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We’ve spent much of the last year curled up in our homes, reading. We’ve packed books for the subway, pressed play on audiobooks for nightly walks, and written dozens of guides on everything from this year’s best beach reads to its most popular new novels.
Below, you’ll find a few of the best books we’ve read so far in 2022, from page-turners we’ve finished in a single night to nonfiction reads we still can’t stop thinking about. We included new releases in 2022 like “When You Call My Name” and “Happy-Go-Lucky,” as well as recent hits in past years like “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” “Empire of Pain,” and “Verity.”
Nonfiction and poetry
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $22.99
At 25 years old in 2022, I do not share much with Mia Kankimaki, an accomplished travel writer in her forties, or the historical women that she writes about, breaking gender norms of their times. However, I related to the struggles of the “night women” and Kankimaki herself: struggles to find a sense of home, to forgive yourself, and to find meaning. Half travel memoir and half biography, Kankiamki’s literally follows in the footsteps of female travelers and artists throughout history to Florence, Tibet, Nigeria, and Tokyo. I love that Kankimaki allows her heroes and herself to be flawed as well as brilliant, disappointing as well as inspiring. -Lily Alig, reporter
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.99
I love Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly column, and while this book is a memoir about her marriage, I think it has the same amount of honesty and hilarity that make her such a valuable writer in these confusing times. It’s an in-depth look at her long-term marriage, which to us outsiders, looks perfect on the surface. She goes over the doubts, fights, annoyances, and growth both partners have to undergo to stay happily married, fully demystifying the process for people like me who obsessively worry over that national 50% divorce rate and want to actually know how people happily stay together over a long, long time. -Julia Pugachevsky, editor
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.79
I love David Sedaris. I’ve read all of his books, attended several signings, he left me a voicemail once where he called my mom the c-word. He’s great. “Happy-Go-Lucky” is like many of his previous books: A collection of essays taken from his life experiences. It’s full of dark humor, including dealing with his father’s death. But, there are also happy moments, including shopping with his delightful sister Amy (of “Strangers with Candy” and “At Home with Amy Sedaris” fame,) Sedaris’s writing is my happy place. -James Brains, reporter
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.40
I’m a lover of short stories and poetry, so when I had been recommended Ocean Vuong’s writing by some dear friends, I tore through this collection of poems. His use of language and metaphor is breathtaking and often brought me to tears. He is truly one of my favorite authors now. -Maiya Pascouche, associate story producer
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.99
This book is one of the most unforgettable things I’ve read in a long time. Seierstad works a small miracle here, rigorously detailing how a lonely boy became a lonely, dangerous man while creating just as much space to tell the stories of those affected by the massacre. We learn about the high school sweethearts, madly in love, who raise two sons the community adores. We meet parents who named their firstborn daughter after a snowfall in a hospital without electricity, years before they emigrate to Norway.
I’ll warn you that it was difficult to read about a mass shooting when our nation has so many. But Norway’s communal spirit, and the humanity recreated through Seierstad’s perspective, managed to elicit an unlikely feeling of hope in me. -Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.97
Full disclosure: Isaac used to be my boss many moons ago, but even without my natural bias, I think everyone should read this book. It’s a collection of essays about his life growing up in Boston and rural Massachusetts and his experiences everywhere from fight clubs with his friends to biker bars, often exploring the theme of how the least “safe” places can feel like home. -Julia Pugachevsky, editor
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $21
Who does investigative non-fiction like Patrick Radden Keefe? His books are each Sistine chapels of reporting and storytelling. I was wowed by “Say Nothing,” and “Empire of Pain” is a worthy successor. It covers three generations of the Sackler dynasty and their impact on the opioid crisis. The book is so detailed Keefe probably knows what the living members had for dinner last night, but it also has a soul — not just in its effort to hold power to account, but in its windows into the lives of only a few of the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve died by opioids. -Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.99
I forget how I heard about this book, but the title caught my attention and I added it to my reading list. It’s set up as mostly a conversation between a philosopher and a student, covering the psychological principles of Alfred Adler (one of the three psychology giants of the 20th century along with Freud and Jung). The crux of it hammers into what your “tasks” are, teaching you to separate which problems in life are actually your problems and within your control at all. I have to say, a lot of the teachings ended up really sticking with me and I think of lines from it often. -Julia Pugachevsky, editor
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.80
I was in a rut this spring and looking for a page-turner. I heard about this book on #Booktok and ended up reading it in one evening. It falls into the genre of psychological thrillers with a questionable female main character that I just can’t get enough of. The premise is that a ghostwriter takes a gig to finish a series for a bestselling author who has been injured. She goes to the author’s home in Vermont and finds a disturbing autobiography among her notes. There are genuinely spooky moments that had me squirming, and all sorts of twists and turns. -Lauren Savoie, deputy editor
You can find more books by Colleen Hoover here, as well as books to read if you’ve already read every Colleen Hoover book there is.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.04
I edited a rave review about this book and wanted to give it a try, even though romance novels are not normally my thing. While it’s definitely an outlandish plot, I liked that the characters (especially the lead) seemed fleshed out and worried about their careers as much as their budding love story. At times, I was even more invested in learning about what a career in medical research is actually like more than the relationship itself — it felt like reading about real people over the rom-com cliches of characters working more glamorous jobs. -Julia Pugachevsky, editor
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $8.70
Because I couldn’t just stop at “Night Sky with Exit Wounds,” I immediately picked up Ocean Vuong’s novel “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” and was amazed that it was just as good, if not better, than his first published work. This novel reads as one long letter to the main character’s mother and leads the reader through the family’s generational trauma, love, and surrender. I cannot recommend this book or Ocean Vuong’s work enough. -Maiya Pascouche, associate story producer
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.38
This book is gorgeous. Sometimes it took my breath away. It reads like a free-fall into the chasms of the internet — its incoherence and cacophony — and is simultaneously painfully human and alive. Lockwood’s text reads like poetry — some sentences I wrote down for safekeeping — but that’s unsurprising for a poet’s debut novel. I read this alone, I read it to my sister, I reread passages. If at first you aren’t swept off your feet, keep going; the story deepens and the payout is worth the investment. -Mara Leighton, senior reporter
You can read our review of “No One Is Talking About This” here.
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.19
Full disclosure that I used to work with Tucker Shaw, but I couldn’t stop thinking about his most recent book for days after I finished reading it. It gives such beautiful insight into a time and experience we don’t often hear about: being young, gay, and in love at the heart of the AIDS epidemic. It tells the tale of Adam and Ben, two gay teenagers discovering themselves and their community in 1990s NYC. Their individual stories weave together through plenty of sadness, but also tons of fun and joy. -Lauren Savoie, deputy editor
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $20.49
I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite TV shows and reading the scripts in tandem. I read “The Scriptures” dialogue and stage direction for a Fleabag episode, and then the episode itself. It’s mostly the same on the screen and on the page, but occasionally the directions for body language added delightful new meaning; in one scene Claire and Fleabag are described as “sitting in sisterly silence” in a taxi. Altogether, this extended and deepened my enjoyment of something I already love. Perfect. –Mara Leighton, senior reporter
Available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $9.99
I love fantasy, science fiction, and gender theory, so “Left Hand of Darkness” has been on my list for a while. Finally, I got my hands on a copy and quickly became hypnotized by Le Guin’s storytelling. Published in 1987, it still reads like a groundbreaking novel, exploring gender fluidity, political science, and imperialism. Le Guin tucks all of this and more in a thrilling, intergalactic story. -Lily Alig, reporter
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