Yes, it's the time of year when every bookshop in the land tells you about their top reads and why there were no better reads in this particular year. We're no different, but we HAVE made it extra difficult for our booksellers by asking them to choose only three books. These needn't have been published in 2022; they were merely titles that our team picked up at some point in the year and which will stay with them long after the 2023 page has been turned.
Lastly, here's Jess!
Aftermath by Preti Taneja: When this book won the Gordon Burn prize I actually raised a fist in the air; it is so deserving and, more importantly, it's imperative that it reaches as many readers as possible. Grown from the personal and collective trauma of the London Bridge attack of 2019, it's a work that breathes through the rooms where no oxygen is left, through a society where children go straight from schools to prisons and imperialism is plucked out of history lessons, leaving shattered presents. It pushes with sincerity through pain there are no words for. For its generosity, rigor and courage, I've read it twice already and I'll doubtlessly read it again.
ACE by Angela Chen: Having had it recommended to me countless times, somehow I didn't get to this until this year. For a long time, nuanced, analytical yet non-academic writing about asexual experiences has been difficult to find. This is now, thankfully, changing, but Chen's book remains essential and pioneering in its inclusive, boundary-breaking look at sexuality and society. I love the way it's rooted in fundamental questions about what sexual orientation means, and the differences between pleasure, intimacy, desire and romance - all notions which sexual normativity tends to lump together. It's insightful about societal expectations at the intersection of sexuality and race and full of ace voices and their experiences.
Amnion by Stephanie Sy-Quia: It's been a year during which my poetry reading has firmly rejected the minimalist or formally restricted. Instead, I've needed sprawling, fluid lines that work a little like immersive stories, but with poetry's moments of surprise and precision, and it's challenge to linearity. Amnion does all of this with such a sense of adventure. It's also a joy to read for anyone with belongings scattered across geographies and languages. Playfully seeking multiple points of origin in migration, colonialism, this family epic challenges so many notions of what it means to be whole, and if that is, after all, something to be desired.