It’s become an annual tradition of mine to put together a post about my favourite books of the year, in part, I think, as I find reading to be such an essential part of writing, and one of the bits that I don’t, as a matter of course, write about. Each year I present my favourite five of, typically, about 50 books (48 this year – I blame having a young baby in the house for the slight shortfall!), because I think being in the ‘top ten percent’ of stuff that grabbed my attention within a year is a fairly strong recommendation.
This year’s selection is more ‘novelly’ than usual, and is shaped, I suspect, by being both exciting and fairly easy reading, so I could follow the text despite long bouts of being quite tired (again, that baby!). Nevertheless, I think it’s an excellent selection. Unusually, this year doesn’t feature any sports books. As usual, the ones I have picked are not necessarily (and in fact, in this case, exclusively not) books released in 2022. They’re just my favourite five that I have read. Here goes…
Panic by Lauren Oliver
Now an Amazon Prime series, Panic is the story of a small American town and an annual tradition of graduating school kids participating in a kind of ‘ultra dare’ game for a large prize fund contributed to by each of them over the course of the year. Some of the challenges are scary, some tailored to their specific fears, and others are full on life-threatening. As a consequence, the event has become notorious in hte town, bringing with it police attempts to shut it down, and occasional deaths.
What’s really well done here, though, is the character development. From those who run Panic (kept carefully hidden and passed on annually), to those who take part (for reasons that vary wildly), each person in this book feels distinctly ‘real’, even against such a wild premise. It won’t change your life, but it’s one of the most pleasant reads I’ve picked up in a long time.
David Attenborough’s Life On Air
I’m a huge fan of David Attenborough, and this chunky tome is an exploration of his life in full, so it was always giong to appeal. An interesting side of it is the almost coincidental way he ended up involved in doing environmental TV programming, and how it ended up absorbing his life, including having heaps of rare animals living in his home as a side effect of in-studio broadcasting. It sounded chaotic.
As well as the stunning life stories, the book also sets out Attenborough’s concerns for our future, taking on a kind of ‘Inconvenient Truth’ meets personal experience angle as he outlines what he’s seen environmentally as he’s globe trotted his way through some of the world’s less-visited corners. It’s compelling throughout.