My 20 Favorite Books of 2022—10 Fiction + 10 Nonfiction Books

Looking back over the books I finished in 2022, the following 20+ books are my favorites. Which books would you add to your list of favorites?

My 20 Favorite Books of 2022

My 10 Favorite Fiction Books

1. Necessary Lies
by Diane Chamberlain

Necessary Lies

In this novel set fifty years ago, 15-year-old Ivy Hart works on a tobacco farm. When she’s assigned a new social worker—the first job for young Jane Forrester—secrets begin to unravel. Such a heart-rending story.

2. The Last House on the Street
by Diane Chamberlain

The Last House on the Street

Another Diana Chamberlain book (my new favorite author this year). Kayla Carter’s new house is attracting unwanted attention. When she looks back into the history of the neighborhood, she finds secrets of racism and violence. A riveting story told in 1965 and 2010 in a town in North Carolina.

3. The Downstairs Neighbor
by Helen Cooper

The Downstairs Neighbor

When a teenage girl disappears in London, all the neighbors in the apartment become suspects through individual circumstances. Intriguing and well-told, this novel kept me wondering what would be uncovered next.

4. True Biz
by Sara Nović

True Biz

As a deaf child, teenage Charlie never learned sign language or about the deaf culture. When she transfers to a boarding school for the deaf, a series of events provide quick introductions for her into the deaf community. I learned a lot of valuable lessons about it, too.

5. Sing You Home
by Jodi Picoult

Sing You Home

Through story, Jodi Picoult dives into the middle of the ethical and legal dilemmas surrounding pregnancy and family in modern times. Music teacher Zoe Baxter saves her fertilized eggs when she and her husband can’t get pregnant, but they later divorce. The plot gets complicated as the book unfolds.

6. Apples Never Fall
by Liane Moriarty

Apples Never Fall

Where has Mom gone? After Joy Delaney suddenly disappears one morning, her husband Stan and four grown children are left to figure out where she is. Liane Moriarty never fails to tell an intriguing story with interesting plot twists. Very good.

7. The Four Winds
by Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds

Set in Texas during the Dust Bowl/Great Depression, young Elsa—later a wife and mother—fights her way through poverty in a man’s world and through extreme conditions. Her difficult life choices involve staying on the family farm pelted by disastrous storms or move west to California in search of a better life and the American Dream.

8. Wish You Were Here
by Jodi Picoult

Wish You Were Here

This novel hits close to home. It was written during and set in the Covid-19 pandemic. The main character Diana is planning to travel abroad with her surgical resident boyfriend when the coronavirus comes to New York City. The book takes a major plot twist halfway in. I didn’t see it coming at all (I love when that happens).

9. Anatomy of a Miracle
by Jonathan Miles

Anatomy of a Miracle

Based on a true story, this novel is about an Afghanistan veteran who returned home paralyzed from the waist down. Until a “miracle” occurs at the Biz-E-Bee convenience store in Biloxi, Mississippi. What accounts for it? A very interesting and unusual plot.

10. Sins of the Tribe
by Mark A. Salter

Sins of the Tribe

Wally is thrilled to join the Bastille University Tribe football team. But as the plot unfolds, he sees behind the curtain of tribalism that often surrounds college sports. As a college football fan myself, I appreciate the plot line as well as the moral implications hidden in this story.

[My review of Sins of the Tribe: “How Loyal Are You to Your Sports Team?”]

My 10 Favorite Nonfiction Books

Because there are so MANY great nonfiction books available, I’m actually recommending more than just 10 books. With each suggestion below, I add a loosely related bonus recommendation.

1. Nonviolent Communication
A Language of Life
by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD

Nonviolent Communication

This book explains how to talk in clear and simple ways to be better understood and to better understand others (even though it still requires self-discipline and thus is hard; sigh). It’s full of great sample conversations. If we could be this compassionate, direct, and gentle, we’d eliminate so many problems. One of the bottom lines for me: Be more aware of the NEEDS (both my own and others) underneath our words.

