Women’s Prize 2022 Shortlist, Ranked & Reviewed

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is my favourite literary prize. I almost always enjoy any one of the shortlisted books or winners that I read. After making my way through all of the previous winners, last year I read all of the shortlisted books for 2021, and I’ve done the same again this year.

It’s an extremely strong field this year, with three books in particular that I would consider very worthy if they should win — but you couldn’t really go wrong with any of them. The Women’s Prize announces its winner this week (June 15), and I’ll definitely be looking forward to see which of these novels takes home the top honour.

Below is my ranking and reviews of all six of the shortlisted nominees:

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Hiking Mount Errigal in Donegal

Note: Hi, hello, sorry, it’s been a while. I’ve been blogging 2-3x per week for work and writing some of my own personal projects, and it hasn’t left a lot of time for updating this. Apologies, I’m trying to work it into the schedule going forward.

Over the St. Patrick’s Day bank holiday weekend, Steve and I took a trip up to Donegal, which may be the only county in Ireland that can rival Kerry for beauty. From the rugged cliffs of Sliabh Liag to the lovely bike trail that runs along the lake in Glenveagh National Park, it’s a stunning and off-the-beaten-track part of Ireland that is well worth a visit.

Hiking Mount Errigal was one of our main goals in visiting Donegal, and we were lucky to have absolutely fantastic weather throughout the whole weekend. The highest point in the country, Errigal stands at 751 metres (although the trailhead starts fairly high up so your actual ascent is only about two-thirds of that) and has great prominence, making it a short but impressive hike to undertake.

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What I Read in January 2022

I swear I’ll use this blog for something other than to log my reading at some point. But it was a busy month of writing for work and so I wasn’t really in the mood to write for fun either (the biggest downside to having a job that involves a blog as well). It was a good month for books though, with two absolute standouts and several other good reads as well. I’m starting a massive House of Leaves reread this month, so I expect my reading numbers will be lower for February (totally fine! reading’s not a quantity game!) but in the meantime, here’s what I read in January:

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The Best Books I Read in 2021

Due to a combination of things (lockdown, no social life, a really good to-read list), I completely obliterated my yearly goal of 52 books. I hit my goal by the end of May, and by the end of 2021 I had read (or listened to on audiobook, it was around a 70/30 split) 100 books. And folks, most of them were very good.

I’m pretty much a pro at only choosing books I’ll enjoy these days. This is good, because I hate to DNF (did not finish) a book. Luckily, I know whose reviews I trust, both among friends and pros, which tropes I love and hate, which authors I’ll follow to the end of the earth, and so on. That doesn’t mean I never pick up a dud, or that I never take a risk with something that may (or may not) surprise me, but when you look at my Goodreads and see heaps of 4- and 5-star reviews, it’s more because I know how to pick ’em than because I’m not discerning.

Speaking of Goodreads, I’m trying to transition to Storygraph this year, or at least use it in addition to GR, although I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. So if anyone’s on it, add me!

Anyway, my best books of the year. I couldn’t narrow it down further than 15 fiction and 10 nonfiction favourites, so here they are:

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What I read in October and November

First of all, I managed another successful NaNoWriMo this November, writing 50111 words over the course of the month. Hopefully this will finally be the year I actually stick with the story and continue working on it. Because of NaNo, I didn’t do as much reading as I usually might, but I still managed to read a couple of the best books I’ve read all year. Plus, plenty of reading from October. Choosing my end-of-year best-ofs is going to be tough this year for sure.

I’ve split them between fiction and nonfiction and put them roughly in order of how much I liked them.

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Scannáin na hÉireann

Long before I ever stepped foot in Ireland, I’ve loved Irish literature. When I was a kid, I had an audiobook on cassette tape with a number of classic ghost stories, including Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Canterville Ghost’, which I listened to incessantly. In college, I found a love for Irish plays as well, reading several (including Translations by Brian Friel, which became an all-time favourite) in a historically-focused theatre course. Naturally, this played into my motivations for applying to an MA in Literature & Publishing in Galway, and once I moved over I discovered so many wonderful contemporary Irish authors from Donal Ryan to, of course, Sally Rooney.

Ireland has an outsized cultural influence, with an incredible amount of internationally-acclaimed art in every medium considering the relatively small size of the country. Some of the world’s best poets, musicians, and more hail from the Emerald Isle. And as I’ve lived here I’ve gotten to know a lot of work by artists of different types.

But one medium that I feel has passed me personally by a bit for the most part is Irish cinema. I’ve seen a few of the most well-known Irish films across a number of genres — The Commitments, Once, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, The Quiet Man — but there are far more iconic Irish films that have passed me by. On this list, for example, I’ve only seen six.

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