Books of the year: 2022 reading round up

How has 2022 been for you? I have read a lot of books, and even starting writing things again, which feels like an exciting step. However, in prepping this post, I did get a suspicion that the reading hasn’t been great this year. Let’s look at the numbers:

As ever, they vary depending on which counting method I’m using – my handwritten account in a notebook says 126 books this year, Goodreads says 122. They never tally.

As usual, I read more by women than men, 97 women to 24 men. There were four books that I didn’t finish – mainly just because I didn’t get on with them, mostly these were not bad books (one of them was terrible) but just weren’t for me.

I read a lot of newly published books this year, with a lot more reviews than in recent years and some of these have been good. But what’s noticeable is that the books I read this year that made the most impression on me have been around for a while. My book of the year is several years old, and two of the others in the best of list have also been around for a while.

The final list of the best books I read this year is as follows:

Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

How We Disappeared by Jing Jing Lee

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Starling by Sarah Jane Butler

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett

Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

and my book of the year this year is… drum roll please…

All at Sea by Decca Aitkenhead

It is the book that has stayed with me in the months after reading it, the one I’ve been telling other people to read, the book that has made more of an impression on me than anything else I’ve read this year.

A brief intro: All at Sea is the story of Decca A falling in love with a drug dealing, tough living man Tony, and her family and friends’ reaction as she turned her life upside down to be with him. He reforms, especially when they have children, but her life is turned upside down again when Tony drowns when they are on holiday in the Caribbean. It sounds tough reading and in many ways it is, but Aitkenhead’s honesty about it all, her frankness in acknowledging the issues at stake at the beginning and in describing the depths of her loss make this an astonishing book. I keep thinking about it.

You may have noticed two of the books (the Patchett and the Pine) are essay collections. This is a form I’m coming to really enjoy and I’d like to find more good collections, especially by single authors. The novels on the list are split in terms of recentness (?), Starling was published this year, Great Circle last year and the other two are older, Kindred from the 1970s. All of them were very different but all of them also have a strong sense of place, with excellent world building and some great characters. I particularly loved both Dana in Kindred and Marion in Great Circle. Persepolis was the most impactful of the graphic novels I read this year, due to its subject matter, but I’ve enjoyed all the graphic novels I’ve read and think this is a really interesting area of adult fiction that is mostly ignored.

The list of books I’ve read this year has prompted me to make some reading resolutions for next year. I enjoy reviewing new books but I also want to make sure I find time to get stuck into books I know I enjoy. To find some quality reading, and to cut down on the fiction a little.

Each month I am going to try to reread one book that is on my shelf, having promised myself I’d get back to it, and I’m also going to try and get through a non fiction book each month too. I think I try to read more non fiction every year but we’ll see if I can stick to it more this year. Hopefully the variety should prove winning. There will also be reviews of new books (I have a list on Netgalley that can’t be ignored.) In a year’s time you can call me on this.

So that’s my list and my resolutions. I’d love to hear yours! Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and here’s to 2023.

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