2022 Book List

Here it is! New Year, New Book List! I’m actually trying to read less this year, so we’ll see how that all goes. I set my GoodReads goals for 50 and I’m guessing I’ll blow past that but I really do want to slow down the reading pace and not use books as much to tap out of real life this year.

That said, I came up with a wild hair for my 40th to ask for 40 nonfiction books that I’d like to own/read and my people came through BIG time by fulfilling all my book dreams so now I have nonfiction TBRs for approximately the next five years. Coolest birthday celebration ever!

A partial glimpse of the birthday book collection.
  1. This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi — this book was such a weird way to start my year given that it is Empire Records set in a modern-day bookstore instead of music shop but is not billed or acknowledged as such until the author’s acknowledgments at the end of the book. I don’t like books to gaslight me, and somehow it feels extra painful that it was my initial read of 2022. At first I didn’t get what was happening but the second Imogen shaved her angsty head in the bathroom, I thought WTH?! and then from there it was just an onslaught of similarities and comparisons. Would I have enjoyed this more if I had known I was reading a retelling of ER? Probably because that movie was my go-to favorite in high school but instead this was just odd. That said, I’d still like to try another title from this author to see how that goes instead.
  2. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally — I love to read romance/rom com type books before bed because it helps my brain stop thinking quite so much but this had the opposite effect as it was just so bad that it made my brain mad instead of calm and quiet. I had hoped this would be a cute series but nope. I only finished it because it was short and I had already read too much the first night to give up on completing the whole (terrible) thing.
  3. Sistersong by Lucy Holland — This book is incredible. It’s a bit fantasy based which isn’t my normal genre but it is so beautifully crafted and includes family stuff, gender stuff, magic stuff, love stuff, betrayal stuff, and being true to yourself stuff. In other words, it is all the things and the things are all phenomenal. (finished 1/13/22)
  4. Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford — Ford’s first book is powerful and intense. She writes in such an open, honest way that puts you right there in her experience but also shows the universal struggles of families, abuse, rape, and more. This was a heavy read but one with multiple lines that took my breath away for their beauty and truth.
  5. The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin — Not a huge fan of this one. The 2001 pop culture references felt so forced and even though I get that lying was part of the package given the title, the overall storyline was cringe-y with an odd 9/11 element that both was and was not relevant to the story at all.
  6. Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey — How I ended up with a second book about teenagers and struggling indy bookstores this month is beyond me, but this one was OK. Nothing stands out about it but I’m one of those people who likes to read books about books, so it’s a win in that sense
  7. While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory — Love this series so much! May it continue forever! (finished 1/29/22)
  8. The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall — Another fantasy read with fascinating characters that include gender fluidity, queer relationships, and of course a little (or a lot) of magic. The switching perspective that not only moves between characters but that also includes the Sea as a character herself is well done here.
  9. Broken by Jenny Lawson — I love Jenny Lawson so much. She’s great in audio format but her stuff is just as funny when read in your own head, too. This one covers so much mental health and serious ground and yet it had me in near tears from laughing so hard more than once. (finished 2.13.22)
  10. Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green — I didn’t realize this would be all written as correspondence – mostly emails but also notes, texts, and Journal entries – nor did I know the main character would drive me nuts from start to finish either. I kept at it because a reader friend liked it so much but having read three books now about bookstores in the first two months of this year, I think this one found me at the wrong time when I just didn’t find it all that enjoyable or entertaining.
  11. No Judgment by Meg Cabot — Easy, breezy (I mean, literally – it is set in the midst of a hurricane on the Florida Keys), this was a fun little read with an animal lover twist to it as well.
  12. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson — Listened to this one and enjoyed it quite a bit. There’s a lot of good food for thought here but it would also be good to see this in hard copy, too, to remember all those tangibles and takeaways. I listened over a longer period of time than I would a fiction read and I noticed that I find myself asking, “Does this deserve giving a f*ck about?” more now which is probably a pretty good takeaway of its own. (Finished 3/9/22)
  13. Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler — There’s a clever approach to the narrative style with this one that I really enjoyed and that added several unique twists and turns throughout the reading. At times it felt overly teenager-ly dramatic, but with all due fairness and respect to teenagers, that actually also felt fairly true to life.
