Tuesday, February 7, 2023

I Read 200+ "Best Books Of 2022" Lists

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

It took over a month, but I have searched the Internet and read, watched, or listened to over 200 "Best Books Of 2022" lists. Why would I waste my time doing this? Because I'm insufferably nosy and want to know what everybody is reading. (Seriously, I've strained my neck trying to see what strangers on a train are reading.) I also have a bad case of FOMO. What if there's an awesome book in the world that everybody knows about except me? I can't let that happen!

While I was perusing the lists, I jotted down the titles of books I saw multiple times. Then I looked them up on Goodreads and picked 10 that I want to read. That's what I'm going to show you today.

🥇  "Best Books Of 2022" That I Want To Read In 2023  💝

Our Missing Hearts by Celest Ng

Adult Dystopia

Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. Bird knows to not ask too many questions, stand out too much, or stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old.

Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn’t wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of librarians, into the lives of the children who have been taken, and finally to New York City, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change.

Why it caught my attention: How did I miss a dystopian book? Usually I'm all over those things! I guess it's because I felt "meh" about Little Fires Everywhere, so the author wasn't on my radar, but I need to read this one! Reviewers say it has a realistic world inhabited by believable characters.

Notes On An Execution by Danya Kukafka

Adult Literary Fiction

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood. He hoped it wouldn’t end like this, not for him.

Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the homicide detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.

Why it caught my attention: If you've been reading this blog for a really long time, then you might remember me mentioning my previous blog. About 10 years ago, I was a writer for a blog about the history and ethics of capital punishment. That blog doesn't exist anymore, but I'm still fascinated and horrified by the subject. Notes On An Execution is a unique take on a familiar story. I like that it focuses on the people around the criminal instead of on the criminal himself. 

Buy it on Amazon

Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda

Adult Paranormal

Lydia is hungry. She's always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside—the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced-coffee, ice cream and cake, and foraged herbs and plants, and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But, Lydia can't eat any of these things. Her body doesn't work like those of other people. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs' blood in London—where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time—is much more difficult than she'd anticipated.

Then there are the humans—the other artists at the studio space, the people at the gallery she interns at, the strange men that follow her after dark, and Ben, a boyish, goofy-grinned artist she is developing feelings for. Lydia knows that they are her natural prey, but she can't bring herself to feed on them. In her windowless studio, where she paints and studies the work of other artists, binge-watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer and videos of people eating food on YouTube and Instagram, Lydia considers her place in the world. She has many of the things humans wish for—perpetual youth, near-invulnerability, immortality—but, she is miserable; she is lonely; and she is hungry—always hungry.

Why it caught my attention: Normally a vampire book would be an automatic "Nope" from me, but I keep seeing this book everywhere! It does sound different from other paranormal books. I don't think the vampires sparkle in this one. Lydia's abusive vampire mother has gone to a nursing home, and Lydia is learning how to be alone. Maybe it's a weirdly relatable vampire book?

How High We Go In The Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Adult Science Fiction

Beginning in 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle to continue the work of his recently deceased daughter at the Batagaika crater, where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus.

Once unleashed, the Arctic Plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come, quickly traversing the globe, forcing humanity to devise a myriad of moving and inventive ways to embrace possibility in the face of tragedy. In a theme park designed for terminally ill children, a cynical employee falls in love with a mother desperate to hold on to her infected son. A heartbroken scientist searching for a cure finds a second chance at fatherhood when one of his test subjects—a pig—develops the capacity for human speech. A widowed painter and her teenaged granddaughter embark on a cosmic quest to locate a new home planet.

Why it caught my attention: The pandemic books have arrived. There are so many pandemic books! For obvious reasons, I'm not massively interested in reading about deadly diseases right now, but the reviews of this plague novel have made it sound too good to pass up. It's an intricate story about how one event can alter the world forever. Reviewers say it's beautifully written.  

Buy it on Amazon

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us And A Grander View Of Life by Ed Yong

Adult Science Nonfiction

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery.

Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are. The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. Those in cows and termites digest the plants they eat. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squids with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.

I Contain Multitudes is the story of these extraordinary partnerships, between the creatures we are familiar with and those we are not. It reveals how we humans are disrupting these partnerships and how we might manipulate them for our own good. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.

Why it caught my attention: I'm a germaphobe. I'm completely freaked out by the thought of creatures I can't see running all over my body and my stuff. Maybe this book will help me face my fear. Or it will make me never leave the shower.

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Adult Mystery / Thriller

Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.

Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect?

