If you are anything like us then you love to hear what other people have been reading! We thought we should share with you, what we have been reading in 2022 – classics, poetry, fiction, biography and more. Let us know in the comments what books you have been reading this year.

Aimee says – my favourite book of 2022 was the new Agatha Christie biography, appropriately entitled ‘Agatha Christie‘, by Lucy Worsley.  As one of my favourite authors, I was intrigued to read her life story by one of my favourite Historians. Lucy Worsley’s voice flew off the page and added a kind but informative perspective to some delicate topics, such as Agatha’s disappearance in 1926. As someone who doesn’t normally read a lot of biographies, I was engrossed in this one as it brought to life its subjects in a way that made me feel like I knew them personally.

Carla from Atherstone Library wants you to read About a son: a murder and a father’s search for truth by David Whitehouse (Phoenix: 2022). This extraordinary book by award winning author David Whitehouse is based on the diaries of Colin Hehir, father of 20-year-old Morgan Hehir, who was murdered in Nuneaton, Halloween 2015. It is my Book of 2022. Written in present tense, second person, the book has an immediacy that draws the reader in live the experiences of the Hehir family as they cope with the emotions of the senseless death of their son, the indignities of arguing with Apple, who would not unlock Morgan’s devices so that they could get to his artwork for his memorial, the emptiness of the aftermath of the trials of Morgan’s killers. It is a compassionate and moving story of loss, grief and resilience and my best book of 2022. 

Sue from Wellesbourne recommends A Terrible Kindness, Jo Browning Wroe – I loved this. It is worth noting before I go any further, that the opening chapters are quite distressing to read. As a whole, the book is sensitive, thoughtful, well written, and despite the sensitivity and content of some sections – an absolute pleasure to read. Nineteen-year-old William Lavery is celebrating his success, qualifying with flying colours as an embalmer, when the guests hear of news of the Aberfan disaster. William volunteers without hesitation – it will be his first job as an Embalmer and one that will leave him scarred forever. As the story unfolds we learn about William’s childhood, family and school days, and we move through William’s first steps into relationships with girls. Music also runs through the book, particularly two pieces, the Welsh song Myfanwy and Allegri’s setting of the Miserere – the music is a powerful part of the book, a powerful influence on William’s life and Wroe is really able to bring the music, the performances and the importance of the pieces to life.

Andrew from our Virtual Library Team thinks you should read And Away… by Bob Mortimer (Autobiography). A side-splitting memoir from the comic genius that is Bob Mortimer both hilarious and heartfelt. From his naïve days as an incompetent painter and decorator to his poignant reflections on mortality after vital heart surgery, this is a compelling and compulsive read.

An eclectic selection of reads from Rugby Library:

Alice recommends Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes – A modern, feminist retelling of the Medusa story. Raped by a god and then transformed into a monster by a goddess in revenge. This does not shy away from the horror of the tale but is beautifully written and somehow feels very current. 

Here are a couple of recommendations from Cheryl: Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.  This is definitely my favourite fiction book of 2022, and one of my favourite ever reads. It is set in 1950’s America amongst a backdrop of sexism, especially in academia.  The fabulous Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant chemist who struggles to be taken seriously by her male colleagues.  She is fearless and never afraid to defend herself and her beliefs. The book is quirky and fast paced with wonderful characters.  Elizabeth’s faithful dog, Six-Thirty, narrates some of the book.  A failed bomb detection dog, he is wonderfully wise and has some of the best lines in the book.  Despite heartbreak and dark moments, the book manages to be uplifting and utterly joyous.  It is a debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what Bonnie Garmus writes next. I always have both a fiction and a non-fiction book on the go at any time.  I think my favourite non- fiction book of the year must be A Brief History of Motion – From the Wheel to the Car to What Comes Next by Tom Standage.  I knew I would enjoy it, as I have enjoyed his previous non-fiction books (especially The History of the World in Six Glasses) but was surprised to find it so entertaining. It is full of interesting information, like that the oldest actual wheel ever found was discovered in Ljubljana Marshes in Slovenia and that wheels were not widely used for thousands of years after their invention. It has some surprising facts including how Pompeii was not designed for traffic and got clogged up by wagons and carts so Roman traffic calming measures had to be introduced, and a brilliant story of Bertha Benz secretly taking one of the prototype cars designed by her husband in 1888 to visit her mother 65 miles away – her journey involved pushing it uphill, unblocking the fuel line with her hatpin and using her garters to plug a leaky valve. Unexpectedly entertaining – don’t be put off by its title! 

