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Tag: Goodreads

My Favourite Books of 2022

Another year has started, and another shelf has been added to my Goodreads account to track my reading. However, in 2022, I did something a bit different: I consciously did not set a goal for the annual Goodreads reading challenge.

I’ve learned by now that these sorts of things — reading X books per year, writing Y words per day, etc — is a source of stress for me. Goals like that assume some sort of consistent, linear progress, and my habits are much more jagged. I can go without finishing a book for 2 months, then read 5 in a month.

The nice thing was that I still read 30 books in 2022! Some of them were for work, and some were non-fiction, but roughly 1/3 of the books I finished fit under the spec-fic umbrella. Here’s a look at a few of the books I really liked last year:

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

The cover of The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield.

I often compare my reading habits to being like a python: if the right book grabs me at the right time, I will swallow the thing whole. It may be a while before I come across another book I inhale, but I’ll sit there and digest what I’ve read in the interim.

The Embroidered Book is this year’s classic example of a python book: I read all 600+ pages in just over 2 days. Having read Heartfield’s Armed in Her Fashion a few years ago, I was unsurprised to see her continued nuanced portrayal of multiple female characters, or her deft incorporation of trans characters into the narrative. But the real beating heart of the book is the relationship between Antoine and her sister Charlotte, and how their rivalling paths on opposite sides of a magical conflict curdles, but doesn’t entirely destroy, their affection for each other. The final chapters (where Antoine meets her fate and Charlotte makes a very particular magical sacrifice) are heartbreaking.

Bonus: if you listen to the Revolutions podcast by Mike Duncan, you’ll get an extra kick out of seeing how the real events of the French Revolution intertwine with the magical events of the book.

The Language of Power by Rosemary Kirstein

The cover of The Language of Power by Rosemary Kirstein

I have spilled many words on here about the Steerswoman books by Rosemary Kirstein. And I even wrote an entire post about how The Language of Power illustrates the power of social contracts. So yes, this was one of my favourite books of the year, and I highly recommend the series. It even got a small reference in a recent XKCD comic!

The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc

The cover of The Centaur's Wife by Amanda Leduc

This was a weird one for me. I read it in less than 24 hours, but both loved it and was emotionally exhausted by it in the end. It felt laser-targeted to me, in a painful way, like Leduc wrote it specifically for me at this point in my life. I read it when I was 37, the same age as the main character. And the main character’s experience of giving birth right before a cataclysmic, world-ending event is one of my own greatest fears. On top of that, the main character’s father died when she was 12, and I was a similar age when mine died. And on top of that, I read it immediately after watching the DS9 episode “Doctor Bashir, I Presume”, in which it’s revealed that Julian Bashir’s parents did a medical intervention on him as a child without his consent in order to remove a perceived disability. Something very similar happens to the main character in the book and is a major source of trauma for her, so the parallels were hard to ignore.

The Centaur’s Wife felt like a pile of salt rubbed into my own personal wounds, but I can’t hate it; it’s so densely layered and thoughtfully constructed of multiple overlapping narratives. And the author herself, Amanda Leduc, is a compelling reader — I first learned about the book when she read the opening as part of the Ephemera reading series.

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

The cover of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

A friend of mine teaches a course on children’s literature at Toronto Metro University, and The Amazing Maurice is part of the reading list. Any book by Terry Pratchett is worth your time, but I hadn’t read this one yet.

I went in expecting something fun but anodyne, sanded down to meet the needs of children. But that was my mistake: Pratchett rarely pulls any punches, even (or perhaps especially) in books written for kids.

A Selection of Random Books on My “to Read” Shelf

I like reading books. The problem is that I have (1) a limited amount of time, and (2) a tendency to get intrigued by (and purchase more) than I can read in said time. So my “to read” shelf is massive.

I use Goodreads to keep track of it all, but I’m sure there are even more books on my radar that I haven’t had a chance to add to my shelf yet. Occasionally, I go through the whole list and cull the books that I’m no longer interested in or that I’ve forgotten why I added in the first place. I did that earlier today; even after getting rid of the deadwood, books that I’d already read long ago, and books that were duplicates in the system, the final tally is still 327. Intimidating!

Do I want to read all these? Yes. Will I actually read them? Who knows, there’s just too much out there to choose from! So here’s a look at a random assortment of them, just so you can see what catches my interest, and why.


Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

I’ve known about this book for a long time, but I finally added it to my “to-read” shelf on Goodreads in late November 2016. So many people have said in the past year that this book is eerily prescient about our current political situation. I want to read it, but I also don’t know if I can handle the anxiety attack it will probably give me.


What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank by Krista D. Ball

I bought this at Ad Astra last year from Myth Hawker Travelling Bookstore. Not only does it seem to be a welcome primer on the realities of preparing and eating food during various European time periods over the last few centuries, but it also seems to sell like hotcakes. The guy at the Myth Hawker booth said that copies of this book always sell out at cons, and that he really wanted to save one for himself, but that meant one fewer copy available for customers. (And if that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.) He finally managed to snag a copy for himself between the times I saw him at Ad Astra and Can-Con.


The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

I first heard of this book over a decade ago when it was recommended to me by one of my TAs during the first year of my undergrad degree. Back in 2003, when the only fantasy I was familiar with were various Tolkien knock-offs, a book that talked about “what the world might have looked like if Europe had been completely killed off by the Black Plague” sounded really cool and far out there. I have a copy around the house. I just need to actually, you know, read it, since it’s been on my radar for over 14 goddamned years.


Liar by Justine Larbalestier

This book was my first real introduction to the concept of whitewashing book covers. What’s more, the controversy came up while I was starting Ryerson’s publishing program. So it felt extremely relevant to my courses. And it’s still relevant today, considering the widespread, continued problems with lack of diversity in the publishing industry.


My Bones and My Flute by Edgar Mittelholzer

Several years ago, SF Signal ran a podcast called “Crossing the Gulf” hosted by Karen Lord (whose book The Best of All Possible Worlds I reviewed 2 years ago) and Karen Burnham. The podcast has long since finished, but its discussion of contemporary, classic, and Caribbean spec-fic was refreshing. I don’t much remember what My Bones and My Flute is actually about. However, the discussion must have been interesting enough for me to add it to my list, so I’m keeping it there. It appears that Peepal Tree Press published a new edition of it in 2015.


I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman

This is actually another book I don’t know much about, plot-wise, though the description on Goodreads sounds intriguing. I added it to my to-read shelf because of Cat Rambo. I took a short fiction workshop with her in 2014, and when I told her about a story idea I had, she said it reminded her of this book. Good enough for me!


The Outskirter’s Secret by Rosemary Kirstein

This is the second book in Kirstein’s Steerswoman series. I liked the first one a lot, and this is probably the only instance where I have multiple books in the same series on my “to read” shelf — I like them that much.


The War that Killed Achilles by Caroline Alexander

I want to read this solely because of one episode of Writers and Company, a CBC radio show, that interviewed the author. Amazingly, the episode came out exactly seven years ago today. Even more amazingly, I still have this podcast stored on my computer! This is wonderful, since it’s not on the CBC website anymore. So listen to this interview and figure out for yourself why I want to read this:

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