Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Best Books Of 2022 (So Far)

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Welcome to my favorite blog post of the year! Today, I'm bringing all the positive vibes. These are the 8 best books I've read so far in 2022. For extra drama, I organized the list countdown style.

Drumroll please . . . .

Best Books Of 2022 (So Far)

8. The Unseen World by Liz Moore

Adult Science Fiction

Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David’s mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David’s colleagues. Soon she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets.

Why I love it: I wasn't sure about this book at first. The plot is slow and meandering, and Ada is kind of boring. Then I finished the book, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's the type of novel that sticks with you. The story is a compelling blend of real history and unsettling futuristic artificial intelligence. It's a realistic (and somewhat heartbreaking) look at a young woman who's grappling with her father's past and the ramifications of the work he'd done. While she's uncovering his secrets, she's also learning to live with a foster family, developing friendships and crushes, and watching her father's mind deteriorate. Ada doesn't have much personality on the outside, but there's a lot going on under the surface.

I was surprised by this book. I felt kind of "meh" about it while I was reading, but it keeps creeping up on me and ambushing my thoughts. That makes it worth reading. I don't think I'll forget this one anytime soon.

Buy it on Amazon

7. White Ivy by Susie Yang

Adult Literary Fiction

Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her. Raised outside of Boston, she is taught how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops by her immigrant grandmother. Thieving allows Ivy to accumulate the trappings of a suburban teen—and, most importantly, to attract the attention of Gideon Speyer, the golden boy of a wealthy political family. But when Ivy’s mother discovers her trespasses, punishment is swift and Ivy is sent to China, where her dream instantly evaporates.

Years later, Ivy has grown into a poised yet restless young woman, haunted by her conflicting feelings about her upbringing and her family. Back in Boston, when she bumps into Sylvia Speyer, Gideon’s sister, a reconnection with Gideon seems not only inevitable—it feels like fate.

Slowly, Ivy sinks her claws into Gideon and the entire Speyer clan by attending fancy dinners and weekend getaways to the Cape. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the nearly perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.

Why I love it: Ivy is the complicated antihero I'm always searching for in books. I want to read about deeply flawed people! Ivy is not a loveable character, but I completely understand why she makes bad decisions. She's caught in an awkward position between her family's traditional Chinese values and her desperation to fit in with her wealthy American friends. Over the years, her desperation spirals into paranoia. She's terrified that her friends can see her flaws. She's flailing around, trying to find something in life that will make her happy.

I can't believe this book is a debut. It's a complex and well-written peek into the immigrant experience. Some authors are just too talented.

Buy it on Amazon

6. Orange World And Other Stories by Karen Russell

Adult Fantasy Short Story Collection

In "Bog Girl," a revelatory story about first love, a young man falls in love with a two-thousand-year-old girl that he's extracted from a mass of peat in a Northern European bog. In "The Prospectors," two opportunistic young women fleeing the depression strike out for new territory and find themselves fighting for their lives. In the brilliant, hilarious title story, a new mother desperate to ensure her infant's safety strikes a diabolical deal, agreeing to breastfeed the devil in exchange for his protection.

Why I love it: If you like fantasy but think you don't like short stories, you should give Karen Russell a try. You might change your mind. She's currently my favorite short story writer because I'm in awe of her creativity and how she sees connections between random things. Her stories always start out bizarre, and I'm not sure where they're going, but then everything snaps together in the end, and I suddenly understand. It's brilliant.

It's hard to pick favorite stories in this collection. I liked "The Prospectors," which is about two thieves who take the wrong ski lift and find themselves at a haunted lodge. "The Bad Graft" stars a woman whose body is taken hostage by a Joshua tree. (If you want to read "The Bad Graft," it's free on The New Yorker website.) "Bog Girl: A Romance" is about a teenage boy who falls in love with an ancient corpse that he yanks out of a bog. The title story, "Orange World," features a group of new mothers who band together to defeat a fox demon. If I was forced to choose a favorite story, it would probably be "Bog Girl." It's both funny and horrifying.

If you like vivid, unsettling fiction, then you need to read this collection.

