Move over Mariah, because all I want for Christmas is a chance to cozy up in front of the fireplace with a good book and a warm mug of cocoa (with marshmallows, of course). Whether you’re a bookworm or you’re shopping for one, I’ve got you covered with the best books of 2022!
Keep reading to discover the best historical fiction, sci-fi, thriller, and women’s fiction books released this year!
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22+ must-read books of 2022
Lessons in Chemistry
This was the first book I read in 2022, and– like most things over the past couple of years– it was not at all what I expected. In this case, it turned out to be WAY better! Elizabeth Zott is a chemist, cooking show host, rower, survivor, mother, and just an all-around badass independent woman in the 1960s– a time when ladies were supposed to stay home, cook dinner, and raise babies. With a description that says, “Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results,” I expected the typical guy-meets-girl, guy-loses-girl, happily-ever-after. But whoa. Lessons in Chemistry was so much deeper.
There are a few mysteries, a fairy godmother acorn (you have to read it to understand that one), and a whole lot of shaking up the norms. I LOVED this book and think everyone should read it, too!
Meant to Be
If you’re nostalgic for the Camelot of the Kennedy administration, and fascinated by the powerful family’s day-to-day life, Meant to Be may be meant for you! Loosely based on the romance of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette, the novel follows Joseph S. Kingsley III and Cate Cooper. Joe is the reckless and charismatic son of American royalty. Cate grew up in an abusive household and found an escape route through modeling.
When the two meet by chance, the connection is electric. Can the pair find their place in the world together and avoid the Kingsley curse?
The White Hare
In the summer of 1954, three generations of women moved to White Cove by the sea in Cornwall. With grand hopes of turning the home into a guest house (Magda) and fleeing scandal (Mila), this rural retreat seems ideal. But the idyllic spot is less than ideal. The valley has a long, violent history, and the land remembers.
Like many children, five-year-old Janey is attached to her stuffed animal, Rabbit. Unlike many children’s toys, though, this rabbit seems to impart the wisdom of ages and secrets of the valley.
As the three women find their place in a notoriously unwelcoming community, they find that the past can’t stay hidden for long. The White Hare is a story about mother/daughter relationships, the sacred feminine, and the power of friendship. The characters are well-developed, the plot kept me turning the pages, and I was left wanting more.
Katelyn Monroe Howes
I didn’t stop talking about this book for weeks. I’m fascinated by the ethics of scientific breakthroughs, and The Awoken led me down some mega rabbit trails of thought. What happens when future laws compromise past decisions?
That’s the world where Alabine Rivers wakes up. Alabine Rivers succumbed to cancer over 100 years ago, but cryogenics preserved her body until there was a cure. At least, that was the plan. When she is awoken, she finds that people like her are illegal, and it’s legal to shoot them on sight.
The Resurrectionists have chosen Alabine for a reason. As the militia fighting for the Awoken drives her past a billboard with her face on it, she learns that a lot has happened since she was frozen, and she might just be the key to stopping the destruction of full cryogenics facilities around the country.
This is a book about love, fear, prejudice, and, ultimately, hope. And it’s one that I think everyone needs to read.
Upgrade was one of my favorite books of 2022. Today, we’re injecting fillers into our faces, freezing fat, and tattooing on our eyebrows. Blake Crouch explores a not-so-distant future when the technology is available to modify ourselves from the inside out. The government shut down any genetic modification after a horrific accident caused a worldwide family, and Logan Ramsay is on the task force assigned to find geneticists going against government orders. It’s in one of those raids when Logan is hit by shrapnel and ends up in the hospital.
At first, the doctors think it was just the flu and send him home. But within weeks, he notices subtle changes— his ability to multitask, his incredible reading speed, and the fact that he doesn’t need much sleep. Soon, it’s clear that Logan has been upgraded. But by who? And why?
The House Across the Lake
Recently widowed Casey Fletcher is an actress who’s no stranger to bad press. Thinking she needs less press and less access to alcohol, an escape to her family’s lake house in Vermont seems like just the ticket.
Soon, a tech mogul (Tom) and former model (Katherine) move in across the lake, and Casey’s binoculars stray toward the golden couple’s many-windowed home. After rescuing Katherine from the lake, the two strike up a friendship, and Casey realizes there’s something amiss across the lake. When Katherine goes missing, Casey sounds the alarm. Did she run away? Did Tom do something to her? Will anyone trust an actress whose public spiral hasn’t been forgotten?
I love everything Riley Sager writes, and The House Across the Lake is no exception!
