Book Recommendations, Year in Review

Best Reads of 2022

best reads of 2022

Every year’s end, I try and do a recap of my reading year – how many books I read, the split of fiction/nonfiction, and which books rose to the top in my memory. While 2022 was definitely one of the lower reading years I’ve had in the last decade, it also held plenty of books worth talking about and sharing here, so I’m going to go ahead and continue with my recap of the favorites.

As in years past, I have a weird thing about counting audiobooks as “reading,” so below I’ve just included the print or ebooks I read.

My criteria for my top reads for the year are fairly simple: Which books have stuck with me, which books made the biggest long-term impact, and which books am I most excited to recommend to others?

Note: There are affiliate links to the books mentioned below.

2022 Reading Stats

Total Number of Books Read in 2022: 30

This is my lowest reading year since I was a full-time teacher six years ago; I guess running a business/flower farm and having three kids will have that effect. I don’t anticipate that next year will be much higher either, what with us expecting our baby just before the middle of the year. Luckily, most of the books I finished were at least worth my time (with a couple exceptions), so at least there was that.

Number of Five Star Reads: 9

Interestingly enough, my five-star reads aren’t always the ones that immediately rise to the top when I think of my top reads for the year. Perhaps that means I need to rethink my rating system, but nevertheless, only about half of the titles below got 5 stars, and I didn’t elaborate below on all of them (although I did include the rest of the 5-star reads in the “Honorable Mentions” at the end).

If you’re curious about what criteria I use to give out five stars, you can check out this post I wrote on it HERE (which also includes several titles that earned a five-star review from me).

All of the books included in this list DID get at least 4 stars from me, however.

More Fiction or Nonfiction?

Surprisingly? Fiction, with 19 out of 30. I usually tend to lean a little heavier on nonfiction, but the reason the fiction had such a strong showing this year was because several of the titles I read in 2022 were read-alouds we did as a family.

Enough of the stats, though — onto the books!

Top Reads of 2022

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

I’m just as surprised as anyone that a book by John Green made it to my top list since he hasn’t exactly been my favorite author in the past (not that I DIS-like his books, per se, but I’ve often thought he was a bit over-hyped). Maybe he just needs to give writing more adult nonfiction a chance! This collection of essays takes the idea of giving things ratings out of five stars to a new level, as he rates everything from the penguins of Madagascar to sunsets to climate change. This is a broad, sweeping view of the world as it stands now in the 21st century and also looks at how we got here. It looks at the good, the bad, and the heartbreaking. This collection made me laugh out loud, tear up and cry, and seriously look at certain things in a brand new light. While I think it starts off a bit slow, give it a chance and read all the way through–you’ll be glad you did.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

For most book lovers, it’s hard to go wrong with books about books and book people, especially if they’re well-written, and that’s exactly what this one was. While it did deal in some heavier themes, the overall book didn’t feel too heavy, and it was a fun exploration of how the right book at the right time can change your life forever. The premise of this fiction debut is that a mysterious reading list starts floating around a London suburban community, which ends up drawing together the unlikeliest of friends. When tragedy strikes, the friends and community are able to face it together bravely and empathetically thanks to their shared experiences bonding over literature.

Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff

I don’t read a ton of parenting books, but when I get a particularly good recommendation, I’m willing to give it a shot. (For a list of some parenting books that HAVE been worth my time, you can check out this post.) I first heard about this title from a blog reader, and when I heard about the background and perspective of the researcher, I was immediately intrigued. Most parenting philosophies in vogue at the moment are theories that have only emerged in the past few decades or so (if even that), but Doucleff decided to take a vastly different approach. Rather than looking to modern inspiration, she instead sought to study indigenous cultures who have been parenting the same way for hundreds and hundreds of years. What she discovered often flies in the face of what modern-day “parenting experts” tell you to do, and her research is fascinating. Did I completely change my parenting to match 100% with everything she talked about? No. But it definitely did change some things I was doing, with great results so far.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I’d resisted reading this for awhile because I’d read one of Haig’s nonfiction books a few years back and wasn’t that impressed with his writing style (though I did admit that he made a lot of good points). However, when my book club did this as our chosen read for January, I finally took the plunge, and I’m so glad I did. While this book seems on the surface like it would be beyond depressing, it’s really not when you take it as a whole. In the very beginning of the book, everything is going wrong for the protagonist and she attempts to take her own life. While she is in limbo between life and death, she enters “the midnight library,” which is where she has the opportunity to go back and re-live her life over and over again, just changing one important detail each time to see the effects it would have. This book is life-affirming and optimistic and ultimately heart-warming, and it definitely has the potential to make you appreciate your own life a whole lot more, past regrets and mistakes and all. (And I also appreciated that since Haig himself has personally dealt with depression and anxiety for most of his life, his writing on the subject was especially insightful.)

