10 Best Books I Read in 2022

The year 2022 was a good reading year for me, but not brilliant. As you can see from my list below, I am no longer reading new releases because, well – they disappoint me (for example, Orhan Pamuk and Hanya Yanagihara, who are among my favourite authors, released their new books this year – Nights of Plague and To Paradise respectively, but, unfortunately, I ended up disliking both, and the same thing happened with Kazuo Ishiguro’s “relatively weak” book last year). So, below are ten best books I read in 2022. This list is in no particular order (click on the book titles to see the full reviews), and I am excluding non-fiction, poetry, plays and short stories (otherwise the list would have been much longer).

I. The Magic Mountain [1924/27]

by Thomas Mann – ★★★★★

Time drowns in the unmeasured monotony of space. Where uniformity reigns, movement from point to point is no longer movement; and where movement is no longer movement, there is no time” [Mann/Woods, 1924/27: 312].

When Hans Castorp checked into one luxurious international sanatorium high up in the Swiss Alps for just a few weeks, he never imagined that he would stay there for years, contemplating the most unfathomable questions, including the meaning of life and death. This masterpiece of a novel from the Nobel Laureate Thomas Mann is an astute philosophical examination of many things, among which are human spirit, time, knowledge, an institution and the nature of illness.

II. How Green Was My Valley [1939]

by Richard Llewellyn – ★★★★★

The quiet troubling of the river, and the clean, washed stones, and the green all about, and the trees trying to drown their shadows, and the mountain going up and up behind, there is beautiful it was” [Llewellyn, Penguin Books, 1939/2001: 42].

This book is undoubtedly my most “heart-felt” read of 2022. This is a poetic, nostalgic exploration of the life of one coal-mining community in Wales during the late Victorian era through the eyes of Hew Morgan, an intelligent boy in one large, close-knit family. The changes that he observes being made to the place and people he loves pain him as they also open his eyes to the machinations of the cruel world. Llewellyn wrote a touching tribute to a place and a way of life that are forever gone.

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Review: Havoc by Tom Kristensen

Havoc [1930/68] – ★★★★1/2

Franz Kafka wrote: “a book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.” If we take this definition of a book then Kristensen’s Havoc comes out on top. Havoc is now considered a classic of Danish literature and, accordingly to one author, “one of the best novels to ever come out of Scandinavia”. The main character here is Ole Jastrau, a thirty-something literary critic living with his wife and small child in Copenhagen, Denmark, a city that is going through some kind of a political upheaval. Disillusioned with his work and desperately searching for meaning in his day-to-day existence, Jastrau starts to slowly succumb to the rhetoric of his eccentric friends (Catholics, communists and poets) and also to the only thing that starts to make sense in his life – alcohol. Jastrau sees his apartment being taken over by others, his addiction to the popular Bar des Artistes growing daily and his faithfulness to the core moral principles of life crumbling before his eyes. Will there be a limit to Jastrau’s “fall” and humiliation? Can there be hope amidst all the boundless despair? With his razor-sharp prose, Kristensen paints a vivid picture of an ordinary man on a swift ride to hell.

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