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Bookreporter Reviewers' Favorite Books of 2022

Reviewer Picks

Bookreporter Reviewers' Favorite Books of 2022

Recently we asked our reviewers to provide us with a list of their favorite books from 2022. Included is a mix of fiction and nonfiction titles, all published for the first time this year. Take a moment to read these varied lists of titles and see if you agree with any of their selections! Please note that due to personal and professional commitments, some reviewers were not able to participate in this feature.


Kate Ayers


Sarah Rachel Egelman


Megan Elliott


Pauline Finch


Harvey Freedenberg


Ron Kaplan


Eleni Karavoussianis

  • JUNIPER & THORN by Ava Reid
    Ava Reid is an expert at identifying themes she wants to explore and doing so in a nuanced way. In this retelling of the Juniper Tree, she explores sexuality and survival. This literary gothic horror is a story of love and a young woman's escape from abuse in taking back agency that never seemed to be hers. Be sure to check the content warnings before diving into this one, but it is phenomenal.
  • I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED by Jennette McCurdy
    This has been highly talked about and recommended, and for good reason. Jennette McCurdy is honest, raw and funny in the same way that people who have had to cope with so much hardship are. The writing pulls you in, and she doesn't pull any punches. This is probably one of the best celebrity memoirs I've read, and her narration of the audiobook is perfection.
  • HOW HIGH WE GO IN THE DARK by Sequoia Nagamatsu
    This collection of interrelated short stories feels quite relevant as we lived through a pandemic. The writing is clever, thoughtful and genuine. And the way the stories are related flow to create an existential picture of the world, highlighting the importance and complexities of familial dynamics. And yes, this one made me cry.
  • BABEL: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution by R. F. Kuang
    All I can say is that this is THE dark academia book. It's a raw look at how the institutions of academia have remained connected with origins of colonialism, and it is the perfect amount of being critical of the system. Kuang put immense research into this tome as it drips off the page in each footnote. It is a hefty but rewarding read that will stick with me. I always look forward to seeing what R. F. Kuang releases next.
    This book consumed me with a fleshed-out lead and a beautiful leading romantic thread combined with the perfect amount of yearning and soulful connection. It is a hard look at grief yet shows how people can still find connections, as well as a refreshing look at so many themes we've seen explored before. And, of course, Akwaeke Emezi's writing is beautiful.
  • A NOVEL OBSESSION by Caitlin Barasch
    This one is highly underrated, and I think more people should read it. A woman falls into an obsession with getting to know her current boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, who is uncannily similar to her. They become friends, or maybe the situation is manipulated into such. While this sounds like the makings of a thriller, it's a genre-defying contemporary that focuses on our messy main character who is terribly human and the complexities of female friendships, envy, love and, of course, obsessions.
    This is a nostalgic work spanning decades of a friendship and a video game company startup. It explores gender, reputation and ambitions, and much like the soliloquy from Macbeth ("Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow"), it deals with the futility of life. By the end I was crying, heavily invested in each of the characters, and left feeling satisfied and taken for a ride.
  • WHEN WE LOST OUR HEADS by Heather O'Neill
    Set in 1873 Montreal, yet based on the French Revolution, this is the story of an intense and volatile friendship turned love affair between two young women. It's absurd in the best of ways; flashy as one would expect a novel inspired by Marie Antoinette would be; and rife with themes of classism, feminism, sexuality and the like.
  • UNMASK ALICE: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World's Most Notorious Diaries, by Rick Emerson
    When I was in middle school, I devoured GO ASK ALICE by Anonymous in a day and had so many questions about whether or not it was based on a true story. I vaguely knew about Beatrice Sparks, the figure behind this series of anonymous diaries feeding into a variety of historical moral panics, but the truth goes so much deeper than I could imagine. Sparks was a scammer of the literary world, and you find yourself enraged because her lies were not just some harmless, get-rich-quick schemes, real families were hurt in the process. I cannot recommend this book enough, even if you don't have any nostalgic connection to this series.


