Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Best Books Of 2022

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

It's time for my favorite blog post of the year. These are the best books I read in 2022. To be extra dramatic, I arranged them countdown style, but they're all good books, so please pick them up if you stumble across them on your literary travels.

Drumroll please . . .

🥂  Best Books Of 2022  🙌


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, but I enjoyed every second of 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.


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

8. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Adult Dystopia

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.

Why I love it: This book sat on my to-be-read shelf for years because I was hesitant to read it. The Handmaid's Tale is my favorite book ever, but I really dislike Margaret Atwood's newer novels. Maybe I'm a pessimist, but I was absolutely positive she'd ruin The Handmaids Tale with an unnecessary sequel. I considered not reading it, but curiosity got the better of me.

I'm pleased to report that Atwood didn't ruin anything! I flew through The Testaments because it's terrifyingly relevant. It's told from multiple perspectives, which allows the reader to get a deeper look at Gilead, the Christo-Fascist country that took the place of the US in The Handmaid's Tale. Some of the characters are trying to destroy Gilead. Others are just trying to survive. It's a scary novel about how easily the government can strip away the rights of its citizens.

The Testaments isn't as good as The Handmaid's Tale, but if you liked the first book, then you should definitely read the sequel. Don't be a grumpy baby like I was.

Buy it on Amazon

7. King And The Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.

It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy—that he thinks he might be gay. "You don't want anyone to think you're gay too, do you?"

But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King's friendship with Sandy is reignited, he's forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother's death.

Why I love it: It perfectly captures the confusion and drama of teenage friendships.

Here's a story for you: When I was in high school, my friend decided to tell everyone in our friend group that he's gay. I already suspected he was gay, so when he told me, my response was, "Okay, whatever." I thought that would be everybody's response.

Reader, it was not. Friends I had for most of my life suddenly became vicious. They wouldn't speak to our gay friend anymore. Then they stopped talking to me because I didn't stop talking to him. To them, I was gay by association. I was completely blindsided and caught in the middle.

This book understands all that messiness.

Buy it on Amazon

6. The Toll By Neal Shusterman

Young Adult Science Fiction Dystopia

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

Why I love it: A 5-star chunkster! My wrists are still sore from trying to hold this beast. Unfortunately, it's the third book in the Arc Of A Scythe series, so I'm not sure how to talk about it without spoiling the first two books.

The best part of this series is how Neal Shusterman thinks of everything. The books take place in a world where people have conquered death. How would immortality change art, technology, politics, religion, and even daily life? A series like this could easily become preachy, but Shusterman doesn't do that. He acknowledges that philosophical questions can have multiple correct answers and allows his characters to make mistakes and change their minds.

This novel didn't have quite as many plot twists as the previous ones, but I guess that's logical because the series has to wrap up eventually. We can't keep throwing new problems into the mix. The ending still had enough twists to keep me happy.

Arc Of A Scythe is one of my all-time-favorite series. If you love science fiction, you should give it a try.


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.

I want to fling this book through the door of every high school. The kids need it.

Buy it on Amazon

4. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Adult Literary Fiction

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person.

However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis—but will it be for the better?

Why I love it: This is a tiny book that leaves a big impression. I don't think I'll forget Keiko anytime soon because she feels real to me. She's one of those people who exist at the fringes of society and are just trying to mind their own business. Unfortunately, society is not great at leaving people alone.

Convenience Store Woman is relatable. It's about the pressure that people face to conform. We're expected to get a good job, get married, and have children. Keiko has her own ways of meeting society's demands, and they're definitely not what her family expects. The book highlights how ridiculous it is to "fix" people who aren't hurting anyone and who just want to live life on their own terms.

Buy it on Amazon


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 because the writing style is poetic. This is a small book that feels huge. Every sentence is necessary. There's no 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

2. Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Adult Science Nonfiction

Mary Roach takes the age-old question, "What happens to us after we die?" quite literally. And in Stiff, she explores the "lives" of human cadavers from the time of the ancient Egyptians all the way up to current campaigns for human composting. Along the way, she recounts with morbidly infectious glee how dead bodies are used for research ranging from car safety and plastic surgery (you'll cancel your next collagen injection after reading this!), to the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin.

