Sitting in bed on the first morning of the new year, my thoughts went to the year that was and the things I carry forward into 2023. It has been a busy year and yet I felt I could have done more. I should have done more.
And then, I reminded myself that it matters the glass be half-full, not half-empty; that I celebrate what I accomplished rather than regretting what I missed, and be thankful for the unexpected joys that added a sparkle to the year.
My Korean language study has had front-and-centre focus this year. I moved from Beginner to Intermediate level in January and am now halfway through Lower Advanced. I couldn’t have imagined it would be this hard to go back to studying after two decades but now, a year and a half later, I think I’m settling in.
One of my objectives for 2022 was to sit for the TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) Exam and clear TOPIK I Level 1 which is the basic Beginner level qualifier. Sitting for an external exam after all these years was not easy and I am grateful I managed to clear Level 2. This was a huge personal win and one of the highlights of my year, especially considering how nervous I got in the company of university students on the day of the exam that I nearly walked out of the examination centre.
I’m not ready yet to think about TOPIK II; I may consider it in the later half of 2023 or, more likely, in 2024. For now, I’m thrilled I’ve been able to check two items on my bucket list:
1. Learn a foreign language, and
2. Take up a course of study as a mature student that qualifies me for recognised certification.
In continuation from 2021, I maintained my reading target at 60 books this year. In addition to hitting the target number, the one important reading objective was to accomplish my annual binge-read that I was unable to do the previous year. This is a reading tradition I’ve been following since 2017 where I read a complete series by one author from start to finish. I had earmarked the Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor for the 2021 Binge-Read which got pushed out to 2022. With more time spent studying this year, I was worried I’d miss it again. So, I dedicated the last two months of 2022 to reading all 23 books in the series. I ended up reading 25 books by the author in 54 days amidst which I also spent two weeks preparing for the semester final in mid-December. You can read all about this reading tradition, the book series I chose, and my thoughts on it in my final blog post of 2022.
With regard to my bookish crafting, I don’t think I’ve been able to experiment with new techniques as much as I would have liked. Even so, I did use a variety of crafting materials and methods this year in my book-paired crafting endeavours. Here is a list:
1. 2D and 3D Papercraft: tiki lanterns, desk block, pencil with curly hair topper, women’s heels and baby shoes, pine cones, hot air balloon, forget-me-not paper flowers, bow and arrow, crayon-shaped favour boxes
2. 3D Paper Models: hand-pulled rickshaw, bookmobile, miniature grand piano, tiger, phoenix
3. Regular Origami and 3D Origami: shamrocks, suitcases, coffee cup and spoon, ring box, cat, devil and angel pair, duckling, hydrangea bush, crab, dragon, moon and stars, different types of origami leaves, goldfish, chicken
4. Doily Craft: wall clock
5. 3D Chinese Origami: matryoshka doll
6. Paper Folding: hanbok (traditional Korean attire)
7. Quilling: finger ring, mini violin
9. Paper art and Layered paper art: Paris stencil; Santorini, Greece paper art frame; paper typography; bees in a beehive; polygon human brain; birds on a branch
10. Crepe paper flowers: peach blossoms
11. Paracord: breast cancer ribbon
12. Cross stitch embroidery: labyrinth, bookmark
In addition to these, two new crafting materials I used this year were:
- Felt fabric sheets: I used these to make actual size baby booties.
- GSM Sim Cards: I fashioned drop earrings out of old sim cards for a book about a protagonist who works in the telecom industry.
I’ve linked the craft project I made using each of these techniques in the list above so you can click through to view any that pique your curiosity.
One big surprise this year was to see my book pairing featured in author Clare Mackintosh’s monthly newsletter. It was the crafting creation I paired with her latest bestseller – The Last Party. The book being set in a village along the Welsh-English border, I made an origami dragon to pair with the book. The Welsh y Ddraig Goch, or Red Dragon, is a heraldic symbol that appears on the national flag of Wales. This was too big a moment for me to not shout about it from the rooftops which I did in this blog post.
I don’t do any yearly reading challenges but I do keep up with HTBrunch’s #BrunchBookChallenge. It has no rules except to meet a target number which allows me the flexibility to read whatever I want while still holding myself accountable to a certain number of books.
I wrapped up 2022 with a total of 70 books across various genres. I’ve created a cover collage of all the titles for a quick glance.
Below that is a list of these 70 titles, each linked to my review for the book. Within each blogpost you’ll find a note on the craft pairing at the end: the project I made, what it signifies in relation to the book, as well as the crafting technique and material used.