I’ll Be You
I’ll Be You gave me Mary Kate and Ashley vibes. A casting director discovers identical twins at the beach one day, and the sisters skyrocket to fame as Hollywood’s favorite child stars. Sam loved acting and the spotlight. Elli loved Sam and would do anything to maintain a relationship with her sister. The sisters used to swap places– Sam taking on double the acting roles so they could continue to live the LA life she loved.
When Elli finally chooses normalcy (prom, college, and marriage), Sam’s career tanks. One-half of America’s favorite pair just won’t work. Sam turns to drugs and alcohol, and “perfect” Elli bails her out time and time again.
Then, Sam gets a call from her parents. They need her to come home to take care of Elli’s newly adopted daughter who seems to have shown up out of nowhere. Her husband left her and no one’s heard from Elli after she signed up for a spa retreat.
Sam decides to “play” Elli one more time to get into this mysterious spa, that’s starting to feel a whole lot like a cult. Will she be able to save her sister? And does Elli want to be saved?
This Might Hurt
A six-month stay on an island away from technology– a surefire way to become your best self? Or a dangerous cult? (Is 2022 the year of the cult? This is the second cult book on my list!)
That’s what Natalie hopes to find out when she shows up at Wisewood looking for her sister Kit, whom she hasn’t heard from in more than half a year. Truth be told, she’s not just there for her sister. She’s there to get to the bottom of the threatening letter she received from someone who claims to work for Wisewood.
Be forewarned; you will not love all of the characters. Hang in there. You’ll love the way it all turns out!
After Stephanie Wrobel’s dark and twisty Darling Rose Gold, I had to read This Might Hurt. Just like her debut novel, this one keeps you guessing.
The Night Shift
If you were a 90s kid with an after-school job, this would take you straight to the worst-case scenario of that pre-smartphone world where we lived and worked without a care in the world. The Night Shift is a dual-era novel with two eerily similar murders. Y2K marked the end of a millennium and the tragic end to the lives of three teens working at the local Blockbuster. Only one survived the brutal attack with no memory of the assailant.
Fifteen years later: same town, same story. Someone attacks teens at a local ice cream store and the murderer leaves one survivor.
Past and present storylines merge. Survivor becomes mentor. The brother of the initial (and missing) suspect gets involved. And the investigation is led by a very pregnant detective set on cracking the case.
I loved The Night Shift and finished it in a single day. Hang on to your popcorn, kids. This one’s going to take you for a ride.
One of the Girls
A bachelorette trip to a Greek island. What could possibly go wrong?
The characters are: Bella and Robyn (Lexi’s childhood friends), Ana (a new friend from yoga class), Fen (Bella’s girlfriend), and Eleanor (Lexi’s future sister-in-law). Everyone is harboring secrets— some more dangerous than others. With lots of alcohol in the house, there’s no way the secrets will stay secret for long. And when the setting is in a house atop a cliff— there are hundreds of ways things can go terribly wrong when the darkest secret’s out.
While getting into One of the Girls took a little bit (see characters above for a cheat sheet when you read!) I was on the edge of my seat for the second half. I 100% recommend this book!
In my mind, B.A. Paris can do no wrong. The Prisoner proves it again. After losing her parents as a child, Amelie is forced to make it in the world alone. She makes her way to London, where she is befriended by a woman who offers her a live-in job, and eventually meets Ned Hawthorne— the billionaire who would soon become her husband in a quickie Vegas ceremony.
All should be well now, right? This wouldn’t be a B. A. Paris novel if it were. Amelie and Ned are kidnapped and held in separate, pitch-black rooms, where Amelie is terrified at first. But she begins to wonder whether this prison is actually better than the prison of her marriage.
Who kidnapped the couple? Why was Ned so keen to marry Amelie? Will they make it out alive? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Part whodunnit, part data privacy ethics, part family drama— I loved The Verifiers. Claudia Lin works for a referrals-only dating detective agency in New York City; she’s a quirky character who keeps her sexuality closeted from her traditional Asian family. When a client goes missing, the voracious mystery reader takes matters into her own hands. If you’re looking for love in the digital age, you’ll love this one!
The Rule of Three
E. G. Scott
Kingsland is a private, gated community— think Stepford Wives’ levels of perfection, if the Stepford husbands all had something to hide. One night, three men wind up dead or hospitalized after a poker night while their wives meet for book club.
The Rule of Three is a story of blackmail, revenge, abuse, and secrets. You’ll spend a good portion of the book wondering, “what the heck happened?” You might also be wondering, “who the heck ARE all these people?” With six main characters and E. G. Scott’s penchant for using nicknames/ last names, it’s tricky to stay on top of who’s who. Stick with it, though! The ending is perfect!
