Every year, I promise myself that I will get this right and then the year comes and goes. Having been on Goodreads since 2012, I always set myself Reading Challenge for the year. In my first three years, I didn’t meet that challenge, for example, only reading 10 of the 50 I had set in 2012 and 24 of the targeted 30 in 2014. 2019, 2020 and 2021 were good years, having read 43/35 books, 59/50 and 55/55 respectively. For this reason, I was quite ambitious in 2022, with the intention of reading at least 60 books and, I must say, I started the year really well but faded quite a bit in the last few months, primarily due to more writing work – which isn’t a bad thing. I read 49.
The promise to self? To write more about the books that I have read during the course of the year with one of those ‘best 10 books I read this year’ or something similar to close off the year. In the interests of not letting another year pass me by, here are some of the books I read in 2022.
This was the year I finally got into the writing of Haruki Murakami, in particular his short stories. His is a name I have heard regularly in conversations about authors to read and I finally jumped into the fray. There is something both calming and melodramatic about his writing. It feels like a steady hum, even in the moments of drama or conflict, and biographical, although they are all works of fiction, I think. Definitely need to read one of his novels this year.
The first book of the year was Will Smith’s autobiography Will which I thoroughly enjoyed. In a conversation about it with a couple of friends, I realised that there was a generational divide when it came to thoughts on the book. Having, in a way, grown up with Will Smith from the Fresh Prince, the rapper and sitcom star to Will Smith the actor and social media star, I found I was more accommodating of his steps and missteps. In terms of biographies, Michael J. Fox’s Lucky Man and Always Looking Up, and Michael K Williams’s Scenes From My Life: A Memoir – which was one of the last books I finished – all had a profound effect on me, especially the Michael K. Williams book who passed away in 2021. I shared the Michael J. Fox’s books with a family member who has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
I also read Sylvester Chauke’s Stand Against Bland. I find it difficult to read books writer by people I know because … what if I don’t like it? Pie-Pacifique Kabalira-Uwase’s Witnessing: From the Rwandan tragedy to healing in South Africa was both heavy and inspiring.
I often read novels as a break from non-fiction, purely for the entertainment, although a novel like Perfect Hlongwane’s Sanity Prevail isn’t particularly light-hearted. I finally read Rémy Ngamije’s The Eternal Audience of One, having hosted him on my podcast Listen To Your Footsteps earlier on in the year. And Marlon James finally published the second book of The Dark Star Trilogy, Moon Witch, Spider King, having been forced to re-read Black Leopard, Red Wolf in 2021. It did not disappoint in the least. Now the wait for the final instalment.
A year couldn’t go by without my reading something from Neil Gaiman – in this year it was Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wonders – and from Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon. I am also toying with the idea of writing short stories and have been working my way through the Caine Prize for African Writing collections. I picked up and read The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2016 at an Exclusive Books sale.
After my father passed away, I grabbed a couple of books from his collection that I wanted to read – mainly non-fiction – and found Ayi Kwei Armah’s novel The Healers.
And it’s always nice to get some quick reads in. I am a fan of Ran Walker’s micro fiction/100-word stories books and read about three of his books.
Without fail, I always end up reading a couple of music related books like Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm by Dan Charnas, Music is History by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (whose podcast Questlove Supreme is still my most-listened to podcast) and Highlife Giants: West African Dance Band Pioneers by John Collins. What I like to do when reading about music or a musician is submerge myself in the related music for the period that I am reading.
The last book I read in 2022 was James Clear’s Atomic Habits, the final book in a journey I have been going through over the last couple of years, looking at how to be better and work better. Wim Hof’s The Wim Hof Method has me showering with cold water for 2 minutes while Shannon Lee’s Be Like Water, My Friend and Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection have contributed to how I think about and approach life.
Perhaps, in 2023, I will do better at sharing thoughts on the books I read as I read them. Dropped my target in the Goodreads Reading Challenge to 55 for this year.