Why it caught my attention: I'm very interested in wolves right now because they're being reintroduced to the state where I live. Colorado already has wild wolves, but there aren't many, and they're only in the far northern part of the state. Humans are trying to get the population to grow faster. Cattle ranchers are mad about it. The conflict is unpleasant in real life, but it would be a fascinating backdrop to a thriller.


Adult Historical Fiction

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Why it caught my attention: Last year, I read one of Amor Towles's other books, and it made my "Best Books Of 2022" list. He's great at developing characters and bringing settings to life. I'm excited to read more of his work because so many bookworms are enjoying it.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones

Adult History Nonfiction

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself. This legacy can be seen in the way we tell stories, the way we teach our children, and the way we remember. Together, the elements of the book reveal a new origin story for the United States, one that helps explain not only the persistence of anti-Black racism and inequality in American life today, but also the roots of what makes the country unique.

Why it caught my attention: I don't feel like my history education in school was very thorough. We learned that slavery happened, but we didn't learn how much of American culture can be traced back to those 250 years. Enslaved people gave America food, music, stories, and more. I want to learn about it. 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Young Adult Romance Graphic Novel

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more?

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn't been too great, but at least he's not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He's heard a little about Charlie—the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months—but he's never had the opportunity to talk to him.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner.

Why it caught my attention: I think this might be the most popular book of 2022. It was on so many lists! Like everybody else on the planet, I watched the Netflix show and love the way it captures the awkwardness of teenage romance and friendship. I want to see how the graphic novels compare to the show.

Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Adult Literary Fiction

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn't heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won't protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Why it caught my attention: I'm not usually interested in books about video games, but I am interested in books that cover a long span of time. I love books that show how relationships change over decades. According to reviewers, this novel is insightful with realistically flawed characters.

Buy it on Amazon

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?


  1. I have often read none of the books on Best of... lists! I haven't read any of these but I hope you enjoy them!

  2. I am impressed with the amount of research you did to assemble this list. I have only read the last two, and though they were not favorites, they good. I think Zevin is an excellent storyteller. I just felt the book was a bit of a downer (you know me).

  3. This is a really fun way of adding books to your TBR! I've only read Heartstopper from this list, but it's definitely a favorite of mine :) Hope you'll enjoy all of these!

  4. The pandemic books ARE here. What is it about fictional pandemic that are so fascinating? I love the idea of bad things thawing out of the ice too.

    The wolf thing is interesting to me too- I rememebr the debate about reintroducing them in some of the western states, and here in Michigan we have a few although we don't have the cattle rancher debate, but people still want to shoot them or fight their presence.

  5. "Notes on an Execution" sounds interesting. I didn't know you wrote for a blog on capital punishment. One of my favorite professors from my undergrad days later punished a major work on the death penalty. James Megivern, "The Death Penalty: A Historical and Theological Survey"

  6. I'm not one who gravitates to graphic novels, but I have read the Heartstopper books. And loved them. I was completely taken with the sweetness and the vulnerability. I even got Netflix just so I could see the adaptation.

  7. I'm impressed that you looked through so many lists! I think my eyes would go buggy. I've only read A Gentleman in Moscow from that list, but they all look good.

  8. You did a lot of research! I just put THE 1619 PROJECT on hold at my library. I have tomorrow, tomorrow tomorrow on hold as well. I want to read the Heartstopper series soon too.

  9. Yeah I want to read How High We Go in the Dark. I did read We Were Wolves Once. I liked it all right but I liked the author's first novel much better called Migrations. It's awesome. Nice list.

  10. I haven't read any of these yet, but Heartstopper, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and The 1619 Project are all on my TBR.

  11. I totally understand the desire to read all the best of lists. I used to do the same, but I don’t think I’ve read that many. Kudos to you.

  12. What a project to find and read/view that many lists. I think I did maybe 20 or so. I've read a few on your list - Tomorrow and Tomorrow, Gentleman in Moscow, & Missing Hearts. From your list I added Notes of Execution to my list and already had Wolves on my list. Thanks for sharing the result of all your hard work - it's eye-opening!
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

  13. I know I could be the exception, but I DNFed Tomorrow.
    I really want to read Once There Were Wolves, as I so much enjoyed her previous book:

  14. I am glad to know I am not the only one who reads massive amounts of Best of lists! I do it because I love lists and because I am nosey and FOMO 🙂. I actually made a list of those I hope to get to in 2023 on my phone. Never thought of doing a blog post. Great idea! Hope you get to many of these this year.

  15. What a fabulous idea. Thanks for sharing.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  16. Thank you for reading though all of these lists for us! I am particularly interested in reading The 1619 Project, though I really want to read all the books people are trying to get banned.