Top Ten Books of 2022

Happy New Year! (Happy New Year’s Eve, technically). It’s time to look back, tally, and reflect on the books I read in 2022. As of this morning I have read a total of 95 books. (I might still squeeze in one more graphic novel.) My Goodreads goal was 97.
Of those, 47 were children’s/ya titles, and of those 47,  23 were graphic novels (which includes a 7 volume series). I didn’t read any adult graphic novels this year. 4 books were audiobooks, and they were all the Mac B, Kid Spy series. (I did partially listen to a Jessie Klein audiobook, which I enjoyed but honeslty not nearly as much as listening to Mac Barnett speak as the Queen of England.)

Total: 95 (goal: 97)
Children’s: 47
Graphic Novels: 23
Audiobooks: 4

I did a terrible job keeping up here with my reviews. I’m not sure why that’s so hard for me to maintain because I really do love having a record here (more so than on Goodreads!) Overall, it was a good reading year. No huge slumps.
As usual, my top ten are not in any particular order, though my method is to initially jot down all contenders from GR bookshelf and then winnow that down. I started with 15 and ended with…11.

In no particular order, my favorite books of 2022 were:

The Bullet That Missed (Thursday Murder Club #3) by Richard Osman: “Discovering” the Thursday Murder Club was a real book highlight of the year. I devoured the first two books (already published) and eagerly awaited #3 in the fall. This one was definitely best, though they are all great. A fun mystery and dynamite hilarious characters. A perfect package. Recommend to all sorts of readers.

Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley : Another book I’d recommend to nearly any reader. It was heartwarming and charming and had a great cast of characters. Get a hankie ready.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin: I found this immensely satisfying. Some of my favorite books of the year are the kind that you just love and just feel good all the way through them. This was not one of those books. I loved it, and the story, and the writing, but at times was uncomfortable with the characters and their actions, and that was ok! I was just completely absorbed by it and invested in these people’s lives, wishing different things for them, rooting for them, and so on.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus: Like the rest of the reading world, I absolutely loved this. So biting and funny and clever. I laughed every time Elizabeth Zott bluntly spoke to people. The addition of the dog p.o.v. feels almost out of place (forcing a tiny need for willing suspension of disbelief) but I was there for it.

Sea of Tranquility by Elizabeth St. John Mandel: My initial review of this said “complicated and a little confusing in all the best ways.” 

Search by Michelle Huneven This book sounds like it has the most boring premise but it truly was one of the most un-put-downable books I read this year. A search committee for a new minister of a Unitarian church. A year long saga of built and ruined relationships all told from the view of the writer on the committee. How could such a dull premise be so gripping and agitating?? It was great. (I went on to read another book by her, which I liked but not nearly as much.)

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz Like the rest of the world I was all onboard with this absolutely gripping book, eager to talk about it with others who’d read it. Not the sort of book I usually read, and a little hard to peg into a genre, but I absolutely loved this. The kind of book you don’t describe, just hand to someone and tell them to read it.

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford I read this last winter and will always associate it with sunny cold winter days. First published in 1945 and pretty well known, I had just never read it. Conveniently, after I read it I watched the gorgeous Amazon Prime film of it (the costumes!!). I honestly can’t believe I’d never read this before. British, weird and funny (a real Wes Anderson vibe), aristocratic details. Fantastic writing.

Norah Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan: I was just reading someone else’s review of this on GR and I had the same exact feelings. I loved this book and was swept up in it, enjoyed the characters, the total unreality of mingling with famous people (not the only book I read this year like this), the story, etc. BUT the conflict plot point was annoying and unrealistic. And very common in novels. It’s still making my list though because I really did like reading this a lot.

Numbers 10 AND 11. I really can’t eliminate either of these. They were both books I loved this year not just for their stories, but also for how they were written. Both such good writers!

The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett–This book was a bit of a wild ride. I loved the satire?parody? of Ikea. The big Scandinavian store, the “wellness” corporate culture, the capitalized letters, and the main character’s ability to fixate on designing the perfect…Box. That might have been interesting and entertaining enough for me, but then you throw in a new wild card of a character who seems…too good to be true? horribly disruptive? Now it’s possibly a bit of a thriller? What is going on? I mean, that’s the way my mind was processing this book. And for as weird as Ava is, I think the story was very respectful to her quirks.

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel–A town that was poisoned by a chemical plant and consequently everyone either died or was left damaged in some way and now they are a tight knit community bound by their horrible future. With alternating viewpoints between triplets (one of whom is mostly nonverbal), heartbreaking reality, and passionate people gearing up for a fight, this was just fantastic. And, while the story itself was good, I found the writing exceptional.

