Books I Read in 2022
Okay, so I've officially made reading my entire online personality, and I'm fine with that. As you know, I've always loved reading, but during my later years of high school and college I had so much else going on in my life/school that I didn't have time to read much. And then I just fell out of the habit, and was only reading a couple of books per year.
Then, I rediscovered my love for reading last year and finished 53 books, which turned into 84 this year, and hopefully even more in 2023.
Some disclaimers + general thoughts:
First thing's first -- I am just a fast reader. It just is what it is, so don't worry if 84 or 53 or even 10 books in a year seems like a reach to you. I think the important thing is to just make reading more a part of your life. If that means picking up the first book you've read since you were forced to in school, that's good. If that means going for 100 books, that's good. Numbers are not the goal, they're just a tool to measure the goal (for me, more on that later). So don't compare, don't pressure yourself beyond what's reasonable for your life, just read more and you're doing great.
Numbers might not be for you, and that's okay. Some people (like me) enjoy a number goal. I like to be kept on track, to have something tangible to shoot for, and to know when I'm falling behind. But sometimes number goals can be stressful and take the joy out of reading. For me, setting a goal is fun and enjoyable, but if it's not that for you then don't do it.
Have fun! The whole point of reading is to enjoy it, in my opinion. Read books you like and stop reading books if you don't like them. Don't force yourself to finish something that you're not enjoying. I used to read a lot of nonfiction because I thought I had to in order to be smart. But I honestly don't like a lot of nonfiction, and it was hindering my reading. Read the trashy romance, the YA series, the books you loved when you were a tween, the newest sci-fi bestseller. Read what you love, and read because it brings you joy. Life is too short to slog through boring books.
The best way to read more is just to make it a part of your everyday life. Listen to an audiobook during your commute (YES audiobooks count as reading, please see yourself out now if you disagree), download the Kindle app on your phone so you can read e-books during a lunch break at work or while waiting in line, enjoy 15 or 20 minutes of reading before bed. It doesn't have to take over your life, but you can still bring reading into your life. I still watch TV, I love a good binge. I still mindlessly scroll TikTok often. But just finding little pockets in your day and making reading a habit can help tremendously.
Okay, with all of that out of the way, here are the books I read this year. Like I did last year, I'm breaking it down by month and picking one book each month that I loved the most. Honorable mentions are marked with stars.
First, here are my stats for 2022:
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“I wish someone had told me that love isn’t torture. Because I thought love was this thing that was supposed to tear you in two and leave you heartbroken and make your heart race in the worst way. I thought love was bombs and tears and blood. I did not know that it was supposed to make you lighter, not heavier. I didn’t know it was supposed to take only the kind of work that makes you softer. I thought love was war. I didn’t know it was supposed to… I didn’t know it was supposed to be peace.”
You're probably thinking, "Man, will she ever stop talking about this book?" The answer is, probably not. Daisy Jones and the Six is written as if a reporter was interviewing the members of the band in present-day about their meteoric rise and sudden dissolution in the 1970s. I find it difficult to put into words how much I loved this book, or to explain why I loved it so much. I think it's because Daisy Jones's character is the embodiment of melancholy, a vibe I very much enjoy. The book is heart-wrenching as it touches on friendships, love, family, addiction, affairs, and rock and roll. I highly, highly recommend listening to this as an audiobook, because the voice actors are truly phenomenal. And I think that's another reason why this one has stuck with me. There is a TV series adaptation coming out in March, so now is the perfect time to read this book if you haven't already.
Other books I read in January:
The Plight Before Christmas by Kate Stewart
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox ✨
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty ✨
The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Always Only You by Chloe Liese
Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
Beach Read by Emily Henry ✨
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
“After a certain age, you can pretty much do whatever takes your fancy. No one tells you off, except for your doctors and your children."
This book was an unexpected delight. It follows a group of residents in a retirement village who meet weekly to solve crimes. The group is full of mismatched characters who are each fascinating and entertaining in their own right. They work together to solve some real-life mysteries, and their age works to their advantage, as they're able to do pretty much whatever they want without raising suspicion. This book is true crime for people who don't like true crime. While there is murder, it's really more about this group of elderly friends and it truly is hilarious and delightful. I just got the sequel from Libby so I'm excited to continue this series.
Other books I read in February:
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel ✨
Brains of Fire by Geno Church, Greg Cordell, Robbin Phillips
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ✨
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
Unmissing by Minka Kent ✨
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
“I've always felt like once someone sees me deep down, that's it. There's something ugly in there, or unlovable, and you're the only person who's ever made me feel like I'm okay.”
It wouldn't be a proper wrap-up without something by Emily Henry. I love her romantic comedies so much, she's a free pass for me. I know I will love anything she writes forever and ever. I love a good romance as much as anybody, but so many romance novels feel one-dimensional. The characters are just there to serve the plot, and they don't bring anything themselves. But Emily Henry's characters always feel like real people, complicated and multidimensional and interesting. That's what makes her books so good, because you really root for the characters and believe that they are going to make things work because the story just feels real. In this book, the two characters are polar opposites, and yet best friends since college. Every year, they make sure to take a vacation somewhere together, until two years ago when everything was mysteriously ruined. But now, they have to take one more vacation together... And of course, falling in love ensues. This book is a delightful, summery read. I love books about old friends falling in love, so if you also enjoy that trope, this one will be great for you.
