Books

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2022

I’m unlikely to discover a new favorite in the final days of December and if I do, I’ll write an addendum.

These are my top ten favorite books I read in the last year.

The Councillor by E. J. Beaton

The Councillor by E. J. Beaton

How am I EVEN supposed to talk about this book?

I really struggle with political fantasy and this book still won me over.

Yes, yes, I enjoyed the queernormative worldbuilding and the elemental magic system and the discussions about class consciousness and the role of government.

I REALLY came here for the tall man in a swirling cape with a snake around his neck.

I can’t talk (or write) about Luca Fontaine and maintain my cool.

I very much relate to the bisexual protagonist spotting this disaster and going, “He seems like a problem. I’m into it.”

Followed by her trying to murder him in a coat closet. Obviously.

There’s also a WAR, someone busts up a WEDDING, things burst into FLAME-

The climax is so cinematic. I got so much joy out of this book.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Contain your surprise.

I very much enjoy books that treat gods as people. (This explains my Greek mythology phase, to be honest.)

All the gods in this book are bastards.

They’re capable of both astonishing kindness and some of the most devious betrayals.

When I think about how the plot resolves, I want to scream into a canyon and never stop.

Shadow going on a journey that ends with him finally being present in his own life really struck a chord with me.

He might not have believed in the gods, but they believed in him.

I’m genuinely tearing up over this.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Good Omens became a comfort read as soon as I found the courage to finish it.

The world didn’t end (though it came close.)

All was well (except for everything that wasn’t.)

I knew the book was funny, but I didn’t expect such a compassionate view of humanity.

Silly, maybe, that a comedic apocalypse novel would be the one to change me.

This book made me believe that life is both good and worthwhile. That’s not what I asked for and it gave that to me anyway.

Greedy: Note From a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much by Jen Winston

Greedy by Jen Winston

This was the best millennial-penned queer memoir I read all year and the best book of essays I read, period.

Jen writes about shame and confusion in a way that had me nodding along.

Yes, I have felt the fear of taking up too much space.

Yes, I have doubted the veracity of my identity.

Yes, I have become so numb to mistreatment that I begin to resent the pain of others.

Yes, yes, yes.

While I read and enjoyed other queer memoirs this year, none captured the experience of fluidity quite like Greedy.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown

This book was an incredible end to a fantastic trilogy.

Every part of it worked.

Making both leads autistic and having them fight to be both heard and understood absolutely gutted me.

Sometimes with romance novels I feel like I’m missing something.

I see couples following scripts that seem pointless, playing roles they’re not interested in, and almost destroying their relationships for no reason.

The third-act misunderstanding in this book actually made sense to me.

It also HURT. It was AGONY watching two people part ways over something both UNDERSTANDABLE and UNNECESSARY.

What really helps this book, though, is how funny it is.

It is SCREAMINGLY funny. My well-documented loathing of shenanigans was no match for the events of this book.

10/10 just for Eve hitting Jacob with her car.

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

The Bone Orchard explores trauma through a fantastical representation of DID where each of a system’s alters exists in its own body. Charm, our main character, herself an alter, keeps the rest of the alters in line both for her safety and theirs. All of the alters work together (albeit grudgingly) to protect their host from additional harm.

Did I mention this book is a murder mystery?

The plot is a fun (if haunting) ride that introduces a genderfluid side character, along with SEVERAL villains to root against and even more fantasy politics. (Who have I become?)

All of the alters consider the consequences of reintegration while honoring their individual identities. Charm grapples with using her likeability as a means of survival even though it makes the rest of her system hate her. The characters eventually dismantle the myth of the perfect victim with compassion and honesty.

The Bone Orchard acknowledges that, yes, sometimes we become unpleasant people in order to survive.

That doesn’t make us monsters.

What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing From Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo

What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo

I haven’t fully processed this book yet.

What My Bones Know gave voice to the feeling of “something’s wrong but no one is telling me what” that I’ve been carrying for most of my life.

I was relieved when this book recharacterized triggers as things in our environment that set us off without us even realizing. Triggers can truly be anything and we won’t always be able to recognize them.

I think I wanted Stephanie to be MAGICALLY HEALED in the end, even though I would have called bullshit had this been the case.

There’s no magical healing. There’s just living with the things that happened to you.

Life is weird and hard and I don’t know what to do about it.

Growth is painful.

There’s still hope.

This book made me believe in both the power of human connection and the impossibility of reconciliation without the participation of all parties.

Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White

Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White

I DNFed this book about halfway through because I could not take it.

The body horror was too awful and the characters were in too much pain.

I wanted to know what happened so badly that I picked the book back up and read straight through the last half.

There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

I don’t really know how to talk about this book aside from “wow, it’s gross” and “wow, it’s scary.”

It captures the fear that queer kids carry with them at all times really well.

It also documents the infighting in queer communities that is sometimes talked about but rarely portrayed this accurately.

I won’t stop saying this: taking “transness as monstrosity” and turning it into something beautiful is going to save lives.

There’s a scene toward the end that had me weeping. There are so many people in my life who would give anything to experience that type of acceptance.

This book truly offered hope in spite of everything.

The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron

I don’t want to spend too much time on this book because what do I even SAY?

Pema showed me that I can be radically kind to myself and still hold myself accountable.

I can trust myself.

Being aware (though not judgmental) of my failures is part of the practice.

2022 sucked. A lot.

After reading this book, I feel like I can face whatever comes in 2023.

Bad Gays: A Homosexual History by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller

Bad Gays by Huw Lemmey and Ben Miller

This will be the FIRST and ONLY time a HISTORY BOOK makes it onto my top ten favorites list.

Bad Gays is INCREDIBLY well-written. I’m LIVID.

I was so relieved that the authors examined history through an intersectional lens, e.g., “A lot of these sad gay guys still experienced white privilege and, oh yeah, a lot of them were fascists.”

I often find history books to be either disappointingly dry or overly valorizing.

This book was just honest.

The people in this book shaped history, often for the worse, and we are still seeing the impacts of their choices today.

That’s worth looking back at.

Further, it’s worth examining how white gay identity has propped up the status quo and furthered the cause of dangerous people.

Pride is important and can exist alongside a realistic look at the atrocities [white] queer people have committed.

The authors have a podcast covering additional bad gays from history, which I MAY have to check out.

Those were my favorite reads of the year!

May your bookstores be well-stocked and your library catalogues plentiful!

Go forth and read these!

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2 thoughts on “Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2022”

  1. *squealing* Was I totally surprised and delighted to see one of my last book recs to you on this list? Absolutely. But then, when I publish my own end of year wrap-up review, I think the overlap in our tastes and our book-club-of-two selections will be obvious. 😛

    Like

  2. Lauren… you read The Councillor…!!!! Wow I can totally feel you even though I read it last year… Luca is just ughhhh…. There’s still no update on a sequel and I’m dying….
    I can’t wait to read Bad Gays and What the Bones Know…

    Like

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