My 10 favorite books from 2022, part 1
A couple of weeks into January and 2022 already feels like a distant memory. I don’t know about you, but January always feels inordinately long. Something about the holidays being over, the busyness of a new work year, a never-ending to-do list, and the dark and cold New England days makes everything feel long.
So, to fight those January blues, for the next two weeks, I’m reflecting on my top 10 favorite books from 2022. (It’s also because I didn’t get it posted in December. Details.)
And so, in no particular order, here are the first five of my 10 favorite reads from 2022.*
*important note before we get started: these are my favorites I read in 2022, not that were published in 2022 necessarily.*
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
This might be my favorite of Fredrik Backman's novels.
Here's the premise: A desperate person unsuccessfully attempts to rob a bank and ends up fleeing into an in-progress apartment building and holding the guests hostage while they figure out what to do. By the time the hostages are released, the bank robber has vanished into thin air. As the people at the viewing, the bank robber, and the police officers on the case interact, it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems. I can't tell you much more than that because it would ruin the fun, but I sincerely encourage you to read it!
Backman is at his finest in this novel and, in his typical way, will make you fall in love with these odd, slightly off characters by the end of the story. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be sad when it's over. This book is why I love Backman so much and I recommend it whether it's your first of his works or your fifth.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
I really enjoyed the first Olive Kitteridge book when I read it earlier in 2022, but I loved this sequel even more. While the first book left me feeling like Olive still lacked self-awareness, this one gave her far more opportunity to grow and mature. I enjoyed every turn and the beautiful ending story of friendship and acceptance will stay with me for a long time.
One of the things I love about Elizabeth Strout’s books is the way she paints characters and the messy nature of relationships. In this novel, which is told through a series of vignettes focusing on the various townspeople who cross paths with Olive, readers will get an intimate and sometimes frustrating picture of a woman consumed (and often confused) by her own struggles.
If you love a character-driven book with loveable, endearing, and complicated relationships, give this one a try. While I think it’s helpful to read Olive Kitteridge first, you could probably get away with going straight to this one.
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
What a beautiful debut novel. I’m so grateful I got to read this book early through NetGalley.
When Eleanor Bennett passes away after a brief battle with cancer, her two estranged children, Byron and Benny, find themselves left with the odd inheritance of the last Caribbean black cake their mother made and a recording their mother made to explain her past and reveal the secrets she and their father spent their lives protecting. The narrative alternates between Eleanor's story and the present-day reckoning her children are undergoing as they begin to understand the importance of their inheritance and mend their broken relationship.
The story is heartbreaking in how it shows the complications of keeping secrets from the ones you love most. On top of that, it is truly beautifully written. I don't want to say too much and reveal any of Eleanor's secrets or the resolution, but just know it has a satisfying and redemptive ending. If you like stories about complicated family dynamics and the way we deal with the past and bring the good and bad into our everyday lives, this would be a great book for you. I can't wait to see what Wilkerson writes next!
Look, my love of Emily Henry is well documented, so I knew I'd likely enjoy her latest too. Let me tell you: This is her best one yet.
Here’s the pitch: Nora’s life is straight out of a rom-com. The problem is that she’s not the heroine; she’s the career-driven literary agent girlfriend who gets dumped for the small-town sweetheart. When Nora’s beloved (and very pregnant) little sister begs her to go away with her to the small town featured in their favorite romance writer’s books, she agrees to reconnect with her sister. While there, Nora unexpectedly runs into her least favorite person in publishing: Charlie, the often brooding and unpleasant editor. Obviously, sparks fly.
Even if you're not a romance reader, the dialogue and character development in this book are incredible. And I honestly didn't see one of the reveals coming, which is unusual for romance novels. Highly recommend.
These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
Even if you haven't loved Ann Patchett's novels in the past (full disclosure: The Dutch House is one of my all-time favorite books), you may still love her essays.
This collection, written and assembled during the early days of COVID, captures the emotions of the current day without being overwhelming or hopeless. The central titular essay made me cry twice and was one of the most beautiful essays I've read in a long time (plus it's about her friendship with Tom Hanks' personal assistant which is a wild connection). On the flip side, the piece about her husband's propensity for dangerous hobbies and the one about the dogs in her life made me laugh out loud. It's truly a spectacular collection.
If you appreciate sharp-witted and perceptive essay collections, I'd highly suggest it. Plus, you can pick it up and put it down easily after reading a single piece in a sitting.
I’ll be back with the rest of my top 10 favorite reads next week, but in the meantime, what were your favorite reads of 2022? Tell me in the comments so I can grow my TBR!