I’m kicking off the 5th year of my annual reading list post! It’s my favorite way to keep track of everything I read each year, and a fun place to record quick little book reviews to share with you! See everything I read on 2018’s list, 2019’s list, 2020’s list and 2021’s list for more book inspiration and then scroll down for my 2022 reads, mini reviews and what’s up next in my reading queue!Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand. I was craving a cozy, winter-y book over the holidays and this one takes place over Christmas at an antique bed and breakfast on Nantucket. Full of family drama and quippy dialogue and heart warming reconciliations, it was just what I needed to start the year off with!
The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis. I picked this as my first Book of the Month of the year! It follows a young artists muse who falls into scandal, but manages to find herself bouncing back under unemployment as the personal secretary to heiress Helen Frick, of the famous Frick Library family. The story bounces back and forth between this 1919 setting in the Frick mansion and modern day in the Frick Library, as a young woman and intern get locked in the building during a storm and uncover clues that solve a decades old mystery involving priceless jewels, family betrayal, and possibly even murder. It was a nice balance of page-turning drama and historical fiction – I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Lawns into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape by Owen Wormser. A rare non-fiction read for me, but I’ve been starting to make plans for my 2022 veggie and flower garden, and this book was recommended for learning more about regenerative landscape design. I’m not planning to rip up our whole front lawn and replace it with wildflowers, but it had some great advice on hearty, drought-resistant flowering plantings that I’m going to try to incorporate into my plan this summer!
Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci. I’ve been half listening-half reading this foodie-fueled memoir by Stanley Tucci and am in a constant state of drool as he shares delicious memories and recipes in the pages. The audio book is excellent, read by the author, a real feast for the ears as he delectably describes the food from his Italian upbringing. Fun fact, I grew up in the same town he did in NY, so it’s been fun to recognize some of the places he’s described in earlier chapters! A must read for food lovers!
Find Your Unicorn Space by Eve Rodsky. This book is from the same author that wrote Fair Play, and I was pulled in by the bold title. The book is all about the importance of carving time to prioritize our interests and unleash our creativity – her research points to creativity being essential to our wellness. My takeaway from the book was more about how I need to find creative pursuits in my life outside of work and home and family – which is challenge since I turned my creative pursuits into my work. It certainly made me think deeper about how I feel when I ignite my creativity and the positive energy that it brings to my life. My one ding on the book is that she focuses a lot on how to carve out this space by negotiating with your partner for more time to pursue your passions, and I think the book missed the mark a bit by not acknowledging in depth that not everyone has the same privilege or relationship structure to so freely explore their creative pursuits.
The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman. I’ve been a long time fan of Chuck Klosterman’s essays. – they’re wacky and winding and filled with satisfyingly random tidbits and facts about pop culture. The Nineties is another series of essays, digging into pop culture trends and historical moments in the 1990s – I listened to this one as an audio book, and his own reading of the book seems to make it even more entertaining.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. I absolutely inhale Lucy Foley’s books! Her page-turning, multi-perspective thrillers are my favorite. I particularly love how her short chapters keep you jumping from character to character, building a 360 degree view of the storyline like you’re frantically putting together pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This book was no exception, taking place in a Paris apartment complex, the main character arrives to her brother’s place only to find him missing and has to work to uncover where he went and who in the apartment building know more than they’re letting on.
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. I am to-do-list addict, and I have been for as long as I can remember. I got wind of this book, and the author’s rejection of the idea of “getting it all done” during the short time we have on earth, and felt like this might the anecdote to my to-do addiction. The books is more philosophical than actionable, and that’s sort of the point, it zooms out to a mile high look at how limited time is and how to prioritize exactly what you want (and don’t want) to do with it.
One Night on the Island by Josie Silver. I flew through this sweet story in just two days, it takes place on an idyllic, remote Irish island in a cozy rental cabin that the two main characters accidentally double-book. Rough sea conditions and limited housing on the island force them into a complicated roommate situation that expectedly unfolds into romance. It was a really cute, feel-good story – and one of my favorite parts about Josie Silver’s modern romantic novels is that she always prioritizes her female lead over the romance storyline – she gives them independence and self-worth outside of the relationship.
Lease on Love by Fallon Ballard. Sometimes you just need a good “junk food” book, and I think this light, buzzy millennial love story fits the bill. The main character is a frenzied young New Yorker who finds herself looking for a love, a new career and a cheaper place to live. Her solution unfolds into a convenient if not slightly predictable rooomate-turned-love interest storyline.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry. I just need Emily Henry to write like maybe 4-5 more books a year, please!! I gobble up her strong female heroines and modern, lighthearted love stories with quick-witted dialogue. This one lived up to her past books, and might even be my favorite so far? An absolute must for your summer reading list!
