Like many others, this year we had the urge to travel. Not through books like we had been doing for the past two years, but literally. Being who we are, this meant we travelled halfway across the world with no less than an entire carryon full of books to read while holidaying. A wonderful plan, except when you haven’t seen family or ventured no further than the province you live in for over two years, those books remain in their suitcase becoming well-travelled, not well-thumbed. 

This is all to say we read less this year than in previous years, yet when going through our reads we still struggled to narrow it down to our favourites. These are our best books of 2022 – the ones we raved about to anyone who would listen, the ones we’d recommend without being asked, the ones we immediately handed off to the other when we finished. 

Before we jump into this year’s best books, we’d like to thank the incredible teams at the various publishing houses, particularly Pan MacMillan, Penguin Random House and Jonathan Ball Publishers who have made it possible for us to discover books we never would have, given us opportunities to chat to authors and graciously leave the most exciting envelopes on our doorsteps that contain hours and hours of reading enjoyment. 

 

The Best Learning Books

 

Bittersweet by Susan Cain

Susan Cain has the unique ability to turn what society deems as a negative character trait and turn it into something beautiful, something to be proud of. In Bittersweet she takes the notion of sadness, melancholy and longing and explains how it infuses life with meaning. In a culture obsessed with positivity, she opens the door for people who feel the bitter. It’s a brilliant book that’s well researched, written memorably and will make you reconsider how you react to the bittersweet moments in life.

Read the full review here

 

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

This is the best money book I have read and one everyone should read. It explores the behaviors that determine whether people are good or bad with money. It’s written in an easy to read and concise manner with lessons that are universal and timeless. 

Read the full review here

 

Why Has No One Told me This Before by Dr Julie Smith

Why Has No One Told me This Before is an easy reading mental health toolbox filled with nuggets of wisdom covering a wide range of universal struggles including Low mood, motivation, emotional pain, grief, self-doubt, fear, stress, and meaningful living. Dr Julie Smith rose to social media fame through her short form videos on mental health. She describes the book as an extended version of what you can’t fit in short videos. Her balanced approach and focus on how physical health and wellness impacts your mental health really resonated with me.

Read the full review here

 

The Memory Bible by Gary Small, MD

The Memory Bible is a guide to keeping your mind young and improving your memory. It’s one of the most useful books you can read and is written in a way that is engaging and interesting. Most of us will at some point (if we haven’t already) have lapses in memory, lapses we’ll undoubtedly blame on aging. But that’s not all together true and Small explains exactly how and why they happen. Better than that he provides exercises and tools to use to improve your memory. I loved that the tips and advice he gave wasn’t extreme or costly, most requires little time and money making them actionable. 

Read the full review here

 

The Best Fiction Books

 

Black Cake by Charmain Wilkinson

Eleonor Bennet dies leaving her children two things: A family recipe for Caribbean black cake and a voice recording of her sharing the story of headstrong women they’ve never heard of before. A story that unravels everything they knew about their family. It is an epic story that’s crafted in a way that completely absorbs you and then shocks you as each piece of the puzzle is revealed. You don’t need time to get into this book, you just need to read this first page and you’ll be in. 

Read the full review here

 

More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez

Lore Riviera was married to two men at the same time. One man found out and killed the other. At least that’s the story the media shared. When true crime writer Cassie Bowman happens on the story, she convinces Lore to allow her to write her story. We’re not into true crime, but this book is the exception that proves the rule. It’s a book that hooks you from the beginning and leaves you in suspense begging for more. It’s simply a brilliant book you will not be able to put it down until you’ve finished.

Read the full review here

 

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus 

This is the most delightful book I read all year. It follows Elizabeth Zott a chemist in the 1960s, which as you learn was not the time for women with careers and interests in science. She falls for Calvin, a fellow scientist. Years Elizabeth find herself as a single mother and unwilling star of a hit cooking show. You cannot help but fall in love with Elizabeth and this wonderful story. It’s witty, funny and the most satisfying read. I adored it and can picture it as a TV series you’d binge watch. 

