My Favourite Books of 2022: Part One – The 746!

With just a few weeks left of 2022 I’m taking a look at my favourite books of the year.

As with previous yearly round-ups, I’m breaking my end of year list down into three posts: best from the 746, best newly published books (or new to me), and best books by Irish authors.

Which is really just a cheeky way of having a Top 15 Books of the Year, rather than a Top 10!

Today I am starting with the books I’ve enjoyed most from the original 746. I finally reached the halfway point in my mammoth reading challenge this year and read some blinders.

The Children of Dynmouth by William Trevor

I enjoyed this book so much that it gave me the idea to run A Year with William Trevor alongside Kim at Reading Matters next year. At the heart of this slim novel, set in the seaside town of Dynmouth, is a fabulous creation in fifteen-year old Timothy Gedge, an awkward, insinuating boy who spends his time hanging around the town and watching its residents in a manner which is often just a little too close for comfort. The Children of Dynmouth is masterpiece of understatement and tension and a skilfully written character study, which was a deserving winner of the Whitbread Prize and a place on the Booker Prize shortlist in 1976.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

What a book to kick off my 20 Books of Summer challenge this year! Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is one of the best collections of short stories that I have read in a long time. His unsentimental, often brutal yet always brilliant stories lay bare the lives of ordinary people, all trying to do the right thing is a world of alienation and hopelessness. Written with a vividness, humour and sharp wit that bring the reader immediately to the heart of the protagonist’s experience, these stories turn on moments of quiet self-realisation or a creeping sense of unexpected dread.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

I was blown away by thisbeautifully affecting novel, in which Michael Cunningham uses Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway as a springboard to explore a day in the lives of three very different women, all of whom are linked in some way to that book. The Hours is a thoughtful, deeply satisfying novel that doesn’t hit one false note and beautifully explores how our lives are given meaning not by what we have achieved, or failed to achieve, but by the moments of happiness that signified hope, if only for an hour.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I read this while on holiday in Crete earlier in the year and relished every beautiful and brutal page. Lonesome Dove is an epic in every sense of the word and I’m grateful to Liz at Adventures in Reading, Running and Working From Home, whose Larry McMurtry Project 2022 gave me the impetus to finally read this doorstopper of a Western. Lonesome Dove is a fabulous cowboy novel, vivid in landscape and place and rich in character and incident. It’s violent, frightening, funny, heartbreaking and transcends the genre. What more could you ask for? A modern classic.

Happy Are the Happy by Yasmina Reza, translated by John Cullen

This was my highlight of Novellas in November this year. The cover describes it as a novel, the length suggests a novella and the content is a series of twenty short, interconnected chapters, narrated by a range of characters, which crackle with inventiveness and playfulness. These characters are all connected, some intimately and others in more oblique ways and although these connections are at times vague, the attentive reader will be rewarded. A fascinating, clever and entertaining exploration into the search for happiness in all its forms.

SPECIAL MENTION: It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice

Written using an eye-gaze computer, It’s Not Yet Dark is a moving and unapologetic account of living with a disease that you know will end your life. Simon Fitzmaurice, a filmmaker, had MND, yet did not allow it to define him. It’s tough to read, but necessarily so, yet Fitzmaurice doesn’t wallow.  He is clear-eyed when describing the consultant who effectively tells him that he would be better off dying than opting for home ventilation or when he talks about the difficulty of being seen no longer as a man, but as a man in a wheelchair. Yet mostly he details the moments of happiness that carry him on and through, mostly centred around his family and his love of art, and he creates a fierce and tender manifesto for living, for the strength of will and for the simple power or hope against all the odds.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll be writing about my favourite books of the year by Irish writers and on Friday I’ll decide on my Top Five new (or new to me) books of 2022.

The 746

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

40 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Oh the gems one finds when persevering with a challenging TBR, these all sound great Cathy. I’ve been long intrigued by Lonesome Dove, it sounds like the perfect holiday read. Your special mention book sounds poignant and a gift to many who’ve been in some way touched by the condition. Look forward to your next lists, especially the Top 5 Irish reads!

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  2. I ordered three Trevor novels online yesterday, including The Children of Dynemouth. Can’t wait to read it! (The purchasing happened because of reading about your Year with William Trevor a while back. Also, an excuse to buy myself a Christmas present.🙂)

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  3. Like you, I thought The Hours a fabulous novel; I’ve alway meant to sample more of Cunningham’s novels but haven’t gotten around to it. As for Trevor, I love his work, although I’ve not read Children of Dynmouth (next year, perhaps?). Yasmina Reza sounds quite intriguing, as does Wells Tower — I see potential additions to my TBR list! (Lonesome Dove has been on it for quite some time!)

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  4. I enjoyed The hours when I read it around the time it came out, and read another of his books which I also enjoyed but then he’s dropped of my radar. I am still keen to read Lonesome dove, and I am tempted by Happy are the happy!

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  5. Delighted to see The Children of Dynmouth on your list, possibly my favourite of William Trevor’s. Looking forward to the William Trevor reading event in 2023 I will be joining in.

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