I have always loved words. They have helped me convey a lot over the years. I’ve always been a reader. When I was in elementary school, I would borrow Black Beauty, The Wizard of Oz, any of the Dear America books, and so much more and would binge-read them at night. I loved picking books that piqued my interest in any way. I fell out of love with reading in high school when I started having mental health struggles and was forced to read 4 classics every year. I love the classics, don’t get me wrong, but The Awakening by Kate Chopin was the worst book I’ve ever read. I had to write my final paper on it in my junior year. AWFUL. I didn’t read much for pleasure throughout high school and college and I didn’t get back into reading until 2020. Over the past three years, I’ve read substantially more each year, and in 2022 I read 100 books. Some were incredible, some were trash, and some made it to my favorite books of all time. Here are my top 10 books of 2022 that I’d recommend EVERYONE read someday.
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
Wow. I picked this book up thinking it would be your quintessential cartoon cover novel and I was 100% wrong. This book had me a little bored in the first half, but then I was hit with the biggest plot twist EVER that had me wanting more for the rest of the book.
I absolutely ADORE Nick and Daphne and everything that is their relationship and I want another book that just shows them being happy [no plot just mundane life] and growing old [Think A Court of Frost and Starlight by SJM]. I’ve read two of her books now and got two more for Christmas. I’m so excited to go down this rabbit hole of Weinger books.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
I loved People We Meet on Vacation because how can you not, as a teacher, love a book with a teacher in it. I’ve been looking forward to this book since I saw the title. As a book lover myself, [and traveler which I assumed it would cater to based off of the cover], I knew this was the book for me.
This book combines my favorite things [literature, small towns, big sister core, breaking the 4th wall] AND my favorite tropes [coworkers, enemies to lovers, I hate everyone but you] all in one book. Henry did it flawlessly, I might add.
I relate whole-heartedly to Nora in almost every aspect of her life and saw myself through her throughout the whole book [where is my “I hate everyone but you” literary boyfriend hmmm??]. She puts family first and is a people pleaser through and through. Her ending made me start to reconsider a few life choices I had made personally to please others as well… we’ll see how my ending plays out.
My sole complaint [in the book and about Libby] is the use of the name Libby. I hear Libby and I hear the toddler sister in Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging and that’s all I thought of while reading about her.
In conclusion, Charlie Lastra can get it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If I can’t have him, I’m glad my book twin Nora gets to.
It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey
I’m not even sure where to begin with this book. I have never been a cartoon cover romance reader until this year. I always stuck with gen fiction, classics, self-help, etc. BUT THIS BOOK. This book could convert anyone to read solely cartoon covers for the rest of their lives.
Piper starts off as this annoying rich girl who becomes IG famous by using the wealth of her stepdad. After a night in the slammer following a party Piper barely even remembers, her stepdad sends her [and her sister Hannah accompanies her out of pity] to the small fishing town of Westport, Washington, where her deceased father owned a dive bar. Brendan had my heart from the first page. The small-town fisherman trope I have decided is my new favorite and maybe I’ll be moving to Washington to live out this newfound dream of mine.
Piper and Brendan’s love story pulled at every heartstring. The constant struggle for Piper to figure out what’s truly important in her life: Hollywood or the man that’s treating her so well. Piper definitely needed a major attitude change, but she always put her sister first in everything. She learned to cook, clean, and revamp the bar, all to make sure her sister was proud and happy for her. Once Brendan finally got his head out of his ass and saw all that there was to Piper, there was no contest. There were definitely a couple of plot twists that I didn’t see coming but everything worked out in the end for me, and them.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Even though the book is called They Both Die at the End, I was CERTAIN that Rufus and Mateo were going to defy all odds and not die because I really didn’t think that Silvera would give away the ending on the cover and because I thought there was a way to not die at the end. I was sorely mistaken.
First, I love the writing in this book. POV chapters are my CRACK, and this was the cherry on top of the cake for this book. Rufus and Mateo remind me of Luca and Alberto in Luca where Alberto gets Luca to live in the same way that Rufus gets Mateo to live. Watching Mateo live his life on his last day while simultaneously falling in love with Rufus made my heart soar.
Mateo’s death was CRUEL. He deserved so much more than what he got. really thought they would die in each other’s arms in bed, and I was robbed of my happy-sad ending. I knew from the start that this was going to be a book that was going to break me and it sure as hell did that. The message of “Live each day to the fullest because you never know when it’s going to be your last” really stuck with me and I appreciate the message, I just wish that Mateo and Rufus didn’t have to die in order for me to get that message.
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a quick and lovely read. It answers the questions that so many people think about, what would you change if you could go back in time? And in this book, four customers at a small café in Tokyo get to find out the answer to this question, with tons of stipulations. They have to sit in one particular seat [that is only open when the resident ghost gets up to use the bathroom, they cannot leave the café, and they must return to the present day before the coffee gets cold.
Four different visitors want to answer this old as time question. One wants to meet the daughter they never got to know, one wants to see their sister, one wants to receive a letter from their husband who in the present time, suffers from Alzheimer’s, and one wants to confront the man who left them.
