I read a little over 120 books this year. I only know this because I like to share reviews on Instagram, and I just went back and counted all of them. Don’t suggest something logical or easy like GoodReads, I’m not going to use it. I have an account I haven’t looked at in years. Sorry not sorry.
I know there are a few books I never posted on IG, because I sometimes forget to take pictures of books before I returned them to the library, but I think 140 is a pretty safe assertion.
I have a hard time telling you what my favorite books are. Do you want the best based on writing style and sentence structure? The best based on my inability to put it down? The best twist? The ones that made me laugh the most? I don’t want to hurt any books’ feelings. I read lots of good books this year. I also read some bad books this year and quit a few because I learned in my 30s I don’t want to waste my time with bad books.
So here’s my list for 2022. I tried to pick a little of everything, but this is like picking a favorite child (my dogs, my favorite children are my dogs…). Apologies to the other books I read this year and loved that did not make the list. I still love you too.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (link)
The Great Believers is a story about a woman growing up in the 80s during the height of the AIDS crisis. Her brother dies of AIDS before the story starts, and we follow her and her friends (his friends, too) through a heartbreaking time of love, loss, and confusion. I loved this story and felt so invested in these boys’ lives. It was beautiful and horrible. I still think about this story months later.
The Golden Couple by Greer Hendrick and Sarah Pekkanen (link)
This one hooked me from the first page. The twists! The unreliable narrator! The mental games! I never knew what was coming next or who to trust, and I loved it. This book is a perfect vacation read, something to keep you up late at night. Don’t read this one if you are short on time, because once you get started it will be hard to stop this fun book.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (link)
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne is a beautiful and sad story of Cyril Avery, a boy born to an unwed teenage girl in 1940’s Ireland. The way Boyne weaves history and Avery’s journey to know himself is stunning. It took a while to get into this book and to find the rhythm of the story/language, but once I was in, I could not have enjoyed it more. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions and cried hard at the end. I did not want this story to be over.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (link)
It took me forever to read Braiding Sweetgrass, but only because it’s so thoughtful and wise that I needed time to digest Wall Kimmerer’s essays. I own the paperback copy and borrowed the audiobook from the library, and it was nice going back and forth between the two.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub (link)
I hesitate to explain too much about This Time Tomorrow because if I had known what it was about, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. It’s got a science fiction element and that genre is not normally my jam. But this book was wonderful and sad and touching. The main character, Alice, has a close relationship with her father and as he lies in a hospital bed dying, she wakes up one morning to relive her 16th birthday. From there, the story goes full-on time travel. Again, I would have quit this one if I had seen that phrase ahead of time, but I’m so glad I didn’t. This is a love story, a story about the love between a parent and a child, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.
Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen (link)
Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen is just fun. I started it on a Friday night and spent the next 24 hours consuming this book. I assume they’ll make a movie of it sometime soon, so read it before that happens. I love the schemes, the friendship, the unreliable narrator, the whole thing—if you’re looking for a book to not put down, this is for you.
Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri (link)
I picked Everything Sad is Untrue because of the beautiful writing and storytelling. I’ve not read a book like this before and, while it took me a while to find the rhythm, once I did, I loved Nayeri’s stories, observations, and memories. Being an immigrant child in America is such a disorienting experience and Nayeri encompasses the heartache, confusion, and chaos well.
Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Seamas O’Reilly (link)
Please listen to the audiobook version of this book. I don’t think I’ve giggled so much from one book. It’s sad (O’Reilly’s mother dies when he’s young), but he shares his childhood in Ireland as one of 11 children. I wish I could write this clear and cleverly. If you liked the show Derry Girls, this should be your next read…er, listen.
What Happened to You? by Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey (link)
First off, I don’t think Oprah really adds anything to this book (she shares she’s never been to therapy and that’s a huge red flag for me), but Perry’s insights, lessons, and stories are profound. I think What Happened to You? is something everyone should read. It is such a kind, merciful way of thinking about relationships, people, and why we do what we do. If you’ve been meaning to read The Body Keeps the Score but have been put off because it’s so heavy and technical, this book is a great replacement.
The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (link)
I didn’t realize The Man Who Died Twice was the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series but I’m sharing this one because it’s the book that made me love this series, the characters, and the writing. Osman’s stories are a mix of Murder She Wrote (old people solving mysteries!) and the Golden Girls (the snappy writing! the attitudes!). After I read this one, I went back and read the first book. It was delightful as well, but I really just loved the second one more. The third book came out this year, and it’s sitting in my queue to be read as I type this. I am ridiculously excited about it. This series is just really fun.
Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre (link)
Rounding out my list with this psychological thriller about a woman whose neighbor is trying to steal her husband. Every Last Secret is full of mind games, manipulation, and twists. It’s the perfect book to read this winter if your goal is to not leave the house for a few days.