My Favorite Books of 2022
It’s that time of year again when I actually take a minute to update this blog—no, just kidding. It’s the time of year when I get to gush about all of my favorite books! 2021 was a bizarre reading year. 2022 was an exciting year filled with travel, weddings, stress, and joy. I traveled to three new countries (and a new territory), went to three weddings in one month, got my third vaccination, got COVID twice (and survived thanks to said vaccination), quit my job, and got a new one. And in all the chaos, I still managed to read 100 books!
I read some absolute bangers this year, with a whopping 44 five-star reads. 44! In comparison to last year’s 20, this marks 2022 as an epic success for reading. I only had two one-star reads and 15 two-star reads, which isn’t horrible – though I will say the worst books I read this year were probably some of the worst I’ve ever read.
I’m blaming Tik Tok for forcing me to read Forbidden; I will NEVER forgive the booktok girlies for telling me that was worth a read. It was NOT. I also read Fried Green Tomatoes and the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was the most racist book I think I’ve ever read. Like, there were more instances of the N-word than in Huckleberry Finn. A book written in the 1980s should not be more racist than a book written by Mark Twain in 1884. I was shooketh, especially because I loved the movie growing up.
Anyway, you’re not here to hear about my least favorite books, are you?
As always, my favorite books were a mix of genres and authors, though I do notice that I leaned heavily toward literary fiction in 2022. My favorite authors, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Celest Ng, and Emily St. John Mandel, put out new books this year, which you’ll find in both the favorites and honorable mentions sections below.
Let’s get into it!
My top 14 favorite books of 2022:
I feel like I don’t have to pitch this book to you – most likely, you’ve already heard of it.
And if you haven’t and are extremely offended by the title, don’t be. Jennette McCurdy, of iCarly fame, grew up with a terrible mother who treated her like an object, sexually objectified her, and forced her into an eating disorder. She has every right to be glad her mother died.
Told in straightforward prose, it felt like Jennette was talking directly to me. I cried a lot. This book was like a sucker punch to the gut, and it is by far my favorite book of the year.
Look up the trigger warnings before reading, though. It was intense.
This was my first five-star read in 2022, and my god, what a surprise it was!
Ryland Grace wakes up on a spaceship with no memory of how he got there. He is supposed to save humanity, but he doesn’t know that yet. He’s the lone survivor on his ship, and he doesn’t know his name, his mission, or how his shipmates died. With the help of an unlikely ally (that you will absolutely fall in love with but no spoilers), Ryland begins to get back the threads of his memory and figure out how he will save the world.
This book was a marvel. It’s about humanity, friendship, science, and the lengths we will go to help a friend. I laughed out loud dozens of times. Unlike The Martian, I felt like Andy Weir made the science portion of this a bit more palatable for those right-brained folks reading (i.e., me). I didn’t feel lost ever and was completely absorbed by the story.
Please read this. I also heard the audiobook is incredible as well.
In 2030, a scientist, trying to carry on his daughter’s legacy after she dies, accidentally unleashes an ancient virus onto the world. This is just the beginning. Spanning hundreds of years, How High We Go in the Dark follows different characters throughout the aftermath of a plague. Each chapter is a new decade and a new story. These little vignettes into life hundreds and thousands of years into the future showcase how hard humanity will fight to survive and what it means to keep on living after disaster.
Ugh, this book! As you know, Station Eleven is my favorite book of all time, and though this did not fill the void in my heart that SE left behind, it got pretty close. It’s a book about hope – which after the last three years, is exactly what I needed.
The writing was gorgeous and atmospheric. I truly got sucked into this universe and could imagine myself living in this world.
As is the case with most anthologies (and though the characters are all linked, I would consider this an anthology), some of the stories were better than others. One of them will stick with me forever (the one about the pig, iykyk).
This was me by the end:
If you know me, you know I LOVE a time travel story. If a story involves time travel and is well written, there’s a 99% chance I’m going to give it five stars. The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart (or Oona out of Order if you’re in the UK for some reason) was no exception.
I picked up this book in a train station bookstore because I was obsessed with the cover.
The story begins on New Year’s Eve, 1982, and at midnight, Oona Lockart will turn 19. She’s got her entire life ahead of her, and she can’t wait to see what happens next. However, Oona faints at midnight, and the next morning, she wakes up to find that she’s fifty-three years old, with only her secretary and a letter from her past self to guide her. Soon, Oona finds out that she’s destined to live her life out of order and that every year on her birthday, she’ll wake up the next day at a different time of her life, at various different ages. Sometimes she wakes up and she’s young and alone; other times, she’s in bed with someone she’s never met.