Other books I read in March:
The Dry by Jane Harper ✨
Educated by Tara Westover ✨
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
“I give myself three more seconds to look at him and it's like another punch to the gut. He's my person. He's always been my person. My best friend, my confidant, probably the love of my life.”
This book is the only book on this list that left me actually sobbing when I finished it. It was simultaneously heartwarming and gut-wrenching, and I adored it. This book is split between the past and the present, and follows two best friends as they fall in love, split and reconnect many years later. It's a book about grief and loss, as well as love and friendship. As I have already mentioned, I'm a sucker for books about best friends falling in love, and this book has that, and so much more. It's about what you would risk for love, and being willing to be hurt again to be with the person you truly love. It's so good.
Other books I read in April:
Verity by Colleen Hoover
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine
Miss Me With That by Rachel Lindsay ✨
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave ✨
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris ✨
In the Waning Light by Loreth Anne White
“The question is not whether you are in danger, it’s whether you choose to worry about it. It’s like swimming in the sea where there are sharks. You know they’re there, but your choice is whether you allow your fear of them to stop you from ever going in. Sure, you take precautions, and you don’t swim when there’s a sighting, but you also don’t let it stop you from reaching your goal, or the shore on the other side.”
May was such a good month, it was almost impossible to pick a book from this month to highlight. There was only one book I rated below 4 stars, and most were 4.5-5 stars. So take some time to read the honorable mentions this month, because they're really, really good.
But, I decided to pick this one because this month was my introduction to Loreth Anne White, an author I now list as one of my all time favorites. Her twisty thrillers are exactly the kind of book I love, and I always really enjoy anything by her. This one is a particular favorite, it follows a true-crime writer who, after achieving ample success, must return to her small hometown to investigate the truth behind the murder of one of her own family members. There's twists, thrills and even a truly lovely love story.
Other books I read in May:
The Patient's Secret by Loreth Anne White ✨
Goldilocks by Laura Lam ✨
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid ✨
The Herd by Andrea Bartz
Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman ✨
Living Brave by Shannon Dingle ✨
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott ✨
The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf
In the Deep by Loreth Anne White ✨
The Lifestyle by Taylor Hahn
"Too much time had passed already, and she hadn't said what she needed to say. But what did she need to say? She was anxious to get the words right, to not waste a second, but had no idea where to begin or what she wanted. This filled her with an existential dread. They'd already lost so much time."
Georgina is a perfect lawyer with a perfect life. After watching her parents’ passionate love spectacularly burn out, she commits her life to finding a perfect life mate, devoid of any messy passion.
Her husband Nathan ticks all of her boxes — and she thinks they live a happy life. Until she walks in on him cheating on her with a first-year associate. They commit to working on their relationship and, after hearing a testimonial from one of her clients, Georgina decides that swinging (or The Lifestyle) is the way to save their marriage.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. I, too, was not expecting this book to be about swingers. But, it’s really not, and I would give this book a PG-13 rating, if you’re worried about content.It’s really a book about love, and what it means to commit your life to someone. What it means to love someone. It reminds me of one of my favorite cheesy romantic movies, Leap Year, because it asks the question - is it better to marry for stability or for passion? Life is rarely that binary, but this book is a delightful exploration of the answers to that question. It’s also about letting go of the illusion of control, in your own life and in the lives of those around you. As a recovering control freak, I heavily related to Georgina’s character in many ways.
I absolutely loved it, I started it before bed one night and finished early the next morning. If you’re into love stories, this is for you.
Other books I read in June:
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
In the Dark by Loreth Anne White ✨
Beneath the Devil's Bridge by Loreth Anne White
Book Lovers by Emily Henry ✨
So Happy for You by Celia Laskey
The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White
Chloe Cates is Missing by Mandy McHugh
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
“There is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is only the comparison of one state with another. Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss. It is necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.....the sum of all human wisdom will be contained in these two words: Wait and Hope.”
What can I say about The Count of Monte Cristo that I haven't already said a thousand times? You're probably thinking, thank God 2022 is over so Emily can finally stop talking about The Count of Monte Cristo. Okay, well here's my last pitch. And to be honest, I don't know how much of me liking this book is the book itself, and how much of it is the feeling of accomplishment I felt after putting it off for so long. Who can say? All I know is, this book hasn't left my mind since I finished it. It was intricate and slow, but the payoffs were incredible. I was gasping! Out loud! Frequently!
I mentioned this in an episode of The Readirect Podcast, but I learned after reading the book that it was originally published in 18 seperate parts as a series. I think looking at it that way would help with reading it. It sometimes takes detours into characters lives that don't make sense, but it does all come back together eventually. I think it's a great book to read chapter-by-chapter, slowly, because it truly is worth the long journey.
