The Best Books of 2022 (Book Reviews)

The year is closing in. I can see the guillotine approaching that will slice down the calendar, separating one period of time from the next. I tend to categorise my life by dates — years are significant to me. I look back, and each one has a theme of its own. When I look back on 2022, I think I will see a range of emotions, from elation to despair. But one thing that has been consistent throughout this year is: taking care of myself.

After months of therapy and even longer, feeling like I’d lost myself in the remoteness of motherhood and the postpartum haze, I found that taking time for myself was the key to my happiness and energy. For me, that didn’t look like a weekly solo stroll or meeting friends for coffee every month. No. For me, that’s leaning into the tiny gifts of time that a baby or toddler can give you: the 20-minute naps, the early nights, the occasional lie-in, the moments they’re busy playing with somebody else, the long drives while they’re asleep, the tiny crack of space you find between tidying the house and them waking up again, the fractures of time that light up throughout the day. I have been gathering up these moments and depending on them because if I don’t, I burn out quickly.

What I do in these stolen seconds is of utmost importance. I don’t cook, clean, or shower if I can avoid it (these are all things that can be done while he is awake). Instead, I sleep or watch a favourite programme; perhaps I will write or scroll on my phone. I rest. And one of the main ways of resting, for me, is by opening up a novel and falling into the words, fading away from my own world and into another.

Somehow, I’ve managed to read 35 books this year, and the year isn’t even done. This has been a wonderful reading year, and I wanted to share the best books of 2022 — six stories that will stick with me for a long time.

The Best Books of 2022 (Recap)

I’ve read 35 books this year. This includes:

  • 28 fiction books.
  • 5 non-fiction.
  • 2 poetry books.

My top genres included: contemporary, LGBTQIA+, young adult, romance, and mystery. My busiest reading month was March; my least busy month was June.

My average rating was 3.72 (which is pretty high for me; I’m a harsh rater).

I want to share a few 4-5 star reads with you. Let’s get into the best books of 2022 (note that not all of these were written or published this year, just books that I read).

1. The Heartstopper Series

Let’s start with a bang. Well, it’s more like a warm hug.

The Heartstopper graphic novel series by Alice Oseman is one of the best reading experiences I’ve ever had. It follows Charlie and Nick, two schoolmates who fall for each other. This book tears down stereotypes about what it means to be gay while normalising queerness.

One of my favourite elements of this series was how the adults dealt with sexuality. It wasn’t a big deal; it wasn’t overdramatised… it just was.

Nick and Charlie are oh, so adorable, and I can’t wait for the 5th book to come out.

(Ps, I read these all in about 1-2 hours each. Major quick reading, great for if you’re in a slump!)

2. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

I will always think about this book.

It’s one of the best books that I have ever read. Following two Black sisters, who are light-skinned enough to pass as white, we see them run away from home and go their separate ways, losing contact with each other.

I absolutely adored the writing in this book; it pulled me in from the first page and had me emotionally invested in characters who felt completely real. The writing is simple yet rich, with stunning details.

I also loved the vivid, dimensional, and complex characters. I understood their reasoning and wacky decisions. Each character had a fully-fleshed background, a history of trauma, and hard motivation.

If you want to read a book about sisterhood, an exploration of race and motherhood — then The Vanishing Half is the book for you.

3. Birth Notes by Jessica Cornwell

A solid 5-star read about motherhood, postpartum anxiety, depression, and pain.

If you’ve followed me online, or know me in real life, you’ll know that the first month of motherhood was enough to scar me for a long time. It’s hard to talk about because not many people understand, and of course, I don’t want to come across as ungrateful.

But Birth Notes made me feel seen. I felt like I was friends with the author like she was writing letters to me. I almost wish I’d read this those first few weeks, but maybe that would have been too hard. I simply loved Cornwell’s vulnerability, honesty, and resilience.

I’d recommend this to people considering parenthood to see what an extreme case of postpartum depression and anxiety might look like, people who have friends who have been through it, or those who are going through it themselves. This is an honest, raw, sad, heartbreaking collection of what motherhood can look like at its most chaotic.

4. The Inland Sea by Madeleine Watts

This is one of those books I know I loved, but I can’t remember what happened in it — only how it made me feel. And that’s ok.

I still recommend this entirely. It’s a character-driven book without a lot of significant development or diversity. But if you like reading about flawed characters, especially women, then I think you’d like this.

“But our lives contain no line breaks. Our experiences are so frequently unbearable to us because real life is just sheer bloody continuity… The excruciating thing is that time carries on and you love them anyway.”

The Inland Sea blew me away. It’s about climate change, but it’s woven into how the main character responds to her own awful circumstances. It’s a magnificent literary fiction novel about a new adult who is anxious about the world, her trauma, and her relationships.

5. The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

I couldn’t make this list without including this book: the most hyped-up novel for me in 2022.

This book broke me a little. It highlights one of my biggest fears as a mother: having my child taken away from me. When Frida loses custody of her daughter, she goes to a government reform programme called The School for Good Mothers.

This book is a speculative alternate reality where if you’re not a perfect mother, then you’re a bad one. There is absolutely no winning in this society (unless you’re a man or childless) — the mothers are surrounded by judgment all the time.

Overall, this was one of my most hyped reads of the year, and it blew me away, softly and sadly. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It’s not a massive page-turner. It’s a bit slow and reflective; there are some brutal scenes; there’s horror; there’s love; there’s desperation; there’s devotion. There’s a mother. A mother who isn’t perfect, but isn’t bad, but will do anything – anything at all – to hold her daughter, just one more time.

6. Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Ending with a lighter note — here’s a cute romantic book that is the perfect pick-me-up for any time of year.

As you’ll see from my list, I don’t read a lot of fluff. But I kind of needed it this summer to cure me from all the traumatising books I was reading, and so I picked this up. The first 100 pages or so, I couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous it was, but then I was soon laughing at how funny and sweet it was.

It felt like your typical rom-com film, but with something a little deeper to it, in a way that wasn’t alienating, cringey, or overly emotional. I don’t want to give too much away. Just read Book Lovers.

Good Books to Read

If you’re on the hunt for some good books, I hope you’ll find something on my list of best books in 2022. We’ve covered Emily Henry’s books, some fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels. Take time out to read. It’s transportation, mesmerisation, and a sliver of peace in an otherwise wild life.

2 thoughts on “The Best Books of 2022 (Book Reviews)

  1. I loved so many of these books too! The Vanishing Half is certainly in my top books of the year, and the Heartstopper series is just the ultimate wholesome read

    Like

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