I read 110 books in 2022!

This year, I read the most number of books I have ever and it was the busiest year I’ve had since – with school, writing my undergraduate thesis, part-time work on campus, looking for a job (which is a full-time job in of itself), and then working full time.

I often get asked how I manage to read a lot, so I have taken some time to reflect on my reading habits. Here’s what I have learned so far, which will help you read more books in the new year.

  1. Read what you enjoy
    • Since the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in 1440, it’s estimated that about 156,264,880 books have been published. I’m sure there’s even more if we consider books of different languages across the globe. With so many books worldwide, you don’t need to stick to a genre or book you don’t like. You can learn a lot from reading any single book. Thus, reading what also brings you joy is essential.
  2. You can read more than one book at a time
    • You don’t have to finish one book before going on to the next. For example, sometimes you might not be in the mood to continue reading the historical fiction novel you had started. That’s fine! You don’t have to force yourself or wait till you are back in the mood. You may read a fantasy novel in the meantime.
  3. Listen to audiobooks
    • In 2021, I read 55 books. I could double the number of books I read this year by including audiobooks on my reading list. They are a great option while doing chores, commuting or cooking (which I often do). In addition, audiobooks are a great experience. You get to hear dialogues between characters and music that was supposed to be playing in the background of a scene and immerse yourself in the book world differently.
  4. Share the books you read
    • When you read a new book, please share it with those around you. Even if you didn’t like the book, a great conversation could come out of sharing so. I often share my 5-star reads with friends and family, so I am always happy to share new 5-star reads (which means I have to read more to find more). Likewise, sharing my book reviews (however short) on the blog motivates me to read more (though I have realised writing a book review on a book I didn’t enjoy is far easier than writing one on a book I did).

Of all the 110 books I read, 22 were five stars reads (a nice coincidence). Here are just five I would like to highlight, as listed in the order I read them this year. I have explained why I enjoyed them in one sentence and included the links to book reviews for those I wrote.

  1. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
    • It tells a heart-wrenching yet hopeful tale of family and belonging, set in the Ojibwe reservation. (It was also my first 5-star read of the year!)
  2. Lovely War by Julie Berry
    • By far, the best audiobook I have listened to this year.
    • Book Review
  3. Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi
    • It is an engaging and brilliant fantasy novel based on Yoruba mythology.
    • Book Review
  4. Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
    • This book lives rent-free in my head; I think about it often despite having read it in July.
    • Book Review
  5. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth
    • I don’t think I ever felt as angry from reading a book as I did reading this.

Here’s to the joy of reading and more 5-star reads in 2023! Happy New Year!

Book Review: The Psychology of Money

Title: The Psychology of Money

Author: Morgan Housel

Genre: Non-fiction, Personal development

Pages: 252 pages; 6 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Doing well with money isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people. Morgan Housel shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches you how to make better sense of one of life’s most important topics.

Review:

I really enjoyed how the lessons were conveyed through storytelling – the stories of specific individuals and companies.

Here are some lessons I learnt from the book that I would like to share:

  1. Our willingness to bare risk depends on personal history (where and when you were born)
  2. Luck and risk are duo forces in our lives
    • Success is what differentiates a bold decision and a foolish choice
    • Luck is the cousin of failure
  3. The hardest financial skill is getting the goal post to stop moving
  4. Big things can happen with small forces
    • Compound interest
  5. The only way to stay wealthy is frugality and paranoia
    • Getting money and keeping money are two different skills
  6. The key of a plan is planning for when the plan fails
    • Margin of safety is important
    • Ensure a room for error when estimating your future returns
  7. The highest dividend that money pays is freedom / control over one’s time
  8. Experience doesn’t lead to forecast abilities
  9. We underestimate how much we will change in the future
  10. The more you want something to be true, the more likely you are to believe a story that overestimates it

Book Review: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

Title: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness

Author: Eric Jorgenson

Genre: Non-fiction, Personal development

Pages: 244 pages; 5 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Naval Ravikant is an entrepreneur, philosopher, and investor who has captivated the world with his principles for building wealth and creating long-term happiness. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is a collection of Naval’s wisdom and experience from the last ten years, shared as a curation of his most insightful interviews and poignant reflections.

Review:

This book is full of great advice/lessons/insights. It requires one to sit with each phrase and do some reflection during and after reading the book. Definitely, this is a book that would be best utilized by reading certain insights more than one.

The five hours I spent on the book did not go to waste, and I had quite a lot of notes. Here are just a few of my favourites insights from the book:

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously; you are just a monkey with a plan
2. Death is the most important thing that will happen to you
3. The hardest thing (in life) is figuring out what you want
4. There is no end point to self-awareness and self-discovery. It’s a lifelong process you hopefully get better and better at
5. Anger is hot coal you hold in your hands while waiting to throw at somebody
6. To find a lovely mate, be worthy of a lovely mate
7. Inspiration is perishable; act on it immediately

I highly recommend you read the book!

You may get it here!

Book Review: One True Loves

Title: One True Loves

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 331 pages; 8 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Emma Blair married her childhood sweetheart, Jesse, in her twenties. On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Years later, after much grief, Emma falls in love with an old childhood friend, Sam and soon gets engaged. However, Jesse is found alive, and what kept him through all these years was trying to get back to Emma. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves

Review:

What is true love?

Are we able to love as boldly as we did after being hurt?

