The best books I read in 2022, from 2022 and not

Written By Kylie Thomas, Co Features/A&E Editor

I feel like most people who do the ‘top five reads of the year’ tend to read around 50 books, however, I’m a little bit different. While I’ve only read 12 books this year, I’m still proud of the books I read because it distinguishes time I took out of the year for myself. When I was younger, I’d read loads and loads of books throughout the year. When I got older and found out I was  reading only two books a year for myself in high school, I felt like I was no longer a reader, I felt like this was the end of my enjoyment of books. Luckily, I took a short story course and then a haunted American literature course that both fueled my love for non-scholastic reading. 

So here I am in 2023, I’m 21 and have read 12 (and a half if you count the books I haven’t finished yet) books in one year. And I am proud of myself. 

Now, moving onto why you’re reading this article. I went through the painful experience of ranking my top five books of the year. These books didn’t come out in 2022 however they were all read by me in 2022. 

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune: To put this into simple words… I LOVE T.J. KLUNE. While this isn’t the first novel I read by Klune (that’s earlier in the list), it is my favorite book I’ve read so far by Klune. Think of a wonderfully queer and diverse story that follows a man through his experience between life and death in a tea cafe. While this book gets brownie points from me for having two queer main characters, and outstanding supporting characters, that’s not why it takes the top spot. The way this novel handles the subject of death and grieving made me feel more comfortable about living. Klune has a way with words that carry each sentence as its own poem. While it’s littered with life lessons, it carries an overall enjoyable plot line with easily connective characters. Normally fantasy books are harder for me to enjoy but this book combined fantasy with realistic fiction in a way that presents well to any reader. Not only is this story heartwarming, it also makes you think deeply without causing overwhelming existentialism. It teaches us to love not only life, but also death. 

Favorite Character: Mei


The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Gary Hendrix: Holy sh*t was this book a rollercoaster ride. Ever since I refound my love for reading, I haven’t been able to read as quickly nor for long lengths of time. However, this book had me hooked. Gary Hendrix has this sarcastic tone to his writing that is so captivating. Not to mention, the book plot is exactly what it sounds like, a book club hunting a vampire. He’s able to form an entertaining story that kept me hooked for days. The main reason I picked up this novel was for the mention of James Dean who I thought to be a reflection of Shirley Jackson’s James Dean character, a representation of the Devil. While I couldn’t find if Jackson was an influence to Hendrix, I still loved his variation regardless of if it was intentional. I also have to say that this book was simply shocking. Every plot point had my mouth dropped agape in shock for pages. I still can’t believe some of the things I read. While the cut and dry humor of this book isn’t for everyone, it was a top for me.

Favorite Character: James Dean


I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid: I first heard of “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” because I learned that David Thewlis (who played Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter series) played a part in the Netflix movie adaptation. When I decided to sit down and watch the movie, I never would have dreamt up what I viewed. It was a trippy, hallucinatory trip through the life of this girl and her boyfriend Jake as our heroine thinks about breaking off the relationship. The book turned out to be even better than the movie but even further confusing than the movie. However, I’m a sucker for anything psychological and I think a reread of this novel would do it a lot of good. Nevertheless, I love the main character of the novel who places herself into mentally exhaustive situations. There are plenty of different themes to this book and many would bring up spoilers so I’ll let you explore those on your own. Though I will say identity is repetitive throughout the book. I’ve come to love Iain Reid after reading this, I love that at the end of his novels, you never have any clue what you just read.

Favorite Character: Unnamed Main Character


The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune: This was the first novel I read by T.J. Klune that got me hooked. The book follows Linus Baker, a by-the-rules guy who’s a magical government worker (though he himself is quite normal). He’s assigned to a magical orphanage on an abandoned island run by a very peculiar guardian who is the complete opposite of Linus. Normally, I’m not a fan of fantasy fiction, it’s just not for me. However this heartwarming ruined me with adorable creatures Klune creates. Not to mention the dynamic between the two main characters is so well written, plus it’s a sort of enemies-to-lovers/grumpy v. soft fanfiction trope. It feels like a fanfiction that’s actually well written so rather than a childish story, it feels like a novel. I also have to say that while I don’t particularly enjoy children, the kids at the orphanage in the story won me over so quickly, especially Lucy.

Favorite Character: Arthur Parnassus


My Policeman by Bethan Roberts: Even though this is in the bottom pick of my books of 2022, it is still an outstanding novel. I have to truly love a book for it to hit my top of the year and “My Policeman” far surpassed the usual mark, even as book four. A 1900s piece on early comprehension of homosexuality, it’s quite literally a blast from the past. The way this book switches points of views captured my heart from the second Patrick appeared. Backed by Marion’s secondary dialogue, I fell in love with Patrick’s romantic character. While Marion annoyed me, her commentary is just as important as Patrick’s and form’s the story of Tom Burgess’ life, which is the whole plot of the book. Bethan Roberts’ writing is so detailed that I fell into this book as if I were living the characters’ lives. She has a way of taking away the real world to transport the reader back in time. For a queer period piece, it’s beautifully done and I feel bad the movie couldn’t live up to its beautiful standard.

Favorite Character: Patrick


Honorable Mentions

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: I read this book last minute literally the night before New Year’s Eve and really enjoyed it. It’s an intriguing tale of a woman who shot her husband in the face five times, unprovoked and now refuses to speak again. It follows her psychotherapist as he tries to unravel what happened six years later. The way Michaelides writes this story is insane, the amount of twists and turns he purposefully planted throughout the novel is outstanding. While a lot of people didn’t like this novel for its portrayal of mental health (which I understand) I really enjoyed it just as an entertaining thriller which left my mouth agape. 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig: A really inspiring story about finding the true meaning of life (spoiler alert, there isn’t one). After Nora dies, she arrives in the Midnight Library, a place where she has the opportunity to do anything different in her life and live out that parallel life. It’s a really complex tale of universal composition but on the top layer is a passionate story about wanting to live when you think all you’ve wanted to do is die. There are thousands, millions, billions of opportunities within life and “The Midnight Library” points readers to take advantage of these opportunities, no matter how silly they may seem. To be honest, it’s a really great story for anyone struggling to find their place in the world. I think this was especially good to read my last year of college as I look at the frightening future.

“Bones & All” by Camille DeAngelis: Now, when I praise the book “Bones & All,” I want to note that I am not praising the author. The author used this book to show people reasons to go vegan and I don’t agree with her. I view this book as a metaphor for sex and rape. Without spoiling anything, take a look at what situations Maren finds herself eating in. There is a common factor in each one. When I look at the book from a feminist perspective, I love it. But when looking at it like a romance story (as the movie does) or as a vegan story (as the other does) it completely misses the mark. With this distinction, on top of the immature writing style (which I can’t hate on too much because it is a young adult novel) makes this book not quite a top pick. Though I will say I read it in less than 24 hours. 

I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings in terms of literature and life. It seems that each year my tastes progress to something new so it’ll be interesting to see what books appear in my future. Happy New Year and here’s to another year around the sun. 

“What’re a couple of years in the face of eternity?”

T.J. Klune, Under the Whispering Door