As usual, I feel a need to give a shout out to my favourite books I read in 2022 that were not published this year. Apparently this is how I found the particularly good fiction this year (particular note for The Haunting of Hill House and Lost Souls for both living up to expectations) and a poetry anthology that I know I will be returning to over and over again.
See my favourite fiction and poetry books of 2022 for the more up-to-date offerings.
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – My review of this at the time was simply “Oh right yeah it is THE haunted house novel, fair.” and I stand by that. The writing, the atmosphere, the house. Watch Control, Anatomy, and the Legacy of the Haunted House on YouTube for more great haunted house stuff.
- Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead – Someone living in the big city has to return to their roots is a classic formula, and in this book, young Two-Spirit Jonny Appleseed has to attend the funeral of his stepfather and bring together the elements of his life.
- A Safe Girl To Love by Casey Plett – Any short stories that can make it onto one of my lists must be impressive as it’s a form I often have issues really enjoying, but Plett’s range of trans girl experiences is a fantastic collection.
- We Are Made of Diamond Stuff by Isabel Waidner – I read this whilst trying to kill time sitting outside and in a cafe and it really transported me into a surreal world of British culture to explore national, queer, and migrant identity in a very weird way.
- Lost Souls and Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite – It was finally the year, after wanting to since my teenage horror/vampire loving years, to read both Lost Souls and Exquisite Corpse and they were so far up my street. The former is The Lost Boys run through a Dennis Cooper novel (who I also read a lot of this year) and the latter the serial killers in love novel you didn’t know you needed. I’m actually glad it took this long to read them so I could fully appreciate them rather than just like the vibes as a teenager.
- Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo – As I wrote when I finished it: “Loved this southern gothic street-racing in-love-with-your-best-friend suspicious-academia haunting horror novel.”
- Ports by Calum Rodger – This pamphlet from SPAM Press reimagines poems through the lens of video games and I just really enjoyed the playfulness and form, plus what you could get about poetry, narratives, and games from doing that.
- Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Díaz – There is a lot of poetry about bodies, but this collection really stands out. I’d been meaning to read it for a long time and was very happy that I did.
- We Want It All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics ed. by Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel – A beautiful anthology that’s perfect if you’re a poet as it’s packed full of inspiration and great if not just because there’s a lot of great innovative and experimental trans poetry in there.
As I mentioned yesterday, I read a lot of great poetry in 2022, so it was tricky to put together this list. A lot of my poetry reviews boil down to ‘vibes good’ and ‘imagery or lines that just hit me in the chest’ so this isn’t the most articulate list of why these collections are good, but just some of my favourites of 2022. Links to full reviews in the titles where I’ve written them.
- Please Press by Kat Sinclair – A powerful pamphlet that I sadly cannot say anything else about because I am many miles from my copy currently and I did not write anything about it at the time. But go get it from Sad Press and see why it’s great.
- Limbic by Peter Scalpello – I ended up with two copies of this, one from each of the book subscriptions I had in 2022 (Cipher Press and Lighthouse bookshop’s poetry subscription), which tells you it must be a good intersection of my taste. Sex, queerness, tracksuits, tiny moments – there’s plenty to enjoy.
- All The Flowers Kneeling by Paul Tran – A collection exploring violence and storytelling that was so compulsive I accidentally stayed up late reading it, not something I tend to do with poetry.
- A Little Resurrection by Selina Nwulu – Some of my favourite parts of this great collection was the use of imagery and the engagement with space, as poems look at race and place and bring in elements of climate and convenience.
- Yo-yo Heart by Laura Doyle Péan – Powerful poems moving through a breakup to show the political nature of healing, filled with wit and sadness.
- The Moral Judgement of Butterflies by K. Eltinaé – I loved the form of these poems, which explore trauma and immigrant experience and the idea of home. One of the books I got from my Lighthouse bookshop poetry subscription and wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
- Time Is A Mother by Ocean Vuong – Beautiful and highly readable. I expected a lot from Vuong and wasn’t disappointed.
- At Least This I Know by Andrés N. Ordorica – Going to steal a line from my own review to sum it up: “I knew I was going to like the collection from the first poem ‘November 16th, 2014’, which is a perfect opening for it: a moment at border control, encapsulating fear and desire for a place to belong, and a poem that almost makes you laugh and cry at once.”
It’s been an interesting year for me for reading. As well as a lot of new and upcoming books, many of which did not make the cut for these lists, I read a lot of horror (including a month of it in October) and plenty of poetry. So much of the poetry was good that I’ve split up fiction and poetry into two different ‘best of 2022’ lists, so we’ll start with fiction.
A lot of fiction I read this year was good, but not so good as to be one of my top books, so it is quite a brief list this year. Not only that, but two of them aren’t actually from 2022, only first published in the UK in 2022, which I’ve decided to count on a whim. Links in titles to full reviews where I’ve written them.
- Nevada by Imogen Binnie – I’m counting the UK publication this year as making it released in 2022, though clearly it’s not from 2022. I actually read it right at the start of the year, before this rerelease, but still. Classic trans roadtrip novel.
- Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li – This book was just very fun and I thought highly of it for that, plus it’s basically a genre of a film I enjoy. Chinese-American students do heists to steal artefacts and have various drama along the way. Ridiculous but great to read.
- The Arena of the Unwell by Liam Konemann – A coming-of-age novel about male mental health and queerness in the grimy indie music underbelly that retains humour whilst looking at a toxic relationship and the realities of NHS cuts.
- Shredded: A Sports and Fitness Body Horror Anthology ed. by Eric Raglin – Such a fresh way of viewing both body horror and the whole world of fitness, with a really diverse set of sports, characters, and takes on the brief. There was a lot around who can find places within sports and fitness (and what kinds of bodies), which felt like the perfect use of body horror.
- Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton – Truly an epic. Another one where I’m counting the UK publication as making it a 2022 book, this is a complex tale of a trans woman obsessed with 60s band the Get Happiness and their mysterious leader B—. Fascinating look at music, creativity, self, and constructing stories and histories.