The Best Books I Read in 2022

Here the best books I read in 2022.

As in previous years, I’m not restricting myself to titles published this year.

A note on format: I still prefer to read books in printed form. Their analogue attributes such as the ability to mark up pages, easily flip through chapters, and consult front and back matter at a glance just can’t be replicated in electronic form.

Physical books, unlike e-readers or smartphones, don’t run out of batteries, can easily survive a rainstorm, and automatically shut out distractions despite lacking Airplane Mode. So: dead trees FTW!

I do sometimes read e-books on my Kindle, though, when I can’t find a paper version of a title, or to peruse samples of books I’m considering purchasing in print.

This year I read nonfiction spanning Ukraine’s history to the economics of Big Tech to — most important — parenting!

For fiction, I read novels set in the western U.S., in Hong Kong, Italy, and even a post-apocalyptic future North America.



  • Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven. The huge 2014 bestseller that you’ve no doubt heard of. I love post-apocalyptic tales. This one weaves through past and future, telling the stories of characters’ lives before and after a pandemic, with lovely literary flourishes and interfused with a sense of hope. I watched only a bit of the TV series and didn’t get into it. My Book Notes entry is here.

  • Willy Vlautin, Lean on Pete. A short, sad, striking tale containing some passages and imagery I don’t think I’ll ever forget. My Book Notes entry is here.

  • Thomas Harris, Hannibal: A Novel. I’d never read Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs until two years ago, and finally got around to reading this sequel, featuring the iconic Hannibal Lecter, this year. Set largely in Florence. Fantastic.

  • Paul Theroux, Kowloon Tong. A 1997 novel mainly about the lives of the privileged and insular British living in the city as the handover loomed. Contains some troubling depictions of local residents. (Thanks to pal Dan C. for the recommendation.)

  • Jason Matthews, Red Sparrow: A Novel. Spy thrillers dominated my fiction reading last year, and Matthews might be my new favorite of the genre. This book is rich in detail, beautifully paced, and the characters are vivid. (Thanks to Newley’s Notes reader Stuart H. for the recommendation.)

Previous lists: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016.

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