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Best of 2022!

Here's what I enjoyed in books, TV and movies in 2022

Welcome to my annual “Best Of” post!

I’ve done these over the last couple of years (you can find 2020 here and 2021 here). I enjoy talking about the things I love and hopefully getting others interested in them, too.

So here’s my “bests” for the past year. Settle down with your favourite beverage and maybe a little left over holiday snack. It’s a longer post this time – there’s a lot to cover!


At the end of 2021, I was unhappy with my reading choices. I had read a bunch of books I felt I “ought” to read, but hadn’t really enjoyed most of them. I determined that in 2022 I would find better books, and I am happy to say I succeeded. Here are some highlights (and I will note that every book after JS&MN (#1!) are not ranked according to preference. They were all superb in their own way.

  1. Jonanthan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke – anyone who is following me here will probably guess that this was my number one reading experience this year. Gosh, I loved this book. I read it at the beginning of the year and I’ve thought about it all year, too. In my review, you will find some reasons why I loved it so much. Part of my enjoyment came from the unexpected. I had tried and failed to finish the book before, and that attempt set me up for expecting it to be a slog. A lot of my love for it comes from the sheer skill of Susanna Clarke in the crafting of this book. I am dazzled. But the bulk of my admiration stems from her portrayal of magic in the book. It’s a wild force, shimmering under the surface, bursting out in unexpected ways. The book wraps up in a climax that has so many delicious layers to it. Stupendous. I am definitely going to be reading this one again, and I don’t say that lightly for a book that is over 700 pages!
  2. The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker. This historical fantasy set in 1899 New York was another one I had put off reading for some time, but I’m awfully glad I picked it up this year. Superb historical details and well-rounded characters adorn this clever tale of two supernatural creatures who end up in New York as unique, reluctant immigrants in a sea of others who are seeking a new life in the new world. You can find a longer review on my Goodreads page here. I’m looking forward to reading the just-released sequel this year
  3. Laurus, by Eugene Voldalazkin. This tale of a medieval monk on a pilgrimage

    throughout Russia was another installment in my series of Russian novels I have been reading over the last couple of years. Embracing themes of love, self-sacrifice, and faith, it features a memorable main character who fails spectacularly and spends the rest of his life trying to atone for his sin. Rich in historical details and yet never wavering in its single-minded focus on Laurus’ redemption, this novel, like its main character, is one that keeps you thinking. It wasn’t my easiest read last year, but it was worth the time I spent reading it. BONUS: I would highly recommend the Close Reads podcast which provides summaries and discussion for each part of the novel. I discovered the podcast after I read the book and really enjoyed it, but it would have been interesting to listen to their insights along the way, as well.

  4. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This popular novel was a book club read for me this year, and it was another nice companion to the other Russian novels I’ve read. The book opens in 1922 with Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov being sentenced to life in the luxurious Moscow hotel he has been living in for the past four years. His crime was to pen a poem that marks him as an unrepentent aristocrat. But he is moved from his luxury suite in the hotel to the attic room previously occupied by a servant, and stripped of all his wealth. This reduction in his material circumstances opens the way for emotional growth, as Rostov is forced to adapt his life to the confines of the hotel while Russia’s tumultuous decades are played out on the “outside”, with implications for Rostov and his life “inside”. Beautifully written, full of finely-drawn characters and plenty of emotional resonence, this book was a lovely examination of what makes a life truly worth living.
  5. All the Seas of the World, by Guy Gavriel Kay. I loved getting re-acquainted with the work of one of Canada’s premiere fantasy writers this year by reading his new release. See my review here for my thoughts on this book. Suffice to say, I’m glad I dipped my toes back into Kay’s vivid imaginary world that is close to, but not quite, a historical Earth.
  6. Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. Completely different from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, but another masterful book from the pen of Susanna Clarke that shimmered in unexpected ways. In case you missed my review, you can find it here.
  7. An Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Armin. Another book club read. I read it last January, in the midst of our winter’s worst cold and dark, and I’m so glad I did. This is an old book (published 1922)  but it definitely stands up to the test of time. This lovely book details the experiences of four women, strangers to each other, who rent a medieval castle in Italy for the month of April, escaping the dreary rains and cold of London. All the women find beauty in their holiday getaway that disarms them, and throughout the course of the novel you see how their sojourn meets their deepest needs. I was thoroughly enchanted myself. It was great fun  to look up the many flowers mentioned in the book (von Armin had a love of gardens that is evident throughout the book). I also Googled pictures and videos of the beautiful countryside of Portofino, the setting of the book. Snuggling under a blanket with a hot cuppa and this book in hand provided the perfect reading experience in the midst of winter. I highly recommend if you are looking for a winter reading escape!



