2022 started off as a great reading year for me and then fell apart in the fall. I still will finish out the year with 100 books read and I’ve given 18 5-star ratings (5 of which were rereads). However, I found it impossible to come up with my normal 10 favorite books list. I really just didn’t have that many books that made their way into my all-time favorites. But I did read a lot of good books and some of the 4-star reads I still think about occasionally. So I’m doing something a little different this year and came up with five favorites, five most memorable and five most surprising reads.
Top 5 Favorite Reads
Of the 13 new reads that I gave 5 stars to in 2022, five really stand out as my favorites. Here they are in the order I read them because I certainly can’t rank them.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
This is the only nonfiction book to make this list and I don’t think another nonfiction book has ever made a favorite list of mine but this was fantastic. I easily could have put it in both of the other categories too but it belongs here. It was hard to read but so honest and beautifully done. I’ve recommended it to several people I know and will continue to do so.
Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer
I love a good YA fantasy and this was a great YA fantasy. Its world and premise is something I hadn’t read before and the characters were fantastic. I love the main three characters but even some of the side characters were great (I’m looking at you Quint). This book took me by complete surprise in turning out to be one of my favorite reads of the year. If I had to pick a single favorite, this might even be it. I did read the sequel in November and sadly, Kemmerer continues to struggle with sequels. But I still gave it 4 stars because I love these characters so much, I’d read just about anything to spend some more time with them.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
It seems like everyone is singing the praises for this book and it really deserves it. It is so completely different from anything I’ve ever read. It’s sort of like When Harry Met Sally but they don’t fall in love, instead they make video games. I can’t even describe it or why I loved it so much but I couldn’t put it down. Except when I had to put it down because I was crying too hard to see the words. I loved it.
Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Only Taylor Jenkins Reid could make me pick up a historical fiction book about tennis (although calling the 90s “historical fiction” makes me feel old). Not only did I pick it up, I couldn’t put it down. I laughed, I cried, I kept thinking about Carrie for weeks afterwards. I will read absolutely anything Taylor Jenkins Reid writes, she is a master. And about 50% of her books end up on my favorites list.
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
I took a deep dive into the realms of adult epic fantasy this year and while I enjoyed my time, I was finding a lot of books I really liked but didn’t love. After a bunch of 4 star reads, I finally picked up my first book ever by Brandon Sanderson and it was an instant 5 stars. The intricacy of this world, the depth of the characters, the readable writing, the engaging plot, this book had everything. It has me totally intrigued about the Cosmere and I plan to pick up more Sanderson in 2023.
Top 5 Most Memorable Reads
Some books just stay with me even if they weren’t my favorite book ever. Not counting the 5 amazing reads already mentioned, there were another 5 books that continue to come into my mind regularly. Each of these was a 4 star read for some reason (although I gave Fevered Star 5 stars out of sheer excitement for the next one after that ending). But some 4 star reads can stick with me as good or better than a 5 star.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
I think about these characters and scenes in this book so often. There was just something about Poppy and Alex that I absolutely adored. This would have been a 5 star read and could have made it into my favorite books of the year if Emily Henry didn’t insist on throwing melodrama into the end of all of her books. But regardless, I love these characters and their various vacations and they pop into my head often.
Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari
I love Disney and Disney World. I’ve been to Disney World several times this year and will be there again in early 2023. I want this island to exist and love some of the ideas in this book. I may not have loved the plot or characters but oh boy, the atmosphere in this one was amazing and I’ve thought about it often.
Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell
I may not think about this book often but I do think about Reichis. I love that little squirrel cat and the scenes with him, particularly in this installment, were fantastic. I may never take a bath and smile thinking about those scenes with Reichis.
Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
This was definitely a bit of a disappointment since I adored the first book but I still liked seeing the characters and world again and the ending was explosive, I gave it 5 stars. It’s been months and my brain is still trying to process the ending and guess what comes next.
Heat Wave by TJ Klune
This series was not written for me but I love that it exists for those it was written for and I did enjoy my time. Some of the scenes were so funny and the relationships were so well done, they still pop to mind occasionally. No book does the father/son dynamic quite like this series.
Top 5 Most Surprising Reads
And the last category I have are my most surprising reads. These are the books I picked up and for one reason or another thought I wouldn’t like them but they took me completely by surprise. Again, these are mostly 4 star reads but they stand out in my mind as very enjoyable reading experiences because they weren’t at all what I was expecting.
The Time Trials by Jon and Dayna McConnell
I was hoping for a fun read when I picked up this “read now” selection on NetGalley. I was not expecting how good it would be. This book is so unique and combines so many of my favorite things. It had a few hiccups in the execution but wins so many points for originality. I waited too long to get the second one through NetGalley and it’s not something I can get from the library so it is one of the only books I requested for Christmas. It was indeed under the tree and I’ll be picking it up soon.
Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
I saw so many good reviews of this book and I wanted a short change-of-pace book to stick into a readathon TBR so I decided to go for it. I’m so glad I did! It was so much fun and made me think I might actually like some cozy mysteries. I have the second book from the library but have been saving it for when I’m in the right mood.
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik
I decided to take one for my readathon team and read this Napoleonic War with dragons story from an author who’s more popular and recent book I DNF’d after 40 pages of wishing the main character would die. I went in just hoping that I wouldn’t DNF it. And then an amazing thing happened, I really liked it! Temeraire is the talking military dragon that I never knew I needed in epic fantasy. I’ve already read the first 3 books in this series and just got number 4 from the library. I still can’t believe it’s the same author.
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
About 2 years before I started reading 70+ books a year, I read the full Game of Thrones series. Those 5 books took me an entire year and I was just reading them, I read 5 books that year. So I was really nervous to try epic adult fantasy again and seeing George RR Martin quoted on the cover didn’t help. But I took the plunge and I’m really glad I did, it’s opened the doors to so many great series. I’m only two books into the Realm of the Elderlings but really enjoying it and it has given me the courage to pick up other adult fantasy too.
Shipped by Angie Hockman
I go into most romance books expecting to have a good time and then immediately forget it when I’m done, it’s like watching Hallmark movies. So any time I get really invested in a romance book and actually give it 5 stars, it’s a big deal. Shipped did just that a few weeks ago and even more credit for doing it when I’ve been feeling slumpy. I already recommended it to my mom, it’s adorable and I may need to read it again on my next beach vacation.
That’s a wrap! 15 books that were fantastic, memorable and/or surprising for me in 2022. I hope 2023 brings me some more great reads. I’ll end with a shoutout to these 6 other books that weren’t rereads and I gave 5 stars, they deserve some love too.