40 Books from 2022 You Need to Read in 2023

Posted by Bijal Shah on

We're almost at the end of 2022, here are the books we've loved this year across a variety of genres from literary fiction, true crime, memoir and romance, mystery and thrillers, LGBTQIA+, political and business books and travel and cookbooks. Here are our final 40 books we loved this year. Any others that should be here? Do share what you loved this year!

Best Literature and Fiction Books of 2022 

The Candy House (Literary Fiction) by Jennifer Egan

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan manages to dazzle us again with this deeply thoughtful novel about the meaning of memory and the search for privacy and authenticity in a world where technology is re-shaping everything we know and have known. Plus she brings back the very memorable characters from her previous book, A Visit from the Goon Squad.

Jennifer Egan takes us back to 2010, where 40-year-old ambitious tech entrepreneur Bix Bouton and dad of four stumbles upon an exciting idea where we can share memories with each other by ‘owning your own consciousness’. Whilst it’s been a hit with many people, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. 

And what Egan does in mesmerising detail — she takes us deep into the lives of these characters over decades using epistolary techniques, tweets and voices. There are what she calls “counters” who are tracking and taking advantage of desires and also “eluders” who intuitively appreciate what it means to take a bite of the Candy House.

A wake-up call reminding us that we may not be so far off from this type of world that is rapidly embracing virtual worlds through social media and gaming — and showcasing how the very human themes of connection, love, family, desire, and need for privacy remain important needs that take on new meaning in a world that is shape-shifting rapidly as a result of technology.

A fascinatingly inventive read.

My favourite quotes: “Friendship risks the end of friendship.”

“One horror of motherhood lies in the moments when she can see both the exquisiteness of her child and his utter inconsequence to others.”

“The need for personal glory is like cigarette addiction: a habit that feels life-sustaining even as it kills you.”

Afterlives (Novel) by Abdulrazak Gurnah

Afterlives: By the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 by [Abdulrazak Gurnah]

A historical fiction novel set in East Africa at the start of the twentieth century, this is a story about two young boys, one, Ilyas, stolen into an army and the other, Hamza, sold into war.  Both fight for the German colonial army against their own fellow countrymen with the purpose of enforcing colonial rule within the region. Illyas returns home in the hope of finding his parents who are no longer there, nor is his sister. While Hamza looks to rebuild his life years later, he falls in love with Afiya. Meanwhile, World War I is taking place in Europe with devastating consequences too.

From the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize of 2022, comes this eye-opening, moving and haunting novel about terrorism and exploitation by colonial rule, that tells a lesser-known side of history - one of brutal European colonial rule and its enduring consequences. 

 

Lessons (Novel) by Ian McEwan

Lessons: the new novel from the author of Atonement by [Ian McEwan]

A story we can all relate to, McEwan brings us this extremely relatable and intimate story about our search for meaning and answers in a world that's constantly in chaos. It's also about love and regret.

It's post-WWII and the world is still reeling from its devastation.  The protagonist, Roland Baines, is stuck at boarding school and falls in love with his piano teacher, Miriam Cornell. Eventually they must part and Roland is heartbroken. Two-and-a-half decades later, the Chernobyl disaster happens and the radiation spreads across Europe. Roland's wife disappears  suddenly and for the first time he acknowledges the absence of home. He begins to explore his family history however fails to find answers. As he tries to evaluate the meaning of historical events throughout his life, e.g. the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Brexit, the Covid pandemic and the impact of climate change he reflects on opportunities that he was never able to fulfill and instead learns to soothe his restlessness, regret and despair with books, travel, other people, sex and love. All the while, he is drawn to existential questions: what can we learn from past trauma and can we choose to take a different life path without hurting others? A rich meditation on life, it's McEwan at his best.


Lucy by the Sea (Novel) by Elizabeth Strout

Lucy by the Sea: From the Booker-shortlisted author of Oh William! by [Elizabeth Strout]

An unexpected reunion, Lucy and her ex-husband William find themselves at a friend's beach house in Maine. It is March 2020 and Lucy leaves her home in New York at her husband's request to get away for a few weeks as everyone enters lockdown. Initially she expects to be gone for a couple of weeks but then they find themselves together for months, still working out their relationship. A reflection on love, marriage and life after marriage, as well as the power of deep connections and intimacy that can only be seen in hindsight. A stunning novel that will make you cherish the ones you love.

My favourite quotes: “What is it like to be you? I need to say: This is the question that has made me a writer; always that deep desire to know what it feels like to be a different person.”

“We all live with people -- and places -- and things -- that we have given great weight to. But we are weightless, in the end.”

“It is a gift in this life that we do not know what awaits us.”

The School for Good Mothers (Literary Fiction) by Jessamine Chan

Drawing parallels with real life, this novel tells the tale of what happens to a young mother, Frida Liu, who with no support leaves her young daughter alone in her apartment, hoping to briefly step out and collect some work papers and return immediately. The government is alerted by a neighbour, leading to her enrolment in a government reform program which means that she may no longer have custody of her child. 

Frida finds herself in the grips of an institution who monitor her every move — who watch and measure the devotion of her mother to their child. They set impossible standards for mothers — mothers who have to prove that they are worthy and capable of looking after their child. One wrong move landed her in this mess and she is desperate to get out now.

At home, she feels that she has failed — her husband lusts after his younger mistress, her parents feel that she is a disappointment and the one thing that she has, that made her feel adequate — her daughter — is now at risk of being taken away from her.

A satire of the pressures modern society put on mothers to be the perfect nurturing parents who are almost enslaved to their children, this is a witty and thought-provoking novel that’s much-needed in all its fictional-but-truth-poking form.

Trust (Literary Fiction) by Hernan Diaz 

Trust: Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2022 by [Hernan Diaz]

Set in 1920s New York, this is an incredible book on the theme of trust told by four individuals, a forgotten author who wrote a book about a Manhattan tycoon on Wall Street, the tycoon himself who wants to set the record straight, the tycoon's wife and a young lady who is helping the tycoon.

