Top Books of 2022
Now that all the 2022 reading is done, I have gone through the list of 107 books I read to find the very best ones to tell you about. Her are the top ten books of 2022.
In no particular order:
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab - This book is incandescent. I loved both of the main characters so when the chapters started alternating between their perspectives I wasn't even mad. In 1781, Addie LaRue makes a deal with a demon. If he will set her free from the requirements of marriage and child bearing, she will give him her soul at the end of her life. Only, the terms of the deal are not what she expected. He makes her immortal. She will stay 19 forever. And no one will remember her. As soon as they leave the room, they forget her. This leads to her introducing herself to the same person over and over again. But eventually, she figures out how to leave her mark on the world, even though she cannot say or write her name. Anything she writes disappears before she is finished. One day, she steals a book from a bookstore. The bookseller, runs after her and confronts her. She is confused because once she was out of his sight, he should have forgotten her. When she goes back to the bookstore, he remembers her. For the first time in 300 years, someone remembers her. I have described a lot, but this is not even halfway through the book. Henry's story is not as long, but adds so much to the book. I loved it.
Wuhan Diary: Dispatches From the Original Epicenter by Fang Fang - I had to wait at least a year after I got this book to be able to read it. I was still pretty sensitive about Covid stories after I got vaccinated. I expected this to be very science-y and cold. It was not. Fang Fang is a celebrated journalist in China. At the time of writing this diary (not coincidentally, also when Covid hit China) she was in her late 50s or early 60s. She lives in Wuhan province and she lives just a few miles from the market where the bat was sold that caused the whole thing. She started her online journal a couple of days before the city locked down. She lives alone, but the people in her building took care of each other. She talked about the latest news from the front lines, she memorializes friends and important people as they pass away from the disease. She struggles with her anger at the government for not doing everything she thinks they should have done. It's beautifully written and encapsulates the whole 96 days they were in lockdown.
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell - Wow. This was so good. Not a lot is known about Shakespeare's family back in Stratford. This novel paints him in a much nicer light than a lot of us think of him. In this book, he writes home frequently and shows up with some regularity. When one of his daughters got sick, he went home immediately. There is a little magical realism in the way the boy Hamnet takes on his sister's illness for her. And Anne, his wife, is a little witchy. All this is fine, and I loved all the characters. The real point of the story is the creation of the play Hamlet. The son's name was Hamnet, but that name was interchangeable with Hamlet. I won't give away the whole thing, but it was absolutely brilliant.
Quietly In Their Sleep by Donna Leon - I always love Leon's Brunetti mysteries, but this one really stood out. Each one tackles a social problem in Venice or Italy. In this one, the Catholic church is suspected of getting old or sick people to leave everything they have to the church and then they die. The book tackles the Illuminati and pedophilic priests. It's just so well done. I loved it.
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo - I am really enjoying gushing about these fabulous books! Ok. Where to start with this one. This is a retelling of The Great Gatsby, but told slant. Jordan Baker is the narrator. And this time Jordan has more of a backstory than that she is a tennis pro. Jordan was born in what is now Thailand. She was orphaned and then rescued by a white woman who adopted her and brought her to America. Within a year, the woman died, and left Jordan to be raised by the woman's parents, who made it very clear that she was not equal to their friends' children. Only Daisy Buchanan (or whatever her name was before she married) was a true friend to her. So now, as adults, Jordan and Daisy are inseparable. Also, Jordan has a supernatural skill with paper. She can fold and cut paper and make it come alive. This is important later. I really loved this one. I have a thing for good characters and beautiful writing and this one fit the bill.
Matrix by Lauren Groff - I have really enjoyed other books by Lauren Groff, but those weren't historical fiction. This one is set in the 1100s where our main character is a cousin of the king, but was raised in the country as a farm maid. She gets sent to court when her parents die and she adores Eleanor of Aquitane. Unfortunately, Eleanor thinks she is too country to stay at court and sends her to an abbey where the nuns are slowly dying of disease and starvation. Before long, Marie is getting the abbey back on its feet and the nuns are getting healthy. The story is about Marie and this abbey she saves while all the time hoping that Eleanor will remember her and ask her back to court.
A Companion to Jane Austen by Claudia L. Rankin and Clara Tuite - Right. Well, no one is surprised to find this one here. This book is a compilation of 42 essays from various Jane Austen scholars. They touch on everything from the economy in England during her life to the newest documents and research being done. Now, this book is over a decade old, so some things were not the newest research, but overall it was fascinating.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia - This is actually a horror novel, but I still sped through it. The horror is pretty gross, too. It's about mold and fungus. Ew. I've heard this called "sporror". Haha. Anyway, Noemi's cousin marries a rich Englishman who know one knows and he takes her away to his English castle in the mountains of Mexico. Yes, his grandfather's grandfather, or something, came to Mexico to run a mine of some kind, and built an English castle. Just like home. Anyway, the cousin is writing worrying letters to Noemi's father asking for help. He sends Noemi. And the house is weird. Fungus growing everywhere. Noemi is horrified by how weird the family is and all their rules. The end is appropriately thrilling.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman - This book was just a romp. The senior citizens in the retirement center were so great. At one point someone is killed by injection, and a member of the group says "It's got to be someone with access to needles!" And another one says, "We've all got diabetes! It could have been any one of us!" Bahahahaha! The Elizabeth, the woman with a murky past but who knows a lot about assassination and similarly creepy things is fantastic. Joyce is no shrinking violet, either. I can't wait to get to the next one in the series.
Heartstopper, Vol. 4 by Alice Oseman - I have loved every one of the Heartstopper books, but this one really took it one step further. The other books have talked about homophobia and being in a relationship as a teen etc. But this one went after a really tough topic: eating disorders. One of the boys in the relationship suffers from an eating disorder, so not only is it talking about a tough topic, it's talking about eating disorders in boys, which is less common and less acknowledged, which makes it even more important to bring to light. The book is clear about the fact that another teenager is not going to be able to cure that person, no matter how much they love them. His boyfriend wants to help, so he goes to a trusted adult. And also, the boy isn't magically cured. He goes to an inpatient care facility, and he comes home better, but it is acknowledged that he will have to continue to fight it. It was just brilliant.
Ok. Those are the 10 books that rose to the top for me in 2022.
Do any of these books strike your fancy? What were your favorites of the year?