Honestly, I struggle to come up with “best of” for this category. None of the movies I saw blew me away. There were a couple that I was really looking forward to hello, Elvis — but ultimately left me unsatisfied. There were other blockbusters that left me cold, like The Batman. Honestly, could it get any more dreary?. I’m not a superhero movie lover. All the DC/Marvel movies have long since lost their charm for me. Ok, I enjoyed Spiderman: Into the Metaverse, but…whatevs. So, the movie category was a “Meh” for me this year. Can we not have movies that don’t feature superheroes??


Unlike the movie category, the TV category gave me some fabulous entertainment over the year. Here’s my faves:

  1. Rings of Power (Prime) –  there were some elements that were a bit iffy for me. Mithril giving the Elves their power? Whaaaa? Reminded me of the midi-chlorian Star Wars blunder, ugh). But, aside from that, on the whole I enjoyed this series. Like, really, REALLY enjoyed. Spectacular production values. And I thought the creators, in their hearts, had a great deal of respect for the LOTR universe and Tolkien in general. Can’t wait for Season 2!
  2. Severance (AppleTV) – quite possibly the most original speculative fiction

    series I’ve seen in a long time. Great acting. The story is so strange, but so verycompelling. I’m not through all the episodes yet but am totally sold on the concept and the execution of the same. Fabulous so far.

  3. Andor (Disney+) – I really, really loved this. Disney has been upping their game on the Star Wars spin-offs. The Mandalorian was superb. Bobo Fett faltered a bit for me, but I still enjoyed it. But Andor took it to another level. A great story. And a great cast. It is so wonderful to see an original Star Wars story that isn’t replaying the same story over and OVER again. So great.
  4. This is Us (NBC) – this year we had to say goodbye to the Pearson siblings and their families, and I am SO SAD about that. This is the one of the handful of network TV series that I have watched the past few years. I’m going to miss it so much. This year was the last of the six-year-long saga detailing the lives of the three siblings and I loved pretty much every episode (like all the previous years!). Even though the last couple of shows were SO hard to watch and I think I sobbed through them both. What a marvellous series this was. Real people with real problems, but with a lovely, warm heart beating at the center.
  5. Ted Lasso (AppleTV) – speaking of warm, beating hearts, once again Ted Lasso did not disappoint. There is so much negativity and cruelty at the center of many popular shows. But this one presents kindness as a virtue in the form of the title character, and it is so refreshing.
  6. Trying (AppleTV) – another fave that I give five stars. This story of a lovable young

    couple (played to perfection by Esther Smith and Rafe Paul) “trying” to have a baby gave me all the feels. Gentle humour, a couple who hang together despite the difficult circumstances of infertility, a strong supporting cast…. this one should be getting more attention, I think. Plus the soundtrack by Maisie Peter is fantastic!