Essentially the story is told through a collection of manuscripts (a novel, autobiography, memoir and journal) and meditates on how wealth and money are really forms of fiction and it is our perception of these which manipulates the truth - the financial instruments that we are all told to believe have value, from bonds to commodities to other financial contracts and how we are happy to deceive ourselves to reach the heady heights of power and wealth. 

And as we understand the story of how this wealthy tycoon made his money, the truth begins to unravel - the book itself becomes a quest for truth.

Can wealth and power readily mask the truth? Are we more likely to be self-deluded by someone who is wealthy and powerful? Who gets to tell the truth? And whose truth gets compromised in the process? A thought-provoking book that's definitely deserving of a Booker nomination.

My favourite quote: “the closer one is to a source of power, the quieter it gets. Authority and money surround themselves with silence, and one can measure the reach of someone’s influence by the thickness of the hush enveloping them.”

All the Lovers in the Night (Literary Fiction) by Mieko Kawakami

Fuyuko Irie, an introverted mid-thirty-something freelance copy editor, one day has an awakening. Having worked intensively night and day with limited contact and social interaction with the outside world, she realises how her life is passing her by — how she’s lost her spirit and charm and she embarks on a journey — to change this. However as well know change is difficult and the more she reaches out for it, the more she delves into her painful past and the more her behaviour in the present slips — promiscuity, detachment and internalised misogyny — this is an insightful and engaging, witty portrayal of the products of society we can so often evolve into.

Kawakami’s charm is derived from bringing to us conflicted characters whose narratives are not so different from ours and allowing us to see ourselves in them or simply experience moments that are so acutely similar to yearnings and pangs, pain or losses we experience on a day-to-day basis.

My favourite quotes: “The light at night is special because the overwhelming light of day has left us, and the remaining half draws on everything it has to keep the world around us bright.

“As I passed below the haloes of the green and red traffic signals, I was taken by this strange view of the evening, the city streets full of people — people waiting, the people they were waiting for, people out to eat together, people going somewhere together, people heading home together. I allowed my thoughts to settle on the brightness filling their hearts and lungs, squinting as I walked along and counted all the players of this game I would never play.”

To Paradise (Literary Fiction) by Hanya Yanagihara

If you loved Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, then you’re in for another equally moving treat with her next novel, To Paradise. To Paradise brings together 3 stories set in America across 3 different centuries (1893, 1993 and 2093) exploring the lives of 3 very different protagonists as they strive for paradise, but instead are thrown into the complexities of life, love, family and loss.

With meticulously thought-out characters and gorgeous world-building we are all searching for something — for paradise and specifically love in paradise — we are taken back to New York in 1893 America where a young man, at the risk of estranging her family, rejects an eligible, wealthy suitor for a struggling, charismatic music teacher; to 1993 Manhattan where a young man in a relationship with an older partner desperately seeks to hide his childhood and his relationship with his father; and then we are taken to the future, to 2093, where in a world besieged with plagues a young lady struggles to work out where her husband has disappeared to amidst countless affairs. Essentially three novellas in one, the bittersweet nature of each of these stories, will make you fall head over heels. Plus, the rich, seductive language pulls you right into the heart of the story.

My favourite quotes: “The problem, though, with trying to be the ideal anything is that eventually the definition changes, and you realize that what you’d been pursuing all along was not a single truth but a set of expectations determined by context. You leave that context, and you leave behind those expectations, too, and then you’re nothing once again.”

“…but because he had enough of being someone’s legacy; he knew the fear of feeling inadequate, the burden of disappointing. He would never do it again; he would be free. What he wouldn’t know until he was much older was that no one was ever free, that to know someone and to love them was to assume the task of remembering them, even if that person was still living. No one could escape that duty, and as you aged, you grew to crave that responsibility even as you sometimes resented it, that knowledge that your life was inextricable from another’s, that a person marked their existence in part by their association with you.”

“It’s funny — of all the things I was scared of, I was never scared of the dark. In the dark, everyone was helpless, and, knowing that, that I was just like everyone else, no less, made me feel braver.”

Lessons in Chemistry (Literary Fiction) by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons in Chemistry: The No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick by [Bonnie Garmus]

Elizabeth Zott is a chemist in the 1960s, at a time when gender inequality was rife and her male colleagues would never acknowledge her brilliant mind, despite stealing her work and ideas! Until Calvin Evans, another talented chemist, recognises her capabilities. However as always the unpredictability of life takes over and Elizabeth becomes the host of a cooking show.  She still holds chemistry at the heart of everything she does and she brings her knowledge of chemistry to the kitchen table to jazz up some incredible cooking. The show Supper at Six becomes a huge hit across the United States. A cooking revolution-in-progress, not only does she change how women cook but also their status in society.

Astutely witty with an incredible cast of characters Lessons in Chemistry is thoroughly original, thought-provoking and refreshing.

My favourite quotes:  “Humans need reassurance, they need to know others survived in hard times. And unlike other species which do a better job of learning from their mistakes, humans require constant threats and reminders to be nice.”

“For Elizabeth, cooking wasn’t some preordained feminine duty. As she’d told Calvin, cooking was chemistry. That’s because cooking actually is chemistry.”

Best True Crime Book of 2022

The Betrayal of Anne Frank (True Crime) by Rosemary Sullivan

The question that’s been haunting all our minds — who betrayed Anne Frank is finally resolved. Using a selection of recently discovered documents plus sophisticated technology, we now have some possible answers, whilst not definitive, this book is a deeply human read and explores a moral question: would we betray a family at the cost of their lives so that we can protect ours? 

Her journal’s been read by more than thirty million people over the decades — yet it’s never been clear how they managed to remain in hiding for so long in the Amsterdam apartment during World War II, and who eventually tipped the Nazis that they were there. Thanks to Vincent Pankoke, a retired FBI agent and his team, after careful examination of never-been-seen-before documents, some of which included scouring over 10s of 1000s of documents and pages, comes to an intriguing resolution, giving us access to the lives of the suspects and also how Anne and her family actually lived in wartime Amsterdam. If you’re curious and intrigued by this story, be sure to pick this one up.

