The year is winding down and starting up again as the days start getting longer again. Even with the gradual shift, it will be a while before we really start to notice it, which means we have plenty of time to burrow into our cozy reading spots and curl up with a good book or 6.
Even better, if you’re an avid reader like me, it’s a great time to do a recap of your reading year and set some intentions for the coming year.
2022 in Books
- I launched an occult reading book club. It didn’t work. I was essentially talking to myself and a couple friends. So I let it go. Instead of banging my head against a brick wall, I just accepted that I didn’t have the reach, nor the energy, to feed the project in a way to make it meaningful.
- OMG the first book of said book club, a witchy romance “Witch Please” was such an uncomfortable book to start off with! Note to self, never pitch a first book in a book club that you haven’t read!!! Reviews are unreliable and the cringe factor made it impossible to discuss the book well or set a good tone for the club. I can only laugh at it in retrospect.
- I started reviewing some books via NetGalley. It’s a great way to read new books but sometimes the timelines for review are faster than my TBR pile can handle, truth be told. But a highlight was being able to offer some constructive feedback to an unpublished work that led to it being modified and me being gifted a free copy of the work. It was such a small thing, but as someone who works with Indigenous communities, it was amazing to be able to have that impact.
Books I loved the most this year (these are just ones I read not ones that came out in 2022):
- Queens of the Wild by Ronald Hutton (I will confess, this was an audiobook, which is the only way I ever make it through Hutton’s work!) I really appreciate Hutton’s work around debunking false narratives that get bandied about the witch-pagan sphere. I also loved learning different variations of the women who fly to the sabbat. While it might be tale that arose later in history, the various ways it is taken up across cultures was intriguing. Ultimately, he left me with the impression that change is the name of the game and that all stories, myths, legends, are adapted in response to the times – thus we are constantly creating and re-creating meaning to suit our historical moment. It’s a fascinating idea to ponder when doing the work.
- Consorting with Spirits by Jason Miller. As someone who has long reacted against the domineering approach to working with spirits, I loved Miller’s more straightforward, relational approach to spirit work. The type of work he does is not necessarily my style but it does prompt me to wonder, is it something I need to learn more about in order to stretch my practice. He left me with questions and rabbit holes to explore, and those the best types of books to me!
- Cultish by Amanda MontellThis was recommended by a fellow practitioner and I’m so glad that I took the recommendation. It’s not the most obvious “occult” book out there, but I strongly believe, given what I see in occult work and practice, that people NEED to read more about cultish behaviours, group mind, and red flags when it comes to being in groups. This book isn’t the most in depth study, but it is highly accessible and relevant to the world we live in (MLMs, health & wellness, and old school cults, oh my!).
- Pandora’s Jar by Natalie HaynesI just simply appreciated the reframing of some of the classic myths. We have this tendency of venerating the Greek myths (for a wealth of reasons I won’t get into) but women didn’t fair well in Antiquity. Haynes book takes some of those tales and rethinks them in ways that acknowledges the politics and norms of the times, while also showing the valor of women who are most often vilified.
- The Binding by Bridget Collins: it was a fascinating story about the nature of memory and the consequences of erasing our histories only to end up repeating them in some from. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Practical Magic.
- The Lighthouse Witches by CJ Cooke: it took me a while to get into this book but the twists and turns it took were fantastic. As a mother, I especially loved how motherhood played out in the narrative.
- All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller: What a fun reimagining of Cinderella from the Stepmother’s perspective. I loved how tenacious and hard working the Stepmother was and how small historical truths were woven into the tale.
- The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi: Such an intriguing exploration about the ways we create outsiderness and how cruel humanity can be to one another. It was sad, disturbing and inspiring in a very unexpected way.
Books that were not a win for me this year:
- The Altar Within by Juliet Diaz. Why I didn’t like it: I hate that I sound tone policing about this, but the way that it was written made me feel like I was being talked down to, not treated like a bestie. I really wanted to like the book and I even think there are lots of gems in the book, but the way it’s written was so infuriating that it took away from her points. Other things that bothered me about the book: she undermines some of her own points about safety within the work and she talks about self-care, deriding the bubble bath and spa days of the love and light wellness community, but ultimately recommends the exact same thing.
- Witchcraft Therapy by Mandi Em Why I didn’t like it: The book was a very superficial exploration of the topic and really not anything innovative or even particularly helpful within the conversation. Some might find it useful but to me it felt like it was using the same old stuff in some pretty tired ways. She never really identifies the therapeutic models she’s drawing on and at times this struck me as very problematic because a book about therapy should make some links to the school of thoughts it’s basing it’s approaches on. This isn’t a therapy book. No surprise there. It’s a self help with a sprinkling of witchcraft on top. Also, the tone of the book, while not as over the top as the book above, is loaded with AFs and so forth to the point of undermining the points being made.
- Witch Please by Ann AguirreWhy I didn’t like it: See the comments above. Enough said.
If you’re curious about all the books I read, here is where you can find my reviews on Goodreads.
2023 Reading Intentions
- To read less! To savor what I’m reading more. To deep dive into the works suggested by the texts.
- To read foundational texts that inform much of the work we do (even Agrippa and Crowley, despite my love hate relationship with them).