The Guncle by Steven Rowley. I read and partially listened to this as an audio book on the recommendation of a few girlfriends. If you’re an audio book person I’d recommend this one in a heartbeat because the author narrates the story and just absolutely brings the main character to life, and made me both weep as the storyline addresses heavy topics like grief, and snort laughing as the “Guncle” delivers his snappy comebacks and dialogue.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub. I have very strong feelings about storylines that lean on sci-fi/time travel elements. Typically I wouldn’t even consider a book that included them, but Emma Straub is the kind of author that makes me second guess my own rules. The main character, dealing with a heavy load of life as she turns 40, wakes up mysteriously back on her own 16th birthday and gets the chance to relive the past and get a new perspective. I appreciate how Straub pokes fun at time travel tropes and uses the tool to deep dive into the complex and moving father-daughter relationship that the book centers on. I’m glad I gave time travel a try!
I’ll Show Myself Out: Essays on Midlife and Motherhood by Jessi Klein. Oh gosh, this is the most honest, raw, hilarious, and alarmingly on point account of modern motherhood. It’s truly one of the best books I’ve read in years, and I’m demanding that all of my mom friends read it. I think it should be required reading for anyone in the throes of motherhood! Jessi Klein is absolutely hilarious (an SNL writer and Amy Schumer show alum) and I couldn’t put the essays down. I was met with extreme end-of-book sadness when I finished the last one and I hope she writes a dozen more.
Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley. I am Sloane Crosley fan-girl and have absolutely inhaled her previous essay collections and novels. This story follows a woman who mysteriously (and then not so mysteriously) starts bumping into several of her exes in the same neighborhood over the course of a few weeks. It’s too strange to be a coincidence, and she uncovers she might be part of a social experiment crafted by her cultish ex-boss. I found this book to be a big departure from her previous work, and while it was expertly written, didn’t have quite the same zing that I loved in her previous work.
Flying Solo by Linda Holmes. I, like so many others, adored Linda Holme’s book Evie Drake Starts Over, and was first in line to grab her newest story! This book also takes place in Maine (there’s a few Evie Drake Easter eggs in the storyline!) and follows Laurie as she returns home to clean out her beloved Great Aunt’s home after she passes away. In the process she comes across a wood decoy duck that she has a strange feeling is something special. The duck ends up falling out of her hands and we follow her through a bit of a caper to get the duck back. Along the way is a delightful and untraditional love story that shines a light on how to remain independent and true to yourself. It was a very entertaining, sweet story – a perfect beach read!
Rivals (American Royals #3) by Katharine McGee. This is the third book in the American Royals series, that reimagines the country if George Washington had become King instead of President, and follows his descendants – the modern day royals. These books are total junk food – not good for your brain but so delicious to consume – and give off major Bridgeton vibes. The perfect escapist reading,
Every Summer After by Carley Fortune. A delightful summer romance that takes place on a lake, I am sucker for books where we can root for best friends to fall in love. Save this one for summer vacation.
Verity by Colleen Hoover. Oh gosh, this book is so intense, a little bit creepy, and one that I couldn’t put down. I had a few issues with the characters, but ultimately it was a winner in the psychological thriller category, a millions twists and turns and gasps, if that’s your style.
Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore. This was another book that felt perfectly suited for reading on a beach in the warmth of summer. It takes place in Maine and follows characters at their summer vacation home, while also following the parallel life of a down-on-her-luck young woman working there for the summer. The story braids these lives together and shows how they intersect in surprising ways.
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney. This was a moody thriller, where a dysfunctional family gathers for their grandmother’s 80th birthday, and one by one guests start disappearing and dying. While I didn’t love the ending of this book, it both surprised me and kept me engaged until the very last page.
Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan. This was probably my favorite book of the year! It was a light, fulfilling romance story that didn’t feel trope-y at all. It was a such a fun, feel-good read – highly recommend!
The Family Game by Catherine Steadman. This was another fun thriller, that followed a young woman who was marrying into a very elite, wealthy, well known family (they reminded me of the family from Succession) The patriarch is seemingly testing her to see if she’s fit to join the family, but as the story unfolds you say that things are not quite as they seem.
Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid. While this wasn’t my favorite of all the Taylor Jenkins Reid books, I still really enjoyed it. The storyline follows a tennis star – a topic I’d normally never pick up – but her short chapters and the intense female leads in her books always make get lost in reading.
Meant to Be by Emily Giffin. This story was loosely based on the Kennedy family, following a young JFK Jr-esque character and the model he’s fallen in love with. It was cute, but a bit too predictable and full of cliches for my liking.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. The story follows a young female scientist in the 1960s, who through a series of events, ends up as a single mother and the host of a popular cooking show, despite desperately wanting to be taken seriously as a research in the chemistry field. My feelings about the main character bounced back and forth in reading this book, sometimes I loved her and rooted for, and other times she frustrated me and annoyed me. That tension is probably what kept me going to the end, and I was happy with the ending!
Thanks for the suggestions! I just placed hold requests on Winter Street and The Magnolia Palace at my local library. I LOVED Stanley Tucci’s series on PBS on eating through Italy. I’ll have to listen to his book. His voice is so soothing to me.
Thanks so much for these reviews! I have hopes to read 22 books this year, so I will take all the recommendations I can get. 🙂
Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
Make Life Marvelous