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Notes from Ash Huang

Every book I read in 2022

I’m so busy I am basically always running on fumes, so I was pleasantly surprised I read 32 books this year. When I do have time to read on paper, I’m usually reading crit-partners’ work or workshopping things, so I’ll take any novel done as a win.

Here’s the complete list, some trends pulled out, and a few top picks from the year.

  1. Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen
  2. The Night Circus
  3. Sabrina and Corina
  4. The Calculating Stars
  5. Goodbye, Vitamin
  6. Crying in H Mart
  7. Witchmark
  8. Severance
  9. The Map of Salt and Stars
  10. The Midnight Library
  11. Oh, Never Mind
  12. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
  13. Four Thousand Weeks
  14. Wintering
  15. The Chosen and The Beautiful
  16. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised By Wolves
  17. The Seep
  18. Tao Te Ching
  19. What My Bones Know
  20. Trick Mirror
  21. The Argonauts
  22. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
  23. In the Dream House
  24. Set Boundaries, Find Peace
  25. Sea of Tranquility
  26. Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
  27. The Devourers
  28. All You Can Ever Know
  29. What my Mother and I Don’t Talk About
  30. I’m Glad My Mom Died
  31. Luster
  32. Know My Name
  33. How We Heal

Some trends for the year:

I read a lot of backlist!

…including very old sensational books like The Night Circus and The Midnight Library. It’s sometimes fun to read these books, but I’ll be honest. It also feels a little…like I might have enjoyed them more if I’d read them when they were popular. I’m not sure if this is because I would have been a different person, or that everything was a little different back then. I don’t believe in immutability in a person, or universality of texts. Morals, tastes, all of it changes over time. These books are inevitably snapshots of a moment (even though a novel is some attempt to create something lasting).

I embraced the audiobook—for memoir and essay!

I don’t have the aural ability to listen to fiction for long without getting distracted (dat ADHD life) and I get overly upset with myself if I didn’t pay good attention and missed a character intro. I have tried it over and over, I have wanted to listen to fiction so badly, but I just don’t like it. I also don’t listen to craft or knowledge books because I like to take copious notes. However! The pacing of memoirs works great for me, and I’m able to ‘read’ bits and pieces while I do chores or walk doggo, or otherwise need to rest my eyes.

It’s getting so much easier to find and read BIPoC work!

There’s so much more BIPoC work being traditionally published and centered. Still such a long way to go, but it’s so refreshing to be able to just grab stuff off the shelf and have choices. Like…there are too many Asian American fantasy books for me to read in one year! Imagine!

Some picks

This is just a subset of the books I really enjoyed, a thin slice of the year, but in the interest of time and sanity, I’ve pulled out some notable ones.

Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen

This was a frequent recommendation, a Chinese American classic. It centers around the lives and relatives of two Chinese American sisters and the family restaurant. Structurally, the book is in a somewhat outwardly chaotic order and jumps from narrator to narrator, from time period to time period, from mythic form to intimate tell-all. It really shows how a strong theme can tie a book together, and it felt like a life feels in retrospect.

The Chosen and the Beautiful

Can I just admit right off the bat? I swerved so hard from this book when I first heard it was a Great Gatsby retelling. But everyone kept telling me how amazing it was, and I was intrigued by the excerpts I read. I fell in love with this book, and every few pages I was tilting my head, thinking, H O W? How on the great green Earth is Nghi Vo making this work? I love a beautiful sentence, this book certainly delivers on that. But it improves and modernizes The Great Gatsby in a way that goes beyond a gender swap or making the hubbahubbahunk anything but able and white—which, representation is important! But this book goes so much deeper than that.

What My Bones Know

Stephanie Foo was a This American Life producer and it shows. Combining the personal account of her childhood abuse, treatment, and science journalism, Foo puts together a harrowing and healing examination of C-PTSD (PTSD that a person gets over a sustained period of time rather than from one singular event). Major content warnings of graphic child abuse and intergenerational trauma, and as someone with some historical similarities, and I personally found some sections very distressing because of it. Ultimately I’m so happy I read it, I learned a lot and felt very seen. Foo is doing the Work for all of us out here.

The Map of Salt and Stars

This was a beautiful, hearbreaking book braiding together a young girl’s attempt to leave a modern-day Syria under siege with her loved ones, and the legend of a medieval mapmaker—complete with giant monsters, monarchs, and ancient road trips (my fave subgenre lol). I was legit…sobbing by page 40, just an amazing piece of literature. Also please no one tell Zeyn Joukhadar how big a lit-crush I have on his brain, every time I have seen him speak I have enjoyed every bit of wisdom.

Four Thousand Weeks

A philosophy book masquerading as a time management book. As a to-do list lover with poor executive function and great existential anxiety, I enjoyed this intimate, human examination of making the most of our lives, and what to do when you realize that time management is often self-fulfilling hell—the better you do at it, the more you have to manage. This was a great listen that I’ll probably go back to more than once. There are a few actionable questions at the end, but it’s mostly a treatise on the fact that we’re all given about four thousand weeks of life (hence the title) and that we should try to make the most of it, whatever that means.

Know My Name

This memoir is by Chanel Miller, the woman who was assaulted by Brock Turner. Major content warnings for sexual assault, but this is one of the most important books of our time, particularly for those who never have to walk down the street worrying if some man is going to touch, grab, or kidnap you. Interspersed with so many light moments of love with her family (and puppers), this book is epic-long, and rightfully so. You begin to understand the exact price victims must pay to extract justice from the justice system against their attackers—and how one man in black robes can snatch it away like nothing. I cried multiple times in awe of Miller’s perseverance, with absolute heartbreak that she has had to.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

I adore this collection and felt extremely seen by it. Kim Fu’s more horror oriented stories literally scooped out every weird phobia and fear I have in my brain and just…tossed it on the page, like, here ya go. The doll arm one cries quietly. In this speculative and far-ranging collection, you’ll see everything from time-stopping toy cubes, someone crashing a famous influencer’s funeral, girls with wings on their ankles, to everything in between. This is one of those collections that sit comfortable in both SFF and lit, woohoo!

Did you love any of these (or are you actually going to get one bc I was like ahhhhh)? Would love to know!! Also, in the spirit of disclosure, if you’re interested in any of these and click through, I do get a little bit of a referral bonus from if you order anything. So thank you if you do!!