Read the full review here

 

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Set in Glasgow’s housing estates filled with poverty and gangs, Young Mungo is the story of two boys from different sides of the street. Sides that never cross. Mungo is a protestant, James a Catholic, together they are best friends who fall in love and long to escape to a place they could have a future. There are similarities between this book and Stuart’s first novel, Shuggie Bain – both are brilliantly devastating. But this book is on the next level, I found the storyline richer and the characters more layered and complex, simply put his books get better and better. 

Read the full review here

 

The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh

I fell for this book on page two. It follows Emma and Leo a happily married couple with one young child. Happy until Emma is diagnosed with a serious illness and her husband, an obituary writer, starts writing her obituary as a way to cope. In doing so he uncovers that the women he calls his wife has lied about pretty much everything, including her name. I wanted to both race through this book and savor it slowly. The writing is stunning, the bits of humor delightful and the detail given in just the right amount. 

Read the full review here

 

My Name is Yip by Paddy Crewe

15 year old Yip Tolroy is mute and an outcast. When gold is discovered nearby, he commits a crime and flees his town with a new friend. This first novel from Paddy crew is brilliant from page one. Heartfelt, suspenseful, well written and filled with so much wisdom.

Read the full review here

 

Trust by Hernan Diaz 

Benjamin and Helen Rask are the center pieces of a popular novel about a wallstreet tycoon, his wife and how they amassed their great fortune. Except it’s not exactly the truth and as one woman sets on a mission to separate fact from fiction, the competing narratives weave into each other. It’s an exceptionally well-structured book and is truly a story within a story melded harmoniously through a compelling storyline, fascinating characters and great writing.

Read the full review here

 

The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews

When Thomas is summoned to return home from war by his sister Esther, he unravels a dark and ancient mystery linked to a shipwreck years before. Filled with mystery, the supernatural, and some witchcraft, this book is history novel meets fantasy thriller. It takes a while to get into but will have you wrapped around its pages.

Read the full review here

 

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

I like to say I’m not into murder mysteries and yet in every best book list there lies a murder mystery. In this list it’s Daisy Darker, a deliciously thrilling novel that begins with Daisy arriving at her grandmother’s crumbling home on a private island for her 80th birthday celebrations. Soon the whole family arrives along with the tide that cuts them off from the world for eight hours. Eight hours in which one of them becomes a killer. It was one of those books you want to start again as soon as you finish because the twist that left your mouth agape now seems visible looking back. It is a thriller that even if you don’t like thrillers, you’ll appreciate and enjoy. 

Read the full review here

 

The Midwife by Tricia Cresswell

This gripping historical novel begins in 1838 where a woman is found naked and alone on the Northumberland Moors. She has no memory of who she is but somehow knows how to help women in labor and heal the sick. While we’re being introduced to this woman, we also get to know Dr Borthwick, a well-respected accoucheur in London who helps high society women give birth. It’s a vivid book that grips you until the end which I hate to say I was slightly disappointed in. I like neat endings. 

Read the full review here

 

Moonlight and The Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook

When a prolific pearler goes missing at sea, his daughter Eliza refuses to believe her father is dead and sets on a mission to discover what truly happened. It’s a story of adventure and what happens when you’re unbothered by societal expectations and march to the beat of your own drum.

Read the full review here

 

Haven by Emma Donoghue

This haunting novel is set in seven century Ireland and tells the story of three men’s quest to attain Godliness. When Artt, a scholar and priest has a dream instructing him to leave the world of sins behind he packs up a small rowing boat and sets sail with limited supplies and two monks who take him as their leader. They land on an island inhabited by thousands of birds in the middle of the ocean. There they need to face nature, their faith and the fragile line between faith and practice. I’ve added this book here because of how the story lingered once I’d finished it, how it forced me to sit in someone else’s shoes and hear their story without covering it with my own beliefs and simply because of the brilliant storytelling. I spent hours after the book researching the history of the location and discovering the pockets of truth in fiction. 

Read the full review here

 

The Best Non-Fiction Books

Here’s the Thing by Haji Mohamed Dawjee

This is a collection of essays that run the gamut from parenthood to long-covid, cancel culture to rubbish bins. Each essay is sprinkled with Dawjee’s sharp wit and astute observations. It’s pure entertainment, but and this is where it shines, it’s relatable and authentic. Reading it is akin to chatting with a hilariously frank friend who seems to be able to put what you’re thinking into neat words. 

Read the full review here

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