Recommended Titles from Books I've Read in 2022

Hi, everyone.
I read 11 books in 2022 (my goal is always 12 books/year) which I would partially blame to Hanya Yanagihara "A Little Life". That book is almost a thousand pages long but honestly I would still recommend because it is that good of a book.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my book recommendation from titles that I've read in 2022.

To be honest, there are so many good book this year! 
2022 me did pretty good at selecting books to read. 
But here are the ones that truly left a huge impression on me.

First book I read in 2022 was A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and it definitely did not disappoint. I get invested with Count Alexander Rostov character right away. I also love how elegant everything is in this book. From the grand hotel, to the always so very composed Count Rostov himself. This book is beautifully written and in my fave genre too, historical fiction.

A Gentleman in Moscow follows along the story of a banished aristocrat of the old Russian, Count Alexander Rostov, in the year of 1922 where he was confined (almost 30 years long) to the grounds of Hotel Metropol. Yes, he cannot step out of the hotel unless he wants to be sent to jail. So it is sort of a very fancy house (hotel) arrest. Mind you, he wasn't a criminal, he was just a symbol of the old Russian that the new government afraid the people will turn to him for a coup d'etat, which of course, Count Rostov has zero interest in.
Being a Count, Alexander Rostov has never worked a day in his life, but now must adjust to his attic-small-sized room and try to fill his days while the history of new Russia is unfolding outside the walls of Metropol.

Not only Count Rostov, all the characters were brought to life in such manner that one can't help but get invested in them too. The story is so fun to read I finished it in like two weeks. I was just so curious about what is going to happen to Count Rostov and how he is going to handle yet another crisis in Metropol with his gentleman way. 
At the end, it was magical, what happened next? What of Nina? What happened to Sofia? Where did the Count end up? I need more of Count Rostov adventures!
Anyway, would definitely recommend if you like historical fiction and beautifully written book.

“He had said that our lives are steered by uncertainties, many of which are disruptive or even daunting; but that if we persevere and remain generous of heart, we may be granted a moment of lucidity—a moment in which all that has happened to us suddenly comes into focus as a necessary course of events, even as we find ourselves on the threshold of the life we had been meant to lead all along.” 
― Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow

“For what matters in life is not whether we receive a round of applause; what matters is whether we have the courage to venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.” 
― Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow

Second recommendation, is a heavy book. Both in topics, AND weight. At almost 800 pages, it took me almost two months to finish A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Fair warning, it is a depressing book and I found myself needing to take like a day or two days break before coming back to the story.

A Little Life follows along four classmates from Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way. First is kind and handsome Willem, an aspiring actor. Second is JB, a quick-witted painter seeking to enter the art world. Third is Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a famous firm. And last we have Jude, a withdrawn and enigmatic lawyer who is the gravity of their friendship.

First of all, the writing is just wonderful. Hanya Yanagihara definitely has ways with words. Second, I love Jude and his ever so supportive adoptive father relationship, it is honestly so heartwarming. Third, I love how realistic the friendship is, they don't meet up very often, busy with their own life and work, but still maintaining that fondness, still giving their best effort to keep the friendship alive, also not everyone is close to everyone, which is just a fact of life.

Now to the bad parts, I am not fond how the broken character is written in a way that makes it seems that there is no saving for him. I get that way of thinking from the main character, but to have other characters seemingly give up on Jude is kind of sad. As if Jude's story is not depressing enough. My heart goes for him and I am glad that the writer didn't based that story on true sex-traffic crime victims, because there is always hope for everyone. Everyone deserves a better life. It can definitely be taxing for people closest to them, but if you love someone, all the effort will be worth it.

I honestly will not recommend this book to people who is depressed or had history of depression, who has/had suicidal thoughts, or basically any other trauma (especially rape trauma). But for those of you who wants to feel more grateful for your life, who wants a challenge in their life, this is definitely the book to read. This book left me feeling angry at how many ugliness there are in this world is, but also feeling ultimately grateful I am surrounded by good people.

