2022 was a year of incredible reads for me, and as I see everyone sharing their wrap-ups, I’m giddy to jump into 2023 with a huuuuge new TBR list! One of the things that I just truly love about reading is that it’s so subjective and all of us have a completely different experience and opinion about every book we read. I was talking with a friend this week about how sharing book recommendations is such a vulnerable and personal experience – what if they hate the book I adored and shared with them?! I’ve had to just get over that fear as I’ve been sharing book recommendations here since 2018, but it’s still in the back of my mind!
I even find myself wondering if these top ten are ~good enough~ books to share as my favorite reads of the year – will people look at this list and form opinions about me based on what books I deemed to be my favorites? (Can you tell I’m an anxious people pleaser?) But at the end of the day, I read 98 books this year, and I loved these 10 above the others for a host of different reasons. So without further ado, here are my top ten favorite books of 2022 (in no particular order).
LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY BY BONNIE GARMUS – 5000 STARS
Lessons in Chemistry is my favorite book of 2022 hands down. I put off reading it for so long because I just thought it was another cheesy romcom, but I was so, so wrong about that. This book is absolutely incredible, hilarious, and heart-breaking in the most human way. It’s the story of Elizabeth Zott, a female chemist in a completely male-dominated industry in the 1950s. She is beautiful, wildly independent, and incredibly brilliant, and she’s on her way to change the world around her. I want everyone to read this so we can all talk about it!! My book club is reading it in January, so I can’t wait for the conversations that will come up about it!
I’M GLAD MY MOM DIED BY JENNETTE MCCURDY – 5 STARS
I’m Glad My Mom Died is the breakout memoir of the year – it won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Memoir of 2022, and I haven’t stopped hearing about it since it launched. I listened to the audiobook, which I highly, highly recommend if you’re going to read this book. Jennette McCurdy voices the book herself, and hearing her story from her own voice was so powerful. There are many, many trigger warnings throughout this book, so please do your research before picking it up, but if you grew up in the era of iCarly, this book is such a great read for you. It was so eye-opening to learn of the abuse and mistreatment that Jennette McCurdy was experiencing while I was watching her as Sam on tv. Such a good and memorable read.
ONE TRUE LOVES BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID – 5 STARS
Taylor Jenkins Reid writes some fabulous books, and this one is no exception. I love all of her newer historical fiction books, but these older titles just hold a special place in my heart. And the opening line of this book is just so good. “I am finishing up dinner with my family and my fiancé when my husband calls.” I was hooked from the very beginning!
BOOK LOVERS BY EMILY HENRY – 5 STARS
I have been a huge fan of both of Emily Henry’s previous books, and Book Lovers was no different. I think this may have been my favorite one yet! Two sisters travel to Sunshine Falls, the setting of their favorite book, for a month-long sister trip, but Nora runs into someone from back home that makes the trip a little different than expected. If you love witty banter, lots of book talk, and enemies to lovers tropes, this book will have you loving every second.
EVERY SUMMER AFTER BY CARLEY FORTUNE – 5 STARS
I started this book for a fun new book club that I joined, and really loved it! We love a summertime romance. Percy Fraser grew up on the lake in the summers on Barry’s Bay, but she hasn’t been back in years. But when she gets word that someone from her past in Barry’s Bay passed away, she returns for her funeral and is forced to confront her relationships, especially the one with Sam Florek, the man she thought she’d love forever. I really loved this book. (I’ve been told it’s very similar to Love & Other Words by Christina Lauren, so I’ll probably grab that one this summer – I think I’d like to do a read through of all Christina Lauren books soon!)
CALL YOUR DAUGHTER HOME BY DEB SPERA – 5 STARS
I randomly picked up this audiobook while traveling out of town for a bachelorette party, and it did not disappoint. I rarely cry while listening to audiobooks, but this one had me in tears. There are lots of content warnings, so please do your research before picking it up. This book follows three different women in the same South Carolina town in the years before the Great Depression. Three very different life situations all somehow weave themselves together in the most haunting and beautiful way. I went into the story completely blind – I literally just listened because it was an available audiobook and I needed something to listen to – but I think about this story often.
THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA BY T.J. KLUNE – 5 STARS
WHAT A MAGICAL BOOK. I have seen so many people talk about this little gem, but knew absolutely nothing about it, and I was enchanted. The House in the Cerulean Sea is the story of Linus, a very quiet, single man who works for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. When Extremely Upper Management charges him with a highly classified assignment, he takes the opportunity. Enter the house in the Cerulean Sea, also known as the Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six magical and seemingly dangerous children live under the supervision of caretaker Arthur. You will absolutely fall in love with Linus and Arther, with the picturesque setting of the story, and with these strange and endearing children. I laughed out loud and cried – there is so much meaning in these pages!
I GUESS I HAVEN’T LEARNED THAT YET BY SHAUNA NIEQUIST – 5 STARS
This is my first book by Shauna Niequist, but it will not be my last. Her writing is so beautiful, and she covers dealing with hard topics without actually slogging through the hard topics themselves. This book is about figuring out life when the old ways of doing things stop working. It’s about change and chaos and finding delight through it all. It’s a little bit wild that we’ve already lived through enough of COVID that entire books involving it are out in the world, but I loved hearing her take on dealing with the pandemic while living in NYC, as well as her experience in NYC in general. I also loved all of the hosting and food references. Such a beautiful, thought-provoking read.
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR BY PAUL KALANITHI – 5 STARS
This is an absolutely beautiful memoir. At the age of 36, Paul Kalanithi was finishing up his training as a neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. This book is his journey as he grapples with the very large questions surrounding life and death and anything in between.
EAT, PRAY, LOVE BY ELIZABETH GILBERT – 5 STARS
I know I’m years behind on reading this one, but wow was it good! I know that some people have had a totally negative reaction, but I loved hearing Gilbert’s journey of self-discovery across the world. I loved her descriptions of the food and the people and the places, and it made me want to go straight to Italy and eat at every restaurant she talked about. While I can confidently say that I am not brave enough to go on a journey like hers around the world, it did inspire me to be a little bit more adventurous!
FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK BY ELISSA SUSSMAN – 4 STARS
How delightful and fun! Funny You Should Ask was such a fun read that I couldn’t get enough of! It’s about a reporter who interviews the newest up-and-coming IT boy of Hollywood and ends up spending a whirlwind weekend with him in the process. But something happens that causes them to cut ties and they’re only reunited because of another interview scheduled ten years later. You jump between the past and present to get the full story, and I really enjoyed this so much! (Fun fact: After I finished the book I found it was actually based very loosely on true events of a reporter and her whirlwind weekend interview with Chris Evans!)
UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN BY JON KRAKAUER – 5 STARS
My family traveled to Utahin October to watch Arkansas play BYU, so I read this book ahead of our trip. I have seen everyone sharing the show, which I haven’t seen, but I am very interested in the Mormon culture, so I wanted to read this story. It’s ¼ about the murders that the tv show is based off of and ¾ about Mormon culture and history in general. I found it extremely compelling and interesting, I just wanted to keep reading! It is an older book, so some of the history of the FLDS church, particularly in the authority of Warren Jeffs, wasn’t included.
ATOMIC HABITS BY JAMES CLEAR – 5 STARS
This was my second read through of Atomic Habits, and I am still as interested in this book as I was when I first picked it up in 2020. Clear’s practical breakdown of creating and sustaining habits is so encouraging to someone who feels daunted by the thought of breaking old patterns or starting something new. I’d like to get the physical copy if I read it again so I can highlight and underline because there are some great tips in here that I’d like to keep.
ORDINARY GRACE BY WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER – 5 STARS
A coming of age story set in Minnesota in the 1960s, Ordinary Grace is a beautiful story told from the perspective of 13-year old Frank Drum during the tragic summer that changed his life. When Frank comes face to face with the reality of death (multiple times) over the course of a summer, he is forced to come to terms with the harsh reality that is life and understand God’s grace and humanity. I really loved this one.
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