Best Reads of 2022

For awhile I could not remember some word

I was in need of.

and then I was bereaved and said: where are you,

beloved friend?

Oliver, Mary. A Thousand Mornings. Penguin Books, 2012. p. 9.

When I look back on my reading list for any given year, I am inspired by the authors who laid their thoughts to paper, not knowing what would come next. Writing a book at this level requires a certain faith and motivation beyond compensation or mere duty. Some books just had to be written, and I cannot imagine a world where Trevor Noah’s life story was not told, or Emmett and Billy Watson (The Lincoln Highway) did not exist. These authors brought to life characters for me, that are now a part of my life story. In an interview, Amor Towles explained that he spends years developing a simple idea for a story in his head. By the time he sits down to write the first chapter, he has already imagined the characters, setting, and story as a whole. That incubation period constitutes years of work that would never see a printing press, had Towles not persevered.

Reading fine literature is essential for a quality life. But one of the most important attributes is how reading a variety of works empowers us to empathize with all of humanity. We understand an infinite number of motivations, possibilities, and outcomes by reading nuanced, calculated, or emotional paths others have taken. Whether fiction, non-fiction, memoir, biography, mystery or other, stories connect us with people and cultures in every decade, country, financial status, age or predicament.

Of the 29 books I read in 2022, the following five were the most enjoyable for a variety of reasons:

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

I loved this book from start to finish. Towles’s writing style is consistently elegant, imaginative, and suffused in grace, exemplifying the world is brimful of good people despite inherent evils. I devoured The Lincoln Highway and then wished I had read more slowly to have savored each page. Set in 1954 middle America, three teenage boys (who met in juvenile jail) and a charming eight-year-old sibling set off to find their future and settle a few scores in an old Studebaker. Trouble ensues with unexpected turns and a brilliant ending. The novel spans ten adventure-full days of magic, regret, revenge, companionship, understanding, grace, hope, and so much more. The Lincoln Highway is a masterpiece in compassion and all that is good in the world.

A Thousand Mornings (poetry) by Mary Oliver

Ohio-born Mary Jane Oliver is an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. I have always loved her work, as she brings high-minded and elite poetry to a particularly human level without sacrificing an ounce of fabulous. Often focusing on quiet moments in nature, time and self, Oliver is an exceptional and down-to-earth poet whose words have the ability to touch the tenderness of heart in anyone who reads her. I have read a lot of Mary Oliver over the years, but A Thousand Mornings is a favorite, and this particular tome contains some treasures.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Again, Amor Towles. I chose to read Rules of Civility after I finished The Lincoln Highway because I wanted to stay in the company of Amor Towle’s gifted writing style and impeccable cast. (It turns out there are character and timing connections between The Gentleman in Moscow, The Lincoln Highway, and Rules of Civility. We book nerds love this sort of thing). With characters beautifully developed, Rules of Civility shines a light on the social constructs of the 1930s while allowing readers to navigate alongside the characters and the choices they make in their complex relationships. Set in depression-era Manhattan, we understand so much more of this time period and its socioeconomic intricacies. I felt transported back in time to a place I had always romanticized. This book prompted me to buy and read young George Washington’s modest book, “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation” which now resides in our home library.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Marrying the themes of motherhood, feminism, misogyny, chemistry, and an unlikely career, author Bonnie Garmus delivers a funny, smart and entertaining novel. Pure fiction and full of mostly likable characters (loved the dog named six-thirty), Lessons in Chemistry shares a glimpse of 1960s America and the bold resilience of women. This work was inspiring, fun to read and a welcomed break during a string of otherwise academic reading.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I have read this memoir twice and loved it just as much the second time around. Trevor Noah is a brilliant and funny storyteller, and his memoir, Born a Crime, is chock-full of both the hilarious and the horrific. His narrative is cleverly intermingled with details about the history of apartheid and life in South Africa from his birth through his high school years. With an unforgettable cast of family, friends and a fearless mother, we learn about apartheid in ways no dry, academic text can replicate. Consequently, Born a Crime was included in both Oliver’s International Studies and Literary Analysis classes this year, so I have indeed been able to critically analyze the writing from multiple points of view. A fabulous, sad, and engaging story told by the funniest possible person; I love this book and gifted several copies to friends for Christmas this year.

*note: if Audible is an option for you, I highly recommend a combined listen-read of this book. Noah self-narrates and reading in his voice is a treasure, especially when coming upon the unfamiliar words. It helps that Noah speaks eight languages fluently: English, Afrikaans, Southern Sotho, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Tsonga, and German.

Full List of Books read in 2022:

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan; Mink River by Brian Doyle; Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon; The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles; Tropic of Squalor (poetry) by Mary Karr;  How to Love the World (poetry) edited by James Crews; Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod; A Thousand Mornings (poetry) by Mary Oliver; How to Not Always Be Working by Marlee Grace; Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation by George Washington; The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy; The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab; The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles; In Her Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, edited by Helena Hunt; Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland; Happy Go Lucky by David Sedaris; The Woozle Beast by John Benson; Dog Songs (poetry) by Mary Oliver; Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus; Brave Companions by David McCullough; Born a Crime by Trevor Noah; Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda; A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin; Oh, William! by Elizabeth Strout; Me Without You by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar; My Mother’s Secret by J.L. Witterick; The Visit by Mark Kimball Moulton.

Wishing you a happy new year full of magic and wonder, and many, many good books on your bedside table –

xx, Lynne

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Marilyn Keenan says:

    Read all three of yourAmor Towles books. Loved all, but The Lincoln Highway was my fave. What characters! Ordering Lessons in Chemistry now. Good list, Lynne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lynne Rey says:

      Marilyn, did you know that “Lincoln Highway” Wooley’s uncle is in “Rules of Civility?” So fun. So many great articles on Towles, too.


  2. Thank you, Lynne. I love your 5 best reads. Having read A Gentleman in Moscow (and thoroughly enjoyed the story and his style), I will definitely read these two others you recommend. Born a Crime is excellent as well, and it just so happens I did a combo, listen/read. He does a great job on the audio too. Thank you and best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lynne Rey says:

      Janis, are you still cruising? I need to catch up with your current adventures!


      1. Janis says:

        We are, through the spring and summer on the canals. We left the boat in northern France this time, on the Belgium border, and will head into Belgium and Holland this spring. I think you are almost empty nesters? What a gift you have given your children! You are amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pat Dilger says:

    Will have to read some of your suggestions! I am a slow reader – fall asleep too easily or too many interruptiuons>

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lynne Rey says:

      I totally get that! Sometimes a really good book makes all the difference! xo


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