has passed. Weird, I know.
I've been doing a lot of what I imagine most folks are: working, living, trying to stay healthy, trying to keep their lips above the waterline while finding joy in passing moments. Same here. Yet, I have done quite a bit of reading this year. I set a goal to read 30 books and I read 37. A couple were children's books, but they still count because one was Stephen King's Charlie the Choo-Choo (it says the author is Beryl Evans, but it's just another pen name--I'm onto you, Mr. King) and the other, The Tunnel, was so deep, it packed quite a punch.
So, I decided to end this year with my top ten.
#10 The Color Purple by Alice Walker
This was the first epistolary book I'd read in a while, and it relayed such a beautifully written and powerful story. It was pure poetry; heart-wrenching, angering, hilarious, suspenseful, and so much better than the movie. It's not a classic for nothing.
#9 Rage by Stephen King
This is one of the gems King wrote as Richard Bachman. I love his earlier work because it's so uninhibited. This book would likely never make it now with all the school shootings but it was a clever story told in the voice of one very fed-up high schooler, and what took place in the classroom as he held everyone hostage read an awful lot like a twisted personal development seminar. Again, wouldn't fly now but in 1977, quite a progressive approach.
#8 The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante
Elena Ferrante is an Italian author whose books are translated. Italian authors have a way of conveying their inner world in a very raw and brash manner, which I love. This Bildungsroman is about thirteen-year-old Giovanna and we follow her for a mere two years through the chaotic streets of Naples (places I could relate to as I went there in 2018 to see family). Don't be fooled, in that two years she sees and learns a lot. Her one main takeaway is: adults lie to get through life.
#7 The Help by Kathryn Stockett
This book was by far better than the movie. I laughed harder than I expected to. I thought it was interesting that a blonde, white woman was writing in the voice of a black maid, and I wondered how she could tell the story with authenticity. Well, she did and the character Skeeter's experience was akin to the author's as she shares in the author's note. I loved it. Well done.
#6 Jaws by Peter Benchley
Hands down one of the best, most action-packed books I've ever read. Again, better than the movie, and the movie is an iconic classic as most of us know. Let's just say there's a lot of small-town, political intrigue that the movie just doesn't cover as well as a steamy affair. And then, of course, there's the shark, and what I loved about the shark was that parts of the story were told through her lens. It was brilliant.
#5 The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
I related to this book on metaphysical and visceral levels.There was ugliness between the pages--depressing, gut-wrenching pain, secrets, old-world superstitions, trauma, incest, subjugation of women in Italian and Italian American families; it's all very real and punctures the flesh of this country now. The book was a mirror, inspiring me to dig into my own lineage. Though it had uncomfortable themes, it was beautifully written and I can't wait for this author to release her next book. She is an amazing storyteller.
#4 Devolution by Max Brooks
This book was nothing short of an amazing page-turner. I could not put it down. It's about a group of off-gridders in Washington state who find themselves up against a clan of bloodthirsty gigantopithecus (Bigfoot). When I lived in Oregon, I kept my eye out every day and this book just made it all feel so real. He's out there, you know. I totally believe it.
#3 The Shining by Stephen King
I mean, c'mon. It's King. It's The Shining. This book scared the bejesus out of me, but again--couldn't put it down. Read it in bed. Had weird dreams. I was okay with all of it. It's King. I have an insane amount of admiration for the man as a human and a writer. Seriously, don't bother with the movie. Read the book, it's a gem. It's not one of his best books of all time for nothing.
#2 Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
This book floored me. It centers on a young, nameless woman on vacation who meets a man that is old enough to be her father. No worries, it's 1938, so we're cool. He whisks her away to his mansion, Manderley, and you think it might turn out to be a creepy romance novel, sort of like Jane Eyre, but it's not. This poor, young girl is haunted by her new husband's late wife whose presence in Manderley is so strong, there is no moving forward for either of them. I can't say more than that without spoiling it but trust me, this one was unputdownable and apparently it was du Maurier's magnum opus.
#1 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I don't even know what to say. For years, if anyone asked me what my favorite book was the answer was easy: The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde because it has everything: humor, intrigue, dangerous sex, obsession, murder, wit, class, social classism exposed, weird religious undertones...the list goes on. Then I read Frankenstein and my heart shattered into a million little pieces; pathos at its finest. I'll admit, as the first three chapters set the stage, the eyes get weary--it's a bit of a snooze fest. Then you start to see the mad mind of Frankenstein take hold and then you meet the monster and, well, I dare you not to fall in love with him. The monster, not Victor Frankenstein. It's brilliant and Dorian Grey now has competition. My favorite line was:
"We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep.
We rise; one wand'ring thought pollutes the day."
I'll leave it at that. Happy 2023. Happy reading. Snoochie Boochies. XOXO