Asking book lovers to choose their favourite book is never going to get you a simple answer! Most of us read widely and have lots of favourites, and the Willoughby team is no exception. However, the book of the year question comes round as predictably as Spoitfy Wrapped, and as much as we hate answering what our favourites were we're always keen to hear everyone else's, and look forward to the round ups in the Sunday papers.
Here are just a few of the titles we've particularly enjoyed from 2022. What were your reading highlights?
The Ghost Woods by C J Cooke
I will admit, this is another book I chose based on a nice front cover! But…it seems to work as I read this in 3 days.
A historical tale with a supernatural hint to it.
Lichen Hall stands in the woods, surrounded in mysterious rumours of ghosts and witches. A home for unwed pregnant girls, Pearl Gorham arrives to have her baby but soon after she arrives things don’t feel right about the elderly owners, or the secret mother and child living in the ancient woodlands.
A slow paced, descriptive and very atmospheric read.
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
I love a book that has a thread of psychological tension running throughout and Intimacies delivers. The personal and political are interwoven in a story of complicated relationships, war crime tribunals and translation. It explores the way that the thin veil of civilised society disguises the violence beneath. It feels like a very timely novel and although it’s not the cheeriest of reads, I’d thoroughly recommend it! Kitamura writes skilfully of the interior lives of her characters, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her name in the future
The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan
I absolutely loved this layered, intricate novel by Donal Ryan.
Woven around the lives of four women and a small stretch of land known as Dirt Island, this book gradually leads you through the intertwined and overlapping stories of each generation. Beginning with an ending, a shocking an untimely death, and becoming a coming-of-age story, this is in turn funny and achingly sad.
'Saoirse couldn’t quite follow her grandmother’s words. They felt like a stream of sparkling water that the sun was shining on so fiercely that you couldn’t quite see the stream itself but just the light off it, blazing up from the earth and into your eyes, like the stream that ran down from the hills and through the village and into the callaghs where it met the lake. A stream of sadness, she thought, and she was happy with the words, thinking that she should write them down somewhere'
You'll be left in awe of this gorgeously compassionate writing, and of how Donal Ryan manages to convey so much with such a light touch.
Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades
Brown Girls follows a group of young women of colour as they grow up and enter adulthood in Queens, New York. Written in a uniquely lyrical voice, this book shows us how this group of characters struggle to fuse their own cultures with the modern American culture they grow up in as do many around the world. This journey from childhood to adulthood is filled with an unquenchable thirst for life and joy and set against a background of marginalisation, race, and class issues in America today.
I really enjoyed this, and it is my best book of 2022 because it all felt very real whilst I was reading it. This coming-of-age story is a love letter to growing up and to the experiences that make us who we are.
We Had to Remove This Post by Hannah Bervoets
This was recommended by a friend, and I was intrigued right away and fascinated by the concept. Sharp and innovative, Bervoets is a breath of fresh air.
This novel follows a group of young colleagues who work as social media content monitors. They review hours of violent and illegal videos for an unnamed company, believing they are still in control. Not allowed to mention who she works for, Kayleigh is exposed to conspiracy theories, rants and offensive photos and videos, having to evaluate the horror and hate on her screen.
Delilah Green Doesn't Care by Ashley Herring Blake
This year my reading resolution was to try outside my normal genres (basically just young adult and fantasy). I also was in a bit of a reading slump so I was looking for some lighter easier reads, so I gave romance a go. I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed so many of the books. While a lot of the books I typically read are very plot heavy I felt like these books were more character heavy and so well rounded and relatable. There was definetly so great fun reads (Book Lovers, The American roommate, I Kissed Shara Wheeler, The Love Hypothesis). And I had plenty of other five star reads from 2022 - Babel, All My Rage, Wolfsong, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Sistersong, The Atlas Paradox.
But none of them stayed with me quite as much as Delilah Green Doesn’t Care.
The humour and character writing were exactly what I was looking for. The first half never failed to make me laugh while the second half had surprising deep and heart-breaking moments. There no one-dimensional characters or black and white heroes and villains (except maybe Spencer). Everyone has nuance and while you see how they continue hurt one another you also come to understand each their perspectives and see how they grow past it. Ashley Herring Blake did a fantastic job with this book and she definetly got added to my list of “always buy” authors.
The Sun, the Sea and The Stars: Ancient Wisdom as a healing Journey by Iulia Bochis
This is such an attractive book it was hard to pass by in the shop, and it lives up to the beauty of the author's Instagram presence.