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: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair/Kristina Gehrmann

The Jungle [1906/2018] ★★★★★

 “The opposite of poverty is not wealth, the opposite of poverty is enough” (Dr. Wess Stafford).

Sometimes even to live is an act of courage” (Seneca).

This graphic novel is based on a classic novel by Upton Sinclair The Jungle [1906] that tells of a Lithuanian family of immigrants who arrive to Chicago, Illinois in 1899 and find their hopes slowly turning to dust as they all take jobs exploiting them and their desperate need to survive in the foreign country. Jurgis Rudkus is a twenty-one year old man eager to work at any job in America and soon finds himself in a meat-processing factory, working in very unhygienic and even horrifying environment. His fiancée Ona starts working in packaging, while her cousin Marija begins painting cans, and even Jurgis’s elderly father tries to land some job in order not to be dependent on others, among other family members. This family comprising of three generations is soon hit very hard by the “hidden costs” of their American Dream, which becomes very hard to bear, especially when most factories close in winter and the mercilessness of the family’s employers and landlords leads to traumatic experiences. Though I have not yet read the original novel by Sinclair, I found this graphic adaptation deeply moving, offering an uncomfortable, yet valuable insight into Sinclair’s vision and the conditions of blue-collar workers in early twentieth-century Chicago.

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