My favourite books of 2022 (part two)
Five more novels I loved this year, and think you will too
I’ll keep this short: you’re busy, I’m busy, there are presents to be wrapped, festive films to be watched, and I’m writing this with a headache that definitely has nothing to do with my office Christmas party last night.
This is the second instalment to my favourite books of the year (if you missed part one, you can read it here). Enjoy!
Five of the best books that came out this year
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
In what is one of the most unique and fun books I’ve read in forever, Elizabeth Zott is an exceptionally clever chemist in a man’s world in the 1950s and 60s California. She also happens to be (god forbid) a single mother, and, after a series of unexpected events, becomes the unlikely star of a new cooking show. It’s through ‘Supper at Six’ she starts to change the lives of the housewives who watch it - but shaking up the status quo doesn’t come without its challenges.
This book is so fizzy and funny that it’s as much of a treat as a glass of champagne, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in emotional depth, either. It’s also being adapted into an Apple TV+ drama starring Brie Larson, so if that doesn’t demonstrate how much it’s worth reading, I don’t know what will.
A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe
I was not emotionally prepared for this novel. Rooted in the real events of the 1966 Aberfan disaster, it opens with William, a newly qualified embalmer, rushing to the Welsh mining village as a volunteer, where he helps salvage the bodies of the children who were buried when their school was wiped out by the landslide. It’s a horrifying day that will stay with William for decades - as well as forcing him to face up to parts of his past he’s buried.
Taking you on a journey through family relationships, loss, friendship, estrangement, romance and forgiveness, A Terrible Kindness is the kind of book you step into. I also haven’t rooted for characters (or a love story) like this in a long time. Please read it - it’s an astonishingly good book.
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
When Steve was a child, he found a book on the bus which was rumoured to contain a secret code. He give it to his teacher Miss Isles, who disappeared not long after. Now, 40 years later, Steve is missing himself, but a detective has found hundreds of audio files that he made into an old iPhone. These files record his search for Miss Isles and his pursuit to crack that famous book’s code at last.
Original, funny, and completely mind-bending: The Twyford Code has easily become one of my favourite mystery novels of all time. I think what’s so brilliant about this book is that the reader can get involved with the puzzle too (which lovers of language and words will appreciate in particular). Also, the ending made my tiny brain explode.
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Characters you love so much you want to ensconce them in bubble wrap, a totally absorbing plot, vivid storytelling… I cannot tell you how much I loved this novel.
Inspired by true events, the book follows Civil, a nurse in 1970s Alabama whose life becomes entangled with two young girls in her care. When something unthinkable happens to the sisters, Civil is by their side throughout the trial seeking justice - but will spend the rest of her life grappling with the guilt for not stopping it in the first place. Heart-wrenching and yet radiating with spirit, Take My Hand has all the hallmarks for a classic.
Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer
Isaac Addy is at rock bottom. He is standing on a bridge when he lets out an anguished scream - and to his surprise, something screams back. He follows the noise into the woods nearby and it is here that he comes across something extraordinary; something that will change his astoundingly sad life.
If I try to explain the story beyond that, Isaac and the Egg sounds absolutely bonkers. Perhaps it’s better if I tell you it’s a novel about a journey (although no one actually goes anywhere) - or one about grief, loneliness, love, and hope. But in some ways, it is bonkers. Isaac and the Egg is truly one of the most mad, sad, unique, and magical books that I have ever read. Please do not let this novel pass you by.
This is my final newsletter of the year, so I thought I’d leave you with these gorgeous Tiny Love Stories from The New York Times. If I were to write one, it would definitely be something to do with the email correspondence I’ve had with every subscriber who has got in touch to discuss books. Thank you, as always, for being here. I can’t wait to tell you about more great reads in 2023. Until then!