I honestly could’ve read 600 more pages of Oona’s life. It was fascinating and so well written. This was just one of those stories that stick with you and make you think about how fragile and beautiful life is. I wanted to read about every year, every decade. This story took the time travel trope and turned it on its head.
I laughed, I cried, and I was anxious and excited. This was, in my opinion, an excellent book. I don’t know too many people who have read it – so please pick it up so we can gush about it together.
I am, and forever will be, an Emily St. John Mandel stan. If Emily has 100,000 fans, I’m one of them. One fan? It’s me. If she has no fans, then I’m no longer on this earth. I love her writing and stories; Station Eleven has changed me forever.
The summary of Sea of Tranquility is convoluted and a little bit complicated, but don’t let that deter you. Set in a different universe than Station Eleven and in one a bit closer to our own, this is the story of a plague, but it’s also the story of what would happen if you could reach through time and change the world. I’m not even going to try and get into the nitty-gritty of the plot because I don’t think it’s necessary for you to know before you read it. Just read it. Trust me. It was also one of Obama’s favorite books of the year, so if you don’t believe me, at least believe him.
I would like to formally apologize to everyone who I forced to listen to me talk about Mount Everest while I was reading this book, especially Michael, and also apologies to my (now former) co-workers who had to listen to me babble about dead bodies as trail markers and the unfair treatment of Sherpas during our lunch break. This book sent me into…a hyper-fixated spiral. It’s fine! I’m fine!
My fixation with Everest began not with this book but with a Tik Tok of an influencer documenting her climb to the summit. After watching a few of her Tik Toks, I thought, “Why in the absolute fuck would ANYONE do this to themselves?” which sent me down a Google rabbit hole, which led me to read Into Thin Air.
On May 10, 1996, a rogue storm hit Everest, killing dozens of people on the mountain. John Krakauer, a journalist, and writer of Into the Wild, just happened to be summiting during this storm. What was supposed to be a review of the summiting tour he was on turned into a first-person account of one of Mount Everest’s deadliest disasters. He talks about witnessing his friends and colleagues die on the mountain and explores why people continue to throw caution to the wind and climb Everest.
Krakauer approaches this disaster with care and precision. You can feel his survivor guilt dripping off the page, but he still manages to tell the story in an extremely informative and honest way.
By now, this book is a classic, and I don’t think I will ever forget it. I get chills just thinking about it.
If you’re ever thinking of climbing Mount Everest, read this book first and then talk to me. I think I can talk you out of it.
This is now…the third time travel book on this list. Whoops. What can I say? 2022 was the year for time travel, I guess!
What if you could take a vacation to your past? On her 40th birthday, Alice finds herself back in 1996, at 16. It’s not just being a teenager again that’s enticing; it’s the fact that Alice sees her dad, who is no longer sick and back to his charming, fun-loving self. Thus begins Alice’s journey to see if she can save her father in the past so she can have more time with him in the present.
I loved every moment of this book – I couldn’t put it down. It was thought-provoking and sad and gorgeous. A story about family and what it means to love someone.
This was the novel that inspired me to book a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, aka Shakespeare’s hometown, and book tickets to see Richard III at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. It was Michael’s first ever Shakespeare play, and he is now just as obsessed as I am. Love that for us. I got COVID while seeing Richard III, but if I was going to get the plague…where else than where Shakespeare lived and died, am I right?
Hamnet is not the story of Shakespeare, though. Not really. Shakespeare isn’t ever named. He’s just called The Father or The Playwright throughout the novel. Hamnet is the story of his wife, Anne Hathaway (not the actress), and his son, Hamnet, whose death from the Black Plague inspired him to write Hamlet.
O’Farrell takes a literary look into the lives of these elusive family members of the world’s greatest playwright. The beginning was a bit slow. I had to get through about fifty pages before I could get into it. But once I did, I fell in love with the way O’Farrell deep-dived into the life and death of Hamnet and dealt with the intricacies of grief. There’s even one chapter told through the perspective of a flea that is carrying the Black Death on its back. Not everyone appreciated that chapter, but I loved it.
If you’re in any way a Shakespeare fan, you have to pick this up. And you definitely should go to Stratford-Upon-Avon if you have the chance.
Oh, hi, it me, a girl who thoroughly sobbed over the fact that the hotel in this book is not real and I cannot go to it.
I mean, talk about fluff. Perfect, beautiful, escapism fluff. That’s what this book was. It’s a book about a hotel, and it’s a love story, but it’s also a ghost story, too. It has all of my favorite elements of a cozy read: a beautiful setting, witty characters, and POV from the perspective of an 18th-century maid who haunts the halls of the hotel and intentionally brings the hotel business by doing ghosty things and also fights a rapist. ALL. OF. THE. THINGS. I. LOVE.