Watch out for Her
Samantha M. Bailey
Samantha M. Bailey is no stranger to this list. In 2020, she made the round-up with Woman on the Edge, and she’s back again with Watch Out for Her, a who-can-you-trust psychological thriller. Photographer Sarah hires Holly to babysit her son Jacob; at first, all is well. Holly gets the mother figure she’s always wanted, and Jacob loves his time with Holly. But when Sarah’s insecurities lead her to spy on Holly via camera, she sees something she can’t unsee. The family packs up and moves across the country, only to find hidden cameras in their home. Has the watcher become the watch-ee? This book is full of twists and turns; I could never have guessed the ending!
The Woman in the Library
This book sat on my digital shelf until the first week of December. The description pulled me in, but something about the cover made me feel a little intimidated. Well, I’m kicking myself that I waited so long— in my opinion, this is one of the best books of 2022. Sulari Gentill wrote The Woman in the Library in a format I’ve never seen before — a murder mystery manuscript with email correspondence between a fictional author and an adoring fan.
In the manuscript, four strangers are seated in the Boston Public Library when a scream pierces the silence of the reading room. Soon, the strangers start talking and form an unlikely friendship in the wake of the scream— which solidifies when a woman is found dead at the library. Sounds like a perfect meet-cute— except one of the four is a murderer. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop until I learned who the killer was, and why they targeted the victim. This was my first time reading this Australian author’s work— but it won’t be my last!
The Godparent Trap
Rachel Van Dyken
As a brand new godparent, I knew I had to read this book. The Godparent Trap reminds me a lot of the film Life As We Know It, with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel. I loved the movie and really enjoyed a new take on a similar situation. Colby is a food blogger who finds herself co-parenting with uptight accountant Rip when they lose her best friend and his sister in a tragic accident.
Rachel Van Dyken handles heavy topics with care, while infusing whimsy, romance, and hope into the story.
Love in the Time of Serial Killers
Have I asked men on dating apps whether they’re serial killers? Maybe. Look, I’m not taking any chances.
I related so hard to true-crime-obsessed Ph.D. candidate Phoebe Walsh. She’s spending the summer writing her dissertation (on true crime, of course) and cleaning out her old childhood home. She’s also watching her neighbor, Sam Dennings, who she is pretty sure is a serial killer. Pay no mind to the fact that he’s been nothing but kind and helpful since she moved in. And he is oh-so-handsome.
I love that the author included non-fluffy topics and adore a smart-yet-flawed female lead. True crime fan or not, if you’re looking for a romance with a little spice and a lot of fun, you’ll love this book!
Love on the Brain
I told y’all how much I loved Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis last year, and she’s back with Love on the Brain, a brand new STEMinist rom-com. When NASA offers Bee Königswasser her dream job, saying yes is a no-brainer. But when she finds out Levi Ward is her co-lead, she comes back down to earth so fast. Archenemies since college, working together is going to be more complicated than rocket science. Can Bee complete the project (without all the necessary equipment or the support of her team)? Are those sparks coming off Levi really hatred? You’ll have to read this sexy-yet-nerdy novel to find out!
Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan
Some books, I read and promptly forget. Mad Honey isn’t one of those. Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan did a fantastic job bringing a first love to life, wading through the devastation of loss, and provoking thought about how to talk about sensitive issues. There’s a huge twist in this book, and I don’t want to give it away, but here’s what I can tell you:
Olivia McAfee moves herself and her son, Asher, to her father’s home after her surgeon husband shows her that his commitment to “do no harm” ends when he walks through the front door.
Lily Campanello and her mother move to Adams, New Hampshire, too, ready for a fresh start in a new place.
Lily and Asher meet at school and fall in love. And then, Lily is found dead.
Do dark streaks run in families? Or, as Olivia insists, is Asher innocent?
I still can’t stop thinking about this novel— it’s a must-read!
Start-up culture + a rare and life-threatening disease is the backdrop for Unlikely Match— and I loved it. Jules Kelly is a bohemian boss babe whose startup just won subsidized office space for a year. The problem? She has to share it with tech bro, Tom Davenport, and his company. He wears the same black and white suit every day, doesn’t know how to smile, is condescending to Jules’ mostly female team— and has amazing forearms and a stunning head of hair.
Jules needs a liver transplant, like yesterday, and a rivalry with Tom is just the adrenaline she needs to keep going. Will their fiery feud turn into something more?