As the year draws to a close, I thought I would recommend some of my favourite books of 2022. I’ve written about many titles for TOAST Book Club over the last 12 months, some of which have made my favourites of the year, including Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer, Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au and Ghost Music by An Yu, but here are six more. These were not exclusively published in 2022, but they are books I read for the first time this year. If you’re looking to curl up with a book over the holidays, this list has something for everyone.
Elena Knows by Claudia Pineiro, translated from the Spanish by Frances Riddle
This was my favourite book from this year’s Barbellion Prize, which celebrates work by disabled and chronically ill authors. We follow Elena, who has Parkinson’s disease, over the course of one day, as she tries to solve the mystery of her daughter’s death. It’s a brilliant exploration of motherhood, caring in all its forms, and the fake narratives we create about other people’s lives. It’s both gripping and one of the best examples of narrating through crip time that I have ever read.
Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda
Do you fancy reading a vampire novel about race, food, and art? Lydia, who appears to be a 20-something art student, has had to put her mother into residential care. The doctors think she has dementia, but Lydia’s not sure that vampires can get that. Is eternal life all that great if you’re unable to enjoy it? Touching on Malay folklore, what it means to ‘prey’ on someone, and being obsessed with human food you cannot eat, this novel is a twisted delight.
Silent House by Nell Pattison
I’ve been on the hunt for a new crime series to fall in love with ever since I finished the Frieda Klein series by Nicci French. After many disappointments, this is one which I give my heartfelt stamp of approval. Paige Northwood, a BSL interpreter, and the only hearing member of her family, is called to a crime scene where the daughter of a Deaf family has been murdered. She doesn’t mean to get emotionally involved — she’s there to work, after all — but the Deaf community is a tight-knit one, and she knows many of the people involved. You will not want to put this one down.
Untold Night and Day by Bae Suah, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith
Reading this book is like living in a fever dream, as the narrative threads all bleed into each other. A young woman walks through the city of Seoul at night, getting a sense of deja vu, worried she’s hallucinating, as she encounters the same person, or people, in different guises. These people resemble stock fairy tale characters sent to interrupt her life, but she’s struggling to work out what it all means.
A Helping Hand by Celia Dale
This classic crime novel from the 1960s was reissued by Daunt Books in 2022. For fans of Shirley Jackson and Muriel Spark, this is a story about a couple who let out a room in their home, and they appear to be trying to murder their paying guests. I don’t recommend getting too comfortable, though; there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.
We Don’t Know What We’re Doing by Thomas Morris
This is one of those books that sat on my shelf for five years — and when I finally got to it, I kicked myself for not reading it sooner. This is a short story collection centred around inhabitants of a Welsh town. Some have always lived there, others moved away and still felt its gravitational pull. All of the characters are trying to figure out what they want from life. It doesn’t feel enough to say it's a very human book, but that’s what’s so endearing about it. The writing feels effortless. Reading the stories, it’s as though you’ve met these people before; that you just happen to be catching up with long-lost friends.
Jen Campbell is a bestselling author and disability advocate. She has written ten books for children and adults, the latest of which is The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers. She also writes for TOAST Book Club.