Anna: It’s that time of year again!
In 2022, I read a total of 69 books. My top three genres were literary, mystery, and contemporary, although not as many mysteries made it to my top books this year. I read 93 percent fiction and 7 percent nonfiction. Oops— one of my reading goals for 2022 was to read more nonfiction. Maybe next year!
Reading Tracking App
This year, I stopped using Goodreads and switched over completely to The StoryGraph to track my reading. Why? Goodreads is owned by Amazon and The StoryGraph is independently owned. I also just prefer it— The StoryGraph is more user-friendly, you can actually select the correct edition you’re reading, there are trigger warnings and each book is tagged by its mood, pacing, and genre. I also like that you can tag the books you own and digitally line up your TBR.
Instead of using my main bullet journal, this year I tried chronicling my reading in a separate reading bullet journal. I found it pretty tedious and stopped about halfway through the year. Even though I find that journaling helps me remember and process a book better, I need to stop writing so much of the summary or I get too burned out to actually journal. Luckily my in-laws got me a templated reading journal for Christmas, which I’m going to try using this year.
So without further ado, let’s talk about the best books that I read this year! I’m not attempting to rank these; I loved them all.
The Push by Ashely Audrain
I could not stop reading The Push and it haunts me to this day. This is a fast-paced yet deeply character-driven thriller about a mother who is convinced her daughter is evil, but no one else believes her. It’s about how terrifying parenthood is and how you might not have as much control over your child as you think.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
I was hesitant to read this since I did not enjoy the only other book I’d read by Emma Straub, The Vacationers. But I loved This Time Tomorrow! It centers on a father/daughter relationship and how that changes as we age. It’s also about being happy where you are in life while recognizing that it’s okay to feel nostalgic for the past. It also involves time travel! I can’t wait to reread this one.
Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel
This coming-of-age book has a lot going on—some themes include mental health, sexuality, and our obsession with true crime. It follows Zoe, a struggling college student who becomes involved in a dangerous scheme when she and her study abroad roommate move into the apartment of a famous mystery writer. It’s a little slow in places but has so many elements I love that I couldn’t stop reading.
Bewilderness by Karen Tucker
This was one of the first books I read in 2022, and it continues to stick with me. It’s literary fiction about two friends living with drug addiction. Tucker writes about the heartbreaking cycle of addiction in a way that humanizes it without glorifying it. The writing is beautiful, I loved the friendship between the two main characters, and the ending still gets me.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
After reading (and loving) the Monk & Robot series by Becky Chambers, I was excited to jump into this sci-fi series. This first book was so fun and featured a diverse, lovable cast of characters that travel space together in a rag-tag ship called the Wayfarer. I’m looking forward to continuing the series!
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
It’s hard to write about mental health in a fresh, new and meaningful way, but Meg Mason does it. Martha’s mental illness is never named in Sorrow and Bliss. We just know it’s a very stigmatized disease. I loved the role of family in this book, and that a large part of Martha’s journey is about accepting their love and support.
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
Modern Irish fiction is among my favorite, and this slim, “quiet” novel packs a punch. I read this one in early January, and it’s the perfect book to read around Christmas time. It makes you question what you would actually do when confronted with someone in need around what is supposed to be the happiest and most giving time of the year.
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
I’ve loved every Emily St. John Mandel book I’ve read, and this one is no exception. It’s almost impossible to describe what Sea of Tranquility is about, but it follows different characters across different timelines and worlds. Slowly their stories start to weave together. I loved the sci-fi and dystopian elements of this one as well!
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
This was one of my most anticipated new releases of the year, and it did not disappoint! No one writes historical fiction like Maggie O’Farrell. This retelling of the life of the duchess Lucrezia de Medici is set in Renaissance, Italy. We know from the beginning that Lucrezia is killed early in her marriage by her husband. The Marriage Portrait is beautifully written, full of tension, and I loved the direction it went.
Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft
I don’t read much YA any more, but I picked up this one and liked it so much that I also read Allison Saft’s other book, A Far Wilder Magic, this year. I preferred this one, which follows Wren, a young healer who visits a gothic, crumbling mansion to figure out its dark secret. It also has a romance plot, which I actually enjoyed (I’m not huge on romance in my reading these days). The way the relations between the different kingdoms are written in this one is really well done.
Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles
Kathryn Miles explores the life and death of Julie Williams and Lollie Winnans, avid hikers who were murdered while camping in Shenandoah National Park. As a woman and frequent hiker of Shenandoah, I was intrigued—and terrified—by what Miles has to say about how the places we consider the most peaceful are not actually safe, especially if you’re a woman.
My Body by Emily Ratajowski
I knew nothing about model Emily Ratajowski before reading her memoir. Now, I respect her. Her essays recognize that Emily uses her body as currency and that it’s made her wealthy. Yet she challenges the perception that a woman can’t be sexy, intelligent, and call herself a feminist and a writer all at once.
Here’s to another great year of reading in 2023!