From biographies to self-help to chick lit to middle grade fiction, this list of books read in 2022 has something for everyone to read!
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Books Read in 2022 – Something for Everyone!
What You'll Find on This Page
I love to read! Sometimes, it’s hard to find time to sit down with a book, so a lot of these I listened to instead, while cleaning and organizing the house and running errands. It’s great to have a book as entertainment during those times. I also read quite a bit of UK based fiction. It’s a genre I always enjoy, but since I was actually IN the UK for much of the year, it felt even more interesting.
I’ve been making these lists since 2018 – here are my reads from previous years:
Now for this year’s picks! It leans a little more frivolous than some years, because I spent a lot of time traveling and packing and unpacking and hanging up laundry (no dryer in our Oxford house). I usually read serious books as physical books, and listen to lighter reads. So much of my reading this year was only listening, that creates a lighter book list.
War and Me by Faleeha Hassan
Poet and playwright Faleeha Hassan writes about life as a middle class Iraqi woman in War and Me. It’s a rare look at what it was like to be an Iraqi citizen during the wars in Iraq. The book also follows the author’s eventual journey to the United States.
North to Paradise by Ousman Umar
Ousman Umar brings the struggles of immigrants into stark focus with his factual account of his journey from rural Ghana to Barcelona, Spain – all as a child – in North to Paradise.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
I hadn’t realized the extent of Malala Yousafzai’s activism prior to being shot until I read her memoir, I Am Malala. Her book is a vivid tale of a girl working along with her father to bring change to a country in crisis. I also appreciated her honesty around her own faults and humanity.
The Fallen Stones: Chasing Butterflies, Discovering Mayan Secrets, and Looking for Hope Along the Way By Diana Marcum
Journalist Diana Marcum explores the world of tropical butterflies in The Fallen Stones. I mostly enjoyed this book, but would have liked to see more depth in her descriptions of local workers at the butterfly farm.
Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath by Bill Browder
I decided to read this book because I had read Browder’s Red Notice and found it interesting, albeit disturbing. Freezing Order continues that trend, and could almost be an extension of the first book.
Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust by Loretta Lynn
I enjoyed the audiobook version of Me & Patsy, which is read by Loretta Lynn’s daughter, Patsy Lynn (one of the twins). The book highlights just how much work and sacrifice is required to make it as a star musician, while also capturing a down to earth-ness that captured the heart of Loretta Lynn’s fans.
The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife told of how a family worked with the underground to save lives in Poland during World War II. The story is incredible. The writing was descriptive rather than gripping, and the Audible narrator didn’t help that by making any descriptors or objects separated by comments read like lists. I do still recommend the book for the story.
Non-Fiction Current Events
Give People Money by Annie Lowery
In Give People Money, Annie Lowery examines how the use of universal basic income (UBI) – a set amount of money simply given, with no strings advanced – might mitigate poverty and also help society function as more and more jobs become automated.
The Indomitable Florence Finch by Robert J. Mrazek
I hadn’t ever heard of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Florence Finch before reading The Indomitable Florence Fitch. It’s an incredible true story. I did want the author to spend more time on Florence and the other women in the story; I felt like a lot of time was spent on male soldiers when the title of the book was about a woman and there were plenty of amazing women in the story. Some of the men and some of what was written about them was important to the story, but Florence was almost an afterthought at times. I am still grateful to the author for bringing this woman to my attention.
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larsen
Erik Larsen’s The Splendid and the Vile was a book club read. I wouldn’t have picked it on my own, but it contained several stories that I hadn’t heard before despite reading other books about Churchill. I appreciated the forthrightness of the writing, which portrayed Churchill as another flawed human like all of us. The author used only stories and quotes that were documented by primary sources, so you get a truly authentic account.
Time’s Monster by Priya Satia
Priya Satia examines how leaders make sense of ethical issues within their regimes in Time’s Monster. This is a very dense book with a lot of information, so expect to take a while to read it. I found myself wishing that I had more than a surface level of British Empire history knowledge, although Satia does work to fill in the gaps. Time to study up!