  14. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins — Second read for me, first for my oldest. We love our read-aloud time together and this series is proving to be another hit for him (and a fun revisit for me).
  15. The Singles Table by Sarah Desai — Although I liked the first two in the series better, I still love Desai’s stories and relationships and way she weaves in work and family and friendship to each of her books, bringing together multiple sides of her characters and what makes them tick. (finished 3/24/22)
  16. West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge — This was such a different novel and one I really enjoyed, in part because it was well written historical fiction and also because giraffes are just my favorite animal ever. The unique story and the characterization of the narrator were fascinating and told in a way that was compelling and page turning. I don’t think I have ever read anything quite like it!
  17. Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown — I have never read a Brene Brown book that I didn’t love, nor one that didn’t challenge me. This was a slow go because even though it touches pretty briefly on each of the 87 emotions covered within it, it is dense as all get-out when it comes to the concepts and mental chewing that needs to take place after reading a section. This is definitely going to be a re-read because wow – so much depth and consideration involved in this book. (finished 4/23/22)
  18. Slingshot by Mercedes Helnwein — OK, the “for fans of Rainbow Rowell” with this one got me and I stuck with it the whole way through waiting to see that come to life on the page, but nope; never saw it. While it was probably fairly accurate to teenage life and angst, I just wasn’t feeling it.
  19. No Offense by Meg Cabot — Just like the first in the series, I found this fun, light, and a little less drama filled than some other romances which is often a welcome shift.
  20. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai — My 10yo brought this home from school and I have always wanted to read it, so I did that today. It is so beautifully written and tells so much story with so few words on each page. This is a great read for kids and grownups alike.
  21. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon — Like Yoon’s other books, I LVOED this one from the very start. There’s just enough mysticism woven in to make the story unique but not cloying and the writing style made me want to stay with these characters longer than the book allowed.
  22. The Story of You by Ian Morgan Chron — This was such a great read to learn about both myself and so many people in my life who have studied and discovered their Enneagram numbers. I was underlining like a fiend during it! I plan to revisit the ideas from this one often because they are such good reminders of that even though we can’t change the past, we don’t have to live stuck in it forever either.
  23. Oona out of Order by Margartia Montimore — This book surprised and delighted me even though there’s plenty of hard and challenging moments within it. I found myself wondering, even with less than 10% to go (that’s what happens when reading on a Kindle, I guess) how it was all going to resolve itself which is always a treat. Definitely worth a read!
  24. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo — This is a great YA read that takes on some very adult concerns and transitions from high school to the world beyond, but also looks at family and listening to one’s own self. Love the title, the protagonist, and all the food descriptions sprinkled in the midst of this one.
  25. Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune — Klune is quickly becoming another favorite contemporary author of mine. This book captured me and delighted me and made my heart fit to burst at the notion of what love and trust and a new way of looking at the world can do for people. Also, gotta love a good, queer romance read.
  26. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig — Although it took me a bit to get into this book/protagonist, once I was there, I really appreciated the combination of story-telling and takeaways and just how human Nora was in the midst of her multiverse experience. Quite the unique book!
  27. If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be #1) by Julie Murphy — Loved it. Loved the Cinderella spin and the modern take on the storyline and loved how fun and fast it was to read as well. Looking forward to what’s to follow with this series!
  28. Winter Ball by Amy Lane — Everything from the sentence structure to the characters themselves felt far too underdeveloped for me with this one. Plus, call me old fashioned, but I need a wee bit more story and content in my romance books before diving into the full-on, overly descriptive sex scenes, especially so early on in the book.
  29. Book Lovers by Emily Henry — As an avid reader, I’ve read my fair share of novels about reading and/or book stores, but this book-based novel hovers near the top of that list, not for the book store side of things but for the stories of sisters and transformation, family dynamics and romantic relationships, and a career in the publishing world. Plus, I just flat-out didn’t see some of the surprises coming throughout the book which always delights me (as does being right, which also happened a couple times with this book). I’ve read three Henry books now and this was definitely my favorite. Perfect summer read!
  30. The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne — I’m on the fence with this one. In some ways, the characters are so frustrating and flawed, but then this also turns out to be a decent read for what allyship really means and looks like, for teenagers especially.