My favourite quote: “In attempting to determine how Adolf Hitler had taken control, the US Office of Strategic Services commissioned a report in 1943 that explained his strategy: “Never to admit a fault or wrong; never to accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time; blame that enemy for everything that goes wrong; take advantage of every opportunity to raise a political whirlwind.”8 Soon hyperbole, extremism, defamation, and slander become commonplace and acceptable vehicles of power.”

Best Business and Leadership Books of 2022 

The Metaverse (Non-fiction) by Matthew Ball

This was one book I’d been looking forward to for a long time — an insight into a new world of possibilities, as technology rapidly involved from Web 2 to Web 3. Leading theorist of the Metaverse, Matthew Ball gives us an impeccable insight into what the metaverse will be and how it will affect our lives. 

It’s been a label thrown around lots recently but what do we mean by the “Metaverse”? It’s a new online interconnected network of 3D virtual worlds that will not only help us navigate the online world but also the physical one. For so long we have limited our ideas of the metaverse to the stuff of science fiction and fantasy or video games but now it’s rapidly on course to become part of our everyday lives and realities, underpinning everything through blockchains and NFTs: finance, healthcare, education, shopping, dating, leisure and retirement.

It will reshape society by immersing us fully into the Metaverse beyond the 2D experience we currently enjoy. Brace yourself for the future, it will be here before we know it, and this book gives us a helpful and valuable picture of what to expect.

Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential (Non-fiction) by Tiago Forte

Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organise Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential by [Tiago Forte]

In this helpful and accessible guide, Tiago Forte, a prominent expert on productivity, creativity and personal effectiveness, teaches us how to create our own personal knowledge management system, otherwise known as a second brain. This second brain can help us leverage what we already know to make more powerful and meaningful decisions. Essentially creating a system that's based on the ideas we value, our own goals and needs, will help us make decisions more aligned with our creative vision, particularly during an age of technological overwhelm.

My Favourite Quotes: “The three habits most important to your Second Brain include: Project Checklists: Ensure you start and finish your projects in a consistent way, making use of past work. Weekly and Monthly Reviews: Periodically review your work and life and decide if you want to change anything. Noticing Habits: Notice small opportunities to edit, highlight, or move notes to make them more discoverable for your future self.”

“In a 2004 study, Angelo Maravita and Atsushi Iriki discovered that when monkeys and humans consistently use a tool to extend their reach, such as using a rake to reach an object, certain neural networks in the brain change their “map” of the body to include the new tool. This fascinating finding reinforces the idea that external tools can and often do become a natural extension of our minds.”

Best Mystery & Thriller Books

The Paris Apartment (Mystery) by Lucy Foley

Always wanted to live in a Paris apartment and get to know its residents? Then this one’s for you — except each one has something to hide. Lucy Foley, the NYT-bestselling author of The Guest List brings this page-turning mystery.

The protagonist, Jess is looking for a fresh start after leaving her job and finding herself broke. And when her half-brother Ben didn’t make a fuss about her heading to his Paris apartment, she couldn’t be more excited. However, when she arrives at the unexpectedly lavish apartment her brother is nowhere to be seen. Uncertain as to how he afforded the apartment and where he might be, she embarks on a full-scale investigation — beginning with the neighbours, who are incredibly unforthcoming, branding them all suspects. There’s the socialite, the nice guy, the concierge, the alcoholic and a variety of other supporting characters; however, the concierge asks her to stop asking too many questions knowing the secrets of the others in a bid to warn her of the dangers that she might be at risk of.

Gripping, a great summer read to finish in one sitting — and where else better to be, than a virtual Paris? Plus if you like the build-up of anticipation, then this one’s for you.

Best Political Books of 2022 

How the World Really Works (Non-fiction) by Vaclav Smil

 

Ever wondered how the world really works? Well you don’t have to any more. Despite the enormous amount of information at our fingertips, most of us still don’t know how the world really works. 

Professor Vaclav Smil has written a range of fascinating books yet this one brings transparency and insight into so many operations of the world, from food and energy production to the environment, that are not understood or known to the everyday person. 

The 4 pillars that truly drive the world are Ammonia, Plastics, Steel, and Concrete and the amount of labour, energy and resources required to mobile these 4 key resources is fascinating. Our lives are so tightly entwined to these, and they drive the carbon load contributing to the immense climate changes we face — but all hope is not lost. We can turn things around for the better and Smil proposes initiatives that may work long-term but anybody 40 and above will unlikely be around to see its impact or the decarbonised world that we are all eventually hoping for. 

My favourite quotes: “Even though the supply of new renewables (wind, solar, new biofuels) rose impressively, about 50-fold, during the first 20 years of the 21st century, the world’s dependence on fossil carbon declined only marginally, from 87 percent to 85 percent…”

“Robert Ayres has repeatedly stressed in his writings the central notion of energy in all economies: “the economic system is essentially a system for extracting, processing and transforming energy as resources into energy embodied in products and services.”[23] Simply put, energy is the only truly universal currency.”

Backed by data, this one is a compelling read for sure and perhaps, one of the most interesting books you’ll read this year.

The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalisation (Non-fiction) by Peter Zeihan

“2019 was the last great year for the world economy.” This is the pretext of the book and geopolitical strategist, Peter Zeihan carefully crafts a possible future of how the world is about to rapidly change. No longer are we going to enjoy rapid access to all the products and services we have once been so fortunate to have access to. For so long, we have been able to access pretty much every good or service we want — with the quality and rates of delivery only getting better and better. The reason for this has always been the relatively peaceful decades we have enjoyed since WWII, plus the mutual cooperation of governments across the world. Zeihan opines that this is largely due to the American Navy making security pacts across the globe and providing those countries with relatively inexperienced armies with military support and protection. This has led to the delivery of incredible trade, innovation and large-scale educational systems being set up across the planet. However, Zeihan makes the case that this is all about to unravel.

He believes that countries will no longer be able to rely on other countries for supplies of food, energy and multiple other services and goods. Instead, they will each have to develop their own food and energy systems plus their own armies — with the biggest threat facing them all: shrinking and ageing populations. A hyper-connected world is about to face disconnection and it could be an insightful but terrifying look at the new world. Read at your own risk.

