Another year has come and gone and as we enter 2023, we carry with us the hopes of finally getting around to our physical unread TBR, starting the sequels we’ve been putting off, finding our next 5-star read and gushing over the many upcoming releases that we can’t wait to read. Before we look ahead to a new and exciting reading year, let’s take a moment to reflect back on 2022.
For me personally, 2022 wasn’t the best of reading years. I only managed 46 books, which of course is still a lot of books, however, it does fall short of my usual yearly average (50+ books). I also experienced an acute case of reading fatigue (and social media fatigue) in 2022, especially during the latter months, so simply picking up a book and finishing it was a feat! The good news is that despite not reading a lot of books last year, I was fortunate enough to find some real gems. These books either made me forget I was reading or they were so impactful that they completely changed my outlook in some way. With that said, here are my Top 10 picks for the Best Books of 2022, starting off with some honourable mentions;
Jade City by Fonda Lee is a low fantasy/magical realism novel that is part of a trilogy called the Green Bone saga and it’s about warring clans vying for territory as they harness the mysterious power of Jade, a natural resource that gives its user enhanced combative abilities. This novel had a compelling, electrifying edge and I loved its smoky, film noir quality.
Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight For Sex Workers’ Rights by Molly Smith & Juno Mac is a searing non-fiction text with an unflinching message that argues why sex work, particularly prostitution, the most maligned form of sex work, should be considered labour. It forces the reader to confront the many shocking ways in which sex workers are being made vulnerable by not being given access to the same labour rights as other types of workers and the devastating consequences that can come as a result. Click here to view my Booktube discussion video for more.
Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola is a young-to-new adult romance novel set in an English university called Whitewell and it’s about a young woman called Kikiola Banjo who thinks she knows it all when it comes to relationships. She even gives her fellow Black women classmates relationship advice by way of her popular radio show, Brown Sugar. But a new arrival in the form of the smooth-talking Malakai will make Kiki question everything she thought she knew. This novel was fresh and vibing, with some beautiful, sultry prose. Click here to read my LoveReading review where you will also be able to purchase a copy of the book.
*Full disclosure: If you decide to purchase Honey & Spice using my link, 25% of the retail price will go to a school of your choice so they can buy more books for their library (UK only) and I will also receive a small commission.
And now my top 10 favourite books are….
10. Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care is about a struggling photographer from New York whose constant tendency towards one-night-stands, shows her fear of commitment in a relationship. After vowing never to return, she winds back in her hometown, Bright Falls, for her estranged step-sister, Astrid’s wedding engagement and whilst she’s there, falls for the bookish, single-mum; Claire who also happens to be one of Astrid’s best friends! This enticing sapphic romance was hilarious, packed with emotional gold and has the best angry, lesbian protagonist ever; Delilah’s character arc was so satisfying and I adored the ending.
9. ain’t i a woman by bell hooks
ain’t i a woman is an eloquent, soundly articulated non-fiction text about the importance of Black feminism and the systems of oppression that combine to create a form of inequality that particularly Black women face. With Black men at the center of conversations on race and white women at the center of conversations on gender, Black women are too often socialised out of existence and their oppression erased. This book looks how modern-day attitudes towards Black women have roots in slavery and how those attitudes have developed over time. It’s such a crucial book for unlearning our racial and gender bias towards Black women.
8. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Reese is a trans woman who has always wanted to become a mother, but her trans partner, Amy, resists the idea as she’s always been more care-receiver than care-giver and the relationship collapses. Years later, Reese is offered the chance to enter into a co-parenting unit with her former partner, who has detransitioned and now goes by the name Ames, and their new girlfriend, Katrina. Detransition, Baby is an exquisitely written novel and its use of symbolism and characterisation was so finely done. There’s not much plot content and the ending might seem underwhelming but what truly makes this story sing for me is its exploration of the messiness and complexity of queer relationships and its unconventional, boundary-pushing style. Click the cover to read my full LoveReading review!
7. The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Mukumbi
The First Woman is set in 1970s Uganda, against the backdrop of a military dictatorship and follows the journey of a twelve-year-old girl into womanhood. Kirabo loves making up new stories to tell but she’s always felt displaced because she doesn’t know who her mother is. She believes that her strange ability to detach her consciousness from her body is the reason why her mother left. But as she grows and learns more about the world around her, through the women in her life, such as Nsuuta, the enigmatic village witch, Alikisa, her grandmother as well as her aunts, Kirabo comes to realise the true meaning of motherhood. This was a beautiful, slow burn, coming-of-age story that left a lasting impression. I loved the growth of the main character and its exploration of womanhood.
