2022 : a year in books

One of the things I like about Goodreads is that, at the end of the year, you get a fairly nifty round up of your reading. Admittedly you do have to remember to put the ‘read date’ in and admittedly that took me quite some time to remember to do (!), but it does all pay off. I’m always interested to see where I’ve been and how my reading has worked out in terms of things like gender, genre, and translations and so on.

One of the things that does amuse me is how there’s a mixture of some very, very historic and niche titles and some very contemporary ones. I am, at point of writing, the only reviewer of The Last Weapon, a rather remarkable and searingly sad anti-war novel from the dawn of the twentieth century, and the first person in six years to post a review of Hilda At School. I’d heard of neither title before I discovered them this year so they were interesting things to explore. (Also, I think, it’s rather interesting about how books find readers in the world and how that happens..)

Stand out titles from this first block are Putin’s Russia, a nonfiction graphic novel which provides a deft and terrifying expose of Putin, and the smart, chatty delicious Hotel Splendide by Ludwig Bemelmans. My lovely penpal school introduced me to the charming Shine and I thoroughly enjoyed Managing Expectations by the witty, wise and very charming Minnie Driver. You’ll also see the beginnings of an L. M Boston theme here – she’s been one of the authors I’ve really loved to explore over the past few years.

I think Always, Clementine is probably my best book of the year in terms of new releases. I’m always in favour of books that try to do things differently and do it well and Clementine really does. It’s emotional, thoughtful and really well done. It’s also risky in terms of style and I like how it really goes for it.

The Philippa Gregory era! Ha! I read a lot of them all at once and then read The Lady of the Rivers twice during a hotel stay when I ran out of books. I do like Philippa Gregory a lot though I wonder if sometimes they get a bit samey for me. Nevertheless I do like how she handles history and how she centres women and their agency. (Also I really loved The Lady of the Rivers actually, I was V Here for Jacquetta).

Stalking The Atomic City was a standout here and one that gained some horrific relevance as the year progressed. It now feels like a memorial to a place and time in its own right and I would encourage those of you who haven’t come across it yet to do so. The writing is big, wild and unforgettable.

The graphic novel versions of The Baby-Sitter’s Club are a JOY and I recommend them entirely. They’re so happy and heartfelt and really very beautiful. The other standout here for me was Catwings – it’s very slender but rather beautiful, and reminded me that I wanted to read much more Ursula K Le Guin.

And that’s it! A year in books! I suspect I’ll add a few more by the end of the year but this is pretty much it for now. I love how it’s a bit of everything and that I managed to discover some very stylish new authors and artists to me. I’ll be returning to Daryl Cunningham in particular – I really love how he handles information and image and the topics he covers are so fascinating and well done. I also want Minnie Driver to write more. She’s so, so interesting to read and really was a genuine delight to discover.

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