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the best book i read in 2022
my annual (almost always late) rundown of what i read last year
For some reason, it feels like we’re 5 weeks into the new year instead of just 5 days into the new year, so I thought it was finally time to send out my best (and worst) of 2022 list.
I had read The Diary of a Young Girl (or at least excerpts of it) when I was younger, but after rereading it this spring, I was totally amazed by her writing talent and maturity—and devastated by the way her story ended.
Best non-fiction book:
I love a true story that sounds completely made up, so Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI was a wild ride.
Best food book:
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty is about a sexy chef on a tropical island and the food scenes felt especially cinematic.
Best LGBTQ book:
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a novel that feels like a memoir, bittersweet and personal.
Best indulgent book:
Some might call it a beach read, but I like to think of it as a gossipy look into the lives of strangers. I read a lot of books that could fall into this category, but these were the most fun to read. Pack them for your next vacation.
Best apocalypse book:
The Last asks “what would happen if nuclear war broke out while you were trying to solve a murder mystery at a remote lodge in the Alps?”
Best wanderlust book:
I read a *lot* of cheesy thrillers, but The Paris Apartment was by far the best.
Best old(er than me) book:
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd kept me entertained on a 16-hour travel day that involved a canceled flight and a surprise pitstop in Atlanta. I’m now considering reading every Hercule Poirot book… (so let me know if you have any advice).
Book that took the longest to read:
The Wind Whistling in the Cranes - oh my god it took me MONTHS to finish this thing.
Book that took the shortest to read:
I finished Verity in one sitting but I do NOT recommend it unless you’re a masochist (or if you have a hard time reading books and just need something you can’t put down). There is a reason this book was self-published.
Book I most want to see as a movie:
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty makes a few too many appearances on this list for a book that I found to be mainly mediocre, but it would be my new favorite movie to watch on a plane (move over, Crazy Rich Asians). Free Food for Millionaires or Cleopatra and Frankenstein would both make an excellent TV series a la Normal People.
Book with the best love story:
Book with the best gossip:
My Body by Emily Ratajkowski (It makes her husband seem like a dick and definitely gives some context for her widely discussed divorce).
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI definitely gives you that “nothing is safe” feeling, but if you’d prefer a scary novel, Night Angel will do the trick.
Homeland Elegies made me lol.
Acts of Service is more *about* sex than actually sexy, but there are plenty of sex scenes.
Most devastating book:
I straight-up sobbed over those sweet oxen in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Most beautiful book:
Most haunting book:
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is haunting for obvious reasons, but well worth a reread if you’re like me and haven’t read it since middle school.
Most WTF book:
Bunny. The pacing and language of this book made me nauseous and I understand that it’s “art” but I hate it anyways.
Most disappointing book:
The Jetsetters starts off with such a weird and interesting cast of characters on the precipice of huge drama but then the whole thing just fizzles out and nothing happens. The writer had a great idea and blew it.
Most underrated book:
Cleopatra and Frankenstein! I’m really surprised this book isn’t more popular. I know Sally Rooney comparisons are a dime a dozen these days, but I felt like this book filled that niche: smart, fun, and gossipy with a touch of glamorous ennui.
Most overrated best-seller:
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was on many “best of” lists in 2021 and all over social media. People I trust loved this book but I thought it was a big fat dud that was a slog to get through.
The 10 best novels I read in 2020:
Mercury Pictures Presents: one of those sweeping monumental historical novels that makes you really *feel* something and go “is this based on a true story”? Fair warning that the first 100 pages are slow, but if you’re remotely interested in old-timey Hollywood, I highly recommend it.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein: a doomed downtown New York love story that’s like a Girls x Sally Rooney collab.
Sea of Tranquility: the latest installment of one of my favorite literary franchises. I swear people will be writing graduate-level papers about her work one day, but I only recommend this if you already read and loved Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: a book about friends and art and work and loneliness and growing up that feels both magical and believable.
The Latecomer: I can never resist a book about siblings. This one was smart, funny, and fascinating.
Cloud Cuckoo Land: This book was overly ambitious and didn’t quite live up to its potential, but it’s still one of the top 10 books I’ve read all year. If it had been executed perfectly, it would have been one of the top 10 books I’ve read, full stop.
Homeland Elegies: Somewhere between a novel and a series of vignettes, it’s a highly entertaining portrait of what it’s like to be Muslim in America.
The Witch Elm: I think there might be a Tana French phenomenon (not unlike Jonathan Franzen) where your first is always your favorite, but I dove headfirst into this book.
Intimacies: It’s short and light on plot, but it’s utterly engrossing. One of those stories that feels slightly disturbing and maybe a bit dangerous.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: In a way it’s almost too well-written and meticulously crafted, but it’s beautiful and poignant and should be required reading.
What was the best book you read this year?