  31. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender — Excellent read. This is a great choice for any teenager questioning identity/navigating high school, but also a good read for parents and allies to understand better how to be good allies and friends to someone in the queer community. (finished 7/5/22)
  32. Inheritance (American Royals #0.5) by Katharine McGee — I would have liked this no matter what given my feelings on the two actual books in the series (anxiously awaiting the third/new one) but that said, a novella was just too short for me. Although it was good to go back and get the story of the night that changed everything, I still wanted more and wished that the story was a full prequel, not just a taste.
  33. The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff — Even though my spidey-sense went off several times in Chap. 1 and beyond, it wasn’t until I was halfway through that I asked an old book club friend if we’d ever read this title and sure enough, we did – five years ago! That said, I had forgotten enough for it to be a new-ish again read that was very captivating.
  34. The Bromance Book Club (#1) by Lyssa Kay Adams — This seems like a cute little series that’s worth continuing. In addition to the twist on romance novel reading, this one also touched on family of origin/”doing the work” that spoke to my therapy-loving heart even though none of the characters were actually in therapy. (finished 7/23/22)
  35. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong – I’ve never read a more poetic novel. Every single page contained at least one line (and often more) that took my breath away with its beautiful phrasing and imagery. Even though the story itself is often harsh and explaining a very hard life, the combination/juxtaposition of that with the gorgeous (pun intended) word choices makes this a must read. (finished 7/24/22)
  36. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters — A huge YES to this book. The characters, the story arc, the start-to-finish references – all so well done. As a side note, unrelated to the writing, I had the strangest reading experience of my long library patron life in that on page 217, I ran into page 250-something – a misprint for the ages! So I had to wait about a month for the library to get a new copy ordered, in, and processed, so I had trouble remembering a bit from the early pages. But wow did I fly through the second half of the book, which I found to be both compelling and entertaining, whereas I found the first half a bit harder to read.
  37. Love at First Fight by Mary Jayne Baker — Had I not known this was a “Much Ado About Nothing” rewrite, I think I would have been confused and less pleased with this book, but fortunately I read the blurb and knew what I was getting into with it. As a result, I really enjoyed it and found it to be very well done. Makes me want more in a similar style.
  38. The One and Only by Emily Giffin — Nope. No. Not for me. I finished it but only because it was a train wreck I couldn’t stop watching as I kept wondering, “are we really going there?” And yep, we did. P.S. “there” is a romance between a young professional and her best friend’s recently widowed father. Guess I’m a judgy ass, but nope, not the book I wanted to read and yet somehow did.
  39. The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner — Although this had elements that I like (pivoting between different periods of time and narrators, and female leads) I did not care for the writing style as it seemed to swing between over-the-top description and moving too bluntly between scenes (and sometimes even thoughts) for the characters. The plot didn’t really hook me until 3/4 of the way through and then it quickly lost me again before the final 10% (Kindle read) of the book. Overall it seemed like too much of a stretch to even attempt suspending the veil of disbelief to enjoy what was happening on the page. (finished 8/22/22)
  40. We’re Speaking: The Life Lessons of Kamala Harris: How to Use Your Voice, Be Assertive, and Own Your Story by Hitha Palepu — I’m a huge Harris fan and have been following Hitha Palepu’s IG for a while now, so this was a great way to learn more about our shared hero, KHM, and Palepu’s own life and career (and lessons learned from KH’s same). This will be a great one to pull out again when a little motivation or inspiration is needed in either a professional or personal sense.
  41. The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams — What a lovely story about stories and the connections and lessons they bring us, both as individuals and as communities. I’ve accidentally read a lot of books about books this year and so far this is my favorite. Also, Mukesh might just be one of my all-time favorite characters ever.
  42. Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon – Listened to this on a short road trip today and even though the light/fluff nature of it was probably all my brain could handle right now, I was disappointed by the overall lack of perspective and insight that I thought I’d get out of this it. I didn’t realize it would be so surface level and not go into Reese’s actual life and career or that it would feel so privileged and fussy. I’ve long admired RW’s efforts as a producer who centers female writers, actors, etc., but yeah, this book is not that.
