I read a lot of books this year. Here are some of my favourites.
Orpheus Builds A Girl, by Heather Parry
This tale of a man who believes he can cheat death is gloriously gothic, beautifully written and by the final act had me reading from behind my fingers.
I’m Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy
This is as good as everybody says it is, and some bits had me jumping out of my seat in surprised horror. It’s a story of terrible things but it’s also very funny.
Fix The System Not The Women, by Laura Bates
Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates’ latest is another must-read, a rallying cry for reform and likely to make you very angry.
Surrender, by Bono
Like the man himself this is insightful, annoying, funny, pompous and utterly charming. I’d strongly advise the audiobook version of this one, where you can hear the laugh in his voice.
The Cruelty Is The Point, by Adam Serwer; Troll Nation, by Amanda Marcotte; American Fascism, by Brynn Tannehill
Sadly the culture wars and far-right troll politics of the US haven’t stayed within its borders, and we’re seeing very similar anti-democratic activity here.
Flip The Script by Arusa Qureshi, The End by Katie Goh and The Appendix by Liam Konemann
The main reason I wanted to be published by 404 Ink is because I love their eclecticism, and I’m very proud to be in such distinguished company. These Inklings – shorter than a book, longer than a longread – are fascinating, fun and thought-provoking.
Exit Stage Left, by Nick Duerden
A fascinating look at the lives of ex-pop and rock stars that’s much more interesting than you might expect. How do you find meaning when the most exciting thing you’ll ever do, the one thing you always dreamed of doing, is in the past?
Good Boy, by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Jenny Boylan is a hero of mine, and the author of several memoirs about her life as a trans woman. This warm, wise and often very sad book tells the tale through the dogs she’s loved and lost.
Get Rich or Lie Trying, by Symeon Brown
A genuinely disturbing insight into the reality of influencer culture, the sharks swimming in it and the people destroyed by it.
Sandy Hook, by Elizabeth Williamson
An astonishing piece of journalism about some of the most despicable people in America: not the school shooters, but the conspiracy theorists, hatemongers and grifters who swarmed around this terrible event to push their own demonic agendas.
The End of Innocence, by Simon Garfield
A clear-eyed and devastating account of the AIDS crisis in the UK. It’ll make you rage and weep.
Themes For Great Cities by Graeme Thomson and A Perfect Silence by Ben Wardle
Sublime writing about sublime music: Thomson on Simple Minds in their imperial phase and Wardle on one of my great musical heroes, the late Mark Hollis of Talk Talk.
Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan and This Is Memorial Device by David Keenan
Beautifully written and observed books that start off about music-obsessed teens and become something much greater. Memorial Device has been out for ages so I know I’m coming very late to it, but I now understand why it has such a cult following. It’s glorious and sometimes uncomfortable reading if like me you were a quite pretentious member of various unsuccessful bands.
These are just a small selection, because 2022 turned out to be a great year for books. Apologies to anybody I’ve raved about online and haven’t mentioned here.