I read this without any expectation and was pleasantly surprised at how easy to read yet engaging the story is. And once you digest it, it gives a warning that one must not forget.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro tells the story of Stevens, an english butler who had dedicated most of his life to serve Lord Darlington. Lord Darlington passed away a few years back and now Stevens have a new master in Darlington Hall, an American, who he hasn't quite figure out but eager to serve anyway as it is in his blood. Since his new master back to America for a while, Stevens decided to take a few days off to enjoy the countryside and to meet an old friend he hasn't seen in a while.

There were plenty of flashbacks and while I'm not a big fan of flashbacks, it was always distinctive enough and the narrative is always clear whether it was a flashback or the present so I didn't mind that much. During the flashbacks, we get to learn more about Lord Darlington and Stevens' old friend that he wanted to meet. 

Upon reading, I think we all we developed our own story because Stevens is not a telltale but he did grew on me anyway. With his English' gentleman good manner, how can he not? The most getaway I acquired from this book is that you can think you know a person, but in reality, you only know the image of the person that you make in your head based on your knowledge, no the real person himself. Also, it is important to not always put duty first. Sometimes you have to be bold and take your chances. Life waits for no one. In a blink of an eye, years have passed. Anyway, it is a fairly easy and quick read. Great for a light read before bed.

“What can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished? The hard reality is, surely, that for the likes of you and I, there is little choice other than to leave our fate, ultimately, in the hands of those great gentlemen at the hub of this world who employ our services. What is the point in worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that is in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.” 
― Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

To be honest I struggled with this book but halfway throughout, I start to find the story interesting.

Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald follows an American couple, Dick and Nicole Diver. Set on the 1920s French Riviera, the couple met with interesting characters on their vacation home. One of them was Rosemary; a new and upcoming actress who found herself drawn to older and charismatic Dick.

The first half when the story was narrated by Rosemary, it was so hard for me to get into since it feels very teenage young dream-ish. I do start to get invested in the story when Rosemary is finally out of the picture, and I found out Dick was initially Nicole's psychiatrist. Lost of flashbacks as well and I didn't enjoyed that very much since the timeline is quite vague. But again, another beautifully written book. 

“But to be included in Dick Diver’s world for a while was a remarkable experience: people believed he made special reservations about them, recognizing the proud uniqueness of their destinies, buried under the compromises of how many years. He won everyone quickly with an exquisite consideration and a politeness that moved so fast and intuitively that it could be examined only in its effect. Then, without caution, lest the first bloom of the relation wither, he opened the gate to his amusing world. So long as they subscribed to it completely, their happiness was his preoccupation, but at the first flicker of doubt as to its all- inclusiveness he evaporated before their eyes, leaving little communicable memory of what he had said or done.” 
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender Is the Night

The Courage to be Happy by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga presents insights into living life courageously and finding happiness along the way. In this book, we follow a Socratic dialogue between a philosopher and a young man. The philosopher believes that the key to a life of happiness and fulfillment is offered to us by the theories of Alfred Adler, a forgotten giant of 19th century psychology who has long been overshadowed by his two contemporaries, Freud and Jung. The young man is full of doubt that life can be genuinely improved by simply changing his thinking. Patiently, the philosopher explains the essence of Adler' psychology of courage', taking the young man through the mental steps necessary to achieve it, and demonstrating to the young man, and to us, the changes this psychology will bring to the way we live our lives.

I do have interest in philosophy but I'm not a philosophy buff so this book is just enough philosophical for me. While I'm not a big fan of the dialogue writing style since I'm not a fan of debating and the young man feels like his life purpose is to debate the philosopher. However, it is thought provoking for me. I always thought happiness comes from within, from being at peace with oneself, but with Adler, one's happiness is tightly connected with your usefulness to other in society. Which, I guess can be true at some level. It does feel nice to be needed. It does feel nice to be appreciated after doing something. So yes, it is quite an interesting read for me!

