This is my favorite post to write each year because I get to talk solely about books. There’s never enough time to read, but last year I made it through 35 books. I read over 12,600 pages, and had a serious amount of winners in the mix.
If you’re looking for something new to read, here’s what stood out for me.
1. HELL OF A BOOK BY JASON MOTT
“Read this book with a pencil handy,” a friend advised me, “you’ll want to write all over it.” She wasn’t wrong, and it has been a long time since a book was so full of insight and power that I needed to write all over it.
The premise of the book itself is that a Black author is touring for his newly published book. On tour he begins to see a ghost child as he watches news coverage of another tragic police shooting. It all comes together with emotional commentary and insight into culture, racism and simply life. It’s a powerful book.
2. WRITERS AND LOVERS BY LILY KING
This book closed out my 2022, and was the last book I read for one of my two book clubs. I would not have picked it up on my own and I would have regretted it. First of all, the book takes place in 1997 in Boston — the year I moved there, so it was at once familiar. Second, the book is about writers. I immediately felt a kinship even though I’ve laid my half-finished novels aside for now.
The story follows Casey, who has lost her mother and is dealing with the trauma of having her father as her dad. She’s an aspiring writer, a waitress and close to going broke. Her love life takes center stage as a variety of different writers come into play with their narcissism and imperfections, but through it all it’s about Casey’s growth and her ability to access her own vulnerability to move forward in her life. I loved it.
3. THE LOST APOTHECARY BY SARAH PENNER
A bit of a mystery and historical fiction all rolled into one, I grabbed this book because it takes place in England and gave me Sherlock Holmes vibes. It also puts women at the forefront, delving into what it was like to have an unwanted pregnancy back before modern science offered up options.
There’s more to the story than this, but the exciting part is when Caroline Parcewell finds an old piece of an apothecary bottle trawling in the Thames. To find its origins she explores modern-day England, discovering the story of what brave women had to do, and hide, in order to help each other in times of need.
4. SEA OF TRANQUILITY BY EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL
This is the third book by St. John Mandel I’ve read, and I’ll say she’s not consistent in my opinion. Station Eleven was fantastic, but The Glass Hotel was not. This one is weird, I won’t lie, but it was the kind of twisty plot where I didn’t see the end coming, and that’s rare. It also takes place partially on the moon, which was fun. Oh, and there’s also some time travel and a massive plague. It has a lot.
Difficult to whittle down into an overview, (I even think Amazon doesn’t do it justice,) most of the characters involved in the story are tied to the moon, to an anomaly that overlays time on top of itself and a violin performance. That’s about all I can say, other than stick with the book even if you think it’s going off the rails; the journey is excellent.
5. THE SENTENCE BY LOUISE ERDRICH
This one, another book club pick, surprised me. I don’t think I really knew what it was going to be about before I started reading, mostly because I knew I had to read it so I didn’t research the book. It was one of the few things I read this year that took place in reality, our reality, during COVID. Focused on a Native American community, I found it emotional in all the best ways.
A bonus, there’s a ghost and a bookstore.
What’s really at the heart of this book is betrayal, love, devotion and social justice. It’s a snapshot of a crazy year in our history for more than one reason, and it paints a picture full of characters who are true to themselves and very three dimensional.
6. ALL THE SERIES I READ
These aren’t all favorites, but 2022 was a year for finishing up quite a few series. Most were trilogies which makes them easier to get through. The longest series I began this year, The Trials of Apollo by Rick Riordan, I didn’t finish until shortly after the start of 2023 (it’s another winner for him though.)
My other series of 2022 included:
The Scholomance by Naomi Novik
This series takes place primarily in a school full of magical children. Parents send their kids there for four years so they can learn about their magic and gain skills to protect themselves from the myriad of monsters creeping around to eat them. Some go good and some go bad, but the school is a living and breathing entity in the void that kind of keeps everyone safe. Of course, this kind of is what propels our characters forward.
The series started off great, but Novik tends toward long-windedness when writing, which can be rough. Plus, the plot fizzled by the last book. It was a fun series, but middle of the road over all.
The books in this series include: A Deadly Education, The Last Graduate and The Golden Enclaves.
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
This is a YA series 100 percent. I even gifted it to my middle schooler after I gobbled up the series. She read all three books in less than three weeks too. It’s that good.
These books are riddled with mysteries and puzzles all bringing together a group of young adults trying to find their way through past trauma and figure out their futures. When Avery Grambs inherits millions from a man she never met, she’s forced to move into the family mansion and stay there for an entire year. She doesn’t get to take over the house so cohabitates with the four grandsons (an a few other folks) who had initially thought they’d inherit. Avery is a stranger and there seems to be no reason she’s brought into the picture, but that’s only the first mystery.
These fun books are completely worth a read as long as you remember they’re YA. You’re going to get the angst in there that Edward and Bella made so famous so beware.
The books in this series include: The Inheritance Games, The Hawthorne Legacy and The Final Gambit. There’s also a fourth book, The Brothers Hawthorne set to publish in late 2023.
Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
This duo of books keeps us in the Grishaverse of Shadow and Bone fame. This time though, we’re in Ketterdam, with a band of thieves led by Kaz Brekker. If you watched season one of the show, you’ve already met these characters although the books keep them separate. Events here take place after the Sun Summoner has “died,” and follows along on an extremely dangerous heist that could change the Grisha, the magically-inclined residents of this world, forever.
I liked this pair of books is better than the original series. I liked the characters better along with their stories. It was all so much more intense in my opinion and far more entertaining.
AVID READING RANPS BACK UP IN 2023
I’ll be the first to admit that I think I read slow in 2022. I could have finished at least two more books if I had made the time. It wasn’t always easy though, but we’re right in the middle of February, and I already have five books under my belt so things are looking good. I can’t wait to discover what my 2023 favorites will be, so off to my reading chair I go.