The 12 Best Books of 2022 (2023)

Chaos reigned this year. Russia invaded Ukraine, the US Supreme Court overturnedRoe v. Wade, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, Elon Muskremade Twitter in his erratic image, mass shooters continued to terrorize the United States, civil rights protests swept Iran, Queen Elizabeth died, Bolsanaro got the boot in Brazil,boards were buttered,crypto crumbled, and overall, every single week felt like the entire chorus to “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

Perhaps because of all this tumult, turmoil, and general mayhem, I gravitated toward complicated, thorny stories this year—strange, slippery, often unsettling fictions, and nuanced, searching non-fiction. This is an idiosyncratic, deeply incomplete, and totally subjective list, the result of one person’s avid but disorganized reading schedule. But these are the novels, short stories, and non-fiction books that stood out for me in 2022. Here’s hoping it helps you find your next great read.

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The School for Good Mothers

by Jessamine Chan

Courtesy of Simon and Schuster

Jessamine Chan’sdebut novel is not a domestic manual on keeping house, nor is it the sort of slog that might make tidying look like an appealing alternative. Yet as I read it over the course of one snowy evening, I repeatedly put it down to complete household tasks normally ignored until morning. Dishes gleamed. Pillows got fluffed. Every last sock met its match.The School for Good Mothers follows a single mom, Frida Liu, as she’s forced into a re-education center filled with robot children after making a parenting mistake. Frida does everything within her power to get her daughter back, but her behavior is constantly interpreted in the least generous ways possible. This book is a horror story so potent it will fill even the most diligent parent with an itchy impulse to panic-clean, straighten up, and act like someone’s watching. It’s inventive, gripping, and wholly devastating.

Sea of Tranquility

by Emily St. John Mandel

Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf

A sequel of sorts to her surprise-blockbuster novelStation Eleven and its follow-up The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel’sSea of Tranquility isadiscursive tale looped directly atop its predecessors, cutting them up and rearranging the pieces into a trippy, wistful story. If Mandel were a musician, it would be an album made from sampling earlier songs. The past isn’t just prologue—it’s the present and future, too, as the plot hopscotches across centuries, following a time-traveler named Gaspardy who’s trying to figure out whether the universe is a simulation. AlthoughSea of Tranquility is set largely in the future and adorned with sci-fi flourishes, it raises old questions about how we can make meaning. It’s a beautiful book.

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by David Musgrave

Courtesy of Europa Editions

A novice policeofficer assigned to watch over a refugee group tries to figure out whether the refugees have been framed for terrorism—and where the real killers are lurking. Technically, this is an accurate description of the plot ofDavid Musgrave’sLambda. Sounds like a pretty straightforward potboiler, right? But from its first page,Lambda is up to something weirder and more unwieldy, ditching a linear narrative and setting the story in an alternate-universe Britain where you can get in trouble with the cops for damaging a talking toothbrush. Meanwhile, the police test out an AI system that will both accuse someone of a crime and go ahead and assassinate them. It may sound like a Philip K. Dick pastiche, but Musgrave’s debut is more ambitious than the tropes it borrows, arranging them into original, arresting literary sci-fi.

Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us

by Rachel Aviv

Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

When Rachel Aviv was six years old, she stopped eating. Shortly after, she was hospitalized with anorexia. Her doctors were baffled. They’d never seen a child so young develop the eating disorder, yet there she was. While Aviv made a full, relatively speedy recovery, she developed a lifelong interest in the borderlands between sickness and health. InStrangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us, Aviv wonders whether she ever truly had anorexia at all, or whether the episode was perhaps too hastily pathologized. By examining her own experience as well as four other people with unusual mental health issues,Aviv argues against any one grand unifying theory of the mind.Strangers to Ourselves is a look into this vacuum of understanding—about what happens when there’s no easily digestible story to explain what’s happening inside your head, and when Freud and pharmaceuticals and everything else fails. It doesn’t offer easy answers, but provokes fascinating questions.

