An Cailín Ciúin and the beauty of a quiet story

There are three lights now.

I”m just back from seeing the magnificent An Cailín Ciúin a second time. I first watched it when it was released and came briefly to cinemas last year, and when it returned in recent weeks on the heels of a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best International Film, I was eager to see it again.

And as I watched this tender, heartbreaking, lovely film about a vulnerable, neglected girl from a large family who is sent away for the summer to a childless couple where she begins to blossom under their love and care, I kept thinking about the beauty of a quiet story.

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Best Horror of 2022

In my opinion, 2022 was a fantastic year for horror. With excellent horror films of every type being released in cinemas and on streaming, from the artistic and beautiful to the gory and intense, from creative new takes on stale franchises to innovative, out-of-the-box concepts, there was always something new and frightening to watch. It was a great year for horror literature as well, with terrifying anthologies, spooky stories of all sorts, and classics told in fresh and exciting ways.

If you’re looking to bring the scares in 2023, here are my favourite horror films from 2022 and my favourite horror books read in 2022 (some old and some new):

Best horror films of 2022 (Follow me on Letterboxd!)

Bones and All, dir. Luca Guadagnino

Who would have thought a film about cannibalism could be so tender (pun not intended)? This delicate, haunting, horrifying film was not only my favourite horror film of the year, but one of my favourites of any genre. As outsiders from society, finding solace in each other as they satisfy their urges (the story can be read as a both queer allegory and one of addiction,), this film is all about contrast. The central couple’s intimacy with each other contrasts with the wide open landscapes of the cinematography and setting. The soundwork contrasts the gnashing, gnawing sharpness of their actions with the quietness of the solitude around them. And the contrast between the final two shots are as emotional as they are gutting.

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My favourite books of 2022

Hi hello long time no write. It’s been a busy year, but the truth is that I just haven’t made time for this blog. That’s going to change in 2023 though — I’m changing jobs, and at the job I’ve just left (as of today) I was writing three blog posts a week. I figure I should be able to translate into at least one post per week over here, and I’m going to stick to that resolution no matter what. And of course, I’ll start off with my favourite books I read last year.

One thing I’ll start by saying is that there are a few major faves missing from this list. It was such a good year for horror that I’m going to be doing a separate post on my favourite horror reads of the year next week or thereabouts. So stay tuned for that and some great spooky reads, and in the meantime read on for my favourite books from non-horror genres that I read in 2022.

You can always follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading throughout the year!

The best books I read in 2022 (published in 2022)

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

I absolutely loved Station Eleven but then was a bit cold on The Glass Hotel, so when Emily St. John Mandel’s next book was released in 2022 I was incredibly curious but mildly hesitant. I needn’t have worried, because Sea of Tranquility turned out to be one of my favourite novels of the year. For a story with a vast setting, spanning galaxies and millennia, it is close and intimate, a thoughtful work of speculative fiction that offers a puzzle where, over the course of the story, each piece is put delicately, carefully, poetically into place.

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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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