6. Border Nation: A Story of Migration by Leah Cowen
Border Nation: A Story Of Migration is a vigorous, defiant text, unwavering in its scrutiny of border control laws in the UK. It explores the not-so-distant history of state borders to explain their unnaturalness, and how they are conducive to conflict and inequality. Borders also give rise to anti-immigration sentiment, causing division, hatred, racism and xenophobia. It might be an uncomfortable concept for many people to grasp, especially for the “wait, what about terrorism?!!!” crowd, but I thought the way that Cowen argues why we need a world with open borders was very sensibly and succinctly explained.
5. A Song of Wraiths & Ruin by Roseanne. A. Brown
A Song of Wraiths And Ruin is a vibrant high fantasy novel and the first in a duology. This West African inspired story is about a young man called Malik, from a poor background who has travelled to the buzzing city of Ziran with his two sisters for better prospects. But when Malik’s younger sister, Nadia is kidnapped by a vengeful spirit demon, Malik agrees to a deal to kill the Crown Princess, Karina, in exchange for his sister’s life. But things get complicated when Malik does manage to get close to the Princess and their chemistry makes it hard for him to complete his mission. I thought this book had a compelling conflict, with a high stakes feel and a vibrantly imagined setting. I am so excited for the second book!
4. All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
All My Rage is an intense and harrowing read about best friends; Noor and Salahuddin trying to overcome all the difficult trials that life keeps on throwing at them. From the tragic death of Salahuddin’s mother, Misbah, at the very beginning to the mental and emotional abuses of Noor’s self-hating uncle, these teenagers harbour a lot of anger at the world. In addition to all their adversity, they also have to cope with the daily displacement of being Californian teenagers of Pakistani heritage, constantly trying to reconcile their dual heritage. This was the most compelling book I’ve read all year, I honestly couldn’t put it down. I thought it was a gritty, triumphant read and I found Noor and Salahuddin’s cultural displacement especially relatable. Click the cover to read my full LoveReading review!
3. Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo
Glory is a political satire novel, set in a fictional Zimbabwe called Jidada, where all the characters are rendered as farm animals à la Aesop’s novels/Animal Farm and are governed by a tyrannical Old Horse. The coming home of a prodigal daughter and a tragic event that follows is the catalyst that makes the ‘mals of Jidada’ finally challenge their dictatorial leadership. This was a contentious read that took lots of linguistic liberties and encompasses a lot of satirical absurdism. As such, it won’t hit the right notes for everyone, but I thought it was really significant with an uplifting vision for the future. Click the cover to read my full LoveReading review!
2. Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power by Lola Olufemi
Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power is a radical, dissenting voice on feminism that adopts a fiercely intersectional approach and argues the need for a feminism that centers society’s most marginalised women. Olufemi destabilises the popular narrative that frames feminism as a monolith by showing the many different conflicts that exist within the movement and highlighting the fact that not all feminists act in the best interests of women who are less privileged than them. This is a really important resource for anyone who wants to unlearn their biases and make sure that their feminism is more inclusive of others. Click the link to read my full review!
1. Assembly by Natasha Brown
Assembly is about the contemplations of a well-off Black British woman, with a prestigious job in a financial institution. She has always followed the expected norms of society; follow the rules, go to a good university, get a good education, get a good job. And as she prepares to go to a fancy garden party with her white boyfriend, she starts to question the choices she’s made thus far. I loved the evocative, visual writing style of this novel and its thought-provoking message. It perfectly articulates the subjugation of Black women in a white male dominant society and how a measure of social mobility can be achieved through respectability politics i.e. changing parts yourself (your unwieldy afro, your accent) to suit their sensibilities. I loved Assembly so much because of how much it hit me personally and because of its deep insight.
And that’s it! Those were my Top 10 Best Books of 2022.✨ It was a modest reading year but in the end I’m happy with this round-up; it’s serving range, it’s giving multiple genres and I hope that I’ve encouraged you to check them out! Happy New Year!🎆
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