My favourite quote: “A deglobalized world doesn’t simply have a different economic geography, it has thousands of different and separate geographies. Economically speaking, the whole was stronger for the inclusion of all its parts. It is where we have gotten our wealth and pace of improvement and speed. Now the parts will be weaker for their separation.”

Best Romance Book of 2022 

Book Lovers (Romance) by Emily Henry

 

The protagonist, Nora Stephens loves books. In fact, her life is books and she has read them all. She is a literary agent after all. Then she goes on a sisters’ trip away to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina with her sister Libby. There she keeps having chance encounters with a book editor from the city, a chap called Charlie Lastra. Charlie is a bad-tempered editor and ever since Nora’s catastrophic, first meeting with him, she has avoided future meetings with him. However fate has different plans for them, and they find themselves thrown together in situation about situation in picturesque Sunshine Falls — and what’s at risk is their stories — stories they have carefully crafted about themselves.

Perfect for book lovers, who’ll totally resonate with many of the lines in there! Plus, you’ll feel as though the book is written for you.

My favourite quotes: “Is there anything better than iced coffee and a bookstore on a sunny day? I mean, aside from hot coffee and a bookstore on a rainy day.”

“A reminder that there are things in life so valuable that you must risk the pain of losing them for the joy of briefly having them.”

“Life in New York was like being in a giant bookstore: all these trillions of paths and possibilities drawing dreamers into the city’s beating heart, saying, I make no promises but I offer many doors.”

“Maybe it’s possible to have more than one home. Maybe it’s possible to belong in a hundred different ways to a hundred different people and places.”

Drawn Together (Illustrated True Love Stories) by Olivia de Recat

New Yorker contributor Olivia de Recat's Drawn Together is a stunning and heart-warming look at love in all its varieties from young love, to dating anxieties to what makes love last in old-age. Brilliantly illustrated Recat brings in personal experiences too and with humour, grace and thoughtful insight pulls together this charming book, restoring our faith in love, even when in the depths of a devastating break-up. Perfect for couples, singletons and friends, this serves as a wonderful, bookish gift. Plus the illustrations will definitely draw you in.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Novel) by Gabrielle Zevin

This was one of my favourite books this year. From the author behind the best-selling novel The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, this is a fast-paced, thrilling novel about two friends, frequently in love, although never becoming lovers, pulled together as creative video game designers collaborating over their first blockbuster Ichigo. Literally overnight, the game is a huge success and brings fame and happiness but it is also bittersweet and tragedy is not far off. Spanning thirty years, they are pulled in and out of each other's lives often feeling betrayed by the other but still in love. And whilst the book is largely focused on video games, it's also a metaphor for how all of life is a game, and how our identities and need to connect and love can show up in so many different ways.

One thing is for sure, the book is well-written, thought-provoking and highly original, plus it will make you nostalgic for the video games of your childhood even if you don't enjoy video games anymore!

My Favourite Quotes:  “The way to turn an ex-lover into a friend is to never stop loving them, to know that when one phase of a relationship ends it can transform into something else. It is to acknowledge that love is both a constant and a variable at the same time.”

“What is a game?" Marx said. "It's tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. It's the possibility of infinite rebirth, infinite redemption. The idea that if you keep playing, you could win. No loss is permanent, because nothing is permanent, ever.”

“We are all living, at most, half of a life, she thought. There was the life you lived, which consisted of the choices you made. And then, there was the other life, the one that was the things you hadn't chosen.”

“It isn’t a sadness, but a joy, that we don’t do the same things for the length of our lives.”

“Long relationships might be richer, but relatively brief, relatively uncomplicated encounters with interesting people could be lovely as well. Every person you knew, every person you loved even, did not have to consume you for the time to have been worthwhile.”

Best Biography & Memoir Books of 2022 

Hollywood Ending: Harvey Weinstein and the Culture of Silence (Biography) by Ken Auletta

This story began with an article published by Ken Auletta two decades ago for the New Yorker, who initially exposed Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s volatile and violent nature with everyone he worked with — from his employees to other producers and directors. However the story was way darker than that — his rise to a towering giant in Hollywood he began using his enormous power to appease his equally voracious sexual appetite. And then of course his disastrous fall to a sexual predator of the century, despite the repeated probes and denials into his sexual behaviour over the two decades.

Then along came along Ronan Farrow, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey — who with the help of Ken Auletta finally revealed the truth in his book, Catch and Kill. For Ken, this led to a series of unanswered questions: what was the origin of Weinstein’s inhumane behaviour? How come so many people let it run unchecked? How was he able to live a shadow life that was ignored as he amassed wealth and power employing hundreds of employees. Ken had to examine the Hollywood culture that enabled this and in this book, he looks at Weinstein and how he managed to hold such power and sway through his extraordinary talent as a film producer and director, his vicious and predatory personality and the gradual power and wealth that he built making movies that enjoyed great success, in the backdrop of the stories of the lives that he ruined.

Lost & Found (Memoir) by Kathryn Schulz

A beautiful bittersweet account of the things that we lose and the things we find — that take us by surprise — a sense of discovery and novelty. Examining the bittersweet nature of life, Kathryn Schulz in this deeply moving memoir talks about the loss of her dear father months after she met the love of her life. She discusses how loss and discovery shape us into who we are whether it’s a loss of a person or changes to our environment such as the pandemic and war to the discovery of new planets or new love. And how both our private lives and our communal lives are each shaped together, intertwined in wonder, joy, grief, suffering, and pain and how we must accept and embrace the co-existence of love and loss — one always at the risk of the other — and hold the emotions of gratitude and grief together.

Schulz’s magical writing enables us to explore the ordinariness of life with extraordinary tenderness, curiosity and a sense of meaning and hope. I could not help but highlight so many passages that I loved — you can find them below.

My favourite quotes: “So many losses routinely precede the final one now: loss of memory, mobility, autonomy, physical strength, intellectual aptitude, a longtime home, the kind of identity derived from vocation, whole habits of being, and perhaps above all a certain forward-tilting sense of self — the feeling that we are still becoming, that there are things left in this world we may yet do.”

