Books of 2022.
A quick roundup of what I've been reading in the kiosk this year.
Sometimes I get a bit of downtime in the kiosk, and when I’m not watching the world go by, I’ll often be reading a book. For bit of context, I read about fifty books in 2022, and although very few of which came out in 2022, these are ones that I enjoyed the most and left the biggest impression on me.
To set the scene, I normally read nonfiction in the morning, over coffee and toast, and fiction in the evening or whenever I find a spare moment in the day.
Top 5 Fiction:
Butcher’s Crossing – John Williams
The death of the American Dream, but lightyears away from the glitz of a Gatsby party. Butcher’s Crossing is a tale about the brutal, frontier reality of capitalism and colonialism, played out in the most visceral and devastating fashion. It’s a slow build, following the trials of a buffalo hunt in the hostile wilderness, but by the end, I was absolutely floored.
Leonard and Hungry Paul – Ronan Hession
A real delight. Its lightness and general readability allows it to subtly sneak through some really profound observations on family, relationships, and how we find our own little space in the world to inhabit.
Kick The Latch – Kathryn Scanlan
Not technically out yet, but got my hands on an illicit copy. I have zero interest in horses, so a book that takes the narrative form of an ex-trainer, monologing on her life in the game would normally be a tough sell. But it’s testament to the writing that I was gripped and subsequently dunked into a very real and fascinating world of which I knew nothing about, and loved every second.
The Moustache – Emmanuel Carrère
Taking heavy influence from the spiralling madness of a classic Russian novel, The Moustache starts out light and humorous, but rapidly descends into a living nightmare. Genuinely anxiety inducing in a very quiet and banal way. Probably not the holiday read you’re after, but for me will always be associated with sitting on a balcony in Nice, with a coffee and croissant.
Lanny – Max Porter
I’ve been slow to the Max Porter party, but very glad I turned up. Beautiful by one turn and dark by the next, he has somehow managed to create a book that is inexplicably a meditation and a page-turner. This is a cliché free, hands in the earth, rumination on our connection to the natural world and the other humans who inhabit it.
Top 5 Nonfiction:
Blood Knots – Luke Jennings
They say the mark of a good documentary is that it can make you interested in subject you previously cared little about, and that is definitely true of Blood Knots. I don’t really enjoy autobiography, or fishing, but this deceptively simple recollection of vignettes charmed and transported me. The text meanders outside of the subject and back again in such a pleasing and natural way that it almost had me feeling nostalgic for the casts I’ve never made.
Michel the Giant: An African in Greenland - Tété-Michel Kpomassie
Having read quite a few travel books in my time, it’s often hard to find a fresh take, but this story of a young man’s journey from West Africa to Greenland in the 1960s, is truly unique. It really didn’t sell Greenland to me, but that’s beside the point, Kpomassie’s humour and patience in the face of various hardships, make it him the perfect guide through the cold and even more cold.
The Book of Trespass – Nick Hayes
I genuinely think everyone living in England should read this, because if you’re not angry about public land rights, you really should be. Much more human and fascinating than the subject has any right to be, the book explores the history of how our right to exist in our own countryside has been systematically eroded and removed, revealing the impact that has on us all. This book basically radicalised me.
A Man’s Place – Annie Ernaux
Ernaux’s writing is like a magic trick to me, I have no idea how she can evoke so much by writing so few words. This short reflection on the life and death of her father is both quietly unassuming and devastating in equal measure.
The Stopping Places – Damien Le Bas
Le Bas journeys through Britain tracing his gipsy heritage. It’s a personal story, but also a glimpse into a world of which I knew very little, despite existing in the countryside in which I grew up. The concept of a culture existing within another culture, complete with all its codes and complexities, is eloquently explained and left me feeling richer for being allowed to ride shotgun for a while.
So that’s it! Looking forward discovering some more future classics in 2023, and hope you all have a lovely year of reading ahead too.
On the subject of books, it would be remiss of me not to mention that my own book, Victory Point, is currently on sale from Avery Hill Publishing as part of their ‘23 for 2023’.
You can get 23% off if you use the code 23FOR2023 at the checkout. An absolute bargain, I think you’ll agree.
Wishing you all the best for 2023, and if it all gets a bit much, do swing by the kiosk, a calm chat and coffee normally does the trick.
Owen D. Pomery.
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