Chaos and erratic images, stories, and capsule lifestyles have been a regular sight in 2022. In between unsettling information distracting the mind, and the desperation to sit in a cozy cafe and get into a world of probably desirable and satisfying characters, it’s a sign to grab a book and implement our reading resolution.
But before burying our noses completely in the book, let’s not forget the tradition of picking from the best books of 2022 and expanding our TBR. I’ve picked five books from the top-rated books of 2022 to make your work easy and put you right into reading mode.
NSFW- Isabel Kaplan
NSFW, the title itself is thrilling, imagine the book overall? That’s my straightforward reason to add it for my next read. As soon I read the description, it felt quite interesting to crack this book open because the theme speaks volumes. Women battling sexism and misogyny around the work environment, her complex relationship with her mother, and the protagonist’s journey to maneuver in a world led by men. Although the cover was standard and reviews were okay, I want to know if the author Isabel and her protagonist justify the theme or stand similar to other books written under the same theme.
Review – Justine
3.0 out of 5 stars Navigating toxic work environments as a female
Reviewed in the United States on September 28, 2022
You follow an unnamed female narrator who is trying to grow in the entertainment industry and witness the sexism and misogyny revolving around the work environment and how fellow female colleagues have to navigate through that. This wasn’t my favorite read that focuses on this subject matter, but I still liked it.
Description: Blisteringly sharp and hypersmart―meet Isabel Kaplan’s searing debut novel about a young woman trying to succeed in Hollywood without selling her soul.
From the outside, the unnamed protagonist in NSFW appears to be the vision of success. She has landed an entry-level position at a leading TV network that thousands of college grads would kill for. And sure, she has much to learn. The daughter of a prominent feminist attorney, she grew up outside the industry. But she’s resourceful and hardworking. What could go wrong?
At first, the high-adrenaline work environment motivates her. Yet as she climbs the ranks, she confronts the reality of creating change from the inside. Her points only get attention when echoed by male colleagues; she hears whispers of abuse and sexual misconduct. Her mother says to keep her head down until she’s the one in charge―a scenario that seems idealistic at best, and morally questionable at worst. When her personal and professional lives collide, threatening both the network and her future, she must decide what to protect: the career she’s given everything for or the empowered woman she claims to be.
Fusing page-turning prose with dark humor and riveting commentary on the truths of starting out professionally, Isabel Kaplan’s NSFW is an unflinching exploration of the gray area between empowerment and complicity. The result is a stunning portrait of what success costs in today’s patriarchal world, asking us: Is it ever worth it?
2. Demon Copperhead- Barbara Kingsolver
If you’ve empathized with David Copperfield and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens then Demon Copperhead becomes a must-read this year. The story of Damon Fields, nicknamed Demon Copperhead, struggling with the offshores of life, trying to belong in a cruel world. The book cover uses almost all the elements of the Bildungsroman genre. From the shadows of growing up and falling into evil blunders of corporations, the genre used in the book reminds me of the modern industrialized tone. Reading the description you can prominently find similarities between Dickens’s world. While reading a review I came across a brilliant explanation of Kingsolver’s writing style and background, where the reviewer Sarah Wood mentions ‘this is a love story full of heartbreak to a broken country with its broken people that somehow survive another day.’ The journey of realization toward Damon’s dream felt like an invitation to the character’s world.
Review: Sarah Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is everything.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 28, 2022
Such a powerful raging hopeful against-all-hope book, it’s going to stay with me a very long time. Kingsolver at the absolute height of her power, this is a love story full of heartbreak to a broken country with its broken people that somehow survive another day. Absolutely wonderful, disturbing and moving exploration of broken families, orphan children, modern-day addiction and corporate greed, all told from the perspective of the resilient Demon Copperhead, who lives to tell many a disturbing story and who you can’t help but hope gets to see the ocean and realise his childhood dream one day. Unmissable and unputdownable.
Description: From the acclaimed author of The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees, a brilliant novel that enthralls, compels, and captures the heart as it evokes a young hero’s unforgettable journey to maturity
Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.
Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damage to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.
3. Memphis – Tara M. Stringfellow
If I have to pick one book that snatches my attention and also takes me to unknown roads in history, then I will choose Memphis by Tara Stringfellow. The debut novel by the author shows tremendous insight into the effects of violence on Black women in America, told from a captivating Southern female perspective that makes Memphis one of the most compelling must-reads of 2022 and beyond.” says a review from NPR. A story of the past and present of black women, the resilience of a character, and the story of the Memphis family, portraying the odds of a country, their faith, and injustices to them.
This book caught my attention because of the many layers it has to offer. Meanwhile, reading the description of the book made it evident to add to my TBR. At a first glance, the cover represents the conventional portrayal of black women and the community enlarged. The use of bright colors under the pretext of nature painted in all forms, and the sketch of four black women create an urge to open the many pages this book has to offer.
Review: “An engrossing debut novel . . . beautifully written prose, unforgettable characters, messages of sisterhood and community . . . The author shows tremendous insight into the effects of violence on Black women in America, told from a captivating Southern female perspective that makes Memphis one of the most compelling must-reads of 2022 and beyond.”—NPR, “Best Books of 2022”
Description: Summer 1995: Ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s explosive temper and seek refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. This is not the first time violence has altered the course of the family’s trajectory. Half a century earlier, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass—only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in the city.Joan tries to settle into her new life, but family secrets cast a longer shadow than any of them expected.