The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism

by Adrienne Buller

Courtesy of Manchester University Press

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How much is a whale worth?It seems like a self-evidently ridiculous question, borderline obscene—whales are majestic creatures whose worth transcends the human impulse to quantify,obviously! Yet it is one that has been seriously considered by economists in an effort to convince governments and corporations to value wildlife. InThe Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism, Adrienne Buller dissects the asinine logic of “green” capitalist thinking. The book takes a bracing look at how corporate interests are using the superficial trappings of climate activism to reinforce their own power. As one might imagine, it’s not the most uplifting read in the world. Buller sees market-based corporate “green” initiatives as distracting at best—and, at worst, actively destructive. But it’s a galvanizing, tough book, one that asks us to not accept a simulacrum of improvement for the real thing.

Best Young Woman Job Book

by Emma Healey

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Who suspected a Canadian poet would write the best account of life in the gig economy? Emma Healey’s funny, rueful memoir documents her peripatetic employment history, including stints at an SEO farm operated out of a middle-aged man’s bedroom and a remarkably unsexy time technical writing at one of the world’s largest porn companies. Healey’s forthright treatment of the central role money plays in a creative life is enormously refreshing. Instead of hand-waving the financial details that have made her career possible, she molds into her art the work she had to do in order to do the work she wanted. It’s a neat trick.Best Young Woman Job Book has only been released in Canada thus far; here’s hoping it finds the wider audience it deserves.

The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century

by Olga Ravn

Courtesy of New Directions Publishing

Although Olga Ravn’sThe Employees came out in 2020 in its original Danish, an English translation by Martin Aitken was published in the United States in 2022 … so I’m counting it, because this was the most entrancing reading experience I had all year. Ravn’s hypnotic, elliptical storytelling about a journey to an alien land gone wrong reminded me of Jeff van der Meer’sAnnihilation. (Heavy on foreboding, borderline-sinister atmosphere, light on exposition.)The Employees is divided into short statements given by anonymous workers on theSix Thousand Ship, a space shuttle on a vague corporate mission staffed by a mix of humans and humanoids. These transcribed statements are numbered, some running for pages, others stopping after a few sentences. After collecting a variety of objects on a distant planet called New Discovery, these workers find themselves increasingly at odds as they begin to obsess over said objects, which do not speak but can emit noises, smells, and vibrations. As the human workers pine for home, the humanoid workers increasingly pine to be more than what they’ve been programmed to be.

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Cursed Bunny

by Bora Chung

Courtesy of Algonquin Books

Look, I’m not going to lie.Cursed Bunny is the most relentlessly disgusting collection of short stories I’ve ever read. And I read a lot of Chuck Palahniuk in college. Korean writer Bora Chung’s first English publication (translated by Anton Hur) opens with a tale about a woman who gets confronted by a creature made of her poop and assorted viscera, insisting it’s her child. She attempts to destroy said toilet creature; success is elusive. In another story, a downtrodden farmer stumbles upon a fox who bleeds gold, and exploits this unexpected source of wealth until he’s both rich and disconcertingly comfortable with evils ranging from incest to cannibalism. Anyone with low tolerance for the gross and gory should avoidCursed Bunny at all costs. But if you want a spooky set of stories that will crawl under your skin and burrow into your marrow and stay there forever, Chung’s collection is a freaky, unforgettable outing. There’s a folkloric quality to this collection, like these are urban legends that have finally been put to paper.

Tremors in the Blood

by Amit Katwala

Courtesy of Crooked Lane Books

This rollicking true-crime tale about the invention and near-immediate corruption of the polygraph machine is so good—fast-paced and elegant and fun—I simplyhadto include it on my year-end list. (And yes, Amit works at WIRED. But this list is already on the record as a completely subjective exercise anyway, so why would I ban my colleague’s work?)Tremors in the Blood is part courtroom thriller, part popular history, and always remarkably engaging. It follows ambitious Berkeley, California, police chief August Vollmer as he first encourages his intellectual employee John Larson to create the polygraph—and then as he ignores Larson’s concerns that the machine is getting adopted recklessly. Instead, Vollmer champions Larson’s slick-talking co-inventor, Leonarde Keeler, as he makes sure police departments across the country start using the machine. Anyone waiting for David Grann’s next book to come out would be wise to pick upTremors in the Blood.

