Books of the year

My favourite books of 2022

So it’s that time of year again… deciding what my favourite books were in 2022 and listing them here for posterity.

I didn’t read my usual number of books — probably because I changed jobs in late April, then my social life picked up in August and other things took priority — but I still kept buying (and borrowing) them!

I had great plans to read more books by First Nations writers but that didn’t really happen. I did, however, participate in a few “events”, including 20 Books of Summer (for the sixth year in a row), Novellas in November, the 1954 Club, the 1929 Club, German Lit Month, Australian Reading Month and Reading Ireland Month.

I also read every book on the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year shortlist, something I try to do every year, and discovered some memorable books, two of which are listed below.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my top 10 reads of the year. Note, they’re not necessarily books published in 2022, they’re just the ones I managed to read in the past 12 months.

They are arranged in alphabetical order by author’s surname and, as ever, hyperlinks will take you to my full review.

‘Limberlost’ by Robbie Arnott(2022)

My favourite novel of the entire year, this is a truly moving coming-of-age story — about kindness, loss, love and family — set on an apple orchard in rural Tasmania during the Second World War.

‘Surrender’ by Bono (2022)

An intimate, warm and humourous memoir, structured around 40 U2 songs, which reveals the author can write prose as well as he can write song lyrics. [Note, not yet reviewed on this site.]

Assembly by Natasha Brown

‘Assembly’ by Natasha Brown (2021)

A scathing examination of institutional racism, this novella is framed around a successful Black woman preparing to attend a lavish garden party at her white boyfriend’s family home in the English countryside.

‘The Lost Daughter’ by Elena Ferrante (2008)

The dark side of motherhood comes to the fore in this slim novella in which a middle-aged woman takes a holiday on the Italian coast but soon discovers the past has come back to haunt her. [Note, not yet reviewed on this site.]

‘Beautiful Screaming of Pigs’ by Damon Galgut (1991)

A former South African soldier recovering from a mental breakdown goes on a road trip with his mother on the eve of the first free election in South West Africa.

‘Bright Things Burning’ by Lisa Harding (2021)

It’s the confidential, strained and disbelieving voice that gives this novel about an alcoholic woman whose life goes off the rails its unique and compelling twist.

‘Midwinter Break’ by Bernard MacLaverty (2018)

An intimate portrait of a long marriage between two retired people begins to unravel when the pair go to Amsterdam for a midwinter break.

‘Nora: A Love Story of Nora and James Joyce’ by Nuala O’Connor (2022)

A bold and bawdy fictionalised account of the life of Nora Barnacle, who was James Joyce’s muse, partner and inspiration for Molly Bloom in his acclaimed novel Ulysses.

‘Men in my Situation’ by Per Petterson (2021)

This melancholic novel reacquaints Per Petterson fans with Arvid, a recurrent character, who is newly divorced and clinging to the routines that mean something to him.

‘Red Dirt Talking’ by Jacqueline Wright (2012)

Life in an outback Aboriginal community in the northwest of Western Australia comes alive in this impressive and totally immersive debut novel.

Honorable mentions also go to ‘When All is Said’ by Anne Griffin, ‘Hare’s Fur’ by Trevor Shearston and ‘Marlo’ by Jay Carmichael.

I hope you have discovered some wonderful books and writers this year. Have you read any from this list? Or has it encouraged you to try one or two? What were your favourite reads of 2022?

Please note that you can see my favourite books of all the years between 2006 and 2022 by visiting my Books of the Year page.

42 thoughts on “My favourite books of 2022”

    1. Oh, please dig out Red Dirt Talking from your TBR. It’s such a great read… and is so full of issues pertinent to Black and white relations in this country. It gave me so much to think about and cogitate on.

      Like

  1. Now I will consider reading ‘Limberlost’, a novel I had not heard about before. I probably won’t be reading Bono, because he doesn’t impress me much for some reason. I really like the title ‘Beautiful Screaming of Pigs’, apparently an early work of Damon Galgut.
    Also when I see a book described as “melancholic”, I am wary.

    Like

    1. I love a good melancholic book and all of Per Petterson’s work fits into that category. I’ve read all but one of his extensive backlist and much enjoy the reserved nature of his writing.

      I’ve also been working my way through Damon Galgut’s backlist for the past six or seven years and am yet to come across a book I haven’t immediately fallen in love with.

      I am a long time U2 fan (35+ years) but have a love/hate relationship with Bono; I did not expect to like the memoir (it was given to me as a present) but was IMPRESSED by his writing, so beautiful and rich with imagery and metaphor, and we also get to see a different side to his personality: incredibly humorous (especially when taking the piss out of himself), reflective and compassionate. His stories about activism were insightful, too. I ate up the book over a weekend and was sad when it ended.

