2022 reading roundup!

We’re back! It’s that time of year when we like to reflect on what we’ve been reading that’s compelling enough to share. In 2022, we seemed to steer more toward true stories; after what we’ve all been through with the global pandemic, our ability to let our imaginations run wild may still be in recovery. Below is a list of our top picks and why we feel these titles deserve a special shout-out — so check our list below and find the right fit for your next pick, book club selection, or holiday gift this season.

Fiction reading

Astra, by Cedar Bowers

This debut novel by a Victoria/Galiano Island resident is a moving way to look at one woman’s unique story. Astra is the story of a girl — from her early childhood on a remote commune in BC to womanhood with a grown son. The story is told from the perspectives of people who play a role in her life. Piece by piece, we get a sense of the complex, unpredictable survivor that Astra is and the profound impact she has on those who seek to help her, and who get pulled into her axis. Pulling together the pieces of this puzzle was a real treat made sweeter by supporting an Island author! — Colleen

Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield

One of my favourite writers by a mile, this book has left a lasting impression. The author’s ability to draw the reader into other worlds is truly magical. This is an old-timey book set around an ancient inn on the River Thames in 1887 England. When a young girl washes ashore in the hands of a badly injured man, the townspeople gather at the inn to discuss theories. They share gossip and unravel the mysteries that hold them all connected to an extraordinary string of events. Gripping and enchanting reading, full of folklore, ghosts and fortune-telling that will pull you so far into the story, when you close the page you’ll be blinking, bewildered, in the daylight. — Emily

Non-Fiction reading

Bad Vibes Only, by Nora McInerny

Nora’s podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking is often painfully sad but always funny, earnest and reflective in a very down-to-earth way. It’s McInerny’s voice and her perspectives that make it a great listen, despite the tough subjects. She brings that same singular approach to this collection of essays about life in today’s world. From discussions about obsessive self-improvement, social media authenticity and adult friendship, this book is sad in parts, but mostly hilarious and reflective. Her humour moves these discussions from barely palatable to highly appetizing. — Colleen

Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir Of A Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad

In the past, when reflecting on my favourite books of the year, I scroll back through my Kindle to remember my most recent reading adventures. But this time around, Between Two Kingdoms popped into my head immediately. This book will take you through all the emotions; it’s inspiring, harrowing, and humorous. It also reminded me of my humanity and how incredibly grateful I am for my health and comfortable way of life. A must-read for adventurers and dog lovers, perspective-seekers and those who don’t mind shedding (many) tears. — Dana

The Bulldog and the Helix: DNA and the Pursuit of Justice in a Frontier Town, by Shayne Morrow

A small-town reporter in Port Alberni traces the role that DNA evidence played in two tragic but groundbreaking murder cases involving two young girls killed two decades apart. Despite the harrowing subject matter, as a small-town resident and former community reporter, I could relate to the old-school journalism anecdotes and charming descriptions of a west coast blue-collar town. As a true crime junkie, the mysteries of the girls’ disappearance were fascinating to unravel with the help of emerging DNA evidence, and its groundbreaking achievements in helping to track down perpetrators. — Emily

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy

While the title of this book is self-explanatory, this is a compelling and informative read. Take a journey “from the boardroom to the courtroom and into the living rooms of Americans.” There is also a TV series inspired by the book; another must-see to add to your content plate! — Dana