The Books of the Year: 2022

It’s NYE, so it’s probably safe to put together my top books of the year post, since I started a reread of Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law quartet in preparation for reading the final book in the series, and while I love the series, I am certain that it won’t make an appearance here.

I had some wonderful reading experiences this year, so I’ve been looking forward to this post. I read a total of 212 books, which is the highest number I’ve ever managed. I’ll be doing a statistics based post about my reading later – maybe tomorrow – so this isn’t really about that. It’s about the books! I’ve picked my top 12 books/reading experiences of the year, in no particular order:

  1. The first three books I will be talking about are all multi-book experiences. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper was my favorite book from the entire sequence, but it’s also representative of the entire sequence, which I read this year for the first time. It was a wonderful reading experience.
  2. The Jewel in the Crown was the first book in the Raj Quartet by Paul Scott – which I also read in its entirety this year. I bought the entire set of matching paperbacks (although my covers were much uglier than the one depicted) in 2013 and had been eyeing it guiltily ever since. It’s not an easy read, but it was a remarkable reading experience.
  3. Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning comprises the first three books in her WWII series. It’s published as a lovely, doorstop sized, omnibus edition by NYRB. The final three books are also published as The Levant Trilogy. It follows the newlyweds Guy and Harriet Pringle, based on the author and her husband, as they arrive in Bucharest, Romania immediately prior to the Nazi march on Poland, and then are forced to flee to Athens. I plan to read The Levant Trilogy in 2023, which takes them from Athens to Egypt.
  4. The Feast by Margaret Kennedy was all over social media and book blogs this year, and I couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon. This is a perfect book to read on the patio on a warm, summer day: immersive and propulsive.
  5. I read Jubilee by Margaret Walker during Black History Month, and it was a great read. Margaret Walker was a black poet, and based Jubilee on the life of her great-grandmother, named Vyry in the text, who was born into slavery, but emancipated during the Civil War when she was in her late teens/early twenties. It is a far more compelling and clear-eyed look at the antebellum South through the eyes of a slave, and can be read as a replacement of, or an adjunct to, Gone With The Wind.
  6. The Priory by Dorothy Whipple: I read two books by Whipple this year, and she could easily make two appearances on the list, because I loved them both. She has a relatively tiny back list, so I’ve been carefully measuring them out because once I have read them all, there are no more. Persephone has published the ones that are available.
  7. In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden: This was one of my first books of the year and I absolutely devoured it. It’s the only thing I’ve read by Rumer Godden, but I have several more on my TBR as a consequence of reading this one.
  8. The Woods in Winter by Stella Gibbons was a book I read at the end of the year, just a few weeks ago. I’ve become a fan of Gibbons, and this is one of the most enjoyable I’ve read.
  9. I read two books by Sylvia Townsend Warner this year – Lolly Willowes and The Corner That Held Them. I liked both, but Lolly Willowes wins by a hair. Warner was very versatile – these books couldn’t be more different.
  10. Maigret and the Killer by Georges Simenon is also really just representative of the entire series; towards the end of the year I became very immersed in Maigret’s world, and ended up reading 8 of these books this year. I love everything about the new Penguin translations: the covers, the slenderness of the books, the feel of the paper. They can be read in any order, so I’ve just been checking them out of my library on a whim, based at least partially on how much the cover/title appeals to me in the moment.
  11. The Least of Us by Sam Quinones is one of two pieces of non-fiction that make the list this year. This is a very depressing book, that tackles the fentanyl crisis in the U.S.
  12. And, finally, Caste: the Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson is the last book I will mention here. I read The Warmth of Other Suns by Ms. Wilkerson last year, which is a piece of non-fiction about the Great Migration of Black Americans leaving their homes in the South for the upper-Midwest, California and the industrial NE. It’s an incredible, if difficult, read, as is the more recent Caste. I learned so much from this book, including the fact that the Nazis turned to Jim Crow as inspiration and instruction for their own Nuremberg Laws. I can’t recommend Wilkerson highly enough for people who are interested in Black history. The Warmth of Other Suns is focused firmly on the U.S., but Caste: the Origins of our Discontent broadens its focus to include experiences from India, South Africa, and other places that have had rigid caste systems, and will probably be more interesting to the non-U.S. reader.

All right, that’s my top 12 for 2022 – I can only hope that 2023 is as good of a reading year as this was!


  1. I have read and loved The Feast and The Dark is Rising sequence. There are some others on your list I’m interested in reading too, particularly In This House of Brede and Lolly Willowes. I hope you have another good reading year in 2023!

    1. Thank you! I’m retiring at the end of September, and I’m looking forward to all of those long days available for reading in the fall!

  2. Loved The Feast which I also read this past year, one of my top reads as well. I also loved the Balkan and Levant trilogies and The Priory. Also The Woods in Winter!

  3. I’ve read several posts on your blog over the past year and really enjoy it, and I especially love this post and the post of what you’re looking forward to reading in 2023 that you just posted. I’ve read three of these, and five of them were already on my TBR, so I’m thinking the remaining four are a 100% match for me 🙂 Looking forward to seeing what you read this year and what you think of it!

  4. I thought I had read that Maigret but when I just looked at the synopsis to check, I was thinking of a different one, so it turns out I’ve only read two – Caste and In This House of Brede! Both so good, and my book group is reading Warmth of Other Suns by Wilkerson this March so I’m looking forward to that too.
    Now I want to find that Maigret! And I’m so happy you’re doing the Golden Age and Silver Age mysteries posts you started!

    1. The Warmth of Other Suns is an incredible book – not for the faint of heart, though. There are certainly parts of the book that left me either in tears or nauseous. Especially in this time of reactionary book banning (in the U.S., at least), it’s an important read.

  5. What an excellent list! I am loving The Dark is Rising sequence and I bet it will be a Best Of for this year (read two last year so I think it will count). I love The Priory and really enjoyed The Raj Quartet as well. Happy reading for 2023!

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