5. The Diviners by Libba Bray

Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened

Why I love it: The author put an astounding amount of research into this story. I love the slang, the fashion, the 1920s culture, everything. It's atmospheric and very believable. The characters are the bee's knees. (OMG, 1920s slang is dumb.) There are a lot of characters, but they have distinctive personalities, so I didn't mind. This book kept me up past my bedtime every night for a week. As soon as I finished it, I picked up the sequel. I needed to know what happened next!

If you want a novel that will help you escape into a world of magic and mayhem, please read this one. It will make you smile and keep you flying through the pages.

Buy it on Amazon

4. The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Adult Historical Fiction

In June 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the work farm where he has just served a year for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother and head west where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future.

Why I love it: This book is a chunky beast. I loved it! Highly recommend. It's about a group of young men who are trying to figure out what to do with their new freedom. What would you do if you had no responsibilities? Where would you go if you could go anywhere? It reminds me of the adventure stories I read as a young teen. The characters are gallivanting around the US and making bad choices. It's fun and full of humor and plot twists.

The characters are awesome. If you like your characters morally gray and fatally flawed, then this is a book for you.

3. You by Caroline Kepnes

Adult Thriller

When a beautiful aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

Why I love it: All the people who recommended the audiobook are correct: This story is much creepier when you can hear Joe's voice. He's talking directly to the reader and saying scary stuff. It's . . . an intense audiobook experience.

I'm kind of worried about my sanity because I love this book. It scared me. I think I love it because it explores a nightmare situation. I understand why Beck is attracted to Joe. On the outside, he's helpful, funny, smart, sweet, and bookish. I'd probably date him too. Since the reader gets to hear his internal monologue, we know what Beck doesn't: He's violent, controlling, judgmental, and arrogant. It makes you wonder how well you can ever truly know a person.

I could not put this book down because I could imagine myself in Beck's situation. I wanted her to wake up and realize that Joe is a disguising human, but I knew she wouldn't. He's just too good at manipulating people.

Read it if you want to be terrified.

Buy it on Amazon

2. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Young Adult Contemporary Novel-In-Verse

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Why I love it: Why didn't books like this exist when I was a teenager? Where were all the books about chubby girls when I was a chubby girl? I spent the entire book highlighting lines that are relatable:

"When your body takes up more room than your voice, you are always the target of well-aimed rumors."

"And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them."

"It happens when I’m at bodegas. It happens when I’m at school. It happens when I’m on the train. It happens when I’m standing on the platform. It happens when I’m sitting on the stoop. It happens when I’m turning the corner. It happens when I forget to be on guard. It happens all the time. I should be used to it. I shouldn’t get so angry when boys—and sometimes grown-ass men—talk to me however they want, think they can grab themselves or rub against me or make all kinds of offers. But I’m never used to it."
This is a novel-in-verse, which means it's very quick to read. There's no extra fluff. The author strips the story down to its raw bones, which makes it powerful and straightforward. Xiomara is a Black Latina who lives in New York City. The reader gets to see bits of her culture and the diversity of the city. Xiomara just feels so real! She experiences realistic crushes, argues with her friends, is supported by her teachers, questions her religion, and constantly struggles with her self-esteem. I think a lot of teenagers will be able to relate to her.

This is a novel that I want to fling through the door of every high school. The kids need it.

1. Home by Toni Morrison

Adult Historical Fiction

Frank Money is an angry, self-loathing veteran of the Korean War who, after traumatic experiences on the front lines, finds himself back in racist America with more than just physical scars. His home may seem alien to him, but he is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and take her back to the small Georgia town they come from and that he's hated all his life. As Frank revisits his memories from childhood and the war that have left him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he had thought he could never possess again.

Why I love it: How did I make it through 11 years of college without having this book forced upon me? If you want to learn how to write, you have to read Home. The writing style is poetic. The author is able to accomplish so much with so few words. This is a tiny book that feels huge. Every sentence is necessary. There's no fluff or filler. My copy is only 150 pages, but I feel like I know these characters. I badly wanted them to overcome their problems. I was scared and frustrated by their ignorance. They're so real that you love them and hate them at the same time.