  43. Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman — I find Waxman’s writing so charming and love the humor she weaves into her stories and characters. I didn’t realize that her books were so intertwined and I may have read some out of order, but somehow these also stand alone on their own in easy-to-read, quite enjoyable ways. (finished 9/6/22)
  44. I’ll Show Myself Out by Jessi Klein — This essay collection is so real and relatable even though Klein’s life and mothering experience is quite different from mine. She speaks to middle age, living in pandemic times, and raising a tiny human with such honesty, vulnerability, quirky humor, and beauty. I listened to this one which turned out to be a great bonus as Klein is also a wonderful narrator for her stories, too.
  45. Meant to be Mine by Hannah Orenstein — Had a hard time suspending disbelief with the family “gift” of prophecy in this one given how grounded in the present and mainstream culture the story actually is. I also had some major questions about an incident that happens between the sisters that gets brushed over too quickly/smoothly given the situation. That said, this was definitely a different concept for a romance novel that at times had me wanting to shake the protagonist by the shoulders and yell, “What are you doing?!” which I guess also kept me reading and wondering until the very end. (finished 9/10/22)
  46. By the Book (Meant to Be #2) by Jasmine Guillory — OK, Guillory never disappoints and even though this is quite different from her own series, that still holds. I love the love story here and that it’s not just romantic love but love for self and craft. And the Meant to Be series keeps impressing me because they are just such fun books to read. I love seeing how both authors have taken an old fairy tale (i.e. Disney movie from my childhood) and slipped it into the modern world. Guillory even keeps the physical stuff PG in this one, so if you like your romance without all the open door scenes, this is a great choice. To be fair, you have to endure the first chapter in which Izzy is nauseating as a character but then she gets real after that and the rest is fun to witness unfold. P.S. “Gaston” still exists and remains an arrogant jerk face.
  47. The Guncle by Steven Rowley — Loved this. This is by no means a light-hearted subject and yet the book is so funny, clever, and uplifting. It’s a pretty fast read, too, and is so well put together in terms of a story that entertains while also breaking your heart open a bit.
  48. This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub — Although the first part of the story lasted much longer than I expected, given the jacket blurb, this is one I could see reading multiple times given the mystery of it all, the relationships (way beyond just romantic) explored, and the concept of “If I could go back, what would I change and what would that do?” This would also make a great book club choice, especially for people circa 40, like Alice, who would probably find a lot of different ways to interpret and react to what happens in the book. (finished 9/24/22)
  49. The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley — This takes the multi-narrator concept and turns it on its head in a lovely and entertaining way. Such a great read about what can happen when we put our real selves out there, of course with a twist or two and some surprises along the way, all of which feels pretty true to life. I would be curious to read another book by this author.
  50. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins — HD and I finally got around to reading Book 3 aloud together which means we’ve come to the end of another beloved series. This was only my second time through so there were some “surprises” in store for me near the end and I had clearly forgotten just how gory and violent this particular book was, but overall we both enjoyed the story and the time together spent reading it.
  51. Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny — I don’t know that I have ever met, in one book, so many characters or details that seemed so potentially pointless but that somehow also came together in unified ways. At one point it struck me that this felt like short stories more than a novel with an overall point, which was confirmed by the acknowledgments at the end of the book about portions that previously appeared under different titles. That said, I still laughed out loud at some parts of the story and found the cast of (main) characters to be quite relatable.
  52. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin — I’m obsessed. This book was fantastic, both in its story and in its writing, both of which were so unique. I loved the way foreshadowing was done and how information about the characters was revealed in fits and starts (intentional given the subject matter, I assume). I probably read the first page a half dozen times to see it a new light, including right before the very end of the book. I’m not a huge gamer myself, but goodness, as a lover of books, this one hits so well.
  53. The Fixer Upper by Lauren Forsythe — Self-described by the author as a “feminist rom-com” (which is a genre I can totally get behind and read more of in the future), this was a quick and entertaining read.