      Like

  2. Limberlost was right up there for me too, and Assembly is one that is still in the back on my mind to reread.
    Adding Nora to my wishlist – I must have missed this one somehow but it sounds like one I would enjoy.

    Can’t wait to get stuck into William Trevor’s short stories in 2023. The little taste I had at Christmas time has only whet my appetite for more!

    Like

    1. Well, your review encouraged me to buy Limberlost, so thank you for introducing me to a wonderful book!

      Glad to see you’re appetite has been whetted for William Trevor’s short stories. His novels and novellas are worth hunting out too if you get the chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As you already know, it’s thanks to you that Limberlost is also one of my books of the year. I’ll be looking for the Dalgut. Assembly turns out to be in my library, so I’ll be hotfooting it there ASAP. Per Petterson is clearly one to look out for. In fact, as I’m somehow not a fan, the Ferrante is the only one I shan’t be keeping my eyes open for.

    Like

    1. I’m not a Ferrante fan either. I only read one in her Neapolitan series and didn’t like it very much. But this novella was brilliant… so sharply observed and honest and written in lovely hypnotic prose. It’s made me want to hunt out more of her work.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Assembly was wonderful, and the love for Limberlost makes it one to look out for. I keep picking up the Bono book and putting it down again, thinking I’ll wait for the paperback, but it is cheap in the supermarket…. Happy New Year to you!

    Like

    1. The Bono book was a gift, thankfully, because I was reluctant to pay full whack for it ($50 which is about £30). I’m told the audio book is worth hunting out because it includes the songs. I’ve listened to a few podcasts where he talks about the book in front of large audiences and they have been very entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have Limberlost in my summer reading stack – looking forward to it.
    I read The Lost Daughter years ago, but found it far better and more memorable than her series – did you see the movie adaption? Not as good as the book but well done.

    Like

    1. Limberlost is brilliant; hope you enjoy it when you get around to it.

      I didn’t like the first novel in Ferrante’s Neapolitan series and didn’t bother reading the rest, but I really enjoyed this standalone novella. I thought the film adaptation with Olivia Colman was excellent too.

      Like

  6. The pressure to read Limberlost is getting unbearable, though that “set in WWII” continues to put me off. I read the second of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels over xmas and thought it as good as the first (the review is still only half done). I’ve followed up some great Irish recommendations from you and I really should do so more often.

    Like

    1. The war setting is just background… it’s off stage, as it were, and is just a useful device for explaining why the central character is alone (his brothers are off fighting) etc.

      I didn’t get on with Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels… I only read the first, didn’t bother with the rest.

      I don’t tend to read as many Irish novels as I used to, mainly because I’ve been enjoying ready access to Australian new releases after 20 years of “starvation”. The balance might start to be readdressed this year when my London TBR finally arrives in port! It is being shipped over as we speak!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wasn’t the Lost Daughter fab! I still need to review it at some point. I’ll look out for your recommendations…I recall hearing about Indelicacy at some point and thought it sounded fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read any of these, but Assembly sounds really interesting – I love a novel set over a short period of time, for one thing. Also, excited about your William Trevor project and aim to join in!

    Like

  8. Wonderful post, Kim! Always look forward to your year-end-favourites list 😊 Loved your review of Limberlost. Glad to know that it is your favourite book of the year. Adding it to my list. I also want to read Red Dirt Talking. It looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing 😊 Happy reading this year 😊

    Like

    1. Thanks, Vishy. Not sure if Red Dirt Talking has been published outside of Australia and it’s now out of print; I purchased my copy secondhand. Ebook versions should be available though.

      Like

      1. I just checked, Kim. Only secondhand copies of Red Dirt Talking are available and they are very expensive. But I discovered that the Kindle edition is there, which is very nice.

        Like

  9. The only one from your list that I’ve read is Midwinter Break – such a well observed portrayal of a marriage though I found his style a little irritating at times.

    Hope your London TBR arrives in one piece – do you think you’ll find some books you had forgotten you had?

    Like

    1. I think you probably need to be in the right mood/frame of mind to enjoy Midwinter Break as it is very stylised.

      I’m sure there will be loads of books in the London TBR that I have forgotten about… it will be a bit like Christmas seeing them all again!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Kim, I love your lists, so helpful. Thanks for another one. I’ve only read ‘Midwinter break’ from this list which I read for the second time this year. I enjoyed it as much if not more the second time round, a gentle story of a long-term couple facing their very human failings. Bernard McLaverty is one of my favourite authors, just love his dialogue. I like the sound of Limberlost and will add it to my books to be read this year. Happy New Year by the way!

    Like

I'd love to know what you think, so please leave a comment below

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.