It wasn’t all bad but for various personal reasons, 2022 has been one of the most stressful years of my life with more sadness than joy. So, along with the healing power of nature, books were a much-needed escape and respite from reality. At particularly low points, it was hard to concentrate, and longer books were more of a challenge to get through. But I hit my goal of 50+ books which included a few non-fiction titles and a selection of memoirs.
As always, because I mainly read books recommended by those whose opinion I value, there’s not many I didn’t really enjoy, and I didn’t abandon any of the 52 books I chose. Likely an unpopular opinon coming up… the one disappointment though was by one of my favourite writers. I’ve always been a big fan of Maggie O’Farrell’s work and I enjoyed seeing her at the Edinburgh Book Festival in the summer. But her latest novel, The Marriage Portrait, didn’t engage me as much as I’d hoped. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction and my brain at the time of reading wasn’t at peace so that might explain why it didn’t grab me.
Thankfully, another favourite writer of mine, Elizabeth Strout, did live up to my high expectations and I devoured Lucy by the Sea.. As thought-provoking as ever, I love Elizabeth Strout’s writing. But now one of my favourite fictional characters from her novels, Olive Kitteridge, has a new rival in Elizabeth Zott, a feminist icon from Lessons in Chemisty by Bonnie Garmus.
It’s always easier to remember the impact of books I read later in the year (must make notes next year!) but one of my final reads of 2022 would have a lasting impression whenever I’d read it. The old cliche, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ nearly put me off Lessons in Chemistry. It struck me as looking a bit like a ‘chick lit‘ novel and might be too lightweight for my tastes. How wrong I was as there’s plenty of darkness woven within this very tight plot. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It made me laugh out loud and sniff back tears – that’s quite an achievement within the pages of a single story. It’s funny, sad, interesting and ultimately inspiring – lessons for life scatter its pages!
Other standout fiction titles included: –
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
Paper Cup by Karen Campbell
Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne
Becoming Strangers by Louise Dean
Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson
The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan
Memorable memoirs I read were One Body by Catherine Simpson, This Much is True by Miriam Margoles and Ready for Absolutely Nothing by Susannah Constantine. I had a fangirl moment when I met Susannah recently at the Bookface Sip and Swap book event in Glasgow and she was fabulous – funny, sharp and glam!
My top non-fiction reads were Tomb with a View by Peter Ross and Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh. Two thoroughly fascinating reads which were the right mix of interesting and entertaining.
If you struggled too this year, then all the very best for 2023 and to spending many more hours between the pages!