To make it easier on myself I typically don’t include children’s books on my top 10. I read many good children’s books this year, but these two were total standouts, recommended to anyone:

A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Varga: Get ready to feel emotional about a robot. An obvious comparison might be to The Wild Robot, but here the story is really based more on the actual science of the Mars rovers. (and, shortly after reading this, NASA posted about a final transmission from a rover and I swear to God it was so touching it made me teary and was totally like in the book. I hope everyone at NASA read this.) Such a smart book.

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera  : I’m not the only person who liked this. It won the Newbery Award! I picked it for my staff book club just to get myself to read it and LOVED it. Wow. The writing, The story. The classic science fiction themes with new threads woven in about storytelling and culture and literature. This book had it all for me.

Runners Up: These are the books that almost made the top 10, but I cut them.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld. Last book I read of the year and I loved it. Like Norah Goes Off Script we’re in the land of rich and famous people fantasies.
Joan is Okay by Weike Wang. A short, very beautifully written thoughtful novel that sounds like it will be gloomy but had some gently humorous moments.
Acts of Violet by by Margarita Montimore–a book that kept me honestly not knowing what would happen and very intrigued by the novel premise.

Special Mentions and Notes:

This year I read 3 books with main characters named Nora working in writing/publishing: Book Lovers, Must Love Books, Norah Goes Off Script (not to mention a great essay by someone I know, who works in publishing, who loves Nora Ephron and named her daughter Nora.)

This year I read 3 books with main characters who seem to be on the spectrum, though that is never acknowledged, it’s just that their rigidity is part of their personality and played for light humor (but not making fun of them): The Very Nice Box, Lessons in Chemistry, Joan is Okay. It’s possible that these characters are NOT meant to be on the spectrum, so maybe it’s just that bluntness and lack of social awareness are a trend in characterization?

Most Welcome Return Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes. Welcome back Walsh family!!! I didn’t know this was coming out, somehow didn’t realize until I started reading that it was a much later sequel to Rachel’s Holiday, and was just overcome with suprise and delight. Keyes’s books were a big part of my late 20s/early 30s reading and to check back in now, when both me and the characters are older, was just somehow very special.

If Top Ten Were Based On How Much I Thought About a Book: One’s Company by Ashley Hutson-I’m not putting this on my top 10-it wasn’t the best book I read or a favorite. However, it was probably the book that I most often talked about and also thought about. It was just so WEIRD and oddly fascinating. I made several people listen to me retell the entire plot.

Best Graphic Novels: All the graphic novels I read this year were children’s ones and I read a lot of great ones. These were my two favorite:
Rema Chronicles, bk 1 Realm of the Blue Mist by Amy Kim Kibuishi. Amulet gets all the hype and love by I liked this book EVEN better. Similar art and vibe, and written by Mr. Amulet’s wife.

Best Friends for Never (Katie the Catsitter #2) by Colleen AF Venable. Hilarious and even better than the first one.

Rereads: What’s a year for me if I don’t turn to some beloved books for some comforting rereading? This year I reread Scythe, We Dream of Space, Gone Away Lake, and Flatshare. And of course, they were all reliably fantastic.

So that’s it for this year!! Happy New Year and here’s to a 2023 filled with great stories!


Joan is Okay by Weike Wang

A quick read and very enjoyable. Joan is a very smart, very good doctor in Manhattan. Being a doctor is her whole life, in fact she describes it as “coming home.” Her actual home is a completely barren apartment prompting someone to say it looked like she’d been robbed or hadn’t moved in yet.  Joan is possibly on the spectrum? (It seems like every book I’ve read this year features someone who is slightly on the autism spectrum.) When her father dies in China she goes there for the funeral, immediately returns, and heads back to work.  Joan is an endearing character. The pandemic is woven in, but it’s not a book about the pandemic, more about identity and grief and family. That all sounds pretty gloomy but I found many moments of quiet humor and found this to be a quick and satisfying book. Nicely written.

The Runaway Duchess by Joanna Lowell

Apparently I only gave this 3 stars, but I am remembering it more fondly than that. Perhaps it was a 3.5 star type book.

The duchess in question has been raised in society but due to financial ruin and scandal is being married off to a revolting old man (as happens.) After the wedding she sees an opportunity in a mistaken identity at a train station and goes off with a nice man allowing him to continue to believe she is a famous botanist with whom he has had a lengthy correspondence. Off they go on a plant hunting expedition with her trying to keep up the ruse. I found the entire plant hunter/nurseries of England aspect absolutely fascinating. That was actually probably more interesting to me than their romance and steamy sex on the English moors.