As she grows up, Joan finds relief in her artwork, painting portraits of the community in Memphis. One of her subjects is their enigmatic neighbor Miss Dawn, who claims to know something about curses, and whose stories about the past help Joan see how her passion, imagination, and relentless hope are, in fact, the continuation of a long matrilineal tradition. Joan begins to understand that her mother, her mother’s mother, and the mothers before them persevered, made impossible choices, and put their dreams on hold so that her life would not have to be defined by loss and anger—that the sole instrument she needs for healing is her paintbrush.
Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of unforgettable voices that move back and forth in time, Memphis paints an indelible portrait of inheritance, celebrating the full complexity of what we pass down, in a family and as a country: brutality and justice, faith, and forgiveness, sacrifice, and love.
4. Paris Daillencourt is About To Crumble – Alexis Hall
The first thing that comes to mind when reading the title “Paris and pastries”, well description surely says something about baking. Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble is a romantic- comedy, and is one of my favorite genres. Reading one of the reviews I get why I’m drawn to pick this book, cultural depiction, qualified humor, romance in full essence, and as the review suggests depiction of the protagonist, Paris living with generalized anxiety disorder. And plenty of baking, maybe the reason the reviews were on the positive side. The book cover itself provides a clue about what we may expect from the story.
Review: Jay Hinkle
4.0 out of 5 stars ‘Hard to read but ultimately cathartic’
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2022,
The writing is beautiful, the romance is sweet, and you can see why the characters are drawn together, and what pulls them apart, (and reunites them). There are moments of levity for sure, and the side characters and observations really bring humor to the book.
But the absolute star of the book is the depiction of living with generalized anxiety disorder. Reading Paris’s perspective was like being back inside my own head before I got medication. Which was hard, not gonna lie. I don’t think I’ve ever read something that so thoroughly captured the all-encompassing nature of anxiety, how it blots out everything good and takes over your life and spirals itself bigger and bigger. How it lies, how it picks at you, the endless what-ifs, the catastrophizing that feels probable, and the resulting paralysis.
Description: From the bestselling author of Boyfriend Material comes a sweet and scrumptious romantic comedy about facing your insecurities, finding love, and baking it off, no matter what people say.
Paris Daillencourt is a recipe for disaster. Despite his passion for baking, his cat, and his classics degree, constant self-doubt and second-guessing have left him a curdled, directionless mess. So when his roommate enters him in Bake Expectations, the nation’s favourite baking show, Paris is sure he’ll be the first one sent home.
But not only does he win week one’s challenge—he meets fellow contestant Tariq Hassan. Sure, he’s the competition, but he’s also cute and kind, with more confidence than Paris could ever hope to have. Still, neither his growing romance with Tariq nor his own impressive bakes can keep Paris’s fear of failure from spoiling his happiness. And when the show’s vicious fanbase confirms his worst anxieties, Paris’s confidence is torn apart quicker than tear-and-share bread.
But if Paris can find the strength to face his past, his future and the chorus of hecklers that live in his brain, he’ll realize it’s the sweet things in life that he really deserves.
5. Lucy Checks in – Dee Ernst
Lucy Checks in by Dee Ernst, is another romance novel set in France, as the book cover answers in itself. But for me, I’m anticipating Lucy’s drastic life development. This book somehow gives off the standard Hollywood rom-com energy, with slice-of-life elements like finding love, creating a home, etc. I picked this one for a light-hearted read after all the explorations and heavy themes, we somehow find peace in our most comfortable genre. This book resonates with the same feeling from its city view to a girl standing while showing her back. Almost like the book is telling us to enter the undiscovered world of Lucy.
As one of the reviews says, as a romantic comedy, it is so much more! I can sense what I can get from this book while reading it.
Review: Amber hayes -5 stars
While this is labeled as a romantic comedy, it is so much more! It is a second chance at life and love (a slow burn) as Lucy moves to France after she loses everything. Her move is to run what she thinks is a cute, posh hotel, but what she finds is a run-down, closed hotel and an eclectic group of tenants/crew willing to help her restore the hotel to its former glory and reopen it. One of those tenants is Bing, her love interest. this book is all about Lucy’s journey as she learns to believe in herself again and find love.
Description: Lucia Giannetti needs a fresh start. Once the hotel manager of a glamorous NYC hotel and intimately involved with the hotel’s owner, Lucy had her entire future planned out. But when the owner disappears, taking millions of dollars with him, Lucy’s life as she knows it falls apart.
Two years later, forty-nine years old and unemployed, Lucy takes a job in Rennes, France to manage the Hotel Paradis. She pictures fur quilts and extravagant chandeliers, but what she finds is wildly different. Lucy is now in charge of turning the run-down, but charming hotel into a bustling tourist attraction. Between painting rooms, building a website, and getting to know Bing, the irritatingly attractive artist, Lucy finds an unexpected home. But can she succeed in bringing the Hotel Paradis to its former glory?
Witty and heartfelt, Lucy Checks In is an inspiring and feel-good novel about reclaiming your life, finding love, and creating a home in places you never thought possible.
From among the top-selling books of 2022, also acclaimed by editors, I found these five books more worthy of adding to my next reads.