Non-Fiction Science Books
Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
Materials scientist Mark Miodownik uses a single photo of himself sitting on his roof to explore the different materials that make up our everyday lives in Stuff Matters. There are plenty of stories included with the science to keep a general reader’s interest.
Eat Like a Human by Dr. Bill Schindler
I’m a little surprised that I made it through a book that starts with a story about drinking cow blood and goes on to talk about the virtues of eating insects. I’m not ready to make drastic changes to my diet after reading Eat Like a Human, but it was an interesting read and I do look at food differently now. I’m even a little more open to the idea of eating crickets.
Andrea Bonior offers straightforward advice on how to get out of your head in Detox Your Thoughts. I definitely fall prey to head games, and I appreciated the tips in this book, as well as bits of humor the author spread throughout to lighten the topic.
How to Sleep by Rafael Pelayo
Sleep expert Rafael Pelayo shares an easy to read synopsis of current sleep research in How to Sleep. A lot of the info I already knew, but I learned a couple of things, and greatly appreciated how easy the book was to read.
The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Logan
Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Logan’s The Courage to be Disliked was a denser read than I expected, but I loved the message about contributing to the world regardless of whether or not you got recognition for it and living in the moment. Since the book’s tag line is “The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness”. I was initially a little confused to realize the book focuses on the philosophies of Austrian psychotherapist Alfred Adler. However, it is a Japanese take on these philosophies.
The Candid Life of Meena Dave by Namrata Patel
The Candid Life of Meena Dave is beautifully written, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The themes of feeling disconnected, struggling with vulnerability, and yet needing to be connected with human beings resonate across cultures and plot lines.
The Taste of Ginger by Mansi Shah
I really enjoyed Mansi Shah’s The Taste of Ginger, even though it doesn’t end as cleanly as I would have liked. The less-than perfectly clean ending was appropriate for the generally serious tone of the story.
Love in the Time of Bertie by Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favorite comfort read authors. Love in the Time of Bertie is mostly interesting only if you’ve followed along with the 44 Scotland Street series, but if you have, you’ll enjoy the read. Or the listen – I am a fan of Robert Ian Mackenzie’s narration.
Your Inner Hedgehog by Alexander McCall Smith
This Alexander McCall Smith read will likely only interest someone with an inside look at the absurdities of academic life. Your Inner Hedgehog is not my favorite of his books by quite a lot, but I still finished it.
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
While I didn’t actually end up loving this book, I do understand what the character in Jenny Colgan’s book meant when they said something along the lines of it being a great book about healing It captures the way grief turns life inside out and makes you reconsider everything you thought was true, but somehow you have to take that and find a way to move forward
Book Club Fiction
The Second Time We Met by Frances Mensah Williams
I guess the time travel aspect of The Second Time We Met puts Frances Mensah Williams’ book into the science fiction category, but the rest of the book is general fiction. Two young adults have met before, then they each try to rewrite fiction to prevent a terrible accident. It’s not predictable, the story is interesting, and the ending happy but not trite. I’ll probably read this one again, because it will feel different now that I know how it ends.
The Vibrant Years by Sonali Dev
Sonali Dev is a gifted writer, and The Vibrant Years tackles a lot. There is a female protagonist who dedicates most of their life to software development, and a grandmother who isn’t all she seems. The book features interesting characters with some predictable twists and a few others that aren’t as expected.
Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett
Jincy Willett’s Amy Falls Down is a book for book lovers, and possibly writers as well. It’s decidedly quirky and refreshingly human.
The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Clune
I read The House in the Cerulean Sea book out loud to my 12-year-old, and she loved it. I probably would not read it to someone much younger because it gets so intense thematically.
Magical children are being taken from their homes placed in “orphanages” to protect themselves and others. But are they truly being treated fairly?
Current Events Fiction
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp
Written as a coming-of-age young adult novel, Laekan Zea Kemp’s Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet draws on race and immigration issues in the United States while also addressing the tension of growing up and balancing dreams and desires for independence with parents trying to protect you (sometimes in ways that limit a young person’s life). I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and the way they worked to address their various issues. Struggles, including hardship, remain at the end of the story despite an overall feeling of hope.
