Opinion: My top reads of 2022

Photo courtesy of Hanalei Potempa

Let’s just say I read a lot of books last year, but few managed to stand out from the rest. I have narrowed it down to a selection ranging from books published in 2022, to ones that have captivated audiences for many years now. With that in mind, here are my top reads of 2022, in no particular order.

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney:

“Normal People” is the kind of book you finish in one day and constantly think about months after you read it. It’s haunting, but in the best way.

The book is written from the alternating points of view of characters Marriane Sheridan and Connell Waldron. The book begins when the two are in high school and ends after their years at university, following how their lives intertwine and how their relationship changes over the years.

“All these years they’ve been like two little plants sharing the same plot of soil, growing around one another, contorting to make room, taking certain unlikely positions.”

“Normal People” is a painfully realistic illustration of contemporary young love, beyond the boundaries of romance. Rooney beautifully writes flawed characters in a way where readers feel personally connected to them. Their inner thoughts and the third-person adaptations that are revealed are enough to cause tears.

As flawed as they may be, Marianne and Connell illustrate the epitome of human connection and the idea that one can do good for another, creating change in one another for the better.

I have heard many criticisms over the ending of the book, and although part of me desired a different, maybe a more traditional happy ending, I realized that the ending to the book isn’t necessarily an ending at all. Rooney encompasses the entirety of their relationship in the very last page.

“Magnolia Parks” by Jessa Hastings:

When I finished the first book in the Magnolia Parks series my first thought was, “Why isn’t everyone talking about these books?”

“Magnolia Parks” is written from the alternating perspective of Magnolia Parks and BJ Ballentine, childhood sweethearts and best friends with a messy relationship and a fun, charismatic, tight-knit friend group.

The book takes place in London, or rather, the upper class, wealthy society of London. Magnolia, BJ and the entirety of the friend group are all children of rich and famous parents.

Magnolia and BJ are both very complicated and eccentric characters, as well as the side characters who also get chapters written in their perspectives in the second and fourth books in the series. I found myself completely captivated by these characters, as well as Hastings’ poetic, yet casual writing style.

“Can you die from a broken heart, do you know? And if I did and they cut me wide open, would I bleed loving him?”

[Stack of books featuring works from authors Sally Rooney, Taylor Jenkins Reid and Delia Owens.]
Photo courtesy of Hanalei Potempa

This series is so unique, and if you have a knack for fashion you’ll especially appreciate Magnolia’s detailed outfit descriptions that she never fails to recount, selected from her designer closet packed with the latest Gucci and YSL.

Although not taking the form of a traditional plotline, these books are packed with action as the friend group attends London’s upper class events and parties, travel all over Europe on a whim and attend their extremely regular brunches, all while of course bringing the drama and the press along with them.

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens:

Recently adapted into a bestselling movie, “Where the Crawdads Sing” takes place in the rural marshlands of North Carolina and follows main character Kya. 

As a young girl Kya was abandoned by her parents and siblings, left to fend for herself. Kya grows up following her keen interests of biology and nature, often applying the universal laws of nature to her own feelings of love, loss and loneliness in this unique murder mystery.

“If anyone understood loneliness, the moon would…Nature seemed the only stone that would not slip midstream.” 

Set in the mid 1900s, the novel touches on the hierarchies within the town of Barkley Cove, as well as the discriminations Kya feels as a young woman in this era. Stuck in between her heartbreak and path to success, Kya — known as the town outcast — is put on trial for murder.

The prose of this book was so unique and perfect for this murder mystery, coming-of-age novel, and the ending left me speechless.

“Daisy Jones and The Six,” “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” and “Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid:

After discovering Taylor Jenkins Reid, I couldn’t pick and choose just one of her books to mention, so here’s three. If you love pop culture, Old Hollywood or the music and film industries, these books are for you.

Jenkins Reid provides a descriptive and riveting writing style that leaves the reader hooked, and sometimes even in tears. 

“You’re an idealist and a romantic, and you have a beautiful soul. And I wish the world was ready to be the way you see it,” from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

The first book I read from Jenkins-Reid was “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and I was absolutely captivated by the characters, and the experience continued as I read “Daisy Jones and The Six,” as well as “Malibu Rising.”

These books are very entertaining as the reader gets an inside look to the behind the scenes of the lives of these fictional celebrities, their relationships, drama and their inner thoughts and true desires. 

Jenkins-Reid illustrates a universe of celebrities that feels alarmingly real. I would give anything to watch one of Evelyn Hugo’s films, or listen to the band Daisy Jones and The Six perform a song.

The universe Jenkins Reid creates is so intricate and connected, even the different stories in each book intertwine.  

If there’s one thing Jenkins Reid knows how to do it’s keep the reader locked in throughout the entire story and write the perfect plot twist, for the perfect ending.

Honorable Mentions

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hoessini

“Everything I know About Love” by Dolly Alderton

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