After reading this, the urge to quit my job and buy a hotel by the sea was so real. I did quit my job, though (thank god), but not to buy a hotel by the sea, unfortunately.
Read this book if you love ghosts, hot chefs, and beautiful hotel settings. I promise you won’t regret it.
If that cover alone doesn’t make you want to read Remarkably Bright Creatures, then I don’t know what to tell you.
This is the story of second chances, unlikely friendships, a mysterious death, and the ways in which we’re connected to each other. It’s also the story of an extremely intelligent octopus who befriends a grieving old lady and is the only one holding the key to the answer that has plagued her for years: what happened to her son?
I listened to the audiobook, which I would highly recommend. It’s a full cast and brilliantly done.
I laughed. I cried. It was breathtaking.
Notes on an Execution is a complex, wondrous novel. The novel centers around Ansel Packer, a serial killer who is on death row and hours away from his execution. But the real story is not about Ansel; it’s about the women who have defined his life. His mother, the female detective on his case, and his ex-wife’s twin sister. Told from their perspectives as well as Ansel’s perspective in the last hours of his life, we begin to build up the story of Ansel’s past and unravel the complexities of a monster.
“Human nature could be so hideous, but it persisted in this ugliness by insisting it was good.”
I was immediately absorbed into this novel – it was unputdownable.
A Psalm for the Wild Built + A Prayer for the Crown Shy by Becky Chambers
So, technically, these are two novels, but they’re both so short (about 160 pages each) that you can read them back to back. They’ll make for a full-length novel.
In a distant future, after robots become sentient, they decide that humanity does not need them and make a mass exodus into the wilderness, never to be seen again. That is, until a few hundred years later, a non-binary tea monk named Dex comes across a robot named Mosscap who cannot go back into the wilderness until they answer the question: “What is it that humans need?”
Dex and Mosscap then begin a heartwarming adventure to figure out the answer to what seems like an impossible question. Adorable and hilarious hijinks ensue.
This was SO COZY and cute. I loved Dex – they were such a relatable character, and omg, I would literally die for Mosscap. It made me CRY because it’s just so NICE. I love the prospect of this future – it’s a kind and diverse and inclusive one. It’s the kind of future you can only dream of.
If you’re looking for a quick and heartwarming fantasy to cuddle up with, I would highly recommend this duology.
Have you ever wanted to read a book that’s like if The Great British Bake-Off and Fight Club had a baby? Then boy, do I have a book for you because that’s exactly what Sourdough was: a weird little book about baking sourdough and underground secret societies and sourdough starter that’s haunted and alive.
This was sitting on my shelf for like two years, and I’m angry with myself for depriving my brain of this wild, strange, and perfect book. It also made me want to bring my sourdough starter back to life (because it’s currently sitting dead in my fridge) and perfect the art of baking bread.
I can’t really tell you anything about this book without spoiling it in some way or another. But, if you like Greek Mythology, labyrinths, mysteries, and unreliable (yet adorable) narrators, then you will love Piranesi. Also, if you want a book with the baffling ambiance of A Starless Sea and The Secret History‘s dark academia/mystery, then you’ll definitely love this book.
A quick tip to make your reading journey more enjoyable: no need to keep track of the dates or places in each of Piranesi’s journal entries. It’ll all make sense later.
Also, this was me:
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (a reread…for the fifth time in four years)
I know, I know. I have a problem. This is my favorite book!!! Leave me alone!
I will read anything, and I mean ANYTHING, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, including her grocery list. I also love tennis, so this was destined to be a perfect book for me.
A memoir about complex PTSD. Not a walk in the park. Tears guaranteed.
A beautifully written book about Alice, a woman slowly losing her memory. Truly unforgettable.
I will also read Emily Henry’s grocery list. This was the perfect summer rom-com, and it got extra kudos for having a tall protagonist who is actually tall (and not 5’7. Hate to break it to you, but 5’7 is not tall. xoxo, your 6 ft tall friend).
I thought this would be a rom-com, but it wasn’t! It was yet another time-travel story about grief and mother-daughter relationships. I laughed, I cried, I must go to Positano immediately.
Seanen McGuire never misses!! Yet another perfect installment of the Wayward Children series.
Filling the magic middle-grade void in my witch-and-wizard-loving heart. Except it’s diverse and not even a little TERFy! #Blessed
Will I ever not love a book by Kazuo Ishiguro? Not sure! Hasn’t happened yet, though! We love robots and social commentary in this house!
Finally, read the inspiration for the Hunger Games and a million other dystopian novels. Brutal AF!