Welcome to a canter through my last year in books!
I read 40 books in the last year – a nice round number that I’m pleased with, particularly given 2022 coincided with being a new mother and taking up a new job. There are also a lot of books on this list that have had a lasting impact on me as a reader, writer and human making her way through the world.
I’ll start by getting out the way those books that would probably fall to the bottom of my favourites list. Here comes the usual caveat that this does not mean they are bad books. At least half in the list below I would defend as hugely accomplished, and also really enjoyed at the time of reading. They are on this list because, absolutely subjectively and looking back over the whole year, they lodged themselves in my consciousness a little less firmly than some others.
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Companion Piece, Ali Smith
- Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney
- The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
- Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
- The Absolute Book, Elizabeth Knox
Fantasy is the genre I always come back to, as well as the genre I write in, and I have a particular soft spot for well imagined alternative worlds. Joe Abercrombie and N. K. Jemisin’s worlds both have exactly the right amount of detail and nuance to make them feel so very very real.
- The Blade Itself, Joe Abercrombie
- Before They Are Hanged, Joe Abercrombie
- The Fifth Season, N K Jemisin
🍸Real world… with a speculative twist🍸
The speculative twists here range from a coffee shop that can send you back in time, to an orphanage for magical children, to a post-apocalyptic future, to an enigmatic maze filled with classical statues. They are wonderfully imaginative, and make you look at the real elements of the worlds they inhabit in different ways.
- Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi
- The House on the Cerulean Sea, TJ Klune
- Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel
- Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
- Under the Whispering Door, TJ Klune
- Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman
🚀Travels in space and time🚀
In this category we have the last three books in the epic Expanse series, as well as a very modern feeling and heart-warming space opera actually written in the 1980s, and finally a novel that spans centuries feels simultaneously very expansive and closely focussed.
- Persepolis Rising, James S. A. Corey
- Tiamat’s Wrath, James S A Corey
- Leviathon Falls, James S A Corey
- A Matter of Oaths, Helen S Wright
- Sea of Tranquility, Emily St John Mandel
Books that are as beautiful in their physical form as they are to read!
- Julia and the Shark, Kiran Millwood Hargrave (author), Tom de Freston (illustrator)
- These Great Athenians, Valentine Carter
The three non-fiction books I read in 2022 all have very different subject matter. I felt the need to consume perspectives on motherhood in late 2021 into early 2022, as a very new mother. Daimon Voices is a collection of Pullman’s essays, articles and talks that show his perspective on writing. Chronicles tells the story of Egypt in recent decades through the lens of a bookshop.
- The Motherhood Manifesto, Eliane Glaser
- Daemon Voices, Phililp Pullman
- Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller, Nadia Wassef
⏳Times near and far⏳
Rather than a ‘historical fiction’ category, I’ve grouped together here those books that are strongly anchored on real events or characters, whether they be in the more distant or the more recent past. From Shakespeare’s family, to witch hunts, to a dancing plague, to divided postcolonial Cyprus, to migration from war-torn Syria – there’s a good deal of sadness running through these books, though light in the cracks, I’d say.
- Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell
- The Familiars, Stacey Halls
- The Dance Tree, Kiran Millwood Hargrave
- The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Christina Lefteri
- The Island of Missing Trees, Elif Shafak
💌Holding together and tearing apart💌
Following quite closely on the heels of the last category is one full of books about love and grief, of lots of different kinds.
- Sorrow and Bliss, Meg Mason
- The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki
- Maps of our Spectacular Bodies, Maddie Mortimer
- Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter
- Beautiful World, Where Are You, Sally Rooney
- Anxious People, Fredrik Backman
🏺Greek Myth Retelling Readathon🏺
And finally for this year, my start through a readathon of all the Greek Myth Retellings I can get my hands on. I only managed four before year end, but will continue on in 2023!
- Circe, Madeline Miller
- Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker
- Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
- A Thousand Ships, Natalie Haynes
Wishing you all happy new reading years! I hope you find stories that touch and inspire you in 2023.