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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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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What I read in August and September

Whoops, I missed a month again. I did do plenty of reading though, mainly thanks to several long plane trips. But look, if you’re after books that will see you through spooky season, there’s a couple of horror novels on this list that are definitely worth checking out (and to be fair, a couple that aren’t). Read on…

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What I Read in June & July

Oops, I forgot to post this last month! So here’s a double-header of all the books I read in June and July. Some really fantastic ones in this batch, but there’s one that stands so far above the rest I’m putting it above the ‘read more’ line (also, it’s hard to categorise as either fiction or nonfiction). Read on…

A Ghost in the Throat by Doreann Ní Ghríofa

A novel about a woman who becomes obsessed with a poem by an 18th century noblewoman, what she sees as parallels in her own life, and her efforts to trace the woman’s history and descendants, in some ways it’s difficult to describe what makes this book so exquisite.. Is it the richness of the prose, by an author who is mainly a poet and who shows this through the lyricism of even mundane, minor moments? Is it the way it melds genres—it’s won awards in fiction and nonfiction categories, it’s part biography and part memoir and part translation and part novel and it plays with all these styles in a compelling and intriguing way? Is it the way the plot draws you in? Every time I picked up the book to begin reading again, I immediately felt as invested in the narrator’s search for evidence of Eibhlín in marriage records and death notices and the periphery of other people’s lives. Of course, it is all these things and more, and the result is an incredibly special book. Perhaps my favourite of the year so far, and one I will be thinking about it for a long, long time.

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