500 Miles from You by Jenny Colgan
While the book is overall light and feels chick lit ish, I kept Jenny Colgan’s 500 Miles From You in the current events fiction because of a range of themes from the book. The book follows young NHS (National Health Service) nurses from rural Scotland and London. A heart transplant and PTSD are held within overarching themes of friendship and community and love.
I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi
I live in a part of the United States where suicide is a huge mental health crisis, and I wasn’t initially sure I wanted to read Abby Fabiaschi’s I Liked My Life. I’m glad I finally read it, based on recommendations and reviews.
It wasn’t at all what I expected, including the ending. It provided an empathic look at the way suicide wreaks havoc on the lives of loved ones while humanizing people who take this desperate route.
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
I’m not a reality TV dating show fan (I actually rarely watch TV, which is part of how I read all these books). However, the premise of a plus-sized model as the lead character in the show made me pick up One to Watch.
And I’m glad I did. Like so many books that get branded as “mere chick lit”, this book explores all sorts of issues around what it’s like to live in America with a larger body. The book ends satisfactorily, but there were plenty of times when I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to tie together.
Young Adult Fiction
The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo
In The Sweetest Remedy, San Francisco dweller Hannah Bailey has long resigned herself to never getting to know her father. Then she receives notice that he has passed away and her attendance is requested at his funeral in Nigeria. There, she meets the siblings whose lives she has long followed from afar. Already grieving the loss of their father, some of these siblings are none too happy to discover the existence of a secret American sister.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, particularly their personal growth through the story. I’ll be looking for more books by Jane Igharo.
The Upside of Falling by Alex Light
Alex Light’s The Upside of Falling is adorable young adult romantic fiction. The book is mostly light and fun, but it deals with difficult situations many teens do navigate, including disrupted friendships, divorce, absent parents, and unfaithful parents.
Middle Grade Fiction
The Boggart by Susan Cooper
The Boggart is a favorite from my childhood, and I had completely forgotten how devastatingly it begins. This was a great read-aloud for my 10-year-old while we were living in the United Kingdom.
The Wool-Pack by Cynthia Harnett
Another favorite from my childhood, it’s very sad to me that Cynthia Harnett’s The Wool-Pack is out of print. It’s also sometimes sold as The Merchant’s Mark – same story, two different titles. I think it’s worth tracking down a copy, if you can. It’s the most impeccably researched historical fiction I’ve found, and the characters are well developed.
The character I love best in this particular book doesn’t appear until halfway through the book, but she is so memorable that I remembered her as the main character from when I read the book as a ten-year-old. The book takes place in the Cotswolds, which we visited, and it is painstakingly researched to present an accurate accounting of 15th century merchant life. It was excited to read this to my 13-year-old and then take her to an actual 14th century merchant home while we were in the UK.
A Keeper’s Tale: The Story of Tomkin and the Dragon by JA Andrews
The Keeper Origins Series by JA Andrews
The Keeper Origins series is much darker than A Keeper’s Tale, and I’m not a big fan of darkness. However, I liked the books better as they went on, and I did find the final book in the series (Phoenix Rising) lovely.
The Keeper Chronicles Series by JA Andrews
I really enjoyed this series! Even though there were evil characters, the Keeper Chronicles didn’t have the same dark feel to it that I disliked in the Keeper Origins series. This series even had quotes worth writing down to remember. This one was my favorite:
The Spoken Mage, Hidden Mage, and A Mage’s Influence Series by Melanie Cellier
I am not a big fantasy reader, but I always enjoy Melanie Cellier. This year I read and loved her Spoken Mage series, which touched on important issues around dealing with class and race. I enjoyed this series well enough to read the follow on Hidden Mage series, which was fun but that I liked less than the Spoken Mage series. Then I read her A Mage’s Influence series, which I liked better than the Hidden Mage series but not as well as the Spoken Mage series.