“Grief, by contrast, is a private experience, unconstrained by ritual or time. Popular wisdom will tell you that it comes in stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — and that may be true. But the Paleozoic era also came in stages — Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian — and it lasted two hundred and ninety million years.”

“What an astonishing thing it is to find someone. Loss may alter our sense of scale, reminding us that the world is overwhelmingly large while we are incredibly tiny. But finding does the same; the only difference is that it makes us marvel rather than despair.”

“But, like Anteros, it is largely overlooked in our culture, victim of the general consensus that happiness is pleasant but uninteresting.”

“I lost my father; my father lost everything. That is the absolute loss that his silence in the hospital foretold: the end of the mind, the end of the self, the end of being a part of all of this — the harbor, the city, the poetry, the world. “He became his admirers,” a different poet, W. H. Auden, wrote of Yeats when the latter died. Now we who loved my father are all that is left of him.”

The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness (Memoir) by Meghan O’ Rourke

An interesting premise but one that’s been afflicting millions of those who live in the West: autoimmune disease. Written with precision, insightful experience and urgency, Meghan O’Rourke brings her knowledge and expertise over the last 15 years based on her own painful account and experience of living with a variety of autoimmune conditions (including Hashimoto’s disease, endometriosis, Lyme disease, and hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) and her countless interviews with doctors, patients and public health experts, to assist readers and anyone with an interest in these modern but debilitating conditions that fall under the label of ‘autoimmune conditions’; offering a sense of hope, new research and ideas on the treatment and management of this invisible condition. Her writing also channels an empathy that only readers of autoimmune conditions can appreciate — the difficulties in obtaining a diagnosis, of understanding what is going on with our bodies and the challenges of helping others close to you understand what exactly these conditions are — so much of it is invisible and therein lies two layers of issues to resolve: the pain and suffering brought about an illness you cannot physically see in the exterior but only feel in the interior. And secondly the anxiety of how this illness may progress or develop given its chronic and incurable nature. It will most certainly resonate with many autoimmune condition sufferers. /.,.Plus it’s written against the backdrop of Covid19 and the intensive research in infectious disease that has recently gripped the world as a result of Covid-19, she brings a new understanding to autoimmune disease and its origins.

My favourite quotes: “There is a loneliness to illness, a child’s desire to be pitied and seen. But it is precisely this recognition that is elusive. How can you explain and identify your condition if not one has any grasp of what it is you suffer from and the symptoms wax and wane? How do you describe a disease that’s not always there?”

“After all, a terrible anxiety attends chronic illness. Over time, it becomes difficult to untangle the suffering from symptoms like pain from the suffering inflicted by the anxiety over the possibility of more pain, and worse outcomes, in the future. This does not mean that the illness is in the mind; rather, the mind — that machine for making meaning — makes endless meanings of its new state, which may themselves influence the experience.”

“Only a few friends realized at the time how much physical suffering I was undergoing. We are bad at recognizing the suffering of others unless we are given clear-cut clues and evidence. And so invisible illnesses often go unacknowledged, while less serious conditions get attention.”

Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage (Memoir) by Heather Havrilesky

A brilliant account of a long-term marriage — a modern marriage and how to navigate the ups and downs that come with committing yourself to a person for life at each and every stage — the feelings and frustrations from the pre-marriage peak of exciting love to the gradual comfort of committed, domestic life that can often evoke feelings of boredom, frustration and conflict. Razor-sharp accuracy, wit and wisdom this book will not disappoint, whether you’re married, thinking about it, or a fulfilled singleton, the writing illuminates truths that we can all appreciate or laugh at. Heath Havrilesky is a brilliant writer and columnist of ‘Ask Polly’ whose advice and wisdom have helped thousands. She brings a similar writing style and years of collective wisdom on marriage to shed light on that niggling doubt, to help resolve an unresolved conflict or to put to rest an old itch.

Refreshingly honest, whatever the issue the book is sure to delight, enlighten and at times make you laugh out loud. 

My favourite quotes: “I wrote this book to explore that tedium, along with everything else that marriage brings: the feeling of safety, the creeping darkness, the raw fear and suspense of growing older together, the tiny repeating irritations, the rushes of love, the satisfactions of companionship, the unexpected rage of recognizing that your partner will probably never change. And in writing this book, I discovered new layers within my marriage and myself, haunting and chaotic, wretched and unlovable.”

“That’s the irony of escaping urban elitism: the consistent mediocrity of the suburbs will make you into more of an elitist. You start to look down on the people around you for having the bad taste to live there, even though they are exactly like you. So you have to decide that you’re better than they are in order to avoid hating yourself. But you still hate yourself. You hated what the Nespresso owners at the private school reflected back at you, but you also hate what the woman buying the two-pound bag of shredded Mexican cheese reflects back at you. You’re Holden Caulfield now. You’re inferior and superior, like an immature prep school kid, like a self-hating hipster, like a sad suburban newbie on Nextdoor, decrying the dearth of quality pho in the neighborhood.”

I'm Glad My Mom Died (Memoir) by Jennette McCurdy

I'm Glad My Mom Died by [Jennette McCurdy]

Jennette McCurdy, a former child actor of iCarly and Sam & Cat fame, brings us this bittersweet and funny memoir about her personal struggles with addiction, eating disorders and her difficult relationship with her controlling mother. She auditioned for her first acting role at age 6, fulfilling her mother's dream who encouraged her to eat less, tint her eyelashes and her mother even gave her showers until she was sixteen years old. When she lands a role in Nickelodeon's iCarly, Jennette McCurdy becomes an overnight star and her mum could not be more pleased. However underneath this facade of fame and success, Jennette feels deep shame, anxiety and self-hate, leading to addiction and falling in and out of complicated relationships. When her mother dies of cancer, she finally feels free to become herself and live a life aligned with her own values quitting acting and undergoing therapy.

A hopeful and inspiring book, it gives us faith that no matter how difficult and monstrous our childhoods, we can find ourselves in adulthood and opt for better life choices where we will feel more fulfilled. 