This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick

This is the book I didn’t know how much I needed until I picked it up and started reading it, although I’d first heard of it years ago. This nonfiction book explores the scientific research behind place attachment and what makes people love where they live, with the author deciding to do an experiment alongside her research to see if she could better learn to love her new community simply by applying what she’d learned. As I wasn’t exactly thrilled myself about having to move to our current location back in 2020 and had struggled to find a sense of belonging and community, I definitely could relate to the author’s tendency to idealize moving to new places rather than do the hard work of trying to put down roots right where I was (especially because it wasn’t my first choice, nor my second or third or fourth). I read this book at a pivotal time this year, when we were actually considering a move. While we felt out our options that way, I also tried to simultaneously put some of the research from this book into practice as well, and you know what? While things didn’t dramatically improve overnight, I DO feel a much greater sense of attachment to our community now and don’t have any immediate desire to move anytime in the near future. This is a book I still think about all. the. time.

Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Young adult romances can often be super annoying to me, but this one was a delight. The only thing that kept this back from being a five star read was how much profanity was in it (which I wish wasn’t such a thing, especially in YA books). Liz Buxbaum has always been obsessed with chick flicks, and it’s an obsession that only grew deeper after her mom died, since it was one of their favorite things they did together. Thanks to her expertise in how romances “should” work, Liz is sure that she knows just what to do when her longtime crush from years ago unexpectedly moves back to her school. Trouble is, things keep going wrong, and the annoying boy next door seems determined to foil her best-laid plans. This was charming, hilarious, and a total page turner.

Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton

This is an older book of memoirs (first published in 1968) about one woman’s solo move out to the country, where she knows nobody and is totally unfamiliar with the town and area in general. This is what I like to dub a “quiet memoir” because it’s largely about ordinary life, but what I love about this particular volume is how she captures the magic of moving to a new place, which then eventually has to be replaced with the reality of actually living in that place. In this, Sarton talks about commonplace things such as unpacking and gardening and home repairs, but she does so in such a lovely, rich way that I found to be so cozy and contemplative. This type of book isn’t for everyone (if you’re looking for a page-turner, look elsewhere), but if you’re into slow memoirs about everyday life, this definitely might be one for you.

Honorable Mentions

  • Insights From a Prophet’s Life by Sheri Dew
    • This was definitely one of my most memorable and top reads of the year, but as it’s likely to be of interest to just those of my faith (as it’s a biography of our current church president, Russell M. Nelson), I just decided to do a small mention here. So inspirational though. Made me want to be a better human every time I picked it up.
  • Effortless by Greg McKeown
    • I’ve long raved about McKeown’s first hit bestseller Essentialism, so when I’d discovered he’d published another book, I snatched it up almost immediately. While Essentialism covers the importance of narrowing your focus, Effortless covers how to do the most essential work in the easiest and most efficient way possible.
  • The Private World of Tasha Tudor by Tasha Tudor
    • This is a very niche read, but ever since I discovered Tasha Tudor, I immediately knew why she’s had such a devoted fan following. She lived a fascinating and unusual life as she worked on her children’s book illustrations, and her rural cottage in the mountains of Vermont is the stuff of cottage lore. A fun escape read that I still like to peruse every now and then just to be transported for a little while.

Okay, time to hit me with YOUR list! What were your top reads in 2022?

Liked this post? Then you'll probably also like...