Pamela Kramer


Bronwyn Miller


Rebecca Munro


L. Dean Murphy

Dean's List

  • DOOMED LEGACY: A Rick Cahill Novel by Matt Coyle
    Private investigator Rick Cahill has a challenging past, chasing the truth his whole life. CTE is a disease caused by repeated head trauma that affects his mind and moods. As the CTE progresses, he realizes that it not only threatens his life but also endangers his family. As Rick struggles to keep his family together, he does a favor for Sara Bhandari, a business contact. Sara is murdered, but Rick doubts the homicide detective’s theory. He investigates on his own. Along the way, he rails against a sinister private eye agency and a shady shell corporation. As Rick digs for the truth about Sara’s death, he risks his own life in his relentless crusade. Ultimately, Rick must decide if his quest is worth the risk of losing his family.

» Click here to read our interview with Matt Coyle

  • THE BODY FALLS: An Inishowen Mystery by Andrea Carter
    Benedicta “Ben” O’Keeffe returns to Glendara, where a charity bike race event will take place. The town is abuzz with excitement, but rain starts, causing the cyclists to postpone the event and stay overnight in the town. The rain doesn’t stop, becoming relentless. At midnight, Police Sergeant Tom Molloy is summoned to Mamore Gap, where a body, dislodged from a high bank by heavy rain, has fallen onto a passing vehicle. It is identified as Bob Jameson, a well-known charities boss and the organizer of the cycling event. Stunned, the local doctor detects a recent snakebite. Torrential rains persist, and soon bridges are down and roads are impassable. Glendara is cut off, and since there are no native snakes in Ireland, could there be a killer trapped in the community? With no help from the outside world, it’s left to Molloy --- with Ben’s assistance --- to find out who is responsible for Jameson’s bizarre death.

» Click here to read our interview with Andrea Carter.

  • THE LIES I TOLD by Mary Burton 
    For a woman obsessed and a killer in her shadow, remembering the past becomes a mind game in a novel of psychological suspense by New York Times bestselling author Mary Burton.

» Click here to read our interview with Mary Burton.

  • DISAPPEARED by Bonnar Spring
    Julie’s sister, Fay, disappears from a hotel in Morocco. Although she leaves a note indicating that she’ll be back in two days, Fay doesn’t return. Julie’s fears intensify when an attack meant for her kills another woman. Julie deduces Fay’s destination and rushes to warn her, convinced that her sister is in danger. It’s not until Julie reaches Fay --- in prison --- and learns the reasons for Fay’s secrecy that their problems really escalate.