Impossible (and irreverent) as it may sound, Roach has written a book about corpses that's both lively and fresh. She traveled around the globe to conduct her forensic investigations, and her findings are wryly intelligent. While the myriad uses for cadavers recounted are often graphic, Roach imbues her subject with a sense of dignity, choosing to emphasize the oddly noble purposes corpses serve, from organ donation to lifesaving medical research.

Readers will come away convinced of the enormous debt that we, the living, owe to the study of the remains of the dead. And while it may not offer the answer to the ancient mystery we were hoping for, Stiff offers a strange sort of comfort in the knowledge that, in a sense, death isn't necessarily the end.

Why I love it: A funny book about death? It exists! This probably isn't the best book to read while you're sick with COVID, but that's exactly what I did. It's actually a great distraction from life's problems because it'll make you laugh. 

In this modern classic, Mary Roach asks the morbid questions that normal people are afraid to ask. She covers everything from organ donation, to using corpses in crash tests, to the study of decomposition. I suggest not reading the book while you're eating dinner, but it's fascinating stuff. It'll make you grateful to all the people who have donated their bodies to science throughout history.

This book is a modern classic for a reason. It's fast-paced, quirky, thought-provoking, and never disrespectful to the corpses. I enjoyed it as much as a COVID-infected bookworm could enjoy a book about disease and death.

Buy it on Amazon

1. Another Day In The Death Of America: A Chronicle Of Ten Short Lives by Gary Younge

Adult Sociology Nonfiction

On an average day in America, seven children and teens will be shot dead. In Another Day in the Death of America, award-winning journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost during one such day. It could have been any day, but he chose November 23, 2013. Black, white, and Latino, aged nine to nineteen, they fell at sleepovers, on street corners, in stairwells, and on their own doorsteps. From the rural Midwest to the barrios of Texas, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the full human stories behind the gun-violence statistics and the brief mentions in local papers of lives lost.

This powerful and moving work puts a human face—a child's face—on the "collateral damage" of gun deaths across the country. This is not a book about gun control, but about what happens in a country where it does not exist.

Why I love it: It's a must-read for any American. The author picks a random day and researches all the children who died from guns on that day. The kids had different lifestyles and came from different parts of the country, but they all died from violence or gun accidents on November 23, 2013. It's a thought-provoking look at the stories behind the statistics. It doesn't argue for gun control or the second amendment. It's just a story about what happens when children have easy access to guns and not enough education about them.

This is a book that will stay with me forever because it shows how quickly and pointlessly life can end. Two kids got ahold of their parents' gun and decided to play with it. A lonely teen befriended a gang member. Sometimes a decision that seems spontaneous and inconsequential can end up altering an entire community.

What's the best book you read in 2022?

Do you want more book recommendations? I recommend books from a bunch of different genres in this post.


  1. I still need to read The Toll - it's been sitting on my shelf for quite awhile!

  2. Convenience Store Woman is one that has been on my radar for a while. I need to check my library for it.

  3. Great list! I loved The Poet X and also really enjoyed The Toll—I agree that Shusterman really thinks of *everything!* 😂 I recently bought a copy of Convenience Store Woman and I've heard so many great things about it. I'm looking forward to picking it up!

  4. The Testaments was excellent. So glad you liked it.

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-favorite-books-of-2022/

  5. I loved The Poet X and Convenience Store Woman. And I agree with your assessment of The Testaments. Happy new year!

  6. I'll have to put "Home" on my list. On New Year's Day, I posted my reading list and favorites for the year (Anne Applebaum's "Red Famine" and Jon Meacham's "And There Was Light"

  7. I'm glad you had such great books to read this year!

  8. Nice list. I really want to read The Lincoln Highway. Thanks for sharing.


  9. I read You a few years ago and the thought of hearing him talk to me via audiboook sounds unnerving. He was creepy on the printed page.