1. Treachery Times Two – Robert McCaw
2. Write It All Down: How to Put Your Life on the Page – Cathy Rentzenbrink
3. The Rossogolla Murders – Debeshi Gooptu
4. I Hate My Curly Hair – Divya Anand
5. We Are the Brennans – Tracey Lange
6. The Wrong Suitcase – Laura Jane Williams
7. The Interview – C. M. Ewan
8. The Silent Sisters (Charles Jenkins 3) – Robert Dugoni
9. A Spoonful of Murder – J.M. Hall
10. The Paris Apartment – Lucey Foley
11. Peach Blossom Spring – Melissa Fu
12. The Woman Who Took a Chance – Fiona Gibson
13. The Korean – Africa Byongchan Yoon
14. Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? – Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
15. The Fake-Up – Justin Myers
16. Into the Dark – Fiona Cummins
17. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle – Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski
18. Gangsta Granny Strikes Again – David Walliams
19. Single Bald Female – Laura Price
20. How I Lost My Hair Raising Teenage Girls – Andrew McKinney
21. The Library – Bella Osborne
22. Duckling – Eve Ainsworth
23. Nora Goes Off Script – Annabel Monaghan
24. Lucie Yi Is Not A Romantic – Lauren Ho
25. We All Have Our Secrets – Jane Corry
26. The Love of My Life – Rosie Walsh
27. The Saint of Lost Things – Tish Delaney
28. The Museum of Ordinary People – Mike Gayle
29. Owner of a Lonely Heart – Eva Carter
30. The Last Party – Clare Mackintosh
31. Last Time We Met – Emily Houghton
32. Looking For Jane – Heather Marshall
33. Assassin’s Lullaby – Mark Rubinstein
34. Limitless – Radhika Gupta
35. The Winners – Fredrik Backman
36. The Soul Support Book – Deb Koffman
37. Everything the Light Touches – Janice Pariat
38. Mis(s) Adventures of a Sales Girl – Aashisha Chakraborty
39. The World’s Worst Pets – David Walliams
40. Mad Honey – Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Finney Boylan
41. Jungle Nama – Amitav Ghosh
42. To Get to the Other Side – Kelly Ohlert
43. Sapiens: A Graphic History Vol.1: The Birth of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
44. Sapiens: A Graphic History Vol.2: The Pillars of Civilization – Yuval Noah Harari
45. When the Wildflowers Bloom – Rupa Bhullar
46. The Lions of Lucerne (Scot Harvath 01) – Brad Thor
47. Path of the Assassin (Scot Harvath 02) – Brad Thor
48. State of the Union (Scot Harvath 03) – Brad Thor
49. Blowback (Scot Harvath 04) – Brad Thor
50. Takedown (Scot Harvath 05) – Brad Thor
51. The First Commandment (Scot Harvath 06) – Brad Thor
52. The Last Patriot (Scot Harvath 07) – Brad Thor
53. The Apostle (Scot Harvath 08) – Brad Thor
54. Foreign Influence (Scot Harvath 09) – Brad Thor
55. Full Black (Scot Harvath 10) – Brad Thor
56. Black List (Scot Harvath 11) – Brad Thor
57. Free Fall (Scot Harvath 11.5) – Brad Thor
58. Hidden Order (Scot Harvath 12) – Brad Thor
59. Epilogue II- A Bonus Chapter to Hidden Order (Scot Harvath 12.5) – Brad Thor
60. Act of War (Scot Harvath 13) – Brad Thor
61. Code of Conduct (Scot Harvath 14) – Brad Thor
62. The Athens Solution (Scot Harvath 14.5) – Brad Thor
63. Foreign Agent (Scot Harvath 15) – Brad Thor
64. Use of Force (Scot Harvath 16) – Brad Thor
65. Spymaster (Scot Harvath 17) – Brad Thor
66. Backlash (Scot Harvath 18) – Brad Thor
67. Near Dark (Scot Harvath 19) – Brad Thor
68. Black Ice (Scot Harvath 20) – Brad Thor
69. Rising Tiger (Scot Harvath 21) – Brad Thor
70. The Athena Project – Brad Thor
I have also shared a shortlist of my favourite titles from these books along with some reading stats of the year that was. You can find these here.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your musings on this list – your thoughts on the ones you’ve read, new books and/or authors that caught your fancy. If you have any must-read recommendations from your list, drop those too, here. Where there any projects or techniques you particularly liked or want to know more about? Share your thoughts in the comments.
If you enjoy reading, I’ll be thrilled if you follow this blog (click the ‘Follow’ button at top right or towards the bottom of this page). I’ll continue to share my reviews of books I read through the year with hand-crafted pairings.
You can also connect with me on my socials via linktr.ee/AshieJayn.
Here’s wishing you peace and joy this 2023. In this new year, may your spirit be strong, your heart be courageous, and may you walk a path of rich adventure that fulfils your dreams. Happy New Year!
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