And just like that, we’re already midway through 2022. In a span of two years, an invisible enemy has redefined, if not reset the natural flow of our lives. It is a great thing, however, that developments have been made. The number of COVID19 cases has started to decline, or at least the transmission has slowed down. Several countries have opened up their borders or, at least, eased their protocols. Human traffic is slowly starting to build up as regular activities are resuming in what many now refer to as the “new normal”. I hope that wherever you are in the world, you are doing well, in body, mind, and spirit. I am crossing my fingers, hoping that the pandemic will finally be eradicated.

With six months nearly done, it is also time to reflect on how the year is going, at least in terms of reading and books. This book tag, which I first did in 2017, sounds just the right barometer to gauge how my reading year has gone by. I have to admit though, “freak out” is kind of excessive for it is too early to push that panic button. Panic will start to seize me come October or November, LOL.

You can check my previous editions below:

But before we can proceed with my 2022 Mid-year Freak Out Tag, let me quickly run through how my reading year has gone so far. Since the pandemic started, I have gained quite a reading momentum. I have been reading more books than usual. Mid-way through the year, I have already completed 54 books and I am about to start with my 55th. At the same point last year and the year before, I only hit 40 books. Maybe reading 100 books before the year ends is possible? I don’t want to pre-empt as I want to take it one step at a time and just enjoy the journey. On another note, here’s a summary of the reading lists I have for the year and the current status:

It does seem like I am lagging behind as most of my challenges are barely at 50% completion. Hopefully, I get to focus on these challenges in the second half of the year, with the goal of completing all of them before the year ends. Without further ado, here goes my own version of Mid-Year Freak Out Tag.

1. Best book(s) you’ve read so far in 2022

With over fifty books done, it was quite a challenge picking up books that have made an impression on me because a lot of them did. Some of my best reads for the year include Agatha Christie’s Death of the Nile. I didn’t plan on reading the book – I didn’t have a copy of it before the year started – but after learning it was adapted into a film released earlier this year, I knew had to read it. I am glad I did because it is now one of my favorite books by Christie.

Another book that was memorable was Nobel Laureate in Literature Olga Tokarczuk’s latest translated work, The Books of Jacob. Lauded by the Nobel Committee as her magnum opus, this rich labyrinth of a book challenged me but also left lasting impressions on me. Fittingly shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, it is definitely one of my all-time favorite reads. Late last year, I learned that Ruth Ozeki was releasing a new work, The Books of Form and Emptiness. I was apprehensive at first because I was barely impressed with A Tale of Time Being. I am glad I changed my mind. Last year, I finally read my first novel by Maryse Condé. It left a deep impression on me that I resolved to read more of her works. Segu is considered by many a literary pundit as her best work. Reading the work of historical fiction, I believe they are right.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2022

I don’t think I have read any sequels this year yet. However, I read books that belong to trilogies that I have not started yet prior to this year: Aleksandar Tišma’s The Use of Man, the second book in his Novi Sad Trilogy; and Toni Morrison’s Paradise, the third book in her Beloved Trilogy. Thankfully, these are trilogies that can be read in any order.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

At the start of each year, it has become customary for me to churn out a list of books to be released during the year that I am looking forward to. For 2022, I have already completed four of the ten books I listed. I have six more and here are four of them: Sarah Manguso’s Very Cold People, Sheila Heti’s Pure Colour, Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the Dark, and Emma Straub’s This Time Tomorrow. Apart from these books, I am also looking forward to reading Akwaeke Emezi’s You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo, and Anne Tyler’s French Braid.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I don’t have one yet because, upon checking releases in the second half of the year, most are books by writers who are unfamiliar to me.

5. Biggest disappointment

To be honest, there isn’t a single book that comes to mind that has really disappointed me. However, I am underwhelmed by P.D. James’ Death Comes to Pemberley, my first book by James in over a decade. While the premise was interesting – it was a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice but with overtones of mystery – but I found the story predictable.

