Primary page content

Reading for pleasure – books to read in 2022

If you’re looking for some suggestions for what to read next look no further. Adil Rehman, our Reader Services Positive Action Graduate Trainee, has shared some of his favourite fiction reads for 2022.

William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

The Victorian period is considered the golden age of English literature and is when the novel became the leading literary genre in English. A Victorian novel then, must be a part of your reading list for this year.

Thackeray’s Vanity Fair is recognised as a classic of English literature. The novel follows the lives of two contrasting women – Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley.

Becky craves wealth and a position in society and is willing to manipulate everyone in her journey to success, while Amelia’s gentleheartedness attracts the devotion of William Dobbin.

Through his witty satire, Thackeray exposes the gluttony, snobbery and vanity of English society, and leaves the readers with timeless moral lessons.

Find it in our library here.

 

Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

If you are in search of a detective story to read this year, then Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is an excellent choice.

Though largely controversial at its time of publication for ‘breaking the rules’ of detective stories, the novel has gone on to become one of the most celebrated detective novels of all time. It has seen multiple adaptations in both radio and film, and in 2013, the British Crime Writers’ Association voted it the best crime novel ever. [1]

Join detective Hercule Poirot as he comes out of retirement to solve who murdered his friend Roger Ackroyd.

Find it in our library here.

 

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Invisible Man follows the journey of an unnamed African American man as he learns how to navigate through a world that renders him ‘invisible’ as ‘people refuse to see’ him.

The book deals with many issues that African Americans, including the author, faced at the time, and in particular, how racism acted as an obstacle to individual identity.

Readers may see its continued relevance today as African Americans continue to deal with issues surrounding race. The Harlem race riot and instances of police oppression in the book, for example, bring to mind recent events in America.

Invisible Man won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953, making Ralph Ellison the first African American to win the award. [2]

Find it in our library here.

 

 

Percival Everett, Erasure

In the words of Robert J. Butler, Erasure ‘signifies’ on Invisible Man. That is, Erasure makes meaningful references to Invisible Man (and other ‘African American’ literature) ‘as a way of def

ining how contemporary America has developed new ways of rendering black people “invisible” by “erasing” their individuality and encasing them in empty social roles’, making it the obvious next read on your list. [3]

The plot surrounds writer Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, whose manuscripts are continually rejected by publishers because they are ‘not black enough’. Monk is enraged by the success of Juanita Mae Jenkins, as her bestseller We’s Lives in Da Ghettos, reduces black Americans to negative stereotypes. Monk writes My Pafology as a satirical response to Jenkins’s novel (which is included in its entirety within Erasure), but to his despair, it wins ‘The Book Award’.

 Find it in our library here.

Robin Robertson, The Long Take

The Goldsmiths Prize was established in 2013 ‘to reward fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form’. Robin Robertson’s The Long Take won The Goldsmiths Prize in 2018 for achieving exactly this. [4]

A noir narrative written with the intensity and power of poetry, The Long Take is one of the most remarkable and unclassifiable books of recent years.

Walker, a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, cannot return home to rural Nova Scotia, so looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. We follow Walker through a sequence of poems as he moves through New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. [5]

Find it in our library here.

Lucy Ellmann, Ducks, Newburyport

Lucy Ellman’s Ducks, Newburyport won The Goldsmiths Prize in 2019.

Erica Wagner, Chair of the Judges, described is as ‘that rare thing: a book which, not long after its publication, one can unhesitatingly call a masterpiece. In her gripping and hypnotic book, Ellmann remakes the novel and expands the reader’s idea of what is possible with the form’. [6]

The novel is written in the stream of consciousness narrative style and consists of a single sentence that runs over 1000 pages.

An Ohio housewife worries about her children, her dead parents and weapons of mass destruction. An indictment of America’s barbarity and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster, Ducks, Newburyport is a revolution in the novel. [7]

Find it in our library here.

 

 

 

References:

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/agatha-christie-s-the-murder-of-roger-ackroyd-voted-best-crime-novel-ever-8923395.html

[2] https://www.nationalbook.org/awards-prizes/national-book-awards-1953/

[3] Butler, Robert J., ‘Percival Everett’s Signifying on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in erasure’, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, 45 (2018), 141-152

[4] https://www.gold.ac.uk/goldsmiths-prize/

[5] https://www.gold.ac.uk/goldsmiths-prize/prize2018/the-long-take/

[6] https://www.gold.ac.uk/goldsmiths-prize/prize2019/

[7] https://www.gold.ac.uk/goldsmiths-prize/prize2019/ducks-newburyport/

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.