This was a beautiful story about the power of love, and the notion that we have soul mates (instead of only one soul mate). The division of the book between “before Emily got engaged to Sam”, and “after her husband who was believed to be dead returns” was clear and engaging. It was also a lovely listen as an audiobook.

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Legacy of Orïsha Series

Title: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: (High) Fantasy, Young Adult, Yoruba mythology

Pages: 544 pages; 18 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, Maji (folks with magic) were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Review:

Wow! Wow! Wow! This book was excellent. Nothing about it was predictable – each event/turning point was a surprise. The plot was straightforward, creative, and critical.

As a Nigerian and a Yoruba, it was heartwarming to have the language embedded throughout the novel. I was also very excited about how Yoruba mythology was embedded in the book. In addition, the characters were authentic, empowering and relatable.

The novel was also pretty political, highlighting the dangers of discrimination and the need for people to unite to fight injustices.

I highly recommend it!

Title: Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Pages: 404 pages; 13 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Review:

(Screaming!!) Another cliffhanger! Honestly, that is the only ‘bad’ part about this book. It was engaging, and all the twists and turns were very unexpected. Tomi Adeyemi does an excellent job of surprising readers. It was not as exciting as the first book, but it was not too far behind. I truly enjoyed reading it.

I wanted to wait for the third book before writing a book review about the series. However, it’s been too long, and I still think the series deserves to be read. Nevertheless, I will warn that with the third book nowhere in sight, it might be best just to read the first book and put the second book on hold until after the third book comes out (as the cliffhanger might gravely annoy you).

Book Review: Warlight

Title: Warlight

Author: Michael Ondaatje

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 290 pages; 9 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

A vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time.

Review:

The author deserves credit for experimenting with this writing style that reads like a memoir. The main character speaks of significant events in his life and the lives of those close to him, often imagining how things would have been – but yet telling the readers what had happened because he is the narrator.

However, it was not that engaging. I got bored a few times and wanted to stop reading/for it to end. I think it might be because the plot was relatively flat. There was not much development. We as readers aren’t incentivized to find out more about what happened to various characters in the book, for which Nathaniel is investigating because we don’t get to build much of a connection nor understanding of said characters.

TW: Death

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Death on the Nile

Title: Death on the Nile

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 333 pages

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Linnet Ridgeway, a young, stylish and beautiful girl has been shot through the head during a cruise along the Nile. The passengers are all close acquaintances of hers, so who is the murderer?

Review:

This was my first time reading Agatha Christie’s book even though I have watched and enjoyed several of her movies (including the adaptation of this book). However, the book was quite disappointing. I could guess the murder, although I was not sure how they did it. In addition, the other characters were not as interesting (and as such their motive in the murder was not as clear nor believable). Nevertheless, I will definitely pick up another of her books! 

You may get the book here!

Book Review: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty

Title: You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty

Author: Akwaeke Emezi

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 288 pages; 10 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

It has been five year since the accident that killed the love of Feyi Adekola life’s, and she is re-learning what it means to be alive. However, what about giving love a second chance?

Review:

I went into this book without reading the synopsis; it was a great decision! I recommend you do the same!

Akwaeke Emezi has this unique ability to write books that make you (or maybe just me) deeply uncomfortable yet enjoy greatly. The story plot was chaotic and a little stressful, yet engaging and unpredictable. I was hooked even though I was worried about what would happen next. The book questions the assumptions around true love and age differences in relationships. I can’t entirely say that I found the relationship between the main characters endearing/heart warmly; however, the book made me root for them.

TW: Death, Trauma, Blood

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Wish You Were Here

Title: Wish You Were Here

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 310 pages; 12 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

What has supposed to be a romantic getaway to the Galápagos for Diana and her boyfriend Finn – days before her 30th birthday does not go as planned. Finn, a surgical resident, must stay back in New York because it’s all hand on deck after the Covid-19 outbreak. However, he encourages and reassures Diana to go by herself since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. Unfortunately, Diana’s luggage is lost on her way to the Galápagos, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent on the Island, and the hotel they’d booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole Island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen.

Review:

In the book’s first part, I was a little disappointed by how the female lead ended up on the Island. I felt it was a little too convenient as a plot. However, by the book’s second part, that thought was knocked right out of me. Jodi Picoult is brilliant at engaging a reader and challenging all situations. At that point, I was reminded again why she is (one of my) favourite writer(s).

The themes in the novel about the pandemic were handled well and fully stretched despite being a relatively short book set in a complex time (and written at the earlier stages of the pandemic).

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Portrait of a Thief

Title: Portrait of a Thief

Author: Grace D. Li

Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery

Pages: 384 pages; 11 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

A cultural heist, an examination of Chinese American identity, and a necessary cri­tique of the lingering effects of colonialism.

Review:

I’m giving this book a four-star for the literary, emotional and critical commentary rather than the actual heists. They were very faulty, quite convenient plans – definitely full of holes. Thus how they managed to execute them as novices was a suspension in disbelief.

The book is a feel-good about a possible situation where one can earn a tremendous amount of money to remove the burden of responsibilities and obligations while doing something meaningful and morally sound.

A running theme in the novel is the pressure of being an immigrant, more specifically, a second-generation Chinese in America trying to perform to the expectations of parents who believe in the American dream.

The critical commentary on imperialism (from both perspectives), colonialism, violence, and power were well woven into the story.

You may get the book here!