For the second day of Ring in the New Reads, we're looking back to our favourite books of 2022. Not all of these were new releases, but all of them won our hearts and minds when we read them for the first time during the last year.
It was a challenge to narrow down our favourites! So please find below our list of five top reads from the last year, and a link to our longlist of twenty-two on Bookshop.org. We hope you enjoy those that you read as much as we did.
*All book descriptions have been taken from the blurb as displayed on Bookshop.org pages. Book reviews by Pickering Book Tree will certainly follow in the future, and will be linked to each section as available.
Book 1 of 5: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
A rich, magical novel from the Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World
It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic, chilli peppers and wild herbs. This is where one can find the best food in town, the best music, the best wine. But there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.
In the centre of the tavern, growing through a cavity in the roof, is a fig tree. This tree will witness their hushed, happy meetings, their silent, surreptitious departures; and the tree will be there when the war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to rubble, when the teenagers vanish and break apart.
Decades later in north London, sixteen-year-old Ada Kazantzakis has never visited the island where her parents were born. Desperate for answers, she seeks to untangle years of secrets, separation and silence. The only connection she has to the land of her ancestors is a Ficus Carica growing in the back garden of their home.
The Island of Missing Trees is a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature, and, finally, renewal.
Book 2 of 5: The Dry by Jane Harper
WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?
I just can't understand how someone like him could do something like that.
Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.
Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke's death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend's crime.
Book 3 of 5: Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
Welcome to Charon's Crossing.
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh and the dead are just passing through.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own sparsely-attended funeral, Wallace is outraged. But he begins to suspect she's right, and he is in fact dead. Then when Hugo, owner of a most peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace reluctantly accepts the truth.
Yet even in death, he refuses to abandon his life - even though Wallace spent all of it working, correcting colleagues and hectoring employees. He'd had no time for frivolities like fun and friends. But as Wallace drinks tea with Hugo and talks to his customers, he wonders if he was missing something.
The feeling grows as he shares jokes with the resident ghost, manifests embarrassing footwear and notices the stars. So when he's given one week to pass through the door to the other side, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in just seven days.
Fans of A Man Called Ove and The Good Place will fall for this queer love story by TJ Klune.
Book 4 of 5: The Barn: The Lives, Landscape and Lost Ways of an Old Yorkshire Farm by Sally Coulthard
A revelatory uncovering of a vanished agricultural way of life by bestselling nature writer Sally Coulthard.
Across the foldyard from Sally Coulthard's North Yorkshire farmhouse, stands an old stone barn. When she discovered a set of witches' marks on one of its internal walls, she began to wonder about the lives of the people who had once lived and worked there.
Both the intimate story of a building and its hinterland, and a wider social history, The Barn explores a hidden corner of rural Britain that has witnessed remarkable changes. From the eighteenth-century Enclosures to the Second World War, the fortunes of the Barn have been blown, like a leaf in a gale, by the unstoppable forces of new agriculture and industry. Seismic shifts in almost every area of society were all played out here in miniature - against a backdrop of scattered limestone villages and the softly rolling Howardian Hills.
Book 5 of 5: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
The award-winning author of Station Eleven returns with a story of time travel that precisely captures the reality of our current moment . . .
In 1912, eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic, exiled from English polite society. In British Columbia, he enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and for a split second all is darkness, the notes of a violin echoing unnaturally through the air. The experience shocks him to his core.
Two centuries later Olive Llewelyn, a famous writer, is traveling all over Earth, far away from her home in the second moon colony. Within the text of Olive's bestselling novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.
When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in time, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an aristocrat driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel is a novel that investigates the idea of parallel worlds and possibilities, that plays with the very line along which time should run. Perceptive and poignant about art, and love, and what we must do to survive.
The Full List
You can find the full list of our 22 favourite reads in 2022 on the Bookshop.org shelf below. Some books are currently only available in hardback, with paperback releases scheduled between early February and not yet announced:
Under the Whispering Door (paperback release date 2nd February)
Impossible (paperback release date 2nd February)
Black Cake (paperback release date 16th February)
A Tidy Ending (paperback release date 30th March)
The Sea of Tranquility (paperback release date 6th April)
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (paperback release date 27th April)
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (paperback release date 6th July)
The Boy and the Dog (paperback release date 6th July)
Stone Blind (paperback release date not yet announced)
We hope you enjoyed today's list of books, as chosen by the Book Tree Team!
Coming up tomorrow: comforting reads to see you through January.