Eating to Extinction: The World’s Rarest Foods and Why We Need to Save Them

by Dan Saladino

Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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In a food rut, relying on the same dinner staples again and again? BBC journalist Dan Saladino’s alternately delightful and melancholicEating to Extinction is exactly the kind of reading material that’ll make someone try a new meal. The book makes a persuasive, passionate argument for increased biodiversity through a series of briskly narrated case studies from across the world, from Australia’s nearly-lost tuber murnong to the fermented mutton aged in huts on the Faroe Islands.Eating to Extinctionis a travelogue infused with reverence for the sheer variety of foods found on this planet that is somehow never precious or cloying. Instead, it simply feels urgent.

Dr. No

by Percival Everett

Courtesy of Graywolf Press

Did the world need another James Bond spoof? I always assumed the answer was “no,” at least following the release of the finalAustin Powersmovie. But the prolific, exuberantly original novelist Percival Everett changed my mind withDr. No, a jaunty, idea-stuffed caper. The book follows a mathematics professor named Wala Kitu, who uses a tie as a belt and spends his days obsessing over the concept of nothing and feeding his one-legged dog. Wala’s world is upended when he meets a self-styled “supervillain” billionaire named John Sil, who plots to destroy the world by harnessing the power of nothingness. (This requires burglarizing Fort Knox, as Sill suspects the Army keeps a box full of nothing in its safe.) An heir to Kurt Vonnegut, Everett infuses his work with a contagious sense of playfulness, one that makes the act of reading hundreds of pages about nothing into a treat rather than a chore.Dr. No is an unequivocal “yes.”

How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures

by Sabrina Imbler

Courtesy of Little Brown

I think I first became a fan of Sabrina Imbler when I read their science writing in The New YorkTimes, in particular a story about eels with theworld’s greatest headline. I was thrilled when they moved to Defector, my favorite sports blog. So when I picked up their debut essay collectionHow Far the Light Reaches, I expected lively prose about marine biology, maybe with a few puns thrown in. Instead, I got lively prose about marine biology mixed with an intimate, thoughtful, emotionally affecting memoir. InHow Far the Light Reaches, Imbler examines their own personal history, drawing connections between their struggles to adapt to and grow beyond life in California’s suburbs with the stories of creatures they love.


What is the most read book in 2022? ›

These are the bestselling books of 2022.
  • Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient (Celadon) – 572,876 copies sold.
  • Holly Jackson, A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (Ember) – 556,546 copies sold.
  • Colleen Hoover, Maybe Someday (Atria) – 543,658 copies sold.
  • Emily Henry, People We Meet on Vacation (Berkley) – 540,803 copies sold.
Jan 10, 2023

What is the number 1 most read book? ›

Easily the most read book in the world is the Bible for obvious reasons. It is estimated to have sold over 40 million copies in the last 60 years. You can even find it at most hotels.

Who are the hot authors in 2022? ›

Clockwise from top left: Bonnie Garmus, Rosie Andrews, Ayanna Lloyd Banwo, Daniel Wiles, Emilie Pine, Lauren John Joseph, Louise Kennedy, Jo Browning Wroe, Moses McKenzie, Sheena Patel.

What is the most regularly read book in the world? ›

The Holy Bible is the most read book in the world. In the past 50 years, the Bible has sold over 3.9 billion copies.

What is the biggest selling book of all time? ›

The best-selling book of all time is the Christian Bible.

What is the #1 book ever sold? ›

According to Guinness World Records as of 1995, the Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.

What books are on the New York Times bestseller list right now? ›

  • Identity by Nora Roberts. ...
  • Happy Place by Emily Henry. ...
  • The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. ...
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. ...
  • Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. ...
  • Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. ...
  • The 23rd Midnight by James Patterson; Maxine Paetro. ...
  • Simply Lies by David Baldacci.
Jun 1, 2023

What is the first Colleen Hoover book I should read? ›

Slammed. Perhaps the best place to start is with Hoover's romantic debut novel. The 2012 book tells the story of 18-year-old Layken, who is forced to be the voice of reason for both her mother and younger brother as they cope with her father's sudden death.