Bonus Recommendation: The Dance of Connection
How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate
by Harriet Lerner

2. Do I Stay Christian?
A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned
by Brian D. McLaren

Do I Stay Christian

Written with great humility, curiosity, and research, McLaren walks us through 10 reasons why someone might not want to be a Christian (part 1), then 10 reasons why someone would want to be a Christian (part 2). For himself, McLaren concludes he’s staying Christian. But regardless of your own answer, McLaren then offers 10 excellent pieces of advice to everybody (part 3) on how to be a more loving human being in this world, Christian or not.

[my review of Do I Stay Christian?]

Bonus Recommendation: God Can’t
How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils
by Thomas Jay Oord

3. This Chair Rocks
A Manifesto Against Ageism
by Ashton Applewhite

This Chair Rocks

At least in the West, there’s a large bias against the aged. We often depict older people as out of touch, annoying, and just in the way. But Applewhite refutes these myths about later years in a refreshing way, while also staying realistic about the genuine trials. We don’t have to dread getting older.

Bonus Recommendation: The Wisdom of Your Body
Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection Through Embodied Living
by Hillary L. McBride

4. Plays Well with Others
The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know about Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong
by Eric Barker

Plays Well with Others

This is a fantastic book. Based on scientific data, Barker writes with wit and clarity to debunk false theories we inherently believe about relationships, and confirms several theories we intuitively believe already. It’s very enjoyable and informative.

[my review of Plays Well with Others is here, Two Things Your Friendships Need to Survive]

Bonus Recommendation: Platonic
How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends
by Marisa G. Franco

5. Constructive Wallowing
How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them
by Tina Gilbertson

Constructive Wallowing

While we’re often told not to wallow in our emotions, this book says that if we’ll just feel our feelings when they arise (before acting on them), they’ll serve their purpose and move on. We don’t have to minimize what we feel or pretend like we’ve got it all together—that’s unhealthy. I found this information very enlightening and helpful.

Bonus Recommendation: Permission to Feel
Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive
by Marc Brackett

6. It’s OK That You’re Not OK
Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand
by Megan Devine

It's Ok that You're Not Ok

When I began this book, I had no idea how great it would be. If you are experiencing grief (from any kind of loss) or you’re in close relationship with someone going through grief, this book is very beneficial. Megan reminds us that grief is normal; it’s not a problem in need of a solution. Stop trying to “solve” grief. As the title says, it’s okay that you don’t feel ok.

Bonus Recommendation: The Grieving Brain
The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss
by Mary-Frances O’Connor

7. Rules of Estrangement
Why Adult Children Cut Ties and How to Heal the Conflict
by Joshua Coleman, PhD

Rules of Estrangement

Dr. Joshua Coleman is a leading expert on the complex topic of family estrangement. In this book he shares practical advice to help heal the open and painful wounds based on his years of work with parents and adult children. Excellent resource.

Bonus Recommendation: When Parents Hurt
Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along
by Joshua Coleman, PhD

8. The Happiness Trap
How to Stop Struggling and Start Living
by Russ Harris

The Happiness Trap

The content of this book is extremely practical and helpful. Russ Harris teaches Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in an easy-to-understand way to counteract cultural myths about happiness. ACT stands for Accept your thoughts and feelings, Connect with your values, and Take effective action. I highly recommend this book to help you live according to your values.

Bonus Recommendation: Good Inside
A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be
by Becky Kennedy

9. Atlas of the Heart
Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience
by Brené Brown

Atlas of the Heart

With her usual insight and wit, Brené Brown walks us through 87 emotions that we all feel, but we don’t all recognize. She uses language as power to define our experiences. Recognizing and labeling our feelings is a critical step in knowing how to handle them.

Bonus Recommendation: Bright-Sided
How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
by Barbara Ehrenreich

10. How to Keep House While Drowning
A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing
by K.C. Davis

How to Keep House While Drowning

This book reminds us that you don’t exist to serve your space; your space exists to serve you. And that means you don’t always have do everything in the most efficient way (my personal struggle), but in whatever way you can get the job done. Davis’s philosophy is very freeing: “Anything worth doing is worth doing partially.”

Bonus Recommendation: Someday Is Today
22 Simple, Actionable Ways to Propel Your Creative Life
by Matthew Dicks

What is a favorite book you read this year? What book do you want to read in 2023? Share in the comments.

