My favourite books of 2022: fiction

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.

Shredded: A Sports and Fitness Body Horror Anthology ed. by Eric Raglin

Shredded is an anthology of body horror stories that are centred around sports and fitness. The stories are a diverse set that cover a lot of different sports and fitness activities (including wrestling, american football, going to the gym, swimming, hockey, yoga, and gymnastics) and a range of ways in which the body horror plays out, helps and hinders. This really stands out, as you never know what kind of story you’re going to get next.

I really enjoyed what body horror has to say about sports and fitness, and vice versa. In particular, ideas around having the ideal body for your activity and the lengths people will go to, as well as more monstrous and uncontrollable elements of bodies pushed to their limit. I found both the stories featuring trans men particularly interesting, with one playing off ideas around T but also bear culture amongst gay men, and the other a water-based body horror that at the same time showed quite a sweet instance of a trans guy finding a place in a swimming team. Body horror has plenty to say about different kinds of bodies, but also about who finds a place within sports and fitness, which is something a lot of the stories address in some way or another.

Overall, this is an impressive anthology that will make you wince and laugh, and has a lot to say about the relationships between bodies and physical activity at the same time. Sports and fitness is not a topic I would usually look for fiction about and Shredded was a chance to see that the horror side of the topic isn’t confined to the jock getting killed near the start of a horror story.