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My Year in Books: 2022

A selection of all the books I read in 2022, including top recommendations

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Last year, I tried to increase the number of books I read. I managed a few more but still didn’t read as many as I would have liked. Therefore I’ve set myself a goal in 2023 to read 20 books, increasing my list by almost double. You’d think that as an author I might read more but at the end of a long day writing my books, editing other people’s and teaching creative writing, sometimes I can’t face more than a chapter. Anyway, all that being said, here is a list of all the books I read in 2022!

1. Circe by Madelaine Miller

I started off the year with Madelaine Miller's wonderfully literary novel. In ancient Greek mythology, Circe is an enchantress and minor goddess who appears in the Odyssey when Odysseus visits her remote island. In Miller's reimagining of this myth, Circle is first a child in the house of Helios, then an outcast banished to the island of Aiaia where her dark powers begin to grow. The settings are vivid, the language beautiful, and Circe herself a fierce representation of womanhood.

2. Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill

This collection of female-driven fairytales and poems seemed like a natural choice after Circe. In Fierce Fairytales, Nikita Gill reimagines the original fairytales, telling them from a more modern, feminist perspective. Princesses do not simply lie in wait for princely kisses and little girls do not fall so easily for the trickery of witches in houses made of sweets! It is an interesting book with a clear purpose, though I found the feminist delivery a little too fierce.

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3. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This enchanting story is the first in Katherine Arden's Winternight Trilogy. Set in the freezing wilderness of northern Russia, the story exudes darkness and mystery. It tells of Vasya, a young girl who can see the spirits protecting her house and feel the darkness gathering in the forest. Filled with wintry scenes, magic and monsters, this beautifully written tale is completely bewitching.

4. The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan

I chose this book for a bit of light-hearted reading during a busy month. The story focuses on Nina, who after leaving her job at a Birmingham library moves to Scotland where she starts running a community bookshop bus. Filled with friendships, Scottish landscapes, books, and romance, Colgan's novel is an easy, heart-warming read.

5. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

I bought this book in an Oxfam shop several years ago, thinking I might read it one day. Well, as summer came around, I decided to give it a try. Inspired by Johannes Vermeer's famous painting, Chevalier merges fact and fiction in this brilliant tale. When servant girl Griet catches the eye of the great painter, she swiftly becomes his helper and his muse. Then he gives her his wife's pearl earrings to wear for a portrait and it isn't long before a scandal erupts...

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6. Ivy Lane by Cathy Bramley

During a busy week, I couldn't bring myself to pick up a complicated novel and so I chose Ivy Lane. This light romance tells the story of a young widow who joins an allotment with the intention of finding purpose in her life. After some struggles with her plot, she soon finds new confidence, new friends, and new love. I found the main character irritating and the writing simplistic but overall it was a warm and easygoing summer romance.

7. Flight of the Bluebird by Teresa Bassett

This young adult fantasy is written by a fellow author of mine. Teresa Basset's fast-paced, mysterious plots always make for brilliant reading. Flight of the Bluebird carries on from her debut novel, The Time Crystals. Both novels are set in Cornwall and follow the adventures of schoolgirl Clara and her friends as they find themselves in all kinds of mysterious and dangerous situations!

8. Temeraire by Naomi Novik

My mum recommended this book to me many years ago but I just never felt the urge to read it. However, with limited options on my shelf, I decided to give it a try. The level of detail and the quality of language in Naomi Novik's writing is astonishing. This thrilling story follows the adventures of Captain William Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, set in the midst of the Napoleonic era. Temeraire is just the first book in Novik's alternate history fantasy novels and I can't wait to read more.

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9. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Delia Owens' debut novel is an absolutely brilliant read. This seductive coming-of-age novel follows the story of Kya, an abandoned child fighting to survive in the desolate marshlands of North Carolina. Owens' exquisite depictions of the natural world and her command of language and pace make the novel utterly captivating. It has swiftly become one of my favourite books of all time.

10. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

This was another book that I'd had on my shelf for many years and not yet read. As soon as I started reading it, I knew I was going to love it. This story follows Julia Win, a young woman who has come to Burma in search of her father following his disappearance. She learns of his extraordinary life, of his blindness as a young man, and the love letters he'd written to the girl he'd loved since childhood. Vivid and heart-breaking, this coming-of-age tale is utterly captivating.

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11. The Father Christmas Letters by J. R. R. Tolkien

I first came across this book during my research for a vintage book blog. With Tolkien as the author, it immediately appealed and I saved it to read at Christmas. First written by Tolkien as letters to his children from Father Christmas, the pages are filled with a wealth of wonderful stories that document the travels and adventures of Father Christmas and his helpers. Telling of mischief, battles, and adventure, this volume showcases Tolkien’s brilliantly vivid imagination.

12. Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Truly a book for all Jane Austen lovers. In this book, Gill Hornby reimagines the relationship between Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra. Cassandra becomes the central character of this story, an old woman recalling her youth and her complex relationship with her sister. This witty and absorbing tale is based on the age-old mystery of why the real Cassandra Austen burned all the letters sent to her by her sister. Passing between past and present, Miss Austen is a brilliant read and the perfect choice to round off my reading year.


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