2022 Reading in Review

I finished reading 101 books in 2022, and depending on whether I manage to finish Chuck Wendig’s 700+ page Wayfarers in the next two days or so I might make it to 102, but beyond that seems highly unlikely. I’m currently planning on writing the top 10 list later today. Some statistics, because I’m a nerd and roll like that:

  • That’s going to end up just north of 43,000 pages, which is about 118 pages a day; the average book was around 425 pages. This was considerably off my pace from the last few years, which were all in the 130s; I blame reading longer books (I read a lot of epic fantasy doorstops this year) and the YouTube channel, which ate up some of my leisure reading and writing time.
  • Those 102 books were written by 81 different authors, 45 of which were new to me this year;
  • I read four books each by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Sarah J. Maas, three by Junji Ito and J.R.R. Tolkien (and I really should have gotten to the Silmarillion this year, and didn’t) and two each by Rin Chupeco, Nicholas Eames, John Gwynne, James Islington, Kara Jorgensen, Cassandra Khaw, Elizabeth Lim, Christopher Ruocchio, Anthony Ryan and Evan Winter.
  • While this was the first year in a while I wasn’t doing anything to track diversity in my authors, of the 81, 37 were women or nonbinary. At least 31 were people of color. That’s not bad, considering that I wasn’t tracking, but I’d prefer both of those numbers to be higher. 33 were white men.
  • The shortest book I read was Christopher Rowe’s novella These Prisoning Hills, at 112 pages, and the longest was Ken Liu’s Speaking Bones, at 1047 pages.

If you have any questions, obviously, feel free to ask. Here’s the entire list; the blank space at the top is John J. SanGiovanni’s Productive Math Struggle, which Goodreads doesn’t have a cover image for.

Some new music I liked in 2022

This isn’t a “best of” list and it’s not going to be in any particular order, except maybe for the first two, which probably are the best new albums I listened to this year. Most of these are 2022 releases, although they’re all from this year or last year and one of the 2021 releases is from someone you’ve never heard of so it doesn’t matter what year it came out anyway. Before I talk about those, though, I should point out that this was probably the year of Counting Crows. Pearl Jam is still my favorite band and have been for long enough that it’s probably reasonable to say that they always will be, but Adam Duritz spent the year feeding my soul and chances are if you randomly sampled what I was listening to at any given moment it was more likely to be the Crows than anything else. But they didn’t release anything new this year, so I don’t have a particular album to talk about.

Also, music reviews are essentially gibberish to me and I don’t understand them when I read them and I sure as hell can’t write them, so expect this to be several different minor variations on “This was good and you should check it out.” Y’all got Spotify and shit, it’s not like it’s going to cost you any money.

Also also, you’re going to notice a theme, and I swear it’s not something I did intentionally, either in the writing of this piece or the actual collection of the music.

At any rate, in no particular order, again, except the first two:

Delilah Bon, by Delilah Bon, a British radical lesbian feminist screamy guitarist whose music is punk rap, and I can’t stop listening to this Goddamned album. I think I caught a literal minute of a live concert on TikTok and immediately ran to spend money. This is her only full-length record at the moment although I hit up her website for the cover image and there’s something she’s calling a “horror EP” out too? I haven’t listened to that yet but this is some really amazing music and if you want something angry you can headbang to you won’t regret picking it up.

2022 was Lizzo’s year, right? I have Cuz I Love You, which wasn’t her debut but was definitely her breakthrough, and Special just … towers over it, in every way. There isn’t a single weak track on the album, and while they’re not all the dance-poppy stuff she’s become known for she’s at the point where she can basically do whatever she wants musically and it’s going to come off great. She claims in a spoken word outro at the end that she wrote over a hundred songs and these were the twelve that made the cut, and I don’t have trouble believing that. There’s just no damn filler at all. I almost don’t want her next album because after this I don’t see how it won’t be a letdown.

Look at Miley Cyrus’ white girl ass look at it.

This was the year where I transitioned; I fucking love Miley Cyrus’ music and I don’t care who knows it, and it took her deciding at the ripe old age of holy shit Miley Cyrus is 30 to decide that she wanted to be Janis Joplin when she grew up and I am one hundred percent here for it. She’s developed this raspy cigarette-smoke growl to her voice that I absolutely fucking love, and it turns out that she’s awesome live? She didn’t release an album of new music this year that I’m aware of but she did drop this one, along with a ton of cover songs from pretty much any 1970’s rock and roll artist you can name and it’s all fantastic. She’s at the point where she’s shed her skin so many times that she clearly feels free to do whatever she wants, and while we probably won’t get to keep Growly Rock Goddess Miley Cyrus forever, I’m here for as long as the ride lasts.

