Since 2017 I’ve been keeping a note of the books I read, and one thing I enjoy at the end of the year is looking back at my favourite reads from the year, so here is my top ten for 2022 – five fiction and five non-fiction books.
Top Five Fiction Books
The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Daré
If I had to pick one favourite book of the year, it would be this one! It tells the story of Adunni, a fourteen year-old Nigerian girl who dreams of having an education, but who is sold by her father to become the third wife of an elderly man. Despite this, Adunni is determined to find her voice and rise above her circumstances.
The style of writing is unique and the story is at the same time funny, heartbreaking and inspiring!
The Invisible Girl by Torey Hayden
I was excited to discover a new book by Torey Hayden as I had read a few of her books several years ago, and loved them, but I hadn’t seen a new one in a long time!
Torey Hayden is a teacher who works with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and her books are based on her real life experiences. This book tells the story of a girl called Eloise who faces significant challenges and leaves those who work with her struggling to know how to help. It is a fascinating book, full of helpful insights.
Braver by Deborah Jenkins
Braver focuses on three characters:
Hazel, a young woman who is fairly isolated, struggling with OCD and anxiety
Harry, a teenage boy with an alcoholic mother, also facing bullying at school
Virginia, a minister who has suffered tragic loss and is accused of inappropriate behaviour with a minor
The three stories coincide in a way that testifies to the power of community and its role in pointing to hope and healing in the midst of life’s challenges. I liked that it was hopeful but also realistic and appreciated how, although there is no specific Christian content, the church is presented in a positive way.
Feathers Of Hope by Sharon Garlough Brown
This book is part of the “Sensible Shoes” series. It follows the story of Katherine Rhodes as she prepares to retire from her position as director at a retreat centre, and her great niece, Wren Crawford, as she seeks to recover from a period of depression and find answers to questions she has around the death of her best friend Casey.
It is a thoughtful and compassionate read. I appreciated the insights into the spiritual lives of the characters and the way it touches on some significant topics – racism, mental health issues, dealing with change and loss – in a thought-provoking way.
The Disappearance by Katherine Webb
Katherine Webb is one of my favourite authors and I’d recommend any of her books. This one is set in England during World War Two. In the chaos of a bomb attack, the main character, Frances, loses Davy, a young boy she is meant to be looking after. As she frantically searches for him, memories are triggered of her friend Bronwyn, who went missing twenty years previously when she was a child.
As the dust settles from the bombing, a body is discovered in the rubble, and the book tells of Frances’ hunt for Davy as well as her search to discover what really happened to Bronwyn.
Top Five Non-Fiction Books
The Cost Of Control by Sharon Hodde Miller
If, like me, you struggle with control, I’d definitely recommend this book!
It provides helpful insights about why we have a tendency to want to control things and goes on to explore how this plays out in different areas of life. Finally, it points us to a healthier attitude.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes:
“Our resistance to reality is so strong, and our intolerance for uncertainty so deep, we will imagine control where there is none, and rebrand it as biblical insight.”
“I respond to the unknown by trying to know it, and the internet is always ready to help.”
“Behind every struggle for control is a hurting person searching for peace in a chaotic world. That’s really all it is, and God knows this, which is why he sent his Son to rescue us, once and for all.”
Live Your Truth And Other Lies by Alisa Childers
This book examines some common statements we hear in today’s culture, e.g. Live your truth, You are enough, You only live once, God just wants you to be happy.
On the face of it, these statements can seem good, and even Christian, but Alisa Childers asks, “What if those little slogans that sound positive and life-affirming are really just lies that will unhinge us from truth, reality and hope?”
Throughout the book she takes these statements one by one and compares them with the Bible’s teaching. One thing I found striking was the inclusion of several quotes from authors who claim to be Christians but whose teaching is contrary to the Bible. The contrast is stark and it shows the importance of discernment.
This is a really helpful book for anyone wanting to engage with culture and have conversations about truth. It is engaging and easy-to-read but also challenging and thought-provoking.
How Did I Get Here? by Christine Caine
It’s all too easy to find ourselves drifting away from God without even realising it. As Christine Caine points out in this book, drifting is not the result of a conscious decision, but something that can happen over time if we don’t have certain checks in place, and it is something that can happen even to those who have been Christians for a long time and whose faith is strong.
This book highlights some of the warning signs to be aware of – e.g. you may have drifted if you stop trusting and start controlling, if you stop praying and start talking… – and it provides tips to help you get back on track.
Christine Caine shares in a way that is encouraging and motivational rather than condemning, and she shares honestly from her own story throughout the book.
I’d recommend this book whether or not you feel like you are drifting, as the earlier you can identify the warning signs, the earlier you can take preventative action!
Inside Job by Rebecca Myers
This is a fascinating memoir about the author’s experience of working as a psychologist in a category A men’s prison. Much of it focuses on her work with a group of men, all of whom are convicted sex offenders, as she helps them explore their crimes and the reasons behind them.
It is an interesting and thought-provoking read. Some parts are difficult to read, especially where it goes into the detail of some of the men’s crimes, but it is interesting to explore some of the factors that lead people to commit these acts as well as how they can be rehabilitated.
I appreciated the author’s honesty about some of her own struggles too.
Watching Neighbours Twice A Day by Josh Widdicombe
This book is also a memoir, but totally different in content and tone!
Comedian, Josh Widdicombe, writes about his experience of growing up in Britain in the 90s, structuring his thoughts around some of the TV programmes that were popular at the time.
It is probably a book that would mostly be appreciated by people with some knowledge of British TV in the 90s, but it brought back a lot of memories for me and had me searching for several clips on YouTube. It is a funny and lighthearted read.
What about you? What were your favourite books that you read in 2022? Feel free to share any recommendations in the comments.