What are the trigger warnings in Verity? ›


Abortion. Child Violence. Murder. A pre-warning for those who are scared to dive in the book, Verity includes those topics.

What genre is Colleen Hoover? ›

Colleen Hoover is a young adult fiction and romance author. Colleen Hoover has published over 20 books and novellas including many New York Times best sellers. She has written 4 series: Slammed series, Hopeless series, Maybe Someday series, and Never Never series.

What is everyone reading in 2022? ›

The 100 Must-Read Books of 2022
  • A Heart That Works.
  • Afterlives.
  • All the Lovers in the Night.
  • All This Could Be Different.
  • An Immense World.
  • Ancestor Trouble.
  • Animal Joy.
  • Anna: The Biography.

Who is the most sold author in 2022? ›

It is something of an understatement to say that Colleen Hoover dominated the 2022 overall bestsellers list. Hoover had the top three books of the year, and her novels sold 14.3 million print copies at outlets that report to NPD BookScan.

Who is the number one best-selling author right now? ›

Out of currently living authors, Danielle Steel is listed as the best selling fiction author of all time. Her annual income is estimated to exceed $20 million as of 2022. Her titles have sold over 900 million copies around the globe.

What is the least read book in the world? ›

The Bible: The least read book in the world – The National.

What is the oldest book in history? ›

A Buddhist holy text, the Diamond Sūtra is considered to be the oldest surviving dated printed book in the world. Found in a walled up cave in China along with other printed materials, the book is made up of Chinese characters printed on a scroll of grey printed paper, wrapped along a wooden pole.

Which book should I read now? ›

What Should I Read Next?
  • 1984 by George Orwell.
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Oct 29, 2020

What are the top 5 books ever sold? ›

25 Best-Selling Books of All-Time
  • #1 – Don Quixote (500 million copies sold) ...
  • #2 – A Tale of Two Cities (200 million copies sold) ...
  • #3 – The Lord of the Rings (150 million copies sold) ...
  • #4 – The Little Prince (142 million copies sold) ...
  • #5 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (107 million copies sold)

What book sold the most in 24 hours? ›

Prince Harry's memoir “Spare” sold 1.43 million copies in just 24 hours in the UK, US and Canada, setting a Guinness World Record for the fastest-selling non-fiction book of all time.

What is the most novels sold in 24 hours? ›

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Harry Potter series finale also holds the Guinness World Record for being the “Fastest selling book of fiction in 24 hours,” selling a total of 8.3 million copies across the U.S. in its first day of sale alone.

What is the biggest rare book collection? ›

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds one of the largest and most dynamic collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world. Its holdings draw hundreds of scholars, artists, and critics from around the world to the reading room each year.

What is the most sold series of all time by a single author? ›

What is the highest selling book series of all time? With more than 500 million copies sold, the Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling is the best selling book series of all-time.

Is the Bible the most sold book ever? ›

As of 2015, the Guinness Book of World Records estimated that the Bible is the best-selling religious book of all time and the best-selling book overall. It is estimated that between 5 and 7 billion copies of the Bible have been sold.

Who is the most loved author? ›

1. William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) Often cited as the greatest writer in the English language and the bane of every high school student's existence, William Shakespeare has an estimated 4 billion copies of his works in circulation.

What is a #1 NYT bestseller? ›

What is the New York Times Bestseller list? In short, The New York Times Bestseller list requires an author to make a minimum of 5000 book sales (higher, depending on the list) in a single week across diverse retailers and from multiple geographic locations.

Who has the best-selling book? ›

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is one of the most sold books in the world and the book that begins the most sold book series of all time. This wizarding journey of light and dark, and life and death, has inspired hope in readers of all ages.

What is Colleen Hoover's best book? ›

What age group reads Colleen Hoover? ›

So, what age group are Hoover's books meant for? Colleen Hoover is a popular author of contemporary romance novels. Her books are generally recommended for readers aged 17 and up due to the fact that they often deal with heavy subject matter.

