Top 5 of 2022
Does anyone else dread the question: what is your favorite book? The typical response is that it’s difficult to pick just one, and, yes, that is true. However, what I find myself struggling with the most is claiming a definitive favorite of all time. When I was in middle school I was obsessed with the Ranger’s Apprentice series. I had a favorite fanfiction and even constructed one in my head. I remember receiving the books for Christmas and being excited to be the first one to read one at the library. I learned archery and secretly wanted to get a cape. In high school I was obsessed with The Raven Cycle. I saw Maggie Stiefvater speak in NYC multiple times (thanks, Mom, for enduring my years-long fan-girling) and have autographed copies of the whole series. The book spoke of friendships and found family and anxiety and magic and not-quite-fitting-in and quests and Virginia in poetic language and was everything I could aspire to as a writer. In college my enduring obsession with an author or series began to fade. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved to read, but I didn’t find something with quite the same magnetic pull. I have read many books that are 4 and 5 stars for me, but does that qualify as a favorite without that same youthful passion and obsession?
To me, a “favorite” read has to stick with me in some way. If I’m still thinking about it weeks and months later, if there are still scenes and moments that are distinct in their humor or literary brilliance or swoony romance or tension, if I feel the need to tell someone else about this wonderful book, then it is a favorite. A favorite should be a comfort in some way. I want to return to its world and experience it all over again. In that sense, The Raven Cycle continues to be my favorite of all time, but I have curated a collection of “favorites” from 2022. My eclectic reading habits are on full display with this split of nonfiction and romance.
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
This was my first read of 2022, and I could not get enough of Hazelwood’s writing. I proceeded to read 3 novellas and another novel by her later this year. Sunshine and grumpy, I hate everyone but you, and fake dating are a few of the fantastic tropes on display.
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
A complete reversal of the fluffiness of romance, Empire of Pain is a brutal, sobering, and intimate look into how the opioid epidemic came to be. I love history that is told through the lens of a person or family, and this meticulously researched narrative is gripping and emotional. It’s a fantastic example of investigative journalism and one I have to recommend to nonfiction readers.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
If Julia Whelan narrates it, you know I’ll be listening. If the novel is a rom-com about the publishing industry set in a small town, you know I’ll drop everything to read it.
Thank you for Listening by Julia Whelan
Thank goodness Julia Whelan wrote a romance novel AND narrated it. Just listening to her male Irish accent is enough of a draw to enjoy this book. Whelan plays with so many romance tropes in her romance novel about romance audiobook narrators written by a romance audiobook narrator. Yes, it’s got all of the potential in the world to play with our expectations and desires as readers. It’s sweet, it’s smart, and it’s swoon-worthy.
The Palace Papers by Tina Brown
If you’ve ever been interested in how the British Royal Family lives and wanted an in-depth look into the drama, this is the book for you. It’s analytical, it’s scathing, it’s clever, and it’s shocking. It’s the smarter, better researched tabloid I’d been hoping for.
What did you most enjoy reading in 2022?