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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Victor Hugo

Today marks 220 years since the birth of French writer Victor Hugo on 26 February 1802. Hugo is best known for his great classic novels Les Misérables [1862] and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame [1831], and was also a passionate social and political activist who famously supported the abolition of the death penalty, the view that was taken in his short novel The Last Day of a Condemned Man [1829].

Our mind is enriched by what we receive, our heart – by what we give.”

The future has several names. For the weak it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown; but for the valiant, it is ideal” (Victor Hugo).

Victor Hugo – Notre-Dame de Paris

The Hunchback of Notre Dame CoverEach face, each stone, of this venerable monument, is a page of the history, not only of the country, but of the science and the art” (Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame [1831: 110]).

It was a singular destiny…for the church of Notre-Dame, at that period, to be thus beloved in two different ways, and with so much devotion, by two beings so unlike as Claude and Quasimodo – loved by the one, a sort of half-human creature, instinctive and savage, for its beauty, for its stature, for the harmonies dwelling in the magnificent whole; loved by the other, a being of cultivated and ardent imagination, for its signification, its mystic meaning, the symbolic language lurking under the sculpture on its front, like the first text under the second in a palimpsestus – in short, for the enigma which it eternally proposes to the understanding” (Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame [1831: 155]).