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At the end of every year, we look forward to the awards and “best of” lists that annually solidify our favorite books, movies, songs, and more, but waiting so long to find a great recommendation can feel like an eternity.
Fortunately, Amazon has released its list of the top 20 books of the year so far, so you can find a great new read hand-picked by its editorial team.
Amazon releases monthly book selections but in early summer, its editorial team votes for the best books published from January to June. While some are from its “best books of the month” lists, others are customer favorites, bestsellers, or little-known picks that pack a literary punch. Whether you’re looking for a gripping nonfiction read or an emotional historical fiction journey, here are the best books of the year, according to Amazon.
“Remarkably Bright Creatures,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $17.76
Chosen as the best book of 2022 so far for its cast of lonely characters who form something unexpected together, “Remarkably Bright Creatures” follows Tova Sullivan who works the night shift at the aquarium, staying busy to keep her mind off her husband’s death and her son’s mysterious disappearance 30 years prior. As Tova forms an unlikely but remarkable friendship with a giant octopus named Marcellus, he soon uncovers what happened the night of her son’s disappearance and must figure out how to communicate the truth to Tova.
“Remarkably Bright Creatures,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $23.99
Stephanie Foo seemed perfectly successful on paper when she was diagnosed with complex PTSD after years of panic attacks, uncontrollable anxiety, and years of wondering what was “wrong” with her. This personal and researched read is part psychology book and part memoir as Foo investigates the effects of generational immigrant trauma while healing from her past.
“Remarkably Bright Creatures,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $9.05
Salahudin and Noor were once closer than best friends, but a terrible fight has destroyed their bond and forced each of them to face some of the hardest times in their lives alone. Salahudin is left trying to save their family’s motel in the wake of his mother’s passing and his father’s debilitating grief while Noor hides her college applications in an attempt to escape her brutal uncle. When it seems they can take no more, Noor and Salahudin must decide the value of their friendship in this breathtaking and heart-wrenching young adult novel.
“The Maid,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $16.90
“The Maid” is a mystery read about Molly Gray, a hotel maid who struggles with social skills but excels in her work because of her obsessive love of cleaning. One day, Molly finds a hotel guest dead in his bed and her life is turned upside down when she becomes the lead suspect in his murder investigation — until her friends unite to search for clues, solve the murder, and prove Molly’s innocence.
“River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $19.50
This new historical read outlines Britain’s frenzied search for the sources of the Nile and the race to colonize and exploit the area in the 19th century. Millard’s account follows the very public rivalry of Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke on their expeditions to and from Africa as well as the previously overlooked story of Sidi Mubarak Bombay, a formerly enslaved East African man whose resourceful exploits on each trip led to the Englishmen’s self-proclaimed successes and may have even meant the difference between life and death.
“River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $17.69
“Lessons in Chemistry” is a bright and witty historical fiction story about chemist Elizabeth Zott who faces inequality in the early 1960s at the research institute where she works. Years later, Elizabeth finds herself the star of a beloved cooking show. With an unusual approach to combining chemistry with traditional cooking, Elizabeth is unwittingly changing the status quo for women everywhere in this heartwarming, funny, and entertaining read.
“Memphis,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $14.59
When Joan, her mother, and her sister flee their father’s violence in favor of their mother’s ancestral home in Memphis, Joan processes her rage and grief through art as she learns the complexity of her family’s past while sketching portraits of the women around her. Inspired by the author’s family history, “Memphis” is a multi-generational tale about justice, violence, freedom, and healing through time.
“Sea of Tranquility,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $12.50
“Sea of Tranquility” blends science fiction and historical fiction as readers follow a young man in the 1912 Canadian wilderness who hears a violin in an airship terminal, a famous moon colony writer on an Earthly book tour for her pandemic novel, and a detective hired to investigate a strange anomaly in the North American wilderness. Readers love this book because it is complex, expansive, reflective, and dazzlingly relevant.
“Half-Blown Rose,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $13.99
After a shocking betrayal by her husband, Vincent is settling into her new life in Paris where she teaches at the art museum, spends time with new friends, and has even fallen into a passionate relationship with a young man named Loup. When Vincent agrees to see her estranged husband again at their son’s wedding, she must look inward to find what she wants out of life and who she wants to become.