  54. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt — What a gorgeous book. The way the story is woven together by three main narrators, one of which happens to be an octopus, is glorious and engaging. There’s nothing cloying about the storyline even though there are mysteries you very much want answered from early on in the book. Those resolutions all come in due time and in such poignant ways. Love it. Read it! (finished 10/19/22)
  55. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin — What a beautiful book. This explores friendship and family, life and death, love and loss, all in such compelling and creative ways. At the recommendation of a friend, I listened to it and she was right – the audio is simply delightful. This is one of those books that makes me miss the narrators, Lenni and Margot, now that my time with them is done.
  56. The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston — Perfect romance read for the week leading up to Halloween – kept me entertained and guessing, and apparently my trend of reading books about reading/book stores/writers just keeps going in 2022. This one was quite unique, though, which I appreciated. (finished 10/29/22)
  57. Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan — Another book about writing and romances…the meta trend continues! This one is quick-paced and we move swiftly with both time/action and emotions throughout, but there’s something about that, along with the over-the-top enduring-ness of many of the characters that works well here. Plus it does indeed go a bit off script for your typical romance read and I liked that a lot.
  58. Lila by Marilynn Robinson — The third offering in this series surprised me in so many ways. I thought I already knew Lila but clearly not from her internal POV and all that came with her past/prior to her arrival in Gilead. I found this one of the easier reads in the series, perhaps in part because I’ve now gotten used to Robinson’s dense prose and lack of chapters, or perhaps because I liked this one best of all so far.
  59. Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski — Just finished this audiobook and a few key takeaways (besides the fact that Emily Nagoski is phenomenal, which I already knew from her other book, Burnout): 1) All bodies are beautiful and normal with similar parts, arranged in different ways. 2) Responsive desire is a thing, and a normal, common thing at that. 3) We all have accelerators and brakes. 4) Context matters. Alway. — I am going to need to reread this book a few more times to really understand all the learning packed into it, but seriously – can’t recommend enough how important it is. (finished 11/12/22)
  60. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling — This is my fourth read, this time to my 2nd and 3rd kids (once before to my oldest and twice before on my own); I love revisiting the stories and witnessing my kids observe the, pun intended, magic of it all.
  61. The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker — I liked the accent as much as anything and there was a bit of “what’s going to happen” that I didn’t see coming near the end, so that was fun. Definitely more of a rom-com read than a bodice ripper, which is perfectly called for at times when a lighter read is needed without so much steam.
  62. The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain. Such a charming and endearing read. Albert works his way straight to your heart, and watching his later-in-life journey back to himself is quite beautiful to witness on the page. There are just enough surprises along the way to keep the reader, not on edge, but wondering where the story might go next. Worth the read!
  63. Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life by Louise Hay — There’s a lot to unpack with this kind of work and I’ll need to reread it several more times to even really scratch the surface, but I do appreciate the overall approach behind Hay’s mirror work.
  64. Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid — I freaking love Jenkins Reid and the way she writes her books. She is so good at plucking a seemingly minor character from one book and then giving us that person’s entire story and perspective in another book but without creating a series. Instead there are these lovely little Easter Eggs in each novel that intertwine them all, just like with real life. There were certain elements of this one that I really appreciated, including the way she wrote about tennis matches that made it seem like the words were volleying back and forth, just like a game, and the way she made me feel the building tension, stress, and heartbreak of it all, too. I still haven’t read all of her titles but I sure plan to do so in time. (finished 12.4.22)
  65. The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel — Having never given much thought to what it must have been like to be on the earth-side of an astronaut’s marriage/family, this was incredibly eye-opening. It covers a lot of ground and people but is a remarkable collection of stories, anecdotes, and perspectives of what these women endured and experienced as they were thrust into the hot-seat and the public eye.
  66. No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler — Bowler’s writing is so beautiful. She’s writing about one of the hardest experiences a person can navigate and she does it with both grace and humility but also actual humor and raw honesty. I’m pretty sure we’d be great friends if we met in real life, or at least that’s how her writing makes me feel – like I know and love her already.
  67. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney — started the year with a meh book and ended it with a meh book. Was expecting so much more from this and it just never got there for me. While I liked the title discovery at then book’s end, it didn’t make up for the rest of the pointless story.
  68. Missing Christmas by Kate Clayborn — a good little palate cleanser to finish out the year – short, predictable, fluff – just what I needed! (finished 12.31.22)
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