The 15 Best Books I Read in 2022 (Classics, Sci-Fi, Nonfiction and More!)

By far my favorite part of January is the opportunity it provides to wax poetic about my favorite books of the year. I read so many great books in 2022, and I cannot wait to talk about the best books from this year that I want to recommend for you to read.

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By far my favorite part of January is the opportunity it provides to wax poetic about my favorite books of the year. I read so many great books in 2022, and I cannot wait to talk about the best books from this year that I want to recommend for you to read.

Without further ado, let’s talk about the 15 BEST BOOKS I read in 2022! (This list is in no particular order, because I did not want to add another layer of subjectivity to this already momentously-subjective list of best books)

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Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

“Today we queried, questioned, and inquired. Promise me that come tomorrow, we will not stop asking why.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere.

Mark Dunn’s Ella Minnow Pea remains hilariously and enjoyably quirky while offering powerful commentary on the cost of censorship. Read my review here!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

“So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

I am deeply ashamed that I waited SO long to read this book, because I love this series from the bottom of my heart. Read my review here!

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Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Raised in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female mutilation, brutal beatings, adolescence as a devout believer during the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four troubled, unstable countries ruled largely by despots. She escaped from a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she earned a college degree in political science, tried to help her tragically depressed sister adjust to the West, and fought for the rights of Muslim women and the reform of Islam as a member of Parliament. Under constant threat, demonized by reactionary Islamists and politicians, disowned by her father, and expelled from family and clan, she refuses to be silenced.”

I read this book quite recently, and I could not put it down. Ayaan Hirsi-Ali is a very inspiring figure, and I would highly recommend her memoir.

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

When they’re watching a horror movie, everyone in the audience knows the hero or the heroine is stupid to go up those stairs, but in real life they always do—they smoke, they don’t wear seat belts, they move their family in beside a busy highway where the big rigs drone back and forth all day and all night.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Despite Ludlow’s tranquility, an undercurrent of danger exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift graveyard in the nearby woods where generations of children have buried their beloved pets.

Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard where another burial ground lures with seductive promises and ungodly temptations. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. As Louis is about to discover for himself: sometimes, dead is better…

Pet Sematary remains the only Stephen King book to ever truly have creeped me out, and maybe that’s because it is almost uniquely dark compared to even his other horror novels. Read my review here!

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“Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell

As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. “

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated)

“Politics and the English Language” (1946) is an essay by George Orwell that criticises the “ugly and inaccurate” written English of his time and examines the connection between political orthodoxies and the debasement of language.

I love this essay because of how well it verbalizes my own frustrations with political discourse. Read my review here!

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this brilliant book rife with true gallows humor, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gray with a verdict that will haunt us all.

Every time I attempt to talk about Mother Night it just ends in a flood of incomprehensible rambling about how good it is. It is probably most efficient if you just read my review

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The End of Everything by Katie Mack

“In fact, it’s possible that the only reason we can remember the past and not the future is that “things can only get worse” is a truth so universal that it shapes reality as we know it.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From one of the most dynamic rising stars in astrophysics, an accessible and eye-opening look—in the bestselling tradition of Sean Carroll and Carlo Rovelli—at the five different ways the universe could end, and the mind-blowing lessons each scenario reveals about the most important concepts in physics.

If you are at all interested in astrophysics and cosmology, I would highly recommend Katie Mack’s The End of Everything to you. It discusses all of the various theories as to how the universe could end in a layperson-friendly and interesting way, and I loved reading it.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Yes, he’d surrendered to the Germans with the intention of betraying his country and he’d returned from captivity to carry out a mission for German intelligence. What sort of mission neither Shukhov nor the interrogator could say…. Shukhov had it all figured out. If he didn’t sign he’d be shot. If he signed he’d still get a chance to live. So he signed.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“First published in the Soviet journal Novy Mir in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich stands as a classic of contemporary literature. The story of labor-camp inmate Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, it graphically describes his struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression.

This book is quite depressing, and the true story behind it, Solzhenitsyn’s own life, is perhaps even more depressing, but because of the impact of this book it is definitely one of the best I’ve read this year. Read my review here!

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Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Dostoevsky’s most revolutionary novel, Notes from Underground marks the dividing line between nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, and between the visions of self each century embodied. One of the most remarkable characters in literature, the unnamed narrator is a former official who has defiantly withdrawn into an underground existence. In complete retreat from society, he scrawls a passionate, obsessive, self-contradictory narrative that serves as a devastating attack on social utopianism and an assertion of man’s essentially irrational nature.

My very first Dostoevsky book, and it definitely did not disappoint! Read my review here

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

A hot virus from the rain forest lives within a twenty-four-hour plane flight from every city on earth. All of the earth’s cities are connected by a web of airline routes. The web is a network. Once a virus hits the net, it can shoot anywhere in a day—Paris, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, wherever planes fly”

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic “hot” virus. The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their “crashes” into the human race.”

It might have been this book that first kicked off my once-dormant fascination with creepy diseases. Read my review here!

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The Stranger by Albert Camus

It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.”

I have talked about this book so much online that I am getting a bit sick of talking about it, not going to lie– but in any case… I love it a lot. Read my review here!

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

“Perhaps in the back of our minds we already understand, without all the science I’ve discussed, that something terribly wrong is happening. Our sustenance now comes from misery. We know that if someone offers to show us a film on how our meat is produced, it will be a horror film. We perhaps know more than we care to admit, keeping it down in the dark places of our memory– disavowed. When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Faced with the prospect of being unable to explain why we eat some animals and not others, Foer set out to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the fictions involved with creating them. Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill.

This book was one of the many influences that persuaded me to become vegan this year. Read my review here (and my veganism story here)

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The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

Interweaving handwritten text and art, John Hendrix tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his fight against the oppression of the German people during World War II. Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was shocked to watch the German church embrace Hitler’s agenda of hatred. He spoke out against the Nazi party and led a breakaway church that rebelled against racist and nationalist beliefs of the Third Reich. Struggling with how his faith interacted with his ethics, Bonhoeffer eventually became convinced that Hitler and the Nazi Party needed to be stopped–and he was willing to sacrifice anything and everything to do so.

Ever since I learned about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I have been fascinated by his life story and philosophy. This graphic novel was a very well-done exploration of his life. Read my review here

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Some inhabitants of a peaceful kingdom cannot tolerate the act of cruelty that underlies its happiness.”

This short story is basically utilitarianism taken to an extreme. The trolley problem except worse. Would you walk away from Omelas?

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Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

“No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat’s cradle is nothing but a bunch of X’s between somebody’s hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X’s . . .”
“And?”
“No damn cat, and no damn cradle.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it …

Dr. Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he’s the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh… “

A hilarious book about the stupidity of humanity and the meaningless of life? What more could we ask for? Read my review here!

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