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30 thoughts on “My 20 Favorite Books of 2022—10 Fiction + 10 Nonfiction Books

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I didn’t know Chamberlain was your maiden name, Susan. Yes, you might enjoy Diane Chamberlain’s books too. 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed the depth of her novels and the research she obviously puts into each book (that I’ve read so far, anyway). I’ve now started my third book of hers, and so far, so good.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The library is one of my favorite places. 🙂 It’s often the source of many of my books.

      How did I not know you’ve authored a book series??? That’s amazing, Martha. Yes, I’d love to read the first book.

      Just fyi, the link in your comment wouldn’t work for me (sent me to an Error page), but I googled it and this link worked:

  1. Joanne

    What a wonderful list of favorites!! I think I’ve read more than 1/2 of your fiction favorites and all of them were books that stood out to me.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Glad to know I’m in good company with these fiction favorites, Joanne. Oddly enough, my husband recommended many of them to me–he’s only become a reader within the past couple of years and it’s been SO delightful to me to share books with each other!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I assume you’re referring to Shane Claiborne’s wonderful book, Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence…it really was insightful. I follow him on Instagram and I learn so much from him even there!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hope you’re enjoying True Biz, Sarah. I was watching a show on TV tonight about a deaf child who had been deprived of learning ASL, and I thought again of all that I learned in this novel! Merry Christmas to you too.

  2. Hazlo Emma

    Found this via #anythinggoes link party.

    Love that Plays Well with Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know about Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong is scientifically backed.

    We need to be reminded to throw away false beliefs that are among the top factors that limit us.

    I will look for the book and read.

    H E

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Hazlo. I read somewhere today that confusion is a great state of mind to cultivate, because it means we’re open to learning new things! 🙂 I appreciate people who are willing to let go of old beliefs if they are proven wrong. Not always easy to do, but important.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m encouraging my husband now to read True Biz. It taught me a lot about the deaf community that I was unaware of. I have MUCH more to learn. I’m grateful that we can learn truths about life through fiction books as well as nonfiction.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, there was a definite thread in my books all year long. It was a very emotional year for me (the difficult emotions) so I needed all the help I could get. I’m grateful that God speaks through so many authors’ voices, including yours, Jean!

  3. Liz Dexter

    Nice to see True Biz on there. I really enjoyed it, though I traditionally don’t do my top 10 / 20 till right at the end of the year just in case I read something amazing at the very end of the year (I have two train journeys this coming week, for example, so a fair bit of reading time). A good selection!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hope you were able to get in a lot of reading on your train journeys, Liz. I do feel unease with making my list in mid-December for the reasons you said. But I tell myself that I can fold the later December books into next year’s favorites if I need to! 🙂

  4. April J Harris

    I always enjoy your book recommendations, Lisa! I see several that I would like to add to my reading list for this year. I’m featuring your post at the January edition of the Hearth and Soul Link Party, which goes live on Sunday January 1st. Thank you for being a part of The Hearth and Soul Community. Wishing you a Healthy, Happy New Year!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thank you for sharing my post at the Hearth and Soul Link Party, April. It looks like you had a wonderful Christmas being able to be with your family again post-Covid. Happy New year to you, too!

  5. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

    Nice reviews! I read a different Diane Chamberlain book, Big Lies in a Small Town, last summer after finding it in a Little Free Library. It was a *little bit* melodramatic in the way I expected from the title, but it certainly was well-researched and grippingly written, well worth reading once. I think it might not stand up to re-reading because I’ll likely remember the plot.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I just finished Big Lies in a Small Town last week! I loved it. I totally agree with you that it was well-researched and grippingly written. Diane Chamberlain books are now high on my list for fiction picks. Sometimes I do get tired of the two time periods swap that she often has in her books, but she handles them well.

  6. Crystal Green

    You gave me a couple of books to add to my to-read list. I personally feel like my to-read list is way to long already, but I can never have to many good book suggestions to read for sure.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I hear you, Crystal–my to-read list doesn’t need to grow anymore! lol. I already don’t have enough years left to read all the books on it. But yes, I still keeping adding more anyway. 🙂

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