"For us, it is our "nothing days" that are our trial, and it is in everyday life "here and now" that the big decisions must be made. Before arguing over the state of the world, have some thoughts for your neighbour. Have some thoughts for your interpersonal relationships on "nothing days." That is all we can do." - Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, The Courage to be Happy.

Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura tells a story of seven teenagers in a tranquil neighborhood of Tokyo who woke up one day to find their bedroom mirrors are shining. At a single touch, they are pulled from their lonely lives to a wondrous castle filled with winding stairways, watchful portraits, and twinkling chandeliers. In this new sanctuary, they are confronted with a set of clues leading to a hidden room where one of them will be granted a wish. But there's a catch; if they don't leave the castle by five o'clock, they will be punished. As time passes, they begin to realize only those brave enough to share their stories will be saved. Tender, playful, and gripping, Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a mesmerizing tale about confronting your fears and embracing human connection. 

As someone who did struggled going to school when I was a kid, I relate to this book so much. I never had any bullying, it was more of the anxiety of not belonging since I was thrown into a new school and a new city when I was just a kid. Anyway, the main protagonist is Kokoro but the other six students also have their own stories which in the end tie everything together and I LOVE THAT. Nothing is more satisfying than finding the details of the story you noticed turned out to be something important. There is a plot twist but everything comes together perfectly in the end. I honestly will not change a single thing.

I also love the fact that all the students stories are different but also similar in some way. They all have their own battles to fight and it does feel lonely when no one can understand your story. Mental health is so important and I'm glad I have a book to refer to if my nephew or niece is struggling. 

“We’ll fight this,’ her mother said, her voice trembling. ‘It might be a long battle, but let’s fight it. Let’s do it, Kokoro.” 
― Mizuki Tsujimura, Lonely Castle in the Mirror

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera is set in Czech follows Tereza and Tomas' love story and follows by stories of infidelities from Tomas and his long time friend/lover Sabina. Also, a story of a dog Karenin, which is a very important character indeed.

Again, it is a philosophical book that is for no philosophical buff, just enough philosophy but not too much. I personally enjoyed reading the story unfolding. And got a tiny bit dizzy with Tereza' abstract and out of the box imagination but somehow those imagination articulates how she thinks and feels. She is an intuitive for sure which makes me, the sensing reader struggled a bit. It is quite a quick read so I would recommend it to savor it slowly for over a month like I did. There are plenty of sentences and paragraphs that just describes life beautifully. 

“The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness? ...When we want to give expression to a dramatic situation in our lives, we tend to use metaphors of heaviness. We say that something has become a great burden to us. We either bear the burden or fail and go down with it, we struggle with it, win or lose. And Sabina – what had come over her? Nothing. She had left a man because she felt like leaving him. Had he persecuted her? Had he tried to take revenge on her? No. Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness. What fell to her lot was not the burden, but the unbearable lightness of being.”
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

An honorary mention for this book You Are Enough by Harri Rose. It is a picture book so it did felt like I was reading a kid's book but the book is filled with adult wisdom tho. I love that this book doesn't approach the whole LOVE YOUR BODY screaming in your face but more about body neutrality and how your body is just a body. The book also make me realize that how someone's diet is entirely dependent on his financial situation and availability. It's a super quick read, I finished it in a day but great to keep in your night table for a feel-good reminder before going to bed.

And that concludes my book recommendation from titles I've read in 2022.
If you want to read only one book this year, I highly recommend A Gentleman in Moscow. Not only you'll learn about Russian history, you will also be entertained with Count Rostov adventures.The next best option is Lonely Castle In The Mirror, I feel like that it has the Alice in Wonderland Thorough The Looking Glass classic read vibe.

I do hope I get to read 13 books this year to make up for the one book I missed in 2022 but I will be just as happy with 12 books.


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