Here we go again! Christmas 2022 is nearly here. In a year when we all have had to tighten our pursestrings, I can’t think of a better present than a book. It’s relatively cheap, give hours and hours of pleasure (sometimes even years), can be shared and is plastic-free – what more can you ask for? 2022 has been a year of new discoveries for us. Most of the books on our list are by authors we hadn’t heard of before or debutants. We have also dug in the pile of classics – some of which we had read before and wanted to re-experience, others that were new to us. Neither have disappointed. We also have a range of children’s books suitable for different age groups and tastes and there’s loads more in our Young Readers section. So here it is, the list of Bookstoker’s best reads this year. Wishing you all a happy holiday season!
So here we are, at the end of another unusual year. I’m guessing many of you have sought solace in books as I have, although, at times I’ve found it challenging to concentrate and engage with books. The good news is that when the floodgates of publishing opened post-lockdown (take two), the quality of books published really picked up and recently we’ve enjoyed some fabulous novels which bodes well for Christmas and beyond. So here they are, our best reads this year.
We here at Bookstoker wish you all the best for a happy holiday season!
On the week Mark Zuckerberg announced his plan for a metaverse, attending the deliciously analog Letters Live at Royal Albert Hall was like balm to the soul. Letters Live, inspired by the best-selling book series Letters of Note, is a live, bi-annual (more or less) event in which famous actors read letters dealing with anything from a customer complaint to Virgin Airlines (which made it all the way to Richard Branson for its hilarity), a sublime love letter, to a heart-wrenching post-humous letter written by a 19 year-old soldier killed in Afghanistan and many more. A packed Royal Albert Hall (with an encouraging number of 20yr olds!) was treated to readings by Benedict Cumberbatch, Gillian Anderson, Toby Jones, Matt Lucas and many more, interspersed by music performances. Exquisite!
While you wait for the next one, visit the Letters Live archive.
I feel it’s time to speak up for historical fiction which, in my opinion, has an undeservedly bad reputation. True, there are some pretty trashy ones out there but there are also quite a few stunningly good ones. Besides being well-written and with an interesting storyline, a good historical novel takes you to a different time and place, perhaps one you didn’t know much about, and leaves you simultaneously entertained and a wiser person. We’ve reviewed quite a few on this blog which you now can find on the blog under ‘Reviews’ in the main menu.
Welcome to our guest reviewer Agnes who’s about to embark on her A-level studies in English. Agnes is passionate about reading and, despite her young age, has read more books than most people do in a lifetime. Her first reviews are of two modern classics, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, incidentally two books I very much enjoyed myself.
Is there anything better than a summery read to get you into a sunny mood? Or a summery novel to read on your holiday? To get you into the spirit, we have chosen our top ten summer classics.
One of the more harrowing books reviewed on this blog is Sven Lindqvist’s Exterminate All the Brutes, a history-cum-travel book which investigates the dark history of European colonialism and brutal extermination of indigenous peoples. It’s a very worthwhile read, described by the director of the TV-series as an ‘incredible explosion’. Raoul Peck’s Exterminate All the Brutes, inspired by Lindkqvist’s book, will air from 1st May on HBO in the US and Sky Documentaries and NOW in the UK. Reviews of the film are divided but the book remains good!
Soon you’ll be able to watch a series based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner The Underground Railroad on Amazon, directed by none other than Academy Award winning director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight). In the meantime, I can highly recommend reading this surprising and excellent book. Read our full review here.
I think we can all agree that 2020 hasn’t been the greatest year, but at least books, unlike theatre, cinema and exhibitions, have been available throughout. When you can’t go places, books can take you away. Here at Bookstoker we have been to a stormy Scottish loch, the poop deck of a 17th century tall ship, a senator’s mansion in Tennessee and the alehouses of 16th century Stratford-upon-Avon and many other places. As always, our annual Christmas list have fantastic fiction, interesting non-fiction, mind-bending poetry and loads of wonderful children’s books. So this year, more than ever, books really are the best gift. When you do buy them, please consider sacrificing the convenience and slightly lower prices of Amazon to make sure your local bookshop will still be there on the other side of Corona. Most local bookshops have good online or phone ordering systems now and if not Bookshop.org, an online bookshop supporting the local bookshop of your choice, is here to help.