Hello, book lovelies!
This is my last newsletter of 2022, and in true end-of-the-year fashion, I have decided to share with you the list of my top 10 favorite books I’ve read this year. 2022 was a big year for me, mainly because I became a parent. I really had no idea what my free time would look like after my daughter was born. I mentally prepared myself that I may only read 10 books this whole year, eight of which I read before she was born. I’m happy to report that I actually snuck in quite a bit of reading time during naps and after bedtime. I traveled to the streets of Italy with Stanley Tucci, hit the U.S. Open tennis courts with Carrie Soto, and ate my way through France with Julia Child, all while not leaving my house. Below you will find a list of my 10 favorite reads of 2022 in no particular order.
I am a big believer in going into a book knowing as little as possible. I try not to read too much of the synopses or reviews, since most of them over-share. My pitches below are short and sweet just for that reason.
This is one of the first books I read in 2022 and I still think about it all the time. If you are new to the thriller or mystery genre, then Finlay Donovan is your gal. Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan Is Killing It is one of the most fun books I have ever read. We follow Finlay, a stressed-out single mom and struggling crime writer, who is just trying to make ends meet. When chatting about her latest project with her agent at a Panera Bread, a neighboring table-mate overhears Finlay describing her book deal and mistakes Finlay for an assassin. The woman slips her a note requesting Finlay “take care” of her husband for a hefty $50k. A hilarious yet not-cheesy adventure ensues. This is the first book in a four-book series. The third installment is slated to be published January 31, 2023.
Confessions by Kanae Minato, translated by Stephen Snyder, is such a unique take on the thriller genre. Lately, I have found myself drifting away from the thriller genre because of how repetitive the plots and characters seem to be. Confessions is truly original. It’s unlike any other thriller I have read before, especially in the format.
The book opens with Yuko Moriguchi giving her last lecture to her students before resigning from her position. Every chapter recounts the same tragedy from a different perspective. The novel is full of twists, each chapter revealing more of the truth than the previous one. This book was incredibly dark, but it was an incredible read. Highly recommend if you’re in the headspace for it.
Content Warnings: death of a child, brief mention of animal cruelty, transphobia, disease as punishment.
Is a short story collection my favorite read of 2022? Why yes, I think it is. Heading into 2022, I very much believed that short story collections were not for me. I had attempted and failed to read and enjoy many throughout the years. But it turns out I was just waiting for Kate Folk to come on the scene.
Out There by Kate Folk is the strangest thing I have ever read. Ever. This collection of short stories is not only one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve read, but it’s also the most fun reading experience I’ve had. Folk’s imagination is wild. Just when you think things can’t get weirder, the next story starts. These stories have stuck with me over the past few months since I’ve picked this up. Reading this book is a wild ride. I don’t know how else to explain it. This book will not be for everyone, but if you go into it with an open mind and a willingness to try something new, I know you won’t be disappointed.
I read this book while commuting down to L.A. for federal jury duty in August. I know my enjoyment of this book stems from the breath of fresh air it brought me when I wasn’t stuck in the courtroom. I will always associate this book with that particular chapter of my life. And I’m very thankful for the lightness and kindness it provided for me on those long and intense days.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is quite possibly the sweetest book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s the epitome of a feel-good cozy read. We follow A.J. Fikry, who owns a bookshop on a very remote island in New England. Life is not going his way until one day, someone comes into his life and everything changes. This book is a love letter to reading. I teared up multiple times while reading this story. And coming in at 260 pages, it’s the perfect companion to a free afternoon.
Taylor Jenkins Reid blessed us with a new release in 2022, and it did not disappoint. Carrie Soto Is Back had a lot of hype surrounding it when it was announced. Hype tends to scare me into putting off a book for weeks and months, but instead of doing that, I jumped in as soon as I could get my hands on it. There is something so fun about reading a new release within a few weeks of it hitting shelves. I want to do more of that in 2023.
Carrie Soto retires from professional tennis as the best in the game. She has broken numerous records and has sacrificed so much along the way. Six years after retirement, she is watching another tennis star shatter her record. Soto makes the decision to come out of retirement for one year to try to reclaim her record.
I truly feel like I spent part of my year hanging out with Stanley Tucci. Reading his memoir was such a joy. I think I may return to it for a reread every now and then. He shares a lot of the same views on life, and family, and good food.
Taste: My Life Through Food was a beautiful combination of recipes, tradition, family, and love. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much while reading a book. I loved this book with my whole heart. And I think you will too.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna was such a nice surprise. I went into this not expecting much but was immediately sucked in to a delightful storyline filled with magic. I loved this read so much and have since been on the hunt for more books that fall into the sub-genre of magical found-family with a dash of grumpy-sunshine romance.
Are you surprised there is a second Taylor Jenkins Reid book on this list? Neither am I. I’ve been slowly reading through Reid’s back list. I would classify her earlier books as romance but with much more substance than you may expect, and One True Loves is no exception.
We follow Emma, whose husband went down in a helicopter crash, as she deals with her grief and moving forward. Three years later, she is engaged to another man when she gets a call from her husband that he has survived the crash and is coming home. Emma is forced to make an impossible choice. I laughed and cried, and my heart swelled up to twice its size.
Not only did I spend some time with Stanley Tucci this year, but I also spent my summer with Julia Child. If you are looking for a delightful and inspiring read, then look no further than Julia Child’s My Life in France. Julia Child’s story seems to be everywhere I look nowadays, but I picked this up because I wanted to hear directly from the queen herself. Written in the last few months of her life, Julia Child recounts her experience living in France. Be warned that this book will make you want to quit your job, buy a one-way ticket to Paris, and order sole meunière as soon as you leave the airport. You will fall in love with food right alongside with Julia. Seeing these experiences through her eyes romanticizes France and food in such a way that makes you question if you really love anything quite like Julia loves French food.
Earlier this month, I wrote about my newfound love for romance novels and Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun was the book that kicked it off. It’s a holiday romance, so it’s perfect for this time of year. The thing about romances is that they always have a happy ending. Sometimes it’s nice to know that no matter what happens in the middle, everything will work out in the end. If you’re looking to fit one more book in before 2023 comes around, this would be a great pick.
As always, I would love to hear from you. Please send me your favorite book of the year at firstname.lastname@example.org. Is there something you read that you think I would enjoy? Let me know!
Your smitten bookworm, Emily