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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Getting Into my Reading Era

One thing about the year 2022 that I noticed on social media was that it was the year of “eras.” Everyone online seemed to claim a different “era” that described their mindset or what they were doing for that day, month or year. Over the past year, I constantly heard terms such as “clean girl era,” “hot girl era” and “Reputation era.” Upon reflecting on my own era for the year, I singled in on the fact that I am in my “reader era.” This year was truly the year of buckling down and reading for me. Growing up, I  always enjoyed reading, and in an effort to put down my phone, I tried to train myself to pick up a book instead. By the end of the year, I calculated that I read 31 books over the course of 2022. Though this number may seem small, hitting my goal of 30 books in a year was an accomplishment I was proud of.

As we all know, at the end of each year Spotify drops its “Spotify Wrapped,” which gives users a statistical breakdown of their most listened-to songs, their most popular artists and so much more. As a non-Spotify user, I have always wanted to be able to participate in my own “Wrapped” with something other than music. Now, I will be reflecting on my “2022 year of reading wrapped” with many different breakdowns and recommendations. 

When asked if I want good or bad news first, I always choose to get the bad out of the way first. So, we’re going to start with my least favorite book of 2022. Though this opinion is wildly unpopular, I will die on the hill that Normal People by Sally Rooney was one of my worst reads of the year, if not ever. I was ecstatic to read this fan-favorite book, and was unfortunately let down. The writing style was just not my cup of tea, and the absence of quotation marks on quotes made it difficult to follow and notice when each character was speaking. Though I enjoyed the plot and characters in “Normal People,” it still took me so long to trudge through this book, and I am still impressed that I even finished it. After reading, I rated this book a ⅖, making it my lowest ranked book of the year. 

Moving forward, I reflected a lot on my favorite book of the year. Then, it came to me: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was an unexpectedly amazing read that took me by storm. There was no other book that made me feel as immersed in not just the story, but the setting. Plot aside, this book was seriously well-written and the setting was explained so graphically that I was truly immersed as I read. As I will get to later, I was reading a lot of rom-coms and fiction at the time, so this book was definitely different from anything else. I gave this book a 4.8/5, and would recommend it to anyone regardless of reading level.

One of my proudest reading accomplishments in 2022 was finishing a 500-page book. Although fresh into 2023 I have already read 700-page books, 500 pages was a major accomplishment in 2022. During the summer, I buckled down and decided to crack open Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. The Secret History had taken the internet by storm in 2022 and was on everyone’s must-read list for the year. Tackling this long ride was a challenge for me, since at the time I was primarily reading books that remained at around 350 pages. Page count aside, I was captivated by The Secret History and would recommend it to anyone, as I believe it is a modern classic. This book was another high-ranking read for me (⅘) as I truly enjoyed its uniqueness. 

Lastly, I spent most of my year reading one specific genre, so although you could say I was in my “reader era,” I would also say that I was in my “rom-com era.” In 2022, at least half of the books I read were rom-coms. Since I did the majority of my reading over the summer, it was truly the season of rom-coms and fun! I truly feel that rom-coms are the perfect books to get someone back into reading since they are easier reads and enjoyable. Some of my favorite rom-coms of the year were Beach Read and Book Lovers by Emily Henry, Every Summer After by Carly Fortune as well as Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren.

Reflecting back on my year of reading in 2022 was such a full-circle experience and really forced me to reflect on accomplishments for the year. A tip I would give to any new reader is to track your progress through an app like Goodreads or anything else you can think of. Hitting 31 books was a really big deal to me last year, and I hope to now read 45 books in 2023!

Grace Paolillo

Wisconsin '26

Grace is currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison! Coming from New Jersey, she is excited to try all the different things that Madison has to offer, including cafes, restaurants, study spots, and game day traditions!