Other books I read in July:
The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White
The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen ✨
The Maid by Nita Prose ✨
Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley ✨
The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Displacements by Bruce Holsinger ✨
The Bodyguard by Katherine Center
“You can't make people love you. But you can give the love you long for out to the world. You can be the love you wish you had. That's the way to be okay. Because giving love to other people is a way of giving it to yourself.”
This book was such a simple delight. The author said she wrote it during the throes of COVID lockdown, and just wanted to make something fantastic and fun. It follows a movie star who has to hire a bodyguard due to a crazed stalker fan in order to return to his home to visit his family. He's estranged from his brother after an accident that killed their younger brother, and hasn't visited home much since. In order to avoid scaring his mom, the bodyguard has to pose as his new girlfriend, and of course, they fall in love. It's fantastic! It's fake dating, celebrity/normal person, full of delight. The main character has such a distinct voice, which makes the reading experience even more fun and compelling. Plus the world of elite bodyguards and ultra-famous movie stars is so fun.
Other books I read in August:
The Dead and Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman ✨
The Appeal by Janice Hallett ✨
The Foundling by Paul Joseph Fronczak ✨
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
“I take a longer look at the words on her headstone.
Brave, kind, loyal, sweet, loving, graceful, strong, thoughtful, funny, genuine, hopeful, playful, insightful, and on and on…
Was she, though? Was she any of those things? The words make me angry. I can’t look at them any longer.
Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them?”
This book comes with heavy trigger warnings, so be cautious when reading. It's a memoir by former child-actress Jennette McCurdy, mostly about her relationship with her mother. The title is jarring, but also sums up how far Jennette has come. From wanting to do anything to please her abusive mother to being able to recognize the harm caused and see her mother for who she truly was, she has come a long way in her healing journey. It is honest and not mean-spirited, but clearly comes from a place of a person who has been through a lot and reflected on her life. Jennette is an incredible writer, so the writing quality is beyond a typical celebrity memoir. I truly loved the book, as difficult as it was to read at times.
Other books I read in September:
The Package by Sebastian Fitzek
The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4) by Maureen Johnson ✨
The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Finlay Donovan is Killing It ✨
Upgrade by Blake Crouch ✨
Skin of the Sea and Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen
"I know you will make things right. What is done is done. We cannot change the past, only learn from it. What happens next is up to you.”
I had to include both books from this series since I read both of them this month, and I very much enjoyed the series as a whole (so far, more books are hopefully coming!) These books follow a Mami Wata (mermaid) named Simi whose job is to rescue the souls of slaves thrown off of slave ships and help them transition into the afterlife. Until one day, she finds a boy in the water who is still alive. She disobeys orders to save him, and that choice leads her down a path of danger and adventure. These fantasy YA books took a little for me to get into, because of the extensive lore and new concepts being introduced, but once I did, I loved them.
Other books I read in October:
Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
Tell Me Everything by Erika Krouse ✨
River Woman, River Demony by Jennifer Givhan ✨
The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh
“There’s nothing special about this place, he thinks. We all forget. Then we forget what we forgot. And that’s how we survive.”
The Blinds is a town full of criminals and witnesses to crimes, but they've all had their memories erased so no one is quite sure which one is which. Things there remain relatively peaceful, until there is a suicide and a murder back to back. There are secrets that must be revealed, pasts coming back to haunt current residents, and the fate of a young boy is at stake. This book is so good, so gripping, and takes place in such an interesting world. I'm also fascinated with books that explore the idea of who we are if we don't have our memories. Are these people still criminals if they've forgotten all of their crimes? If the person they are now would never have done the same? A truly compelling book.
Other books I read in November:
Miss Moriarty, I Presume? by Sherry Thomas ✨
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole ✨
Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma
Finlay Donovan Knocks 'Em Dead by Elle Cosimano
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz ✨
If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
“But that is how a tragedy like ours or King Lear breaks your heart—by making you believe that the ending might still be happy, until the very last minute.”
Years ago, a murder happened at an arts college. A group of seven senior theatre students are like a family, until one of them is killed and another one arrested for the murder. In present day, Oliver Marks is released from jail after serving 10 years for the muder of his classmate. He is greeted by the police officer who worked the case, who says the story never sat right with him, and asks if Oliver will finally tell him the truth before he retires. And so, the full story unfolds. This book is a tragedy, and you know that up front, so it shouldn't be shocking with how sad it is. But somehow it still caught me off guard. It's heartbreaking and creepy, and a little scary at times, but mostly just a truly tragic read. I really did enjoy it though.
Other books I read in December:
The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper by Hilary LIftin
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan ✨
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty ✨
That wraps up my year of reading recap! You can follow my reading journey more closely on my Instagam page at @emilyrojas.writer. That's where I post reviews and updates much more regularly.
What are your reading goals for 2023? Let me know in the comments!