My favourite quotes: “At the beginning of the decade, the people I was close to seemed like friends for life, people I could never imagine not seeing every day. But life happens. Love happens. Loss happens. Change and growth happen at different paces for different people, and sometimes the paces just don’t line up. It’s devastating if I think too much about it, so I usually don’t.”

The Last Days of Roger Federer (Biography) by Geoff Dyer

The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings by [Geoff Dyer]

This is a brilliant meditation and inquiry into late middle age and how the greatest of the greats whether writers, artists, sportsmen or musicians, spend their final days post the peak heights of their achievements and successes. He specifically focuses on people who have really influenced him throughout his life - Nietzsche and his breakdown in Turin, Bob Dylan, J.M.W. Turner, John Coltrane and Jean Rhys, Beethoven and ofcourse Roger Federer and tennis - and how they all deal with an ending that is slowing creeping up on them with joy and humility. Part memoir and part critique, this is a fascinating book on the endings of a successful career and how to manage them as they draw closer.

Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life (Memoir) by Delia Ephron

Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life by [Delia Ephron]

A second chance at love, this is a superb memoir about a widowed woman in her seventies, Delia Ephron and how she finds love again with someone she had dated in college, Peter. Ephron's first husband died of cancer in 2015 after 33 years of marriage. Melancholy, she would take each day as it comes and eventually writing about her grief to process it. A New York Times article she wrote caught the eye of Peter whose wife had also passed away recently. She replied back and eventually email exchanges continued between them leading to a romantic reconnection. However like many love stories, this too was bittersweet for soon after they had reunited Ephron was diagnosed with leukemia. Yet they continued their relationship and found meaning within.

Magical writing, this memoir will totally whisk you away, inspiring us about love's ability to find us at any age!

My favourite quote: “There is a rule I live by: people begin as they mean to continue.”

Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2022 

Sea of Tranquility (Science Fiction & Fantasy) by Emily St John Mandel

Best-selling author of Station Eleven brings us this beautiful story of time travel and art, love and survival. Turn back time to 1912 and we meet 18-year-old Edwin St. Andrew who leaves England to explore British Columbia. Astounded by the beauty of Canada’s natural landscapes, he explores the deep, dark forests and comes across the surprising sound of a violin.

Then in 2112, there’s writer Olive Llewelyn who lives in the second moon colony but is travelling earth for a book tour during a time when it is plagued by a pandemic. Her best-selling novel captures the very same moment when Edwin St. Andrew comes across the sounds of a violin. And then there’s detective Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, who is seeking to resolve an anomaly in time and his work brings him to uncover the lives of both Edwin St. Andrew and Olive Llewelyn,

The book explores the possibility of parallel lives and draws us into an obsession that we all have — what is the purpose of our existence? And is the world ending? And perhaps it’s always ending or perhaps do these questions even matter or do we always need to be the generation experiencing the heightened threat to earth in order to feel significant, important or that our lives are important? What is real and what is an illusion? A deeply thoughtful novel it brings a sense of nostalgia, curiosity and new ways of looking at the world and the meaning of life. If you loved Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel, you’ll love this.

My favourite quotes: “My point is, there’s always something. I think, as a species, we have a desire to believe that we’re living at the climax of the story. It’s a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we’re uniquely important, that we’re living at the end of history, that now, after all these millennia of false alarms, now is finally the worst that it’s ever been, that finally we have reached the end of the world.

“Pandemics don’t approach like wars, with the distant thud of artillery growing louder every day and flashes of bombs on the horizon. They arrive in retrospect, essentially. It’s disorienting. The pandemic is far away and then it’s all around you with seemingly no intermediate step.”

“This is the strange lesson of living in a pandemic: life can be tranquil in the face of death.”

Daughter of the Moon Goddess (Science Fiction & Fantasy) by Sue Lynn Tan

Something a little different — this is a beautiful, Chinese mythological story based on the legend of the Chinese moon goddess.

The protagonist, Xingyin, lives in solitude and tranquillity on the moon with her mother where she grows up. Little does she know that she and her mother are in hiding and have been exiled to the moon. The Celestial Emporer exiled her mother after she stole his elixir of immortality. Xingyin is not new to magic and when a spell goes wrong, she has to leave her mother and her home. Lonely and afraid, Xingyin heads to the Celestial Kingdom, a spectacular land full of secrets. In a stroke of luck, she gets a chance to work in the Crown Prince’s service, further advancing her knowledge of magic but also her deep desire between her and the emperor’s son, and more importantly the possibility of freeing her mother from exile.

Perfect film fodder for Hollywood, this is a striking debut novel filled with conflict, love, loss, fantasy and fascinating characters that’s the perfect Summer read.

Best Philosophy Books of 2022

How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question (Philosophy) by Michael Schur

How to be Perfect: Moral philosophy from the creator of THE GOOD PLACE by [Michael  Schur, Todd  May]

The most easy-to-read book on philosophy I have read in a long time focuses on how we can lead a more contented life but also a more ethical one. A true examination of all the nuances, complexities and messiness of life, Schur brings a well-researched and thoughtful book on some of the most controversial questions from the day-to-day dilemmas to lifelong ponderings of how should one be.

Filled with interesting anecdotes, the book is highly engaging, thought-provoking and educational, we might be able to answer tricky questions, like should I enjoy art created by terrible people? Should I falsely compliment my friend? Would it be better for one person to die in order to save five? A light-hearted book with deep questions, it's certainly a book that will make you think. And I loved the letter at the end to his children filled with wonderful guidance. As a parent, it's much appreciated.

My Favourite Quotes: “True happiness comes from remaining focused on the things we do, and doing them with no purpose other than to do them.”

“Someone is in a warehouse somewhere, not making a very great living, and is running around and can't go to the bathroom, or they'll get fired, and they're hustling to get you a dumb roll of scotch tape." 

Life is Hard (Philosophy) by Kieran Setiya

Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way by [Kieran Setiya]

A grounding book on the painful realities of life and how amidst this we can find value and meaning, hope and gratitude, humanity and warmth and an appreciation of life.

