I read 43 books this past year. It was a great mixture, too. Some I loved, some I disliked. I am a member of two book clubs, which provides me with ample variety: UMass-Boston and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Then, there are the recommendations from friends and family. Keep them coming! Here are my favorite books of 2022.
Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane
THE BACKDROP is two NYPD cops working together briefly as partners. They have very little in common, and aren’t very close. Ironically, they become next-door neighbors in a small, quiet town. Two of their children, Peter and Kate, become best friends and gradually lovers.
THE STORY actually begins with a horrible act of violence, which tears Peter and Kate apart. The families are forever bound by love, pain, and tragedy. I couldn’t put this book down, even though there was enough heartache to fill an ocean. Ordinary people stumble, make mistakes, and evolve in extraordinary ways. Their acts of profound forgiveness touched me deeply.
KEY TAKE-AWAY: “We repeat what we do not repair”.
Black is the Body
by Emily Bernard
Race is the story of my life, and therefore black is the body of this book.”Emily Bernard
A collection of essays about the author’s life, her mother’s life, and her grandmother’s life. Growing up in the south, working as a professor in a predominantly white New England college town, adopting twins from Ethiopia, embracing her interracial marriage, and doing it all with grace and authenticity. One of the best books about being black that I’ve ever read. Touching, honest, insightful, witty, and eloquent.
Cloud Cuckoo Land
by Anthony Doerr
I started reading this book with some hesitation due to its length (over 600 pages)! But I persevered and was rewarded with an unusual, fascinating story. Spanning 3 different time frames (past, present, and future), joined by an intricate, over-arching tale, I was transported and captivated. Despite the many changes of time and space and people, I was never confused about where I was and who I was reading about. Well-crafted and immersive, making it an easy choice for my list of favorite books read in 2022.
In The Sea There Are Crocodiles
by Fabio Geda
I quickly got engrossed in this story of a 10-year old Afghani boy (Enaiat Akbari) who is abandoned by his mother in Iran after their escape from the Taliban. Fabio Geda does a remarkable job depicting the young boy’s perceptions of the world in his own voice. Enaiat’s unwavering compassion and wisdom way beyond his years are remarkable.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri
Living a quiet, fulfilling life, nurtured by friends and family, a beekeeper (Nuri) and his artist wife (Afra) unexpectedly are faced with the unthinkable. Their home is destroyed by war, and they must abandon all they know and love to find safety in another country. Leaving Syria is wrought with danger. Their traumatic passage continues to haunt them after arriving in Britain. Memories are distorted, anxieties magnified, and loves are accentuated. Clinging to hope and love is the key to their survival.
The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters
by Mark Nepo
For one year, I began each day by reading one of the short chapters in this guide to authentic and mindful living. What a wonderful way to wake up! It was like a meditative entry into each morning. Nepo’s words are astute, contemplative, soothing, and encouraging.
What a world we live in, where small things of color fly about us and sing, a world so much bigger than the frames my mind can put around it. Diversity and change underline the day….”Mark Nepo
The Flight Portfolio
by Julie Orringer
Historical fiction at its best: well-researched, immersive, atmospheric novel that illuminates the efforts to save artists and their works during WWII. Set in Marseille, the grittiness, turmoil, and tension of Vichy’s reign and the Nazi occupation are palpable. The character development is nuanced, particularly with Varian Fry and his unexpected reunion with Elliot Grant, his college lover.
The Magician’s Assistant
by Ann Patchett
THE best book I read this year. I got totally immersed in this heart-felt story about loss and love, assumptions and revelations, misunderstanding and compassion. I cared about the characters. The conversations felt real. I couldn’t put the book down! I am now an official Ann Patchett fan. At the top of my list for favorite books of 2022.
… that was the point of magic, to take people in, make them forget what was real and possible.”Ann Patchett
The Library Book
by Susan Orlean
Highly detailed history of the L.A. Public Library fire in 1986, which completely gutted the building and most of its collection. The mystery of who may have set the fire is the underlying thread. We also learn of Orlean’s love of books and libraries, and about the evolution of the U.S. public library system. She even tackles the deeper meanings and historical context of books and dissemination of information. Interesting, illuminating trivia and facts are well balanced.
Part of Belmont Library’s One Book, One Belmont community read.
The Music of Bees
by Eileen Garvin
LOVED this book! Three alienated, grief-stricken souls in a small, rural town, find each other through circumstance and develop an unexpected friendship. Beekeeper Alice, paraplegic Jake, and anxiety-ridden Harry come to share a deep interest in the bees. They unite against a pesticide company that threatens the bees and the ecosystem of the area. I learned a lot about bees in this heartwarming, moving story about 3 very likeable characters. Their voices are real and authentic. Written so lovingly and smoothly, it’s hard to believe this is Garvin’s first novel! Easily made my list of favorite books for 2022.
The Night Watchman
by Louise Erdich
A caring, sensitive novel based on the life of Erdich’s grandfather, who was a key figure in the resistance to Native American dispossession. Set in North Dakota in the 1950s, Thomas Wazhashk is the night watchman at the local factory near his home on Turtle Mountain Reservation. This humble man is determined to prevent the loss of his Chippewa tribal homeland when the U.S. government introduces an “emancipation” bill. Perceptive details and depth bring culture and complex characters to life. A celebration of resilience, honoring the earth and its people.
These Precious Days
by Ann Patchett
Personal reflections on a variety of experiences form a great overview of Patchett’s life. She is open, vulnerable, and respectful. Her storytelling is part exploration, part analysis, bathed in wry humor, kindness, and hopefulness. Totally enjoyable, a pure delight to read! Peggy and I often quote the words from our favorite sections. It’s that memorable.
This Tender Land
by William Kent Krueger
The Grapes of Wrath mixed with Where the Crawdads Sing, this is a wonderful book of adventure. Set in Minnesota during the Great Depression, four orphans seek safe harbor and, in the process, form an extended family. Beautifully written, with unexpected twists and turns.
This book is not among my favorites, but it does contribute noteworthy content to the world!
Beyond the Pale
by Elana Dykewomon
This story begins with Jewish life in the Russian Pale. What makes this book stand out from other histories of the same era is its unique perspective, told from the eyes of strong, Jewish, feminist, lesbian women. There are two main characters: Gutke, a midwife apprenticeship, and Chava, whose parents are violently murdered. Each woman encounters bitter struggles and plays an interesting role in the U.S. labor and suffrage movements. We feel the rich traditions of cultural life in the shtetls. We are horrified by the pogroms which motivated thousands to immigrate. A major contribution to filling a void in a largely untold story.
What Are Your Fave Books for 2022?
Let’s hear what your favorite books of the year are: leave a comment! I’ll add your suggestions to my reading list.
Peggy Kornegger says
This is a great list, varied and interesting. I’ve read a few of these and am inspired to read more! Thanks, Anne! I particularly love Ann Patchett and am writing a blog about her right now–to be posted soon.
Be sure to let us know when your blog post is published!