Home doesn't have much of a plot, but the characters and writing style make it worth reading. Parts of it are extremely bleak. It's a book about racism, poverty, war, and mental illness. Not happy subjects. The characters knowingly and unknowingly get themselves into a lot of trouble. If you can handle depressing, character-driven literature, please read it! It's worth your time, especially if you want to be a writer.

Buy it on Amazon

What's the best book you've read in 2022?


  1. I’ve heard wonderful things about The Poet X.

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-book-covers-that-feel-like-summer/

  2. I really, really (REALLY!) need to read Poet X.

  3. That's for this. I already had White Ivy and You on my TBR list and added The Unseen World.

  4. The Diviners and Poet X are on my TBR, so I'm happy to hear you loved them so much!

  5. I have several friends who consider The Diviners their favorite book - ever. It sure sounds like Bray killed it with the research and world-building.

  6. I have the Lincoln Highway on my TBR. I love this list! I'm going to also check out the Toni Morrison book.

  7. The Unseen World sounds like a really good slow build.

    You sounds wild, and honestly I don't know if I'd like it, but I'd want Beck to wake up too. In fact, I remember thinking that when watching the show! I was like, get out girl!!! :)

  8. I read A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray years and years ago and just felt meh about it. I haven't read any of her work since then. Maybe I'll give her another try.

    I had to read Sula by Toni Morrison in college and it was so disturbing! I haven't read any of her work since then either. I did add The Bluest Eye to my Classics Club list but haven't read it yet. Hopefully I'll like her books better when I'm not being forced to read them. I disliked almost everything I had to read in school.

    I think The Lincoln Highway and The Poet X are already on my TBR but I'm adding Orange World now too.

    I hope your reading in the second half of the year is just as good if not better!

  9. I liked The Diviners, but I enjoyed the rest of the series so much more. I wasn't a big fan of You, I actually preferred the TV show (unusual for me) but the narration definitely made me like it more than I otherwise would have.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2022/07/12/top-ten-tuesday-376/

  10. The Poet X was a wonderful book. You made a good point that books in verse tend to have less fluff. Each word is chosen deliberately

  11. Poet X is a really good one to have on your list and Toni Morrison is excellent in everything she writes. I don't know the others, but it looks like a good set.

  12. The Poet X is one of the most incredible books that I've read, and even though I read it a while ago, Acevedo's writing has stayed with me for a long time. Great list!

  13. Thanks for sharing some of your favorite reads of the year!

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  14. I've been meaning to try one of Karen Russell's books but have yet to work around to doing so.

  15. Hope you find even more great ones in the second half of the year.

  16. I have always loved that cover on The Diviners, and the Roaring 20s is always a fun setting!

  17. I loved the Diviners!! I still need to pick up the second book. I'm so terrible at continuing series.

  18. I want to read The Lincoln Highway so badly! I'm glad that you enjoyed it. My mom is a huge fan of A Gentleman in Moscow, which I've also been meaning to get to soon.
    claire @ clairefy

  19. I loved The Diviners. I need to continue on with the series. You has been on my TBR for forever. I really need to read it.

    My TTT

  20. I loved Poet X! I haven't read the other books on your list, but you've got authors I like - Amor Towles, Karen Russell, Toni Morrison. I've read one book by Liz Moore, this one sounds really interesting because of the foster care setting.

  21. I definitely need to read The Poet X at some point. Not sure why I haven't gotten to it yet.

  22. I have not read any of these, but The Unseen World looks like it would be my kind of book! I also need to read Poet X, after reading and enjoying the author's other books. So glad you found so many great books, hope the rest of the year treats you just as well!

  23. This year so far... Oh gosh, I don't think I actually have a favorite yet. The Maid, Magpie Murders, Project Hail Mary... I didn't do a TTT, so I'll have to think. The Lincoln Highway is still on my TBR, hope to get to it soon. A other ones on your list does draw my attention though!

    Just checking in to see how you are doing.

    Elza Reads

  24. A good list! Yeah I should read the Towles book but it's a chunkster! Home might be calling to me now.

  25. Great list! I've read a couple of Acevedo's other books and really need to get to Poet X soon! It's time to move White Ivy and Home up the tbr list, too. The Lincoln Highway was such a good read...