  10. I read The Poet X last year, too! Such a great book. I love everything I've read by Elizabeth Acevedo. Your top pick sounds harrowing but so good. I'm adding it to my TBR. Great list! Here is my TTT list.

  11. This is such a great list filled with a variety of authors and genres. I listened to You a few years ago and remember really enjoying it. Have you watched the show?

  12. I haven't read any of these yet, but many of them are on my TBR. I'm so glad you enjoyed them as much as you did. :D


  13. I still need to start the Arc of a Scythe series, but I'm glad to see the finale on your favorites list!

  14. I read The Poet X a few years ago, but it was memorable. I have enjoyed all Acevedo's books as well. She has an adult book coming out this year.

  15. It looks as though you had quite the interesting reading year! I hope the trend continues through 2023.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  16. I haven't read any of these, but I've heard of them! Nice choices!

  17. I've been nervous about reading THE TESTAMENTS too, even though I bought it right after reading the first book. Guess I should getto reading!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  18. The only one of these I've read is You, and I actually *shock horror* preferred the TV series on Netflix! I did love the narration though, Santino Fontana did a great job. I still need to finish the Arc of a Scythe series, I've had the second book sitting on my shelf for years and I've still not got to it yet!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2023/01/03/top-ten-tuesday-401/

  19. Some great books, I read the Testaments last year I think, and I agree, it's not quite as good as the Handmaids tale but still good.
    Mary Roach's books are all great, but stiff is probably my favourite of the ones I have read. Who knew death could be so funny.
    Charlotte Burt's Books

  20. Hey, great post! It looks like you read some great books in 2022. I hope 2023 brings you lots of books too x

  21. I loved both Toll and Poet X! Let's hope 2023 gives us great reading.

  22. The narrator of You is amazing - his tone is so creepy!

    Check out my TTT and my 2022 End of Year Book Survey.

  23. Wow great list and I like how you explain each of these. Very good. I've read & liked two of them Convenience Store Woman and The Testaments. I agree The Testaments worked well ... and made a good ending for the story. I liked to read The Lincoln Highway sometime. My sister also really liked it. Thanks for these & Happy 2023!

  24. Glad you enjoyed The Toll! I still need to pick up the Testaments too (pretty sure I have avoided for the same reasons you did!) so I am glad to hear it lived up to the hype. I don't think I could handle the stories about the victims, even though it sounds wonderfully done. I cry every time I read a news story, so I think it would just be too much.

  25. I haven't read any of these, but am so glad you enjoyed them. Thanks for sharing! Happy reading! :)

  26. I feel your hesitation about reading The Testaments, so I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Hopefully I'll read it this year. I wanna check out the series that has The Toll in it, it seems like everyone is loving it! Happy reading in 2023!

  27. What an interesting and varied list! I want to read The Lincoln HIghway someday. Convenience Store Woman was on my top ten list for 2022 also. Such a wonderful book, and it inspired me to find books about similar characters.

  28. I haven't read The Testaments yet, so I'm happy to see here on your best list. Congrats on a great reading year!

  29. I hadn't heard of King and the Dragonflies before, but it sounds absolutely amazing! I'll definitely have to check that out. Hope 2023 brings as many good reads to you as 2022 did. ^_^

  30. Great Top 10 list! I also enjoyed Stiff by Mary Roach and You by Caroline Kepnes.

  31. A lot of interesting titles here--some I've read, some still on my TBR shelf, and some that I should add to that shelf. Thanks for sharing.

  32. I can't believe I haven't read Convenience Store Woman yet!!
    I also love doing these recap posts at the end of the year (https://wordsandpeace.com/tag/year-of-reading/). My favorite is possibly The Bride Wore Black, by Cornell Woolrich

  33. I might have to read The Testaments. I had similar doubts, so it's good to know that it worked for you. I'll need to find a strong moment, though, because I think the similarities to reality might be too scary.