2022 in books:

The novel most enjoyed: new (to me) writers: 

Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au; 

Salka Valka by Halldor Laxness

Novels most enjoyed: 

The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov; 

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan; 

Northline by Willy Vlautin; 

Single most astonishing novel of the year:

The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk

The most striking non-fiction work:

Ghost Signs by Stu Hennigan, which in turn led me to The Condition of the Working Class in England by Friedrich Engels.

The most beautiful & uplifting work:

Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli; & Modern Nature by Derek Jarman, 

Most uncategorisable & yet bloody brilliant book:

Excavate: The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall – edited by Tessa Norton and Bob Stanley

Novel that disappointed:

Solo Faces by James Salter

The year’s most striking fictional character:

Jacob (although how fictional was he?); Salka Valka; Mark E Smith (?)

…and the most-dastardly villain(s):

The ruling, land-owning, worker-supressing, profit-robbing class

The best authors encountered for the first time this year:

Jessica Au & Annie Ernaux

The most beautifully written novel:

Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au

Poetry most enjoyed: 

Four collections really stood out this year – although I found many more to be fine and beautiful and challenging:

Natalie Diaz: When My Brother was an Aztec

Terence Hayes: American Sonnets for my past and future assassins

Helen Mort: The Illustrated Woman

Joelle Taylor: C+nto and Othered Poems

If I had to pick between these, it would probably be a tie between Mort and Diaz.

Anthology of the Year:

We’re All in it Together: poetry for a DisUnited Kingdom, edited by Michael Stewart, Kayleigh Campbell and Steve Ely 

Most disappointing poetry:

Ted Hughes: The Hawk in the Rain

Full list


Au, Jessica: Cold Enough for Snow

Bulgakov, Mikhail: The Heart of a Dog

Degerman, Stig: A Moth to a Flame

Ferrante, Elena: Troubling Love

Flanagan, Richard: The Living Sea of Waking Dreams

Foley, Lauren: Polluted Sex

Harrison, M John: Climbers

Kang, Han: Human Acts

Laing, Olivia: Crudo

Laxness, Halldor: Salka Valka

McGregor, Jon: Lean Fall Stand

Murakami, Haruki: Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki

Myers, Benjamin: These Darkening Days; The Book of Fuck; Male Tears

ni Dochartaigh, Kerri: Thin Places 

Porter, Max: The Death of Francis Bacon

Salter, James: Solo Faces

Shafak, Elif: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World

Sigurdottir, Lilja: Cold as Hell

Stewart, Michael: Four Letter Words

Taddeo, Lisa: Animal

Tokarczuk, Olga: The Books of Jacob

Tsushima, Yuko: Woman Running in the Mountains

Vlautin, Willy: Northline

Volckmer, Katharina: The Appointment: (or, the story of the cock) 

Whitehead, Colson: Harlem Shuffle

Zhadan, Serhiy: The Orphanage


Annie Ernaux: Simple Passion

Carlo Rovelli: Helgoland

Deborah Orr: Motherwell 

Derek Jarman: Modern Nature

Excavate: The Wonderful and frightening World of The Fall – edited by Tessa Norton and Bob Stanley

Helen MacDonald: Vesper Flights

Folke Henshen: The Human Skull: a cultural history

Friedrich Engels: The Condition of the Working Class in England

Freire Paulo: Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Grayson Perry: The Descent of Man

John Healy: The Grass Arena

Robert MacFarlane: The Wild Places

Stu Hennigan: Ghost Signs

Susan Sontag: Regarding the Pain of Others


Anthology: A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry

Anthology: Wagtail; Roma Women’s Poetry

Anthology: We’re All in it Together: poetry for a DisUnited Kingdom

Berry, Emily: Unexhausted Time

Berryman, John: Berryman’s Sonnets

Bird, Caroline: Rookie

Carson, Ciaran: Breaking News

Diaz, Natalie: When my Brother was an Aztec

Duhig, Ian: The Blind Roadmaker

Evans, Suzannah: Space Baby

Hadfield, Jen: The Stone Age

Hayes, Terrance: American Sonnets for my past and future assassins

Hughes, Ted (w/ Leonard Baskin): Cave Birds; The Hawk in the Rain

Kaminsky, Ilya: Deaf Republic

Kinsella, Thomas: Butcher’s Dozen

Lambert, Gill: A Small Goodbye at Dawn

Lowe, Hannah: The Kids

Mort, Helen: The Illustrated Woman

Mort, Valzhyna: Music for the Dead & Resurrected

Nicholson, Matt: Untanglement

O’Brien, Sean: Embark

Olds, Sharon: Odes

Patterson, Don: Landing Light

Shaw, Clare: Towards a General Theory of Love

Stewart, Michael: Couples

Taylor, Joelle: C+nto, & Othered Poems


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