A Gentle Reminder: The Best Books Of 2022

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A Gentle Reminder: The Best Books Of 2022

Words by Ms Suze Olbrich

29 December 2022

Come the end of year, come the end of the year lists. Odd things, really. Being amalgams of gift guides (handy); openings for those who craft them to shout out their (subjective) faves, and, simultaneously, artsy canes to wrap across knuckles for not being suitably cultured (nonsense!). Look how quick 2022 disappeared. Who had the time?

Thankfully – unlike gallery shows, album tours and theatrical runs – books stick around. They don’t close, or time out or give a crap when you read them. Even bracketing books by date is arbitrary as they land in different nations across months, sometimes decades. And they take flipping years to write. Whatever the biggest novel or thought book of 2022 may be (and that’s for other lists to call), they’ll have been thought up years, perhaps decades, ago.

All of which goes to say – this is a zero-pressure list. Frankly, the notion of festive betterment is as rank as OJ in espresso. So, have a casual browse, take that extensive lie down and give any that appeal a read whenever the hell you feel like it.

01. Mr Percival Everett

The Trees

Image courtesy of Influx Press

A meditation on morality and justice. An evisceration of endemic racism and police violence, that’s also hilarious and compulsive. Unexpected. Not least given how impeccably The Trees flows.

Yet perhaps this feat isn’t surprising coming from Mr Percival Everett, esteemed academic and experimental author with a gem-strewn backlist, who by dint of a Booker Prize nomination for this supernatural satire of a murder mystery, gained a slew of new fans. Luckily for converts and OGs alike, his next stroke of novelistic brilliance, Dr. No, has already landed.

02. Mr Edward Enninful

A Visible Man

Image courtesy of Bloomsbury

A masterful, perspicacious and tender memoir from the inimitable British Vogue editor, Mr Edward Enninful, that’s a must-read for absolutely everyone. This bestseller lays bare what it takes to edge the editorial world (and so nudge the world) into a fairer, kinder place and transform a staid institution into a transformative force, while standing out from nigh on every pack, without forfeiting an ounce of humanity.

03. Mx Davey Davis


Image courtesy of Cipher Press

This lacerating and profound tragicomic noir, set in a near-future fascist simulacra of today’s US, opens with a BDSM water-boarding scene. A ridiculously funny one. After which, the laughs and hurts fly harder and faster as aspirational sadist, Lee, tries to trace their newfound queen – femdom doyenne, x – with enforced exportation looming ever nearer.

X may not be for everyone. But it is a razor-sharp distillation of now. A compelling and deviant, genre-queering, psyche-searing ride. And a pitch (black) perfect portrayal of how much abuse we’ll take – beg for – just to feel wholly alive.

04. Ms NoViolet Bulawayo


Image courtesy of Penguin Vintage

Political allegory parlayed through a cast of animals – yet Glory is no straight-up Animal Farm as Gucci-heel sporting donkey, Dr Sweet Mother, megaphones at readers in Chapter One. This majestic, riveting and inventive take-down of tyranny hews closely to Zimbabwean history from Mr Robert Mugabe’s 2017 ousting until his death. But the insights enshrined within, and ardent undertone of hope against all odds, apply to any who’d like to make their nation, their society, their community, a more equitable place.

05. Mr Hua Hsu

Stay True

Image courtesy of Doubleday

A poignant and searing memoir, and meditation on friendship, and grief, love and music by New Yorker staff writer, Mr Hua Hsu, Stay True is a life-affirming, thought-provoking, soul-stirring testament to the author’s formative, tragically foreshortened, relationship with a dear college buddy.

06. Ms Leila Mottley


Image courtesy of Bloomsbury

This phenomenal debut novel, written by visionary American author and poet, Ms Leila Mottley, at just 19, electrified the literary web back in summer. Its premise, of a disenfranchised, young Black woman, sexually exploited by the police, who fears further dehumanisation by wider society if she dares to risk bid for legal justice, is, depressingly, based upon a true story. But for all the unflinching depiction of what it takes to scrape an almost-living, while caring for others, in today’s Oakland, Nightcrawling shines through with the vivacity – the tenacious, embodied alive-ness – that illuminates her protagonist.

07. Ms Celeste Ng

Our Missing Hearts

Image courtesy of Little, Brown

The latest novel from Ms Celeste Ng, the much-adored author of Little Fires Everywhere, which is staged in a darker, authoritarian near-future US – yes, a belter of a trend – draws readers into 12-year-old Bird’s quest to find his mother. For in Ng’s eerie dystopia, Asian Americans such as Bird, and his radical poet-in-hiding mother, are reviled by both state and many citizens for causing “The Crisis” that tanked the country. Disquieting, yes. But also a lyrical and humane novel with masses of heart.

08. Dr William MacAskill

What We Owe The Future

Image courtesy of OneWorld

As we’re all aware, effective altruism, Oxford philosopher Dr William McAskill’s key philanthropic theory, is under serious scrutiny due to the outrageous fraud committed by its now-notorious figurehead, FTX founder Mr Sam Bankman-Fried. But before chucking the utilitarian baby out with the criminal-crypto bathwater, it pays real dividends to ponder the universal and pressing quandary, of what it means to live ethically alongside the ingenious.

09. Mr George Saunders

Liberation Day

Image courtesy of Bloomsbury

Any new tome by Booker winner Mr George Saunders – the foremost storyteller of our time, according to, er, Time – is worthy of close attention. This nine-strong collection of short stories, which unfurl across a less-democratic US, proves a vital and engaging addition to the “how the hell did January 6 happen?” canon.

As Saunders’ recently wrote: “the short story is about change”, and stories themselves also invite us to change our own default views as we open ourselves up to other experiences. Just how closely we attend to, consider and reconsider his Liberation Day characters, their views and tribulations, and those of similarly manipulated, coerced and brain-washed humans we dwell amid – including, perhaps, ourselves – is left to us to untangle.

10. Ms Sloane Crosley

Cult Classic

Image courtesy of Bloomsbury

A bona fide fun time. If you ghosted Ms Sloane Crosley’s stunner of a rom-com (and gleeful evisceration of dating culture) back in the summer – all is forgiven. Slip on something gorgeous, pour wine, light candles, open cover and have a beautiful time.

Reading list