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 Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

The Magic Mountain [1924/27] – ★★★★★

But mind, the mountain’s magic-mad tonight,
And if you choose a will-o’-the-wisp to light
Your path, take care, ’twill lead you all astray

(Goethe, Faust (tran. H. T. Lowe-Porter)).

Hans Castorp is a young man on a threshold of a very successful career of an engineer at a prestigious shipping firm in Germany when he enters an international sanatorium Berghof in the picturesque Swiss Alps for three weeks and only to support Joachim Ziemssen, his sick cousin, and keep him company. Little does Castorp suspect that the sanatorium, with its orderly routine and confused sense of time, will start working insidiously on his mind the moment he steps onto its premises and he will end up living there for the next 7 years. During that time, Castorp will make friends with the most extraordinary individuals, engage almost daily in deep philosophical discussions on virtually every topic under the sun, fall hopelessly in love, and in that whole process entangle his body, mind and spirit so deeply in this “enchanted” place with its own particular passage of Time that any disentanglement will become out of the question. In this story, matters of science and spirituality converge, forces of time sweep people off their feet and then the re-consideration of what is Life and what is Death, and what is to be healthy and what is to be sick, may lead to some divine insights and instances of ultimate self-discovery. Translated from the German, The Magic Mountain is a masterpiece of the world literature, a splendid study of a man undergoing inner transformations in an environment of perpetual unchangeability.

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Death in Venice

venice pictureNothing is stranger or more ticklish than a relationship between people who know each other only by sight, who meet and observe each other daily – no hourly – and are nevertheless compelled to keep up the pose of an indifferent stranger, neither greeting nor addressing each other, whether out of etiquette or their own whim. Between them there exists a disquiet, a strained curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally repressed need for recognition and exchange of thoughts – and also, especially, a sort of nervous respect. For one person loves and honours another only as long as he is unable to assess him, and yearning is a result of a lack of knowledge” (Thomas Mann, Death in Venice [1912:41]).