Top Five Books of 2022

In no particular oder, here are my top five reads from this past year, books that have stayed with me and I know will do for some time. I have three fiction here, one non-fiction and a travelogue.

I’m not normally into anything vaguely dystopian, but this one reeled me in and had me hooked from start to end. Set in an unspecified year, a deadly flu virus (hmmm…) wipes out large swathes of the global population. Fast forward a number of years and we re-join a young woman, Kirsten, who we met in the early part of the book as a child actress. Now she is with a travelling orchestra who perform Shakespeare plays in the newly formed settlements that have sprung up across North America in this post-pandemic, vulnerable world. Their uneasy existence, however, is shattered by the appearance of a ‘prophet’, who believes that the virus was their destiny, calling people to take up arms and follow him.

This is the kind of book that I wanted to read and re-read many passages a number of times as I felt that Caitlin Moran was giving voice to feelings in me I had never been able to articulate. With her trademark dry wit and no-holds-barred bluntness, this is a celebration of middle-aged women everywhere and those who love them and / or want to understand them better. There is a chapter in here entitled What about the men? which I pressed into my husband’s hands and we both read and marvelled over a number of times. Poignant and powerful, I adored this book.

No, not that New York and California. We’re in my neck of the woods for this book, in the East of England, where writer Jeremy Page sets off on a bike in the tiny fen village in Lincolnshire of New York, bound for California, a small seaside town on the east Norfolk coast. His companions are a whippet called Half-Shandy who runs along the bike beside him (until he gets tired and he pops him in the basket) and an eccentric acquaintance who joins him through the weird and wonderful landscapes of the East of England. Page’s insightful observations, along with his black and white monochrome photography, make for charming, unexpected and moving reading.

I have put these two books together as they’re by the same wonderful author and follow the same character, Olive Kitteridge, as she faces the joys and sorrows of her life in small town coastal Maine. Elizabeth Strout has been the discovery of the year for me; her writing has that lucid and luminous quality that cuts right to the bone of what it is to be human. As soon as I had finished reading Olive Kitteridge, I headed straight to the library to borrow Olive, Again so I could see what happened to this cantankerous but lovable character as she headed into her eighties. These books are not plot-dense, but they teem with insight, warmth and nuance. I can’t wait to read more of Elizabeth Strout’s work. I know I’ll be in for a treat.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy festive season 🎄

Thank you for reading about my top books of 2022. To compliment this blog post, read about my year in 2021 of reading outside my ethnicity and my favourite discoveries & my top ten books of 2020.

(Thanks to main featured photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash)

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