Best Books of 2022: What I Loved & Loathed
Hello, hello! We are here in the strangest week - up is down and left is right. And I'm being kept afloat by my google calendar alerts alone. And I can’t think of anything I’d rather talk about than books! So, shall we?
To start, we should all be on the same page with my personal rating system. I’ll break it down for us:
5 Stars: this book is now a part of my personality. I will gift it to everyone I know. If it is not already on my bookshelf, I will buy it, reread it, and be jealous of everyone who gets to read it for the first time.
4 Stars: this book was great. It’s probably already on my bookshelf and something I am glad I read. I’ll think about it for a long time and it is well worth the read.
3 Stars: this book was good. I finished it but there were a few things that I wish were different. I likely won’t read it again but am happy that I did.
2 Stars: Why do people like this book? I slogged through it because I was sure it would get better (after all, there are so many people who like it), but in the end, it was not for me.
1 Star: I wish I did not read this book. It was a waste of my time and I am annoyed that I read it instead of the thousands of other really excellent books. (I usually don’t even get to this point and it becomes a DNF)
DNF: Did not finish. I attempted (usually reading at least 20% of the book) and never got into it.
Lessons in Chemistry: (Fiction, Historical Fiction-ish) I went into this expecting it to be similar to Where’d You Go, Bernadette (truth be told, this was probably off of the covers alone). But where the latter was fine, the former was exceptional. I devoured this one. If you’re in the mood for a great piece of fiction that is easy to read but well-written with a masterful storyline and really lovely characters, then pick this up.
Book Lovers: (Romance) While I love the idea of beach reads and romance books, my secondhand embarrassment tends to get the better of me and I can’t make it through something that has me cringing and rolling my eyes every page. Emily Henry is the author for me that writes a cozy, sweet, hallmark-type book, but makes it smart. She usually pokes fun at the own tropes of her genre (much of the premise of this book is actually exactly that) which I apparently love. I read this one in one sitting - it was that fun.
The Guncle: (Fiction) I read this in the midst of a very anxious season this year and it was the warm, good-natured, hug of a book that I needed. It’s whimsical and sweet and it goes exactly where you think it is going to but in a comforting way. This is one I know I’ll pick up again and again in the future when I want the warm fuzzy feelings.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: (Fiction) The buzz about this book had me convinced it was going to fall flat. But my goodness, it proved me wrong. Even if you know very little about video games (hi, hello, it’s me) or tend to not love coming-of-age stories (also me), you should give this one a go. Note; I think it is best enjoyed in as few sittings as you can manage. I don’t think it’ll shine nearly as brightly or pull you in if it’s spread over a longer period of time.
Note; there are too many to talk about every book, so I’ll keep it to the few that got so close to 5 stars.
The Dead Romantics: Romance (note; not on the graphic but it is by Ashley Poston)
The Hotel Nantucket: Fiction, beach read. (note; also not on the graphic. I just finished these both after the graphic was made) No one writes a beach read like Elin Hilderbrand. And this one was excellent.
The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle: (Mystery) two chapters in and I turned to Seth and said “phew this is a good book.” It had me from the start and I’ve continued to think about it often. If you enjoyed The Midnight Library, I think you’ll enjoy this.
The Lincoln Highway: (Fiction) Another coming-of-age story that has me potentially changing my mind about coming-of-age stories. This is bound to be a classic.
Garden Spells (Fiction)
The Diamond Eye: (Historical Fiction) I’ll read anything and everything Kate Quinn writes. She hits the mark every single time for me when it comes to historical fiction.
Bird by Bird: (Non-Fiction) Anyone who is interested in writing (in any capacity) should read this.
The Maid: (Mystery) Fantastic on audiobook!
Cloud Cuckoo Land: (Fiction, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction) I spent the first 1/3 of this book utterly confused. And I’m so glad I kept going. This is one of the most clever books I’ve ever read and one I’ll be thinking about for years to come. The only thing that kept it from five stars is that I wish I wasn’t so utterly bewildered for the first few hours of reading it.
Black Cake: (Fiction, Historical Fiction) This is another one that I went back and forth on giving four or five stars. It is fantastic. What a story.
Run Rose Run (Fiction)
The Exiles (Historical Fiction)
This Is How It Always Is: (Fiction) Whew, the tears I shed during this book. It is beautiful and sweet and important.
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone (Memoir)
The Good Sister: (Fiction, Thriller) This book captivated me. I finished it in one night, fully unable to put it down. And it got unexpectedly tender towards the end (you may want a tissue or two on hand if you often cry doing books)
The Personal Librarian (Historical Fiction)
I won’t go into these aside from saying that they were fine - nothing that blew me away but also something I happily finished. If you tend to enjoy the genre of any of these, you’d probably enjoy this one just fine. But if you don’t read a significant amount, this might not be where you want to invest your limited reading time.
The Christie Affair: Historical Fiction
The Golden Couple: Thriller
Flying Solo: Romance
The Cartographers: Fiction, a little Sci-Fi/Thriller
Weather Girl: Romance
Maisie Dobbs: Mystery, Historical Fiction
The Borrower: Fiction
Love at First: Romance
The Last House Guest: Mystery, Thriller
Such A Quiet Place: Mystery, Thriller
Violetta: It was…boring? I kept waiting for something interesting to happen and it never did. This was one of those books you were aware you were reading every single page.
Ugly Love: Controversial, I know. But I don’t think I’m a Colleen Hoover fan. I’m going to try another one or two this year but I did not enjoy this one.
Did Not Finish
Second First Impressions: The cringe about killed me on this one. I couldn’t make it past a few chapters of this one. I enjoyed Book Lovers but this one did not land for me.
Beautiful World, Where are You: Everything felt awkward and off. All of the characters were landing too far outside of realistic human interactions and it was too much to work through. It was not for me.
Best Links of the Week:
Speaking of Books, I’m about halfway through this and very much enjoying it.
I’ve been a loyalist to this cowboy cookie recipe (the closest I’ve ever gotten to Chick-Fil-A’s cookies), and have not found a pure chocolate cookie recipe that I loved. This one has me rethinking everything. (Thanks for sharing it with me, Allison).
This looks cozy (and needed) for my wintery morning walks.
If you haven’t watched this yet, you must! I hope they make a dozen more of these.
And while we’re chatting about things to watch, this was also a surprisingly delightful watch.
If you enjoy documentaries, here are the best from this year.
I cannot get over the cut and material of this blazer.
We used to live down the street from this bakery and I could not get enough of their croissants. It was fun to see them featured here (the video is delightful)!
These classic tan ankle boots just got restocked and they are excellent. (Run TTS)
What is HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)? And a quiz to see if you are one. (I am without a doubt and have been deep diving into more about HSP and some of my own nuero-spiciniess this fall. This book is a great place to start!)
These flats are beautiful and functional.
Pearl fringe may be my new favorite detail.
This week’s high: Christmas Eve at home with Champagne and Chinese takeout. We curled up on the couch to watch old Christmas movies and it was every bit as cozy and restful and calm as I had hoped it would be.
This week’s low: the Christmas crud got the best of me earlier this week. Blergh. I’m feeling much better now and glad that I had already planned for this week to be so slow! Stay healthy, my dears. It’s nasty out there right now!
Have a Happy New Year!