“Hello, Molly!,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $18.18
Comedian Molly Shannon is well-known for her years on “Saturday Night Live” and her role as Mary Katherine Gallagher in “Superstar.” In this memoir, Shannon reflects on the tumultuous events in her young life that made her who she is today and the long and interesting road through show business that led to her iconic roles and resounding successes as a comedian and actress.
“The Kaiju Preservation Society,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $20.99
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamie Gray is reunited with an old acquaintance who offers Jaime a job as a last-minute grunt for an upcoming field visit with his “animal rights organization,” failing to mention that the “animals” are not from our Earth. In an alternate dimension, Kaiju are the world’s largest and most dangerous panda and the Kaiju Preservation Society is not the only group that knows of their existence but must go to great lengths to ensure their protection in this science fiction novel perfect for those who loved “Jurassic Park.”
“Sleepwalk,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $22.52
Loved for its fast-paced plot and intriguing main character, “Sleepwalk” is about Will Bear, an off-the-grid, good-natured henchman who runs dangerous errands for others while creating few ties of his own. When a young woman claiming to be his daughter calls him in need of help, Will is uncertain whether or not she’s AI yet sets off on an increasingly complicated road trip as the line between friend and foe becomes less and less clear.
“The First Kennedys: The Humble Roots of an American Dynasty,” Amazon and Bookshop, $24.49
Though many of us think of the Kennedy family today as icons of wealth and power, former President Kennedy once connected with blue-collar voters through his family’s working-class history. Now, with new genealogical information, this historical biography traces the history of the first Kennedys who arrived in America following the Great Famine and rose to success despite poverty and discrimination.
“Such Big Dreams,” avaialble at Amazon and Bookshop, $22.42
Rakhi is living in a Mumbai slum and working as an office assistant at Justice For All, a human rights law organization, when Alex, a graduate student from Canada, arrives for an internship and asks for Rakhi to show him the “real” India. When their seemingly harmless transaction brings challenging moral choices to the surface, Rakhi must fight for redemption and her right to live her life on her own terms.
“Young Mungo,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $14.79
From the author of “Shuggie Bain”, “Young Mungo” is the story of first love between two young men, destined to be enemies as Mungo is born Protestant and James is born Catholic. Despite it all, the boys fall in love and when Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip with two strange men, he must dig deep into his inner strength to get to a safe place where he and James can finally be together.
“Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $17.62
Perfect for any true crime fan, this memoir is written by the detective who helped uncover the Golden State Killer and solve the murders of Laci and Conner Peterson and the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard. Through a personal and insightful narrative, Paul Holes outlines his life of solving America’s toughest cold cases and the sacrifices he had to make for his career.
“Nightcrawling,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $18.17
Living in an East Oakland apartment without parents or a high school education, Kiara is struggling to make ends meet for her, her brother, and the young abandoned boy next door until she happens into a well-paying but unexpected job nightcrawling. When Kiara’s name comes up in an investigation by the Oakland Police Department, she finds herself at the center of a major scandal and failure of the justice system.
“Black Cake,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $13.99
This pick is about two estranged siblings whose recently deceased mother left behind a strange inheritance of a black cake recipe with a deep history and a voice recording that recounts her story. In this historical fiction read about lineage, heritage, and relationships, siblings Byron and Benny take an extraordinary journey through their mother’s past to fulfill her final request to share the black cake when the time is right.
“The Final Strife,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $26.49
Chosen for its masterful writing, beautiful yet painfully human cast, and deeply compelling fantasy landscape, “The Final Strife” is a debut fantasy novel rooted in African and Arabian mythology. In this sapphic high fantasy story, Sylah, Anoor, and Hassa, each with their own marked pasts, find each other and ignite a revolution to set a terribly divided Empire right in a world where red blood rules the kingdom, blue blood belongs to the laborers, and clear blood leaves many invisible.
“The Unsinkable Greta James,” available at Amazon and Bookshop, $17.86
Months after her very public breakdown just before the launch of her sophomore album, Greta is still reeling from her mother’s sudden death when she agrees to take an Alaskan cruise with her father, one originally planned for her parent’s anniversary. In this story of healing, gracious recovery, and hope, Greta meets a historian facing an upheaval of his own, confronts her broken heart, and slowly learns how to find her voice once more.
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