I can’t believe that the first few months of 2022 has come and gone. Because of the volume of books that I read, I found it tough to keep up with these recaps last year – so this year I’ve decided to share only the best of what I read. Rating books is so subjective, but for me – I grant an illustrious 5 stars (or a very solid 4 stars) when it’s a book that really captivates me while I’m reading it and sticks with me after I’ve finished. Whether it’s one that challenges my way of thinking or feels like a hug the whole way through. Below, the books I rated 4-5 stars so far this year.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: This book came out a decade ago and I can’t believe I hadn’t read it before this. An absolute 5 stars, this might now rank among my all-time favorite books. Set in the late 1930s, it’s a love letter to New York City – in all of its glitter and grime, ambition and abandon – as well as friendship and finding the people who are right for you, and letting go of those who aren’t. Katey Kontent is definitely a character I’ll keep with me for a long time. This is literary historical fiction at its best.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry: I listened on audiobook and this was just… fun! Not everything I rate 5 stars needs to be brilliant literary fiction, sometimes it just needs to make me feel happy and that’s exactly what this did. I’ve read Beach Read by Emily Henry and far preferred this, I felt like the two main characters really just sparkled and I was so rooting for them both. This would in fact make a great beach read.
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy: A heart-breakingly honest memoir that recalls journalist Ariel Levy’s mid-30s, with all the mistakes, relationships, grief and choices surrounding career and motherhood that came with it. There are some brutal things that happen to Levy in this book – some she brought on herself and some that no one ever deserves. She looks back on it all with levity and a hard-earned grace I really admired.
Hollywood’s Eve by Lili Anolik: I first read Eve Babitz a couple of summers ago and was completely swept away. A real life Penny Lane meets Carrie Bradshaw meets Joan Didion, she was at the white hot center of everything cool in LA in the 60s/70s. This biography managed to be capture the spirit of someone who seems impossibly hard to nail down. I loved it and have since picked up even more of Babitz’ work.
Vladimir by Julia May Jonas: Dark academia happens to be a very specific subsection of literature that I really love and this book explores that area in a totally new way. A modern look at morality, relationships, the divide between generations and more – this had me hooked from the very first page and never let me go.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors: A debut novel that really I really loved (it might make my top 10 of 2022 list), this looks at the whirlwind relationship between Cleo and Frank from a mix of their perspectives as well as others close to them. It sounds like a simple story but the beauty is in the characters, their joys, their flaws and ultimately their evolution.
Permanent Record by Mark H.K. Choi: Choi is probably my favorite YA author because her stories feel fresh and young, but also sophisticated and modern. This is one of her earlier books and as usual, I totally fell for the characters and flew through it.
Left on Tenth by Delia Ephron: I heard this described as a ‘coming of “old” age book’ and I think that perfectly captures it. At 72, Ephron (Nora’s sister) is rediscovering herself in the wake of her husband’s death – when suddenly and shockingly, she falls in love again. She also falls ill. The book is a look at hope, love, second chances and realizing there’s always more life to live. Will go on my list of favorite memoirs for sure.
The Marvellous Light by Freya Marske: Maybe my most surprising reads of the year – Edwardian England! A gay love story! Secret magic! I went in blind and ended up loving it. I still think about this book often since reading it in January.
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo: On Instagram I said this is for fans of Father of the Bride – not because the plots have anything in common, but because there’s a sweeping feeling of familial love in this book that reminds me of that movie. I loved this family – the Mom and Dad especially – but all 4 daughters kept me equally interested and even though they were flawed (as all families are) I was rooting for them all the way to the end.
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