I think about this question far too often. Who would I want to see or meet, what point in time would I go back to, and what could I screw up for the present day if I meddled with time? It’s a lovely book with a beautiful translation by Geoffrey Trousselot. I’m looking forward to reading Kawaguchi’s other books.
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
This book gets so much hate, but I really wanted to read another Rooney book after reading Normal People and watching the Hulu series.
I read this book in a bit under five hours and for the first four hours or so, I was enamored. The characters, the plot, everything. I was SO shocked by all of the hate from the book. Then I read the last three chapters and it all made sense.
I love Rooney as an author. I love her characters [minus Felix trying to hit on Simon which was weird] and I love her style of writing in this book. My favorite types of books are those that change perspective, and the email chapters were great to get a mix of 1st and 3rd person in the book as well.
The ending felt so rushed and made no sense with the rest of the book. I won’t put any spoilers here but there were three tropes that were added haphazardly and were so unbelievable that I just could bare the end of the book. This book was about to be a comfort book and I might just reread it but stop at chapter 27, so I don’t have to endure the ending.
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
If you’ve been on Goodreads, been to a bookstore, or talked to anyone about books last year, I’m sure you’ve heard of Sarah J Maas. She has taken over the Fantasy world [just like Colleen Hoover has taken over Romance…] and there are a lot of mixed reviews. I’m someone who has very mixed reviews on her as well. I don’t think she’s that great of a writer. Her books are overall pretty boring and there are 300 or more pages of world-building per book and the only actual plot takes place in the last 50 pages. However, she has great characters, and those last 50 pages are like being slapped in the face over and over and over again with plot twist after plot twist. I loved this series [her other series are meh but also must-reads and I can’t say why]
I love Feyre and Reysand and I recommend everyone read this series. It’s definitely Romantasy so if you’re into that, you’ll love it. Be prepared for a SLOWWWWW start but it gets better [400 pages later]
The Bee and the Fly: The Improbable Correspondence of Louisa May Alcott and Emily Dickinson by Lorraine Tosiello and Jane Cavolina
I bought this book thinking it was real. Obviously, I neglected the authors’ names at the bottom. But a book about the correspondence of one of my favorite authors? I had to have it. I devoured this book in a day. I love books with perspective and the letters to and from made my life. I love how the letters reflected both of their styles. Alcott wrote longer letters and Dickinson wrote shorter letters and usually included poems at the end. It was so convincing on both ends; it could have been real. You cannot convince me that Alcott and Dickinson didn’t know each other and didn’t correspond in some sense.
I applaud Tosiello and Cavolina for the amount of research that they must have conducted to make this book as good as it was. It was so hard to pick a favorite book but this is one of my all-time favorite books. While not very popular, my goal is to get this book on the map.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This was the first book of 2022 that made me cry. Monique Grant is having a rough time until she gets the job of a lifetime: to document Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo’s life and all her scandalous secrets, including the timeline of all of her seven husbands. Monique, while flattered is a little stunned. Why would this Hollywood icon choose Monique to document her life?
Monique spends days in Hugo’s home, listening to her retell her life story, from romance, friendships, her career, and forbidden love. With the right amount of plot twists along the way, it becomes clear why Monique was chosen for this job.
I was enamored with Marilyn Monroe as a child and Hugo’s story had me thinking of her. It made me feel closer to the Hollywood star that I obsessed over for years. This sparked my love for Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I look forward to reading her entire work
I’m Glad my Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
Many people have this book tagged as “Funny” and “Lighthearted”; truthfully, I’m not sure we read the same book. It had me crying more than laughing, although I did chuckle a bit at all of her awkward stories about friends, relationships, and growing up.
There is something so comforting to me, a person with a nonexistent relationship with a mother due to a poor connection in the past, seeing someone who no longer has a relationship with their mother [for obviously different reasons ie. mine is living] heal from their relationship with their mother just as I am currently. It’s one of those “I’m not alone” moments. Amid “Happy Mother’s Day,” “Missing my mom today,” and “My Mother is my Best Friend” posts that always circulate my feed, there are books like these that remind me: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR MOTHER. And I’m not a failure for not having one either.
I relate to Jennette in a lot of ways, more ways than I thought possible relating to a child Nickelodeon star. While we started out with different relationships with our mothers, they ended the same [I think], and we are both still working through all of the trauma that that relationship had on us.
As someone who has struggled with various eating disorders, going from anorexia to BED and feeling the complete and utter loss of control just as Jennette did and having your mother comment on it every step of the way, I felt that. From being told that you’re too much, or too big, or not good enough, I felt that. From learning at an early age that people pleasing and being a mediator [until you can’t take it anymore] is easier than dealing with narcissistic tendencies, I felt that.
It’s bittersweet in a way, having this book that so perfectly lays out my relationship with my mother. My heart aches for Jennette in all the ways that we are similar, but I am also grateful to know it’s not just me and that there are others who go through the same things with their mothers, and that we’re not alone in this experience.
Thank you, Jennette McCurdy, for writing one of the best books I’ve ever read. Thank you for being so open, so real, and so raw, in every aspect that matters when telling a memoir such as this.
What were your favorite books you read last year?