Throughout human civilisation, we have observed the unfairness and unfortunateness of life: pain, grief, sorrow, injustice, despair, abuse and anger - inescapable emotions of the human condition. The stoics write about tragedies and the Buddha proclaims that all life is suffering.

Kieran Setiya shows us how philosophy can support us and find value and meaning in the difficulties of life. Using his own journey of chronic pain, Setiya offers us how we can find consolation even in the depths of our pain by examining it, confronting the difficult emotions and discovering meaning and gratitude for what is. He refers to philosophy, fiction, sociology, humour as well as essays to help us find comfort, purpose and self-compassion.

 

Best LGBTQIA Books of 2022 

First Time for Everything (Novel) by Henry Fry

Protagonist and journalist Danny Scudd finds himself amongst a new community of friends in East London after a devastating break-up with his long-term partner Tobbs, who cheats on him. After moving in with his childhood best friend Jacob, he embarks on an incredible journey of self-discovery — does he truly understand his sexuality? Does he really know what he wants in a partner? Forced to re-examine every decision he has taken with the help of his therapist and newly found community, he’s forced to go inwards — to face all his insecurities that he’s avoided all his life.

Highly relatable for anyone who is navigating life, relationships and work this will leave you with lots of food for thought.

Less is Lost (Novel) by Andrew Sean Greer

Less is Lost: 'An emotional and soul-searching sequel' (Sunday Times) to the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning Less (An Arthur Less Novel) by [Andrew Sean Greer]

A brilliant sequel to the award-winning, LessLess is Lost is a stark reminder of the transience of life. For the first time, Arthur Less's life is relatively stable. He is a recognised writer and novelist in a steady relationship with his partner Freddy. However we find Less in the midst of an abrupt financial crisis and  together with the death of a former lover, he ends up accepting various literary gigs across the US and this allows him to escape Freddy and home life for a while.  In this time, he encounters personal adventures of his own that force him to reckon with his feelings about death, grief, his relationship with his estranged, dying father as well as Freddy. He confronts his regrets and begins to understand the power of forgiveness and what truly matters in life. An amusing, humorous book filled with uplifting anecdotes despite the relationship challenges he faces.

My favourite quote: “What could be more normal than to be out of place everywhere you go? What could be more American?”

When We Were Sisters (Novel) by Fatimah Asghar

When We Were Sisters by [Fatimah Asghar]

Asghar's debut novel, is heartbreaking. A novel about sibling bonds after the death of their parents. Three sisters of Pakistani descent are forced to raise each other as they navigate their own journeys of personal transformation, after the loss of their parents.

The youngest sister, Kausar, is faced with complicated grief as she navigates her parents' death but also her own gender identity. The middle sister, Aisha, feels the weight of keeping the family together and managing Kausar's feelings of grief and despair. The eldest, Noreen plays mother to the sisters, whilst still craving a life for herself. 

A beautiful novel on the bittersweet joys and sorrows of sisterhood in the face of deep loss and what it means to be Muslim American when your parents, the people who give you your roots and cultural identity, are no more. Can you still create roots for each other with open arms?

A stunning novel, with lyrical writing, almost poetic, the book will leave you wanting more.

Best Young Adult Books of 2022 

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty (Young Adult) by Akwaeke Emezi

New York Times bestselling author Akwaeke Emezi brings us this dazzling story about a young, bisexual woman, Feyi Adekola, who is desperately trying to find joy whilst grieving and struggling to heal from the pain of loss. She wants to feel alive again. Five years ago, an accident killed her partner and since then she has retired to an artist’s studio and lives with her best friend Joy. Joy’s keen for Feyi to get back into the dating scene. Then a passionate affair at a party leads to an exciting summer romance on a luxurious tropical island in the home of a celebrity chef and an art curator who’d love to find her place as a major artist. Sounds perfect? Of course not — whilst it might seem like she’s nailed the perfect guy, Nasir — there’s a threat of someone else  — the celebrity chef, Alim who is also Nasir’s father, a forbidden desire and fantasy. Can she risk everything for a fresh second chance at real love? Will she be able to welcome new love alongside the grief she is still processing? And give her future a chance? A novel is as much about finding one’s self as it is about finding love.

My favourite quote: “And that’s something I’ve learned in the years since, that there are so many different types of love, so many ways someone can stay committed to you, stay in your life even if y’all aren’t together, you know?”

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow (Novel) by Zoulfa Katouh

A gorgeous novel about the Syrian revolution, brimming with hope and possibility. As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow is about how the life of Salama Kassab changes overnight as the Syrian revolution breaks out. A teenager and a pharmacy student, she finds herself volunteering at a hospital in Homs, helping those who have been injured in the brutality of war.  Her sister-in-law is pregnant and she is desperate to get her out of Syria before things get worse. In the backdrop of bombs and violence, however she falls for a boy, and her conviction to leave home starts to weaken. Soon she must decide whether she will stay for her beloved country, for this boy, for her friends and most of all for her freedom.

If you loved The Book Thief, you'll love this one.

My favourite quote:  “I stare at him for a few more minutes, my heart expanding with love for him. We'll be OK,' I whisper, letting the night capture my wish. We're owed that at least. A life of not scanning rooftops, of not being relieved the ceiling didn't cave in on us during the night. He and I are owed a love story that doesn't end in tragedy.”

Best Cooking, Food and Wine Books of 2022 

Noma 2.0: Vegetable, Forest, Ocean (Cooking) by René Redzepi, Mette Søberg and Junichi Takahashi

Noma's reign as one of the world's leading restaurants is down to it's wonder and novelty factor - every morsel is filled with an element of surprise, a delightful taste and a deep satiety. There's an extraordinariness to every course. With more than 200+ creative meals, each spectacularly captured in restaurant photography. Noma 2.0 comes as the restaurant resettles into its new location after it closed in 2018. With a focus on local ingredients, the goal of the restaurant is to create delicious food that's a treat for the eyes too. It's also about reinvention and pulling together foods that would have never even crossed our imaginations - from reindeer brain custard with bee pollen, bear caramel (forest and game menu) to their warm berry salad with elderflower sauce to white asparagus with strawberries and salted magnolia blossoms (summer menu). Bringing together art, chefs and food lovers, this is as good as food heaven gets. A perfect gift book for the season!

Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook (Cooking) by Melissa Thompson

Motherland: A Jamaican Cookbook by [Melissa Thompson]

I love cookbooks with a bit of history, culture and of course food and this is exactly what Motherland does! It melts 500+ years of Jamaican food history (indigenous Jamaican food blended with influences from Spanish and British colonisation as well as those from Indian and Chinese immigration) forging cultural trends and ingredients to bring together a unique cookbook. Filled with both contemporary classics as well as Jamaican family recipes from curry goat to smoky aubergine to rum and tamarind chicken wings and grapefruit cassava cake, this is another delightful island gift book for the foodie, chef and book lover at heart.


Moro Easy (Cooking) by Samantha Clark and Samuel Clark

Moro Easy by [Samantha Clark, Samuel Clark]

Moro brings home fabulous flavours from Southern Spain and North Africa. The premise is simple: few ingredients with bold flavours makes it the cuisine of the day.  Chefs Sam and Sam Clark, the power couple, husband and wife team, stir up vibrant combinations of simple yet delicious culinary flavours creating standout dishes such as chicken with preserved lemon labneh, roasted aubergines with pomegranates and pistachios and chestnut, almond and chocolate cake.

Inspiring, easy and relaxed cooking at your fingertips with this incredibly bold cookbook.

Best Travel Books of 2022 

The Writer's Journey: In the Footsteps of the Literary Greats (Travel Writing) by Travis Elborough

The Writer's Journey: In the Footsteps of the Literary Greats (Journeys of Note) by [Travis Elborough]

A literary journey tracing the footsteps of some of the most talented authors to have ever lived, from Mary Shelley, Lewis Carroll, Agatha Christie, Scott Fitzgerald to Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen  - the book explores 35 journeys from hotel stays, road trips and incredible hikes that have inspired some of the greatest writing and literature to have ever been penned. And of course every journey is also a personal transformation, influencing their writing as well as literary trends.

Author Travis Elborough captures the fascinating insights behind Dracula, Moby Dick, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Orient Express and Madame Bovary bringing together the people, places and personalities behind these incredible creations. Plus the book also doubles up as a gorgeously illustrated atlas. 
 
 

The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman's Journey to Every Country in the World (Travel Writing) by Jessica Nabongo

The Catch Me If You Can

Ugandan American, Jessica Nabongo, a travel influencer and talented photographer inspires us with this fascinating travel memoir having visited all 195 countries in the world. Filled with anecdotes of adventure, culture and people, we are privy to her favourite destination, most beloved journeys and travel insights. Delightfully written and photographed she shares some of her most personal stories, some joyous, some sad and some extremely risqué from adventuring with strangers and crossing a border into Guinea Bissau in the middle of the night to a dangerous scooter accident in the world's least visited country Naura to learning how to make Octopus balls (takoyaki) in Japan to Norwegian dog sledding and learning to swim with humpback whales in Tonga.  

The part I found incredibly unique and rare were her journals of travel in some of the least travelled countries such as North Korea, South Sudan and Tuvalu. And ofcourse, you'll find lots of travel inspiration in terms of what to do when you get to these places too, if you get to them!

Along the Amber Route: St Petersburg to Venice (Travel Writing) by C. J. Schüler


Along the Amber Route: St. Petersburg to Venice by [C. J. Schüler]

A personal memoir, part travelogue and political critique, C. J. Schüler, takes us on a fascinating journey, covering more than 2,000 years of the amber route - an ancient trade route for the transfer of amber from coastal areas of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Amber is a precious commodity that comes from golden coloured fossilised tree resins. Often the lumps can be polished and turned into jewellery. The amber route follows the journey of the people and places that were obsessed with it from St Petersburg to the Baltics to Venice. As he covers these places, the current geopolitics of the regions are at the forefront of his mind as are his relatives who lost their lives during the holocaust. The book pays tribute to family and relatives who survived the holocaust and those who didn't, and this personal element adds a welcome layer to the richness of the book.

 

You might also enjoy the following articles:

Bibliotherapy Techniques - What Are They and Do They Work?

Meet Talya Bruck - The Founder of Savanna Therapeutic Stories

Bibliotherapy: The Magical Healing Quality of Literature

How Can Re-writing Your Narrative Help You Gain Closure

 

And also our online course:

Bibliotherapy, Literature & Mental Health

 


A big hello and thank you for reading! Passionate about literature, psychology, and life I launched Book Therapy as an alternative form of therapy using the power of literature. I train mental health professionals, librarians, teachers as well as readers on using bibliotherapy in their own work through our online Bibliotherapy, Literature and Mental Health course. We also curate reading lists/personalised book prescriptions for clients based on their individual needs. This is our signature personalised reading service.


You can also check out Book Therapy’s other free reading lists and A- Z of book prescriptions (covering both fiction and non-fiction). These suggest books based on your existing life situation (e.g. anxiety, job change, relationship heartache) as well as interests (e.g memoir, historical fiction, non-fiction, crime etc). There’s also a Children’s A — Z of Book Prescriptions. Feel free to check out the blog for more literary gems. There’s also a post on my personal story of how I entered the world of bibliotherapy and book curation.

In this role, I have had the opportunity to publish a book called The Happiness Mindset, and write various literary essays and pieces for newspapers and magazines. I have undertaken bibliotherapy workshops for The United Nations, various libraries in New York and corporate organisations in the UK and US. My book recommendations have featured in the Guardian, Marie Claire, NBC News, Asian Voice, New York Observer, Sydney Telegraph and various other publications. If you are a parent you might enjoy a podcast I’ve recorded with speech and language therapist Sunita Shah on Raising A Reader & Storyteller. And if you’d like to connect, email me at bijal@booktherapy.io or www.booktherapy.io.

Book Therapy is a participant in the Amazon EU, US and Canada Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Amazon.ca

 

 


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