2022 definitely had a lot in store. Something you may not have thought to be memorable of 2022, is literature! Whether it is a book we finally picked up or one published this year- we decided to discuss our top 2 faves. Grace Eshel discusses her top 2022 read published long ago, and our editor, Amy Scott-Munden, gushes about her favourite 2022 literature release!
In 2022 I decided to finally pick up Stoner, here’s why it was my favourite read of the year…
We follow the life of William Stoner from his youth in the late 19th Century. The reader is led through an average-turned-hopeful adolescence as young Stoner leaves his parents to work on a farm and eventually study at the University of Missouri. What follows after his completion of relatively normal young adulthood is a melancholic and somewhat bleak mid and later life.
Williams explores what it means to be unremarkable. Of course, Stoner is an intelligent character, he is a professor of literature by the book’s midpoint, but his victories are small, sometimes petty, and his trademark stoicism has clearly been imposed upon him by his environment. And yet, this book is captivating. It’s a classic slow burn. Stoner is no hero, but his slight actions make him fascinating. His marriage is especially volatile, leading to an existential tone that constantly makes you question what the ‘right’ choice is.
Stoner is a character ordinary in life and death. That’s the marketing of the book. His life is never quite fulfilling enough. His actions are at times questionable or amoral and crafted with a sense of nihilism. So, the book continues dragging him through milestone upon milestone until his death.
The air of repression is thick in Williams’ masterpiece, to the point some might consider it boring; there are no grandiose conflicts in the grand scheme of things. But in reality, the tension is the most engaging aspect of the book. From small arguments within his marriage that build up, to the academic rivalry with another professor, these moments matter to Stoner so they matter to the reader. The underlying unhappiness in a world of repression, retreat and reproach is the motor of Stoner, it keeps the pages turning.
Despite the fact that there are probably faster-paced classics and campus lit novels, Stoner is my favourite read of 2022. It’s a coming-of-age novel with no grand revelation. Stoner never fulfilled completely but never unfulfilled enough to change. If there’s one classic book to try, it should be this. The writing is accessible and easy to get through, and at only 278 pages, it won’t take long to understand the appeal.
The Bullet That Missed – Richard Osman
Richard Osman has had an exciting few years after putting his humorous creative skills to paper and turning from TV presenting to writing. Osman
debuted his first novel, The Thursday Murder Club in 2020 to rave reviews! The comedy-mystery takes place in a retirement home and features four pensioners who embark on a quest to solve a murder. One year later, The Man Who Died Twice, came out which follows a similar crime solving plot. At this point, I was becoming used to my annual Osman book release, and I was not disappointed by The Bullet That Missed.
In the third instalment, the four members of the TMC return to solve a local cold case with an exciting build up from various clues and the jeopardy that the murderer could strike again! As usual, the book is funny and witty, and is a great example of celebrities successfully turning their hands to novel writing. Usually with celebrity written books, it is always at the back of mind that the public figure has written it, which I always hated as I could never fully immerse myself in the literature, but the weird thing about Osman’s book is that although I know it’s him, I don’t really mind. In fact it’s nice having his presence along for the ride!
The characters he has created are wonderfully well-fleshed out and described as individuals with their own differing personalities; they all shine in their own ways throughout the trilogy. Naturally, ageing is a very prevalent theme in the books, which admittedly put me off reading, but this was a judgemental mistake of mine because these characters are more lively than any twenty-something character I’ve read! Osman proves that ageing is nothing to be afraid of, and the free time of retirement means you can dedicate all your time to your one true passion, solving murder cases!