  • GUMSHOE OUTLAW: A Mortimer Angel Mystery by Rob Leininger
    Susan Kenny, the U.S. attorney general, is missing. She walked out of the DOJ building in D.C. without a word to anyone, and...vanished. Later, Mortimer Angel, private eye (in training) and reluctant finder of famous missing persons, is surreptitiously contacted by a Secret Service agent and asked to fly to the nation’s capital to use his ineffable brand of skill, talent or just plain luck to help find the still-missing attorney general. Mort declines that dubious honor, but a few hours later he is taken at gunpoint by --- who else? --- a gorgeous gal and dragged into the most risqué and improbable case of his career.
  • BOMBAY MONSOON by James W. Ziskin
    The year is 1975. Dan Jacobs is an ambitious, young American journalist who has just arrived in Bombay for a new assignment. He is soon caught up in the chaos of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s domestic “Emergency.” Willy Smets is Danny’s enigmatic expat neighbor --- a charming man, but with suspicious connections. As monsoons drench Bombay, Danny falls hard for Sushmita, Smets’ beguiling and clever lover. “The Emergency,” a virtual coup by the prime minister, isn't the only twist in the high-stakes drama of Danny’s new life in India. Democracy is fragile, and the lines of loyalty and betrayal often cross and cannot be untangled.
  • LANDSLIDE by Adam Sikes
    U.S. Marine veteran Mason Hackett moved to London to start over, and he’s done his best to convince himself that what happened 15 years ago doesn’t matter --- the people he killed, the men he lost, the lives he ruined. But when Mason sees the face of a dead friend flash on a TV screen and then receives a mysterious email referencing a CIA operation gone bad, no longer can he ignore his inner demons. Driven by loyalty and a need to uncover the truth, Mason launches on a perilous journey to honor a 15-year-old promise. The answers he seeks throw him into the cauldron of a covert war where no one can be trusted.
  • PARADISE COVE: A Roscoe Conklin Mystery by Davin Goodwin
    On the laid-back island of Bonaire, each day is paradise until a human leg washes ashore. Combing the beach, retired cop Roscoe Conklin examines the scene and quickly determines that the leg belongs to the nephew of a close friend. Island police investigate, but with little evidence and no suspects, progress comes to a frustrating halt. Then, thanks to a unique barter with Bonaire’s chief inspector, Conklin finds himself in possession of the case file. Sifting through the scant clues, Conklin struggles to maintain forward momentum. Confident that he has all the pieces, he needs to get them snapped together soon. Otherwise, the body count will continue to rise.
  • LINE OF DARKNESS: A Colleen Hayes Mystery by Max Tomlinson
    Post-war darkness may be the darkest of them all as Nazi hunters reach deep into 1979 San Francisco. German banker Ingrid hires ex-con PI Colleen Hayes to find a missing nephew, who is linked to an international vigilante group hunting ex-Nazis. A mysterious woman turns up on the Muni Railway, mirroring a murder committed in Argentina where the “nephew” had just been. Colleen’s search uncovers World War II-era and Nazi artifacts. When Colleen fails to heed warnings to stop her investigation, her pregnant daughter is attacked. Colleen’s search leads her to Italy where the infamous Vatican Ratlines helped escaped ex-Nazis forge new identities. Deep in the Italian Alps, she uncovers a secret project hatched in a concentration camp. Colleen has no choice but to push ahead if the killing is to stop and justice prevail.
  • BACKSTORY by William L. Myers, Jr.
    In the aftermath of his wife’s apparent suicide, Jackson Robert Hunter wakes up outside a bar with a battered head and no memory. Revelations convince Jackson that his wife’s death wasn’t a suicide, but a murder, and he sets out to find the killer. While hunting the villain and struggling with amnesia, Jackson discovers that his own backstory is a dark one, littered with broken hearts and dead bodies --- a wife he betrayed, a lover he abandoned, crooked cops he double-crossed, and a city that lives in fear of his name. Along the way, he encounters a sister he didn’t know he had, a niece he failed to save, and a mentor ready to lead him down the darkest of paths.


Eileen Zimmerman Nicol


Ray Palen


Norah Piehl


Barbara Bamberger Scott


Stuart Shiffman

The past year marked a change in my reading patterns. It began in 2021 when I returned to biographies that were not of historical figures. Instead, I started reading about actors and directors. I won’t lie; I grew tired of politics and politicians. It was time to cleanse my brain of “all politics, every day.”

The trend continued in 2022. Most of the books I enjoyed were lighter in nature (with some exceptions), and the fiction books on my list were of a different sort. It was a good year for reading, and perhaps the best indication of that is the vast number of wonderful books that continue to be published.

This year I narrowed my list to 10 books, and I have attempted to group them by some common elements.