  7. The Last Kingdom (Netflix) – I continue to enjoy this saga of Uhtred of Bebbanburg. This season pits Uhtred against his childhood friend, Brita, and it features some really heart-wrenching moments for our hero. And plenty of hacking and hewing, of course! While the show’s creators don’t get everything historically accurate, for the most part they do a good job. This is the last season of The Last Kingdom, but there is one more feature-length movie coming to Netflix, yay! BONUS historical tidbit: Netflix was criticized for adding the character of Father Benedict, a Black priest, this year. Although his character is a fictional one, it does point to the historical fact that there were people from Africa in early Medieval England. Saint Adrian was a real-life man from North Africa who made abbot of St. Augustine’s cathedral in Canterbury in the late 600s, and died in AD 709.
  8. Bosch: Legacy (Prime) – I’m a sucker for a good detective series. While my go-to is usually a British detective show, I really enjoyed the original seasons of Bosch

    (based on a series of books by Michael Connelly) and was excited to see a spin-off, featuring Bosch in his new career as a private detective (after having burned his bridges as a police detective). Slick and shiny with dark undertones; just like L.A., the city in which the series is set.

  9. The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel – although this series is getting a little darker, I still pretty much enjoyed every minute of it. But I wish they would let up on the cussing. It’s not necessary, and, not really realistic for characters of the time. Which is jarring, because all the rest of it is so dead-on historically. Great costuming, great scripts, fabulous acting.
  10. A couple of music documentaries get high praise from me. The first was The Summer of Soul (Apple TV). This features never-before footage of the “other” muscial experience that happened the same summer as Woodstock. Taking place

    in Harlem, New York, the Harlem Cultural Festival spanned six Sundays between June 29 and August 24 in 1969, and featured such performers as Stevie Wonder, Gladys and the Pips, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, etc. The resotred footage is interspersed with contemporary interviews with some of the performers, some of which are wathcing the footage themselves for the first time. A fantastic documentary featuring fabulous music and an interesting commentary on that summer and its influence on popular music.

  11. The Beatles: Get Back (Disney+) – the year started off with a bang for me with this new documentary from Peter Jackson. Yes, it’s basically just a lot of random conversations between Paul, John, George and Ringo as they struggle to put together a project in the last year of their time together as The Beatles. But what is this project, exactly? It morphs from a TV special, to an album, to a concert, to a world tour, and ends up as a spontaneous rooftop concert. The Fab Four are decidedly tired of it all and more than a little sick of each other. And yet…. in the midst of a conversation that John is having with a TV producer over sets and design, in the background Paul is noodling around on the piano. The strains of Long and Winding Road filter through the mundane details of set design and staging. Cue goosebumps. Wow. You are a fly on the ceiling, observing the creation of some of the most iconic music ever produced. I also loved this clip, where John is helping George with the lyrics to Something:

George has been working on the song for six months, and can’t find the words he needs. He’s stuck. But John gives him great advice. Just put anything in there, and keep going. Don’t get bogged down on one word. Such great advice for creatives, whether song writers, painters, or writers. Keep going. Skip over the part that you can’t figure out and move on to the next part. Eventually, you will get it. I’m awfully glad George came up with something better than “pomegranate”, though. The creation of the song, Get Back, which takes up quite a lot of time at the beginning, is another fascinating example of creativity. I loved this series A LOT. The squabbles in the band, Paul just trying to GET IT DONE, John traipsing in late after a drug-filled night, George going off in a huff, and Oko haunting the studio like an inscrutable wailing ghost, all adds up to compelling viewing. And it’s not only Oko who haunts the studio. The recording studio gets cluttered by random people who just seem to be there, taking in the moment. Like a Hare Krishna devotee George brings along one day. It’s all so casual. But their creative genius is on full display, at the same time. It feels like they were, on the one hand, caring too much about the project, and on the other, caring way too little. And yet the music that came from that random, strange collaboration has stood the test of time. Some of the most iconic music ever produced. A wonderful mediation on creativity, partnerships, and how to keep something going that is falling off the rails. By the time they get to the rooftop concert I was so pumped for it I just about cried. Ok, I did cry. So good.

That’s a Wrap!

Books and the small screen definitely gave me the most enjoyment this year. Hopefully, I can find some treasures on the big screen next year! I’ll keep you posted!