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

I absolutely LOVED this (and finished it this morning* and this afternoon began watching the Amazon Prime series, which is amazing). There were so so many sentences I wanted to read aloud to anyone who happened to be standing nearby. Mitford’s voice is just so funny. I found it hilarious, especially any descriptions about raging Uncle Matthew, the cold house, etc. I remarked to my husband while I was reading the chapter about them growing up that it sounded like a Wes Anderson movie.
Near the halfway point of the book I felt like things really stepped up and Mitford did that style of writing that I feel like I shouldn’t like but I actually love-just very briskly and matter of factly stating the action.

*That was back in February. Sadly I have not kept this up and am about 45 books behind. Some of these posts will be the small ones I did on Goodreads.

Side note: the end of this post originally said I was immediately moving on book #2, Love in a Cold Climate, but in fact I still haven’t read that!

Amulet series, books #1-8 by Kazuo Ish…

This is one of THE most popular series in my library and knew I really had to get around to reading it. I read them all pretty quickly together. I thought the first book was a lot of magical set up, but I liked it. Books 2 and 3 got a little laggy for me, but then it really started picking up momentum for me and eventually, like all my students, found myself at the end saying “I can’t believe he hasn’t published #9 yet!!!”
Overall, it’s a good fantasy adventure graphic novel. Episodic, though I’d definitely read in order.

Norah Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

This was the second great book I brought on vacation (I foolishly only brought 3 and this and The Very Nice Box were so good I zoomed right through them and then I didn’t like the third. What was I thinking? Of course I should have brought more! Fortunately I grabbed an Anne Tyler from a Little Free Library, though I ended up spending more time reading the amazing vintage 1963 McCalls Cookbook that was in the cabin.)

This was the perfect fun summer book. Is it pretty much a fairytale? Yes. Do we like reading about outrageously wealthy people? Yes. Do we like to imagine ourselves somehow accidentally ending up mingling with the rich and famous? Yes. Though honestly, in this case, our main character isn’t exactly like regular old us to start with. She’s a writer of Hallmark channel romance movies. So she is accustomed to writing scripts and then one of them is getting made into a feature film AND it’s being filmed at her house (because the script is basically based on her own terrible marriage to a selfish guy. )

Anyway, sparks fly between her and the A list star who ends up staying at her house and inserting himself into her very ordinary life. (She has two kids and I think she was too perfect and wonderful a mother, and the kids too perfect and adorable and charming, but that made it fun.)

I really enjoyed this!

The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett & Eve Gleichman

Here we go with another character who seems to be on the spectrum-is very blunt, takes everything literally, is happiest when engaged with focused work. Her work is a senior engineer for an IKEA like Swedish design company. Presently she’s working on her best project yet-the Very Nice Box. It’s a perfect box. One of the reasons Ava enjoys her focused work is because it allows her to try not to think about the great tragedy in her life several years. And it truly is a tragedy. And then a new guy, Matt, arrives at work and he shakes things up everywhere.

There were so many things I loved about this book: All the capitalized letters and names of the objects/furnishings, the corporate wellness indulgences, everything. Ava is fairly peculiar but immediately likable. I honestly found this hard to put down.

Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore

ooh, I loved this. Very reminiscent of other stories focused on multi generations at a family Maine summer home. I really enjoyed the changing p.o.v. from chapter to chapter and the writing in general was great. Certain sentences were just beautifully crafted, capturing feelings and moments that went straight to your heart.

When I talked about this with Melissa there was something I liked about it that was a turnoff to her. That was that I found none of the characters to be terrible people or wonderful people. Everyone was a real person and consequently I didn’t find any real heightened drama. (As opposed to Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan.) (We both agreed though that we found it annoying that one person didn’t want to tell someone else something. Just tell him already.)

For myself in the future: this is the Maine book where an adult woman and her children go every summer and she grew up every summer there, too. Her father is a retired judge and has dementia now. She loves being there, though is having some marital woes-her podcasting husband isn’t joining them. Meanwhile, a young woman from Pennsylvania comes to town and is spying on them. This “mystery” is very quickly revealed. Lots of questions of haves and have nots, growing up with a safety net and money.

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

I was excited to read this and it got a lot of buzz, but honestly I didn’t  love it. I gave it a weak three stars on Goodreads (that’s as opposed to a strong 3 stars, which might indicate more like a 3.5. This book was more like a 2.75)

A successful magazine editor (of course) returns to a quaint little lake town that she used to summer at. She hasn’t been back since some big split with the love of her life, who was the boy next door in this little town. Chapters alternate between the summers they were teens, becoming best friends, and eventually a couple, and now when they are two adults trying to maybe bridge their mysterious rift.

I liked the teen chapters better because I felt annoyed by her as an adult. Also, I loved the descriptions of summers at the lake. But then I was grossed out that the explicit sex scenes were when they were teens. Ew.  I also thought their rift that caused them to be apart for so many years was extremely predictable and annoying.