We’re already 6 months into the year and my Goodreads account tells me I’m 8 books behind on my reading challenge. Off to a great start. If you’re new to Goodreads, they have a reading challenge each year, and participants can choose how many books they’d like to get through in 12 months. I try to set relatively high goals but clearly this year I’m not winning yet.
I’ve had a very mixed bag of reads this winter/spring. You can find all my 2022 choices here.
Best of the bunch
Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck – 5 stars
This was by far the best book I’ve read all year, perhaps even beating out last year’s reads. Erpenbeck is a German author, and her story follows an older German man who becomes embroiled in the refugee crisis as it spills into Germany, gradually befriending African refugees. The sparse and poetic prose delves into the international refugee crisis in a human and touching way as Richard learns more about the men he comes to think of as friends, and the inequities and barriers that the German and other European governments put in their way. Incredibly sad if you already have empathy for refugees around the world. Incredibly timely and pointed if you don’t.
Best for: The family member who doesn’t understand refugee issues
Second best of the bunch
Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube – 5 stars
Similar to Go, Went, Gone there’s a definite refugee/asylum seeking theme running through this one, but also a cranky protagonist, child welfare and PTSD plotlines, and a Canadian city as a setting! What more could you want? Not exactly cheerful reading, but dry and witty.
Best for: A fiction-lover who doesn’t mind a bit of angst.
Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Frugal Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames – 5 stars
Though not a complicated premise – own less stuff, buy less stuff, save money – this was an oddly inspirational memoir of a family who did exactly that and got the life they wanted. They ended up living in the woods which is not quite what I’d be looking for, but it served as a good reminder that owning less and buying less saves you money and stress in the long run.
Best for: The “Shopping is my entertainment” friend or family member.
Best Young Adult Novel
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan – 5 stars
This was such a cute, quirky little novel – it starts out with a tragic bang but really does get better. It also has a bit of an immigration theme going on (clearly I’m on a roll with this!) and some really lovely interactions between funny characters. Reminiscent of Misconduct of the Heart but for young adults, I -not a young adult- really liked it.
Best for: The mature young reader who likes people and their foibles (and perhaps gardening).
Biggest Let Down
The Dazzling Truth by Helen Cullen – 1 star
I really wanted to like this one. I’d seen it on social media receiving great reviews – set in Ireland, with an artsy theme … seemed like a good bet. But both the plotline and the writing was simplistic and predictable; I raced through it, but not in a good way. It was a feel-good story, and perhaps would have made a good beach read but wasn’t the hard-hitter I was hoping for.
Best for: Someone looking to lie on a beach and not work that hard.
Currently I’m working through The Strangers by Katherena Vermette, a sequel to The Break which came out a few years ago. It’s an in-depth look at a fictional Metis family in Canada, and the intergenerational trauma and challenges that affect their futures. It’s heavy subject matter even for those of us familiar with it, and I’m moving through it slowly.
What’s next on your reading list? Did you have a favourite title from the first half of the year?