  • COMEDY COMEDY COMEDY DRAMA: A Memoir, by Bob Odenkirk
    Any fan of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” will enjoy this memoir.
  • BARKLEY: A Biography by Timothy Bella
    A well-written biography of an athlete who doesn’t look the part but is one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, as well as an iconic post-career television sports figure.
  • THE LAST FOLK HERO: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson by Jeff Pearlman
    The transition between the story of Jim Thorpe and Bo Jackson, another great all-around athlete, was seamless.
  • SANDY HOOK: An American Tragedy and the Battle for Truth, by Elizabeth Williamson
    A remarkable book about an American tragedy and the aftermath.
  • SO HELP ME GOLF: Why We Love the Game by Rick Reilly
    This collection of essays by Rick Reilly, who wrote for Sports Illustrated and ESPN, is a must-read for anyone who is a lover of the game.
    Set during World War II, this novel is an epic and enjoyable story of Hollywood.
  • SEARCH by Michelle Huneven
    You might think that a novel about the hiring of a minister for a church would be dull and boring. But that is not the case. It is a warm and welcoming story.
  • KILLERS OF A CERTAIN AGE by Deanna Raybourn
    A totally off-the-wall thriller about a female team of trained assassins.
  • LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus
    Set in the 1960s, this novel is about a scientist who becomes a TV star with a cooking show.


Jana Siciliano


Rebecca Wasniak


Katherine B. Weissman

    What if mothers and fathers not only had to deal with the inherent complexity of rearing a child but were forced by the government to conform to a standardized model of parental virtue? Jessamine Chan’s dystopia is inventive, creepy and desperately moving.
  • EVERY GOOD BOY DOES FINE: A Love Story, in Music Lessons, by Jeremy Denk
    Jeremy Denk’s online Bach series helped get me through the pandemic. And then this book! A lifelong piano student, I found it smart and touching and illuminating. It’s just not fair that an inspired musician should also write so well.
  • THANK YOU, MR. NIXON: Stories by Gish Jen
    From my Bookreporter review: “The best of these stories reveal how the delicate strands of traditional Chinese culture and psychology, often a mystery to foreigners, endure despite the Westernization of the younger generation…. [The book] made me question my own unconscious assumptions about Chinese culture --- especially important in an era when anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise. And, lest I make Jen’s work sound unappealingly educational, let me enjoyable and intricate and impossible to categorize these stories are, mixing humor with melancholy, sarcasm with sweetness, rapture with grief.”
  • FAIRY TALE by Stephen King
    I know, I know: This guy doesn’t need my commendation. But he and I are both fantasy nerds, and this coming-of-age novel is not just a sweet read but a delightful mash-up of references to some of my favorite magical classics.
  • THE HERO OF THIS BOOK by Elizabeth McCracken
    The term autofiction usually makes me shudder. But in this stunning homage to Elizabeth McCracken’s mother, the melding of fiction and non- makes perfect sense.
  • RUN TOWARDS THE DANGER: Confrontations with a Body of Memory, by Sarah Polley
    You might have heard that Canadian actor/director Sarah Polley’s film Women Talking, based on Miriam Toews’ book, is about to open. In this essay collection, she confronts the secrets and lies of her earlier life --- traumas both physical and psychological --- and begins to find a braver and less burdensome way to carry the past.
  • THIS TIME TOMORROW by Emma Straub
    One of my favorite bookstore owners and novelists (the other is Ann Patchett) waxes more autobiographical than usual in her latest book, the time-traveling story of a devoted father and daughter. It’s made even more poignant by the fact that Emma Straub’s writer father, Peter, died this year.
  • LUCY BY THE SEA by Elizabeth Strout
    After reviewing MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON for Bookreporter, somehow I missed the three subsequent books set in Lucy Country. In the last couple of weeks, I caught up, finishing just the other day with this, Elizabeth Strout’s “pandemic novel.” There is something about the humanity of Lucy Barton’s voice that transcends her various roles as writer, wife, sister, friend and mother. You don’t feel that she’s an invented character. You feel that she’s real, and you know her.
  • PLUS: May I be allowed a footnote that reaches back way before 2022? This year, my most astounding literary encounters (in a marvelous online class) were with two prize-winning novels by the late Australian writer Shirley Hazzard: THE TRANSIT OF VENUS and THE GREAT FIRE. Hazzard is having something of a moment --- SHIRLEY HAZZARD: A Writing Life, the first biography of Hazzard, has just been published --- and I stand amazed that I lived this long without having read her.