What Colleen Hoover books can a 14 year old read? ›

Young Adult Colleen Hoover Books for Ages 14+
  • NeverNever.
  • Without Merit.
  • Regretting You.
  • Heart Bones.
  • Slammed.
  • Point of Retreat.
  • This Girl.
Jan 18, 2023

Why is the book Verity disturbing? ›

FIRST OF ALL, this book should come with a whole slew of trigger warnings. So let me clear that up first. Trigger Warnings: Graphic infant/child abuse, child death, abortion, violence, gore, murder.

What is the big twist in Verity? ›

It turns out that Verity has been faking her injuries and Jeremy, in a fit of rage, kills Verity with Lowen's approval. Lowen later finds a letter in the room from Verity addressed to Jeremy explaining that the whole autobiography was just a writing exercise, not to be taken seriously.

Is Verity too disturbing? ›

Verity is also easily one of the most disturbing and graphic books I have read (but it's also my personal favorite Colleen Hoover book). It also has an age rating for “Very Mature Adults” aged 21 and over. So, there are definitely a lot of content warnings to note before reading this book.

What author is most like Colleen Hoover? ›

Below are 8 authors like Colleen Hoover who write emotional and often dramatic romances.
  1. Elle Kennedy. Elle Kennedy is a bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. ...
  2. Taylor Jenkins Reid. ...
  3. Christina Lauren. ...
  4. Rebecca Serle. ...
  5. Sally Thorne. ...
  6. Mia Sheridan. ...
  7. Jojo Moyes. ...
  8. Penelope Douglas.

Why is It Ends With Us so popular? ›

Labeled as a Booktok sensation, "It Ends with Us" gained immense popularity thanks to the bookish side of TikTok in 2021, which led to Colleen Hoover's quickly-rising fame. The book currently has more than 700 reviews on Fable, and is one being read by 200 book clubs on our platform!

Is Verity going to be a movie? ›

Verity is a potential film based on the book of the same name, written by Colleen Hoover. In October 2021 it was announced that the project is currently in development at Amazon Studios with Nick Antosca and Alex Hedlund producing.

Who is the #1 best selling author 2022? ›

It is something of an understatement to say that Colleen Hoover dominated the 2022 overall bestsellers list. Hoover had the top three books of the year, and her novels sold 14.3 million print copies at outlets that report to NPD BookScan.

What type of books sell the most 2022? ›

They are:
  • Romance. The genre has one of the most faithful readerships. ...
  • Mystery. This genre churns out bestsellers, series, and standalone books. ...
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction. These two genres seem to be distant but are still closely related. ...
  • Young Adult. ...
  • Pandemic. ...
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) ...
  • Women.

Who read the most books on Goodreads 2022? ›

One, of course, is Colleen Hoover's dominance of the list, which is not a surprise, considering her books have also been at the top of the bestseller lists all year. Relatedly, these are also mostly BookTok favorites, which shows how much BookTok really influences readers.

What is the most sold fiction book? ›

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is one of the most sold books in the world and the book that begins the most sold book series of all time.

What is the most common book? ›

Easily the most read book in the world is the Bible for obvious reasons. It is estimated to have sold over 40 million copies in the last 60 years. You can even find it at most hotels.

What book sold out the fastest? ›

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows” — the final novel of J.K. Rowling's series — currently holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest selling book of all time after it sold 8.3 million copies — or 345,833 books per hour — when it was released in July 2007.

What age group sells the most books? ›

Middle-grade books (ages nine through 12) are seeing the highest absolute gains in sales.

What is the bestselling book every year? ›

The familiar observation that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time obscures a more startling fact: the Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year.

What book has the highest score on Goodreads? ›

Fittingly, the first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which introduces us to Harry, his muggle relatives, and his beginnings at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is the highest-rated book on the site: it has earned a 4.46-star rating (out of 5) from an average of 5.5 million (yes, million) ...

What is the highest rated fiction book on Goodreads? ›

The Goodreads 100—Fiction
  • The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) ...
  • The Catcher in the Rye. ...
  • Pride and Prejudice. ...
  • Romeo and Juliet. ...
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) ...
  • 1984. ...
  • Jane Eyre. ...
  • Hamlet.


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