Return to the Four Kingdoms by Melanie Cellier
I enjoyed Melanie Cellier’s Return to the Four Kingdoms series. I read them mostly on buses and trains when I needed to be distracted from my dislike of enclosed and crowded spaces. This author builds fun worlds that are perfect for such situations.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I’m not sure how I made it into my forties without reading Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, but I did. In my head I’d read it, but – upon picking it up – I definitely hadn’t! It was a fun read, not my favorite of hers, but fine. I do wish that her lead characters made more mistakes and the supporting characters made fewer errors in this particular book.
Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Gloria Chao takes the very real rent a boyfriend practice from parts of Asia and brings it to Palo Alto, California, where it might exist but very quietly if so. The parents in the Rent a Boyfriend were quite extreme, but over all this was a fun read.
How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
I read this delightful Oxford suburb set book while in Oxford, but Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop is worth a read anywhere in the world.
Miss Buncle’s Book and Miss Buncle Married by D. E. Stevenson
The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser
Jackie Fraser’s The Bookshop of Second Chances is a fun, light enemies to lovers read. I appreciated the leading lady’s showing a fair bit of common sense in how she dealt with various issues. I also appreciated that she wasn’t described as your standard beauty.
Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens
Sophie Cousens takes the suitcase swap meet cute through twists and turns in Just Haven’t Met You Yet. Readers will recognize all sorts of standard romantic novel references, but the author still makes it feel fresh and fun.
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner features Nina Redmond, a downsized librarian who uses this negative experience to start a new life for herself. The book was clearly written for book lovers.
Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Shore was a delightful read that also dealt with a range of mental health issues and childhood trauma and grief in a generally non-triggering way. The book also features a child with selective mutism, representation I appreciate as the mother of a child with the same diagnosis. The book features characters from The Bookshop on the Corner and 500 Miles From You (featured in this same post under the current issues section) books, but each of these books function as stand-alone stories.
Write My Name Across the Sky by Barbara O’Neal
Barbara O’Neal’s Write My Name Across the Sky shifts narration between an aunt and her two nieces. The book offers fun peaks into life as an old time flight attendant (the aunt), a video game designer (one niece), and a professional folk musician (the other niece. I appreciated the complexity of all three women, and a little bit of a mystery kept the plot moving. The book also raises awareness of misophonia without actually naming the disorder.
The Paid Bridesmaid by Sariah Wilson
Sariah Wilson’s The Paid Bridesmaid made for a fun, light read. Who knew that hired bridesmaids were a thing?
The Emma Project by Sonali Dev
I’ve read several books by Sonali Dev. The Emma Project touches on important topics like San Francisco’s homelessness problem and the way childhood abuse makes adult life difficult, as well as issues around big donors controlling the way their donations are used. It dragged more than the author’s other books, maybe because it was following two relationships? It’s part of a series, and while you might be able to read it on its own, it will definitely make more sense if you read the earlier books and are familiar with characters going in. It had more risque scenes than I personally like in a book, although there was a point to the scenes existing.
Kiss the Girl and Kiss Me Now by Melanie Jacobsen
Melanie Jacobsen’s Kiss the Girl offers a light, fun small town romance with a couple of twists. I liked it well enough to read the sequel (prequel, really), Kiss Me Now, although I didn’t like that book as much.
Some Kind of Love series by Jenny Proctor
The first book I read in this series, Love In Bloom, is cute. I enjoyed the fashion side of Love Redesigned and appreciated the presence of a protagonist with clinical anxiety in Love Unexpected. But I felt like the third book, Love Off-Limits, had the best developed characters.
Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me by Julie Wright
I liked this book, but I would have loved to see how it could have turned out with more intense editing and character development work. The idea behind Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me is clever, but the story didn’t weave as tightly as I wanted it to, even for chick lit.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I heard of this book years ago, but didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. It was a fun introduction to the Isle Guernsey, with plenty of serious undercurrents given the post World War II time period it was set in.
I actually got to speak with someone who had family from this area while we lived in Oxford, and they said the story told in the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society held true to the stories their own family members told about this era.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
I hadn’t heard of the Blue people of Kentucky before reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. The protagonist suffers from methemoglobinemia, which causes her skin to appear blue. The book explores themes of poverty and racism, and the role books play in lifting up communities. It’s a serious book with a gripping story.
What books should I read in 2023?
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