Sunday 1 January 2023

2022 Round up: Reads

Having totted up my reading for the year I find the list is longer than I was expecting, in no small part due to the large number of audiobooks I've managed to get through. This represents a little bit of learning about myself: that I am not good at finishing non-fiction (not really news, I've know this for years) but that I am good at listening to it in the car. I can get through an audiobook in about 2 weeks of driving to and from school and, given that I was driving to and from Portsmouth regularly in the autumn and that my favoured swimming spot is an hour's round trip, sometimes faster. This is also partly due to the fact I cannot stop Audible from taking my money and the credits expire which is really irritating, but considerably less so now I am listening to the books. 

Here's the round-up, then:


The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

The Drowned City by KJ Maitland

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin

A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory

Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed

Company of Liars by Karen Maitland

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed

Life, Death and Vanilla Slices by Jenny Eclair

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

So, I think we can safely say my genres are crime fiction and historical fiction, then. The Betrayals was a gift from Sib and I read it immediately before I put it on a shelf and forgot about it. The Osman books are marvellously well-written. I didn't love the Weir, I think I know the history too well and the book was extremely long (as was her reign I suppose) so it really dragged. My friend Caroline leant me the Jenny Eclair and it was a light-hearted tonic for the autumn. I think Cloud Atlas and Black Mamba Boy tie for best read of the year; maybe Mohamed slightly pips it. I loved Cloud Atlas a lot but it took a while to get going. Black Mamba Boy just blew me away, right from the start. Highly recommend (though there is one extremely violent episode in it, fair warning). 


4000 weeks by Oliver Burkeman - a book about not worrying too much about productivity. I didn't finish it but there was a great point in there about work filling the time you give it, and therefore you may as well give it less, because it will never be done anyway. Profound. 

Natives by Akala - I have a paper copy of this book but found it much easier to have it read to me by Akala himelf. Some gems in here for teaching Politics and History, as well as just understanding Britain better, eg Akala mentions that shift in dominant ethnicity of Black people in Britain, away from Caribbean and towards African.

Brit-ish by Afua Hirsch - I found with this one that I was happily getting to a point, often, when I knew what Hirch's point was going to be. This usually happens when my reading has started to sink in. Another audiobook narrated by its author, always a winner.4

The Second by Carol Anderson - all about gun laws in America and how they both reflect and reinforce a racist system. Full of history, strong interpretation, quite scandalous in parts. 

The Secret Lives of Church Women by Deesha Philyaw - accidental fiction choice. Short stories. It worked well for journeys to and from work.

Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige-Hill - continuing on from my 2021 audiobook theme of women escaping cults (see: Educated (the best) and Unfollow) I tried this one about leaving Scientology but it was not my favourite. 

The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes - my current listen, this book is amazing. Just amazing. I love it. Each chapter involves the author trespassing on another piece of land and telling a story about land ownership and common rights in England. I love it. 

Special mention should also be given to other audio treats of the year - The Coming Storm podcast on BBC Sounds; the serialisation of The Dark is Rising, also on BBC Sounds (broadcast in 17-minute chunks across the Christmas period and absolutely superb); various episodes of the Intelligence Squared podcast, namely interviews with William Dalrymple, Olivette Otele and Dipo Faloyin. 

I also started (but did not finish) half a dozen non-fiction books in hard copy....I expect they will pop up on the 2023 audiobook list. 

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