I would be an entirely different person– I can’t even tell you how, I just wouldn’t be me– if I hadn’t encountered KRS-One’s music in fifth grade. This guy, no shit and no exaggeration, probably had more influence on my life than anyone outside my actual family except maybe J.R.R. Tolkien, and he’s dead. He is still releasing music on a fairly prolific schedule, although he tends to work with smaller labels so I find myself missing stuff all the time. That said, I managed to cop the ridiculously named I M A M C R U 1 2 (“I am a MC, are you one too?”) right after release, and it’s one of his strongest efforts since the nineties. Which were long enough ago that I don’t want to think about how long ago they were. He’s had a string of mostly forgettable records for the last several years which I keep buying out of pure loyalty but this one reminded me of why I’m still doing it.

One of the problems with listening to nearly all of my music digitally nowadays (the rest is on the radio) is that it’s harder to appreciate cover art if all you get is a little .jpg of the cover; to wit, I didn’t realize the woman on the cover of Halsey’s If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power had a boob out until just now when I was looking for a copy of the cover at a decent resolution. Halsey snuck up on me; this thing happened where a couple of times a week I would realize I liked a song (or part of one) on the radio or something and I’d think I wonder who that is and either look the song up or ask my wife, and I noticed that Halsey’s name was coming up an awful lot in those types of questions. I like her music a hell of a lot but I bought three of her albums this year and I don’t think I can name more than one or two songs, because for whatever reason I don’t process her music or her voice that way. But you could pick any song from any of her albums and play it and ask me Hey, Luther, do you like this song? and I’d listen at it for a minute or two as if I’d never heard it before and then tell you yeah, that’s a great song, and probably ask you who it was.

I know that doesn’t sound like a recommendation, but I’m going to call myself a fan anyway.

We’ll call that a top (ish) five (limited to new stuff) and offer this series of .jpgs so that you can see what else I bought this year. Anything that shows up twice is because Apple Music is stupid and I haven’t been able to fix it.

That’s all, folks

Year seventeen of my teaching career, done and dusted. This was absolutely the oddest year of my time in this profession, but unlike most of the teachers in this country it wasn’t the longest or the most stressful. Honestly, as ridiculous as it sounds, personally this was one of the easiest years I’ve ever had. I can’t claim that’s true for a lot of my students, mind you, and we’re going to pay for this next year– but a year where a computer did my grading and I had no discipline problems to worry about papers over a lot of problems. In a lot of ways, for the kids who showed up, at least, I got to be the teacher I have always wanted to be this year– and I got this intensely gratifying result from my end-of-year survey today as well:

This is only 50 of the 139 I have on roster, so hopefully I’ll get at least a few dozen more responses over the next few days, but this is on a scale where 1 is “I completely disagree” and 5 is “I completely agree.” So there’s a small handful of kids who either think I have favorites or I pick on certain kids, but if anyone thinks I pick on certain kids, no one thinks those certain kids are them. There’s a lot more to dig into on the survey, but these were the two results that really stood out for me and really made me feel like I was on the right track this year. I also got a handful of really nice thank-you notes, which hasn’t happened in a while, and a few kids said they were bringing things for me to the end-of-year recognition ceremony tomorrow.

(Which is going to be at school, and not outdoors in the rain, alhamdullilah.)

At the end of next year, I will have been teaching for as long as our high school seniors have been alive. That’ll be … fun. I haven’t had to teach the child of any former students yet, helped out by the fact that I don’t live in Chicago any longer and reset the clock when I moved back to South Bend, but that’s coming. I know enough of them have children that the oldest of them will be passing through middle school in a few more years.

I’m going into this summer, for the first time in a while, with no real plan to even try writing a book. What I need to do is study for my National Boards test and start seriously planning for next year. Some things are going to change again (we’re going back to block scheduling) and I want to hit the ground running in a way I never have before, so it’s going to take a lot of thinking and planning. I don’t see any real way next year can be better than this year was– structurally, given what’s coming it’s just not possible– but that doesn’t mean I can’t go in ready for it.

Bring it on.


Last bus of the year. I am at a bar.