Yssy has been reading: Storyland by Amy Jeffs – One of my first reads of 2022 and one of my favourites. It’s a ‘new mythology of Britain’, filled with beautifully told stories which are accompanied by lino cut illustrations and explanations from the author about her sources and inspirations.  Small Gods by Terry Pratchett – Small Gods is a perfect example of all of Discworld’s best qualities: satirical (with a just right mix of humour and cleverness), exciting, and unexpected. The Great God Om has manifested disappointingly in the form of a small tortoise, powerless and audible only to the novice Brutha; we follow the pair as they try to survive the machinations of priests, politicians and philosophers. The humour and worldbuilding in Discworld improve with each book and, since Small Gods is book 13 and features a new setting and characters, it is a perfect starting place for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the Discworld pool.

Matt recommends Orlam by PJ Harvey – I am a PJ Harvey stan so I should know to expect the unexpected, but even I was surprised by Orlam. Anyone who knows Harvey’s music knows that she is the type of songwriter who trades on simplicity – her lyrics have always been pretty direct and spare. Orlam, her first real full-length poetry collection, is a revelation. I was really impressed with the scale and quality of the writing; they are true poems and completely unlike any of her songs or previous work. Possibly a rare moment where you can say that a musician has written a ‘proper good book’. Orlam is a mythical, mystical ride through the seasons; the book is divided into months of the year, and Harvey uses the changing landscape of her native Dorset to explore nature, childhood, the loss of innocence, and the cycle of life and death through the central character of Ira-Abel. It employs Dorset dialect and there is a modern-day translation on the facing page. It’s strange and beautiful, full of folklore, but also surprisingly funny and yet, brutal. I am excited for whatever she comes up with next. 

Evelyn recommends: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini  – A gripping and emotional roller-coaster f betrayal, redemption, and war. This story follows the life of a young boy named Amir, born into a wealthy family in Kabul, Afghanistan and his unlikely friend Hassan, the son of Amir’s fathers’ servant. It is a beautifully crafted novel and is set against the backdrop of Afghanistan before falling prisoner to the rule of the Taliban. Painting a vivid picture of Kabul and the strength and resilience of a refugee life as they flee to America, this book has the power to transport you there with them while also giving you a multitude of perspectives to explore. Khaled Hosseini is a brilliant writer that uses his own story and experiences to catalyse his writing. Born himself in Kabul, Afghanistan, he writes from a heart that remembers the country before it became the war-torn, frightening place most of us have come to see it as and gives it and its people a face which I feel is an incredibly powerful thing. He gives us a narrator who can be unlikable, unadmirable, and sometimes even inexcusable. He also gives us a narrator who is human, vulnerable, and has suffered from a series of shortcomings and trauma. Hosseini’s writing is raw and is real. This book is not for children, it is dark and disturbing and touches on topics such as child-rape, slavery, and war. However, it also has its moments of joy, relief, and redemption. If you read this book, you will cry, laugh, laugh and cry at the same time. Remember to keep the tissue box near you 😉 

Leamington Library recommends:

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. His debut novel “A Man Called Ove” is one of my favourite books.  A bungled bank robbery turns into a hostage situation but who really needs rescuing? His stories are “moving tales of everyday courage”….”wickedly funny, touching and wise”.

I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomons. Having seen the Mona Lisa, the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, I was intrigued when I saw this. In this story the painting actually talks taking us through the years from the Florentine studios as it was being created up until the 20thcentury, saying “I am not sure that I want to be finished and taken away from him”.

All that’s left in the world by Erik J. Brown

Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Simms. Following the tale of an exhausted mother of two as she struggles to deal with her hyperactive children and losing-interest husband. Thankfully she has two friends – one old, one new – to help her cope!

The Last Library by Freya Sampson.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick.

Zorrie by Laird Hunt

Don’t Laugh, It’ll Only Encourage Her by Daisy May Cooper

The Girls by Bella Osborne

Here’s just a snippet of what staff at Southam have been reading this year:

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers (Gorgeous small details and observations but a clever story with unexpected twists).

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shak

How to be Sad by Helen Russell – A helpful part biography, part manual, for anyone interested in how to be sad, better!

The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Magnificent Sous by Justin Myers

Rubbernecker and Exit both by Belinda Baur – Very different but enjoyable Crime Fiction.

Jessica wants you all to read the timeless classic Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield and if you have already read it, she thinks you should read it again! Ballet Shoes is the magical, warm-hearted and much loved classic tale of three very different girls who work hard to master their talents.

Stephanie recommends The Fairy Tellers by Nicholas Jubber – Fairy-tales are not just fairy-tales: they are records of historical phenomena, telling us something about how Western civilisation was formed. In this book, travel-writer Nick Jubber explores their secret history of fairy-tales: the people who told them, the landscapes that forged them, and the cultures that formed them.

Phil says the best book he’s read this year is Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley – The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place. Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree. This one has definitely made it onto my TBR pile!

Hopefully this gives you all plenty of food for thought – head over to our online catalogue to search for these titles and find reading ideas.

Let’s hope 2023 is full of book and reading – Stephanie.