6. Biggest surprise

Had it not been for the International Booker Prize longlist, I would have not encountered French writer Violaine Huisman’s The Book of Mother. Huisman’s debut novel was the vivid and moving portrait of a troubled mother but also of a tenacious woman who did not let the circumstances push her down. It was also the story of a daughter longing for love. Semi-autobiographical, the book earned Huisman several accolades in her native France and right so.

7. Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

Tove Ditlevsen. It was towards the end of 2021 that I first encountered Danish writer Tove Ditlevsen. I kept encountering her memoir, The Copenhagen Trilogy, in online book sellers. The book piqued my interest, making me add it to my growing reading list. Thankfully, I was able to obtain a copy of the book before 2021 ended, and was part of my March 2022 Women’s Literature Month. Her writing was compelling but her story even more so. Her struggles resonated with me. Her memoir made me want to read more of her works, with emphasis on her novels. I also want to read more works written by Danish writers.

8. Newest fictional crush

Having a fictional crush, I guess, is not my thing.

9. Newest favorite character

Sophie Fevvers from Nights at the Circus. I admit I have chosen her because Nights at the Circus was my most recent read (HAHA). Unfortunately, it is very rare that I keep track of characters as I let the stories flow. There were some that stood out but because of the number of characters I read, I often forget about them. In the case of Fevvers, what made her stand out was the interesting backstory that kept me riveted. Apart from Fevvers, it was the female characters in the books I read that really stood out this year, such as the women of Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt and the mother-daughter tandem of Elsa and Loreda in Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds.

Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr. Ripley. Sounds like an odd choice but the titular Mr. Ripley was a man of cunning. Or was it perhaps luck? A lot of things were certainly working in favor of the quick-thinking Ripley.

10. Book that made you cry

It has been some time since I shed a tear for a book or a story. Rather than a book that made me cry, I am listing two books that strummed the proverbial heartstrings. Nobel Laureate in Literature Herta Müller’s The Hunger Angel tells the experiences of Leo Auberg in post-Second World War eastern Europe. Following the defeat of the Nazis, German-Romanians like Leo were sent to gulag camps where they were forced to do manual labor. The hopelessness and the smell of death that permeated the air were vividly captured by Müller’s prose. And yes, the story was based on the experiences of actual individuals, including the author’s mother. Violaine Huisman’s The Book of Mother also moved me for the reasons enumerated in question number 6.

11. Book that made you happy

For the second year running, I had a challenge picking a book for this question because the majority of my reads this year careen on the heavy and dark side. Nevertheless, Sara Nisha Adams’ The Reading List did paint a smile on my face because it captured the importance of books and reading in a community, and among heartbroken individuals. Moreover, it was fun reading the author’s perspective on the books enumerated in the titular reading list; I have read all but one of the books – Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy – on the list. The book did grapple with heavy subjects such as mental health and loss but it still resonated with positive messages.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Of all the books that I have bought this year so far, Sequoia Nagamatsu’s’ How High We Go in the Dark had the most appealing cover. It is part of my 2022 Books I Look Forward To List and I cannot wait to read it, perhaps as part of my Japanese literature reading month in July. I just like the book’s texture and minimalistic appeal.

13.What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I have two books written by Indian writers I am itching to read this year. The first one is Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand, the winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize. I have been looking forward to the book since the longlist was released but, unfortunately, none of the local book stores have a copy of the book. Moreover, I learned that a hardbound format of the book will be released later this year; I always prefer hardbound for aesthetic purposes. The second book I need to read before the year ends is Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. With over a thousand pages, this is going to be one of my longest reads. The book is part of my 2022 Top 22 Reading List and is a book that has been parked on my bookshelves for too long.

14. Favorite book community member

Apart from WordPress, Goodreads is the only book community that I am part of. Well, WordPress is not even a book community but through it, I have encountered several bookworms who share the same passion I have. Among my favorite members in the blogging community are Éimhear @ A Little Book Haze, Em @ Embookstuff, Riddhi @ Whispering Stories, and Happymess Happiness. I appreciate your blogs and I am grateful that you try to engage in my own blog. Your input are all appreciated.

So there goes my version of the Mid-Year Freak Out Tag. Interested to do it? Go ahead. Just don’t forget to tag me. 

Happy reading!