The 10 Best Books of 2022
From pensive memoirs to feel-good fiction, these are the best books of 2022
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The best books of the year
This was a year for the books—good books, that is. Whether you have a soft spot for beach reads, sci-fi books, thrillers or books for women, you’ll find a page-turner that appeals to your literary sensibilities. And while we always recommend trying to read as many new books as possible, narrowing down a bookstore list can be tricky. To save you time, we’ve rounded up the top 10 best books of 2022.
To whittle down our list of favorites, we considered everything from critical reviews and awards to bestseller rankings and Goodreads reader ratings. We’ve also made sure our list of top-notch titles spans several book genres and considers the most-anticipated books of the year (as recommended by our Reader’s Digest editors).
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Trust by Hernan Diaz
This lush, layered historical fiction novel has steadily scooped up critical acclaim since its May 2022 release. On top of landing on our list of the best books of 2022, Trust has been named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, NPR, Oprah Daily and more. The story follows mysterious 1920s Wall Street elites Benjamin and Helen Rask. Rumors abound about the source of their wealth. One tale grows larger than life when it’s published as a novel in 1937. Readers are tasked with sorting fact from fiction in a riveting, four-part story that booms with echoes of 1920s New York and lessons about wealth and ruin that still apply today.
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart
Booker Prize–winning author Douglas Stuart did not disappoint with his April 2022 LGBTQ book. Reviewers have called Young Mungo “breathtaking,” “powerful,” “[a] bear hug of a new novel”—and, of course, one of the best books of 2022. It follows two star-crossed boys, Mungo and James, in gritty, working-class Glasgow, Scotland. But there’s more than homophobia to overcome in these boys’ deeply religious households. Scenes are rife with alcoholism, abuse, toxic expectations of men and worse. (A trigger warning for rape is necessary.) Even still, a thread of deep tenderness runs through the pages. And while the final page offers no fairy-tale ending, it hints at hope.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
Readers might remember Jennette McCurdy as a rising star on Nickelodeon’s iCarly and Sam and Cat. Well, there’s a darker, twistier story behind her sheen of success. McCurdy does not hold back in her New York Times bestselling memoir. She vividly recalls the horrors of adolescence with a mother who saw her more as a commodity than a child. Readers rave about McCurdy’s honesty and dark humor about her hyper-specific situation (I’m Glad My Mom Died has 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon). But there’s also a broader message she conveys: Child stars are trapped in a system made by the very adults meant to nurture them.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
One of the best books of October 2022, Demon Copperhead is a New York Times bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club pick about a boy growing up in Appalachia at the turn of the millennium. It’s also a memorable retelling of Charles Dickens’s classic tale David Copperfield. While Dickens’s David lived in poverty in Victorian England, Kingsolver’s Demon lives a hard-knock, opioid-shadowed life in rural America. Of course, Kingsolver does more than copy Dickens’s great story. She weaves literary magic with pointed passages that compel readers to reflect on their attitudes toward American communities that often get shoved under the rug.
Constructing a Nervous System by Margo Jefferson
Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Margo Jefferson’s second memoir has already been named one of the year’s best books by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time magazine and more. But even more important than critical acclaim is the sheer number of everyday readers who praise Jefferson’s intimate reflections on the people who have made her who she is today. Perhaps The Guardian put it best: Constructing a Nervous System is “a deeply personal account of black female identity.” And it’s an artistic, thought-provoking one indeed.
Stay True by Hua Hsu
In Stay True, New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu goes back in time to remember a friend. At age 18, Hsu sees Japanese American Ken as the epitome of mainstream American culture. But the more time they spend together, the more they realize what they have in common: the America they live in does not have a ready-made place and identity for them. Fast forward a few short years, and Ken is dead. This memoir is perhaps one of the best-ever books about friendship (or at least one of the best books of 2022), and it’s a tenderhearted addition to any collection of books by Asian authors.
The Maid by Nita Prose
Hats off to Nita Prose for winning so many readers’ hearts with her debut novel! The Maid is a quintessential cozy mystery with just enough nuance to surprise and delight. The setting is a luxury city hotel brought to life by a diverse cast of complex characters. The heroine is one of the hotel maids, 25-year-old Molly Gray, who is both meticulous about her work and deeply lost without her recently deceased grandma. When a rich guest is found dead, Molly becomes the prime subject. The setting and plot would thrill any locked-room enthusiast, but the beauty of The Maid is that there’s more. Molly is neurodivergent. She notices minor details that others—even the police?—might miss. This page-turner follows her as she works to solve the mystery before she gets put in the slammer.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
According to the New York Times, this novel is “a love letter to the literary gamer.” Specifically, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a masterful, lengthy story that layers love, friendship, ambition and, yes, video games. Sam and Sadie are both successful game designers whose lives cross in tangible ways and online. They forge a deep friendship based on a shared love of business and gaming. But while the character development makes this book sing, it is further elevated by the incredible world-building and stories within stories throughout. Before diving in to this book recommendation, prepare to pay careful attention to exactly where—and when—you are on each page of this dizzyingly intricate novel.
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Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
Are you craving a feel-good book to finish off the year? We can’t think of a better one than this debut novel and New York Times bestseller narrated by the one and only Marcellus, a massive octopus living at an aquarium. Tova Sullivan, a widow whose son also disappeared in Puget Sound years ago, picks up the night shift cleaning the aquarium. But what begins as a way to keep busy turns into an unlikely friendship with Marcellus. In an unlikely twist, Marcellus solves the mystery of Tova’s son’s disappearance—but if only he could speak to her before the stakes get even higher!
An Immense World by Ed Yong
Science journalist Ed Yong’s bestselling nonfiction book has earned an incredible 4.5 out of 5 on Goodreads, a platform well-known for its honest (sometimes brutally so) readers and reviewers. The deeply researched book immerses readers in the animal kingdom. Even the proudest pet owner or animal lover will learn something new. There are stories of fire-loving beetles, fish communicating through electrical messages and descriptions of exactly how well a squid can see or a crocodile can feel touch. Page by page, Yong shines a new light on animal experiences in this dazzling narrative nonfiction book.