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2022's book that will stay with me for years to come

This time it's really just one!

(This is the 4th installment of the year-end wrap up at Routine Chaos. You can read about how the year went overall, my favorite cup(s) of coffee, and the defining thing(s) I watched.)

The nice thing about writing all of these at the end of the year is the sense of perspective: I can see what springs to mind most readily when I think about a specific kind of experience.

As you've seen in many of the other categories, there are a lot of worthy candidates competing for that brain space1. And, to be sure, I read a lot of great books this year. I did a kind of dumb thing: when I was setting my goal for how many books I want to read this year2, I just asked my oldest son what the number should be. He asked me how many I had read in 2021, and when I told him he laughed at me and responded, "That's how many I read in a couple weeks." At which point I began charging him rent3. But he gave me a number, and I'm not going to say what the number was exactly, but I will say that I got there by the skin of my teeth.

Nonetheless, there is only one of those books that my mind zeroes in on when I think about the books I read this year...and there is one single moment in that book that sticks out more prominently than all the others. It would be a tremendous spoiler and a complicated task to explain exactly what happens in that single moment, so here's what I'll say:

The book is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. The moment occurs about 500 pages in, which is roughly the halfway point of the book. I remember reading this scene that unfolds over 50 or so pages and thinking to myself, "Oh my word. I have no idea what is going to happen in the rest of this book." It's not like the end of The Dark Forest, wherein it seems like everything has been resolved but you know there's still another book to come. Instead, Murakami has built to this climactic moment and then instead of resolving much of anything he just completely scrambles the whole world he has established...but in a way that totally makes sense. It was an exhilarating feeling, the kind that I don't know that I've ever felt that far into a single book.

If that moment, and then the rest of the book around it, has stuck with me for this long then there's a good chance I'm going to be chewing on that story for a long time to come. Those books have a certain vividness to them and a sense of complete immersion into a world - whether a fictional one or a real one - that I find myself inadvertently wandering into time and time again.

  1. So I really have to squeeze my mind grapes.

  2. Which is less about actually hitting that number and more about creating some mechanism for ensuring that I'm not just reading mindless articles, tweets, etc.

  3. Of course not really.