One of my favorite things about the end of the calendar year is the “best of” lists — particularly the ones involving books. This year is no exception. From NPR to The New York Times, I’ve eagerly devoured numerous lists of the top reads of 2022.
Here at aSweatLife, we decided to craft our own compilation of the year’s best books. We asked our community members about their favorite reads that came out in 2022. Below are seven of our picks.
The best books of 2022
- The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan: Released in January 2022, this novel centers on Frida, a mother to a young daughter named Harriet. When Frida makes a parenting mistake, she’s sent to a government reform institution where she’s taught how to be a “good mother.” If she doesn’t pass the program’s tests, she could permanently lose custody of Harriet. “It was amazing!” said aSweatLife writer Christina Heiser. Buy it on Amazon or Bookshop, a site that supports independent bookstores.
- Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez: I read this novel over the summer, and it’s one of my top picks of the year. Set in 2017 — when Hurricane Maria strikes Puerto Rico — the book is about Olga, a wedding planner for New York City’s elite, and her brother Prieto, a congressman. The siblings navigate love, conflict, family history, political corruption, and following their dreams. Get it on Amazon or Bookshop.
- Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean: Recommended by ambassador Elizabeth R. Bain, this August 2022 release highlights 35-year-old Mika, whose life is in disarray. Everything changes when she gets a call from Penny, the daughter she placed for adoption 16 years ago. Wanting to make Penny proud, Mika tells a white lie about her life — which balloons into a completely fake life where Mika is successful. Buy it on Amazon or Bookshop.
- As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh: This speculative novel is set amidst the backdrop of the Syrian Revolution and follows Salama, a young woman who volunteers at a hospital in Homs, Syria. She wants to find a way to flee her home country before her pregnant sister-in-law gives birth. However, she’s torn between her loyalty to Syria and her desire to survive. Ambassador Mary Kesinger recommended the novel, which is available on Amazon or Bookshop.
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy: Former iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy’s memoir was released in August 2022. In it, she outlines her life’s struggles with eating disorders, addiction, and a domineering mother who desperately wanted her to be an actress. Ambassador Tahnee Lacey and writer Christina Heiser liked the book, with Heiser calling it “a hard but great read.” Purchase it on Amazon or Bookshop.
- Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel: The latest book by Emily St. John Mandel — who also wrote Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel — plays with time travel and metaphysics. Suggested by ambassador Francesca Cardillo, the novel deals with multiple characters centuries apart who examine an anomaly in a North American forest. Buy it on Amazon and Bookshop.
- Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson: In her debut novel, Charmaine Wilkerson tells the story of Eleanor, who passes away and leaves behind an interesting inheritance: a black cake, made from a family recipe, and a voice recording. In the tape, Eleanor reveals a tale about a swimmer who leaves her island home after being suspected of murder. Eleanor’s children, Byron and Benny, are left to connect the puzzle pieces and unveil the secrets of their lineage. Recommended by aSweatLife ambassador and occasional contributor Dani Kruger, Black Cake is available on Amazon and Bookshop.