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New Year, Same Me

Being mid-January now, it seems too late to write about resolutions for 2023 and reflections for 2022 but allow me this: I came across a few social media posts to the effect of "new year, same me" as a sort of nose-thumbing to the ingrained cultural notion of trying to re-invent a better self in the upcoming year.

Books Read 2022, photo by Anna O'Brien

I'm all for yearly resolutions, don't get me wrong. And I love me a to-do list. But there is a certain weight that's attached to resolutions, especially ones that are created with the intent to make oneself "better", meaning, "better than before." And what if, ultimately, you're pretty content with yourself? As in, you're doing the best you can and screw the man, that's good enough? Hey 2023, this is it. This is ME. And I ain't changin' for you.

Freeing, isn't it?

That being said, I did write some resolutions. While the list varies from year to year on topics of aspiration, one that I consistently make annually is a book reading goal. Last year I aimed to read 35 books and I just squeaked by. For this reason, for 2023, I kept the same goal. Already one down, 34 to go!

As for 2022, I also like to share what I've read. I did so at the end of 2020 (40 books read that year) and I must have slept through last year's reporting, so let's pick it up again (albeit 15 days late) this year. Here we go, in chronological order. Asterisks mark my top four and NF denotes non-fiction while F is for, you guessed it, fiction.

  1. The Black Prism, Brent Weeks (F)

  2. The Confidence Men, Margalit Fox (NF)*

  3. A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold (NF)

  4. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott (NF)

  5. The Blinding Knife, Brent Weeks (F)

  6. The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck (F)

  7. Madhouse at the End of the Earth, Julian Sancton (NF)*

  8. The Broken Eye, Brent Weeks (F)

  9. The Lamplighters, Emma Stonex (F)

  10. The Radium Girls, Kate Moore (NF)

  11. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender (F)

  12. The Night Ocean, Paul La Farge (F)

  13. The Blood Mirror, Brent Weeks (F)

  14. Irons in the Fire, John McPhee (NF)

  15. The Whale, Philip Hoare (NF)

  16. The Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux (F)

  17. Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger (F)

  18. Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv (NF)

  19. The Burning White, Brent Weeks (F)

  20. A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit (NF)

  21. Heat 2, Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner (F)

  22. Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants, Katy Payne (NF)

  23. The Pine Barrens, John McPhee (NF)

  24. Life on Muskrat Creek, Ethel W. Love and J. David Love (NF)*

  25. Horse, Geraldine Brooks (F)

  26. Uncommon Carriers, John McPhee (NF)

  27. Ring Shout, P. Djeli Clark (F)

  28. The While Nile, Alan Moorehead (NF)

  29. The Jump-Off Creek, Molly Gloss (F)*

  30. Vassa in the Night, Sarah Porter (F)

  31. The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton (F)

  32. Teaching the Trees, Joan Maloof (NF)

  33. Knitting Pearls, edited by Ann Hood (NF)

  34. The Passenger, Cormac McCarthy (F)

  35. Stella Maris, Cormac McCarthy (F)

General thoughts: a good chunk of reading time in 2022 was devoted to (re)starting and completing Brent Weeks' five volume Lightbringer fantasy series which was enjoyable but took commitment. Heat 2 was a surprise both in appearing at the library and that I really enjoyed it (and also really enjoyed re-watching Heat, one of my all-time favorite movies).

Heat - best movie ever. Photo copyright 1995 - Warner Bros. - All rights reserved.

The list contains three John McPhee books---typical. A surprise library find that I picked up on a whim and really enjoyed was a collection of essays by writers on knitting cleverly titled Knitting Pearls. It was sort of a right-place-right-time sort of read. I ended the year with Cormac McCarthy's two newest novels and I'll say: meh. Disappointed. Another bright spot on the list, however, was a book by Molly Gloss which was my favorite fiction read of the year: The Jump-Off Creek. It inspired me to try to finish the